Continuing our series on how Brooklyn neighborhoods got their names, we take a look at the history of Boerum Hill, Crown Heights, Prospect Lefferts Gardens, and Sunset Park. Some neighborhoods boast origins that date way back to the Dutch settlements of Brooklyn, while others just picked up their names from local streets and sunset views.
For a long time, Boerum Hill was simply known as “South Brooklyn” or sometimes even “North Gowanus.” But beginning in the 70s, when the neighborhood slowly began to gentrify, the name of Boerum Hill was picked up, and it stuck. The name actually has roots back to when the Dutch settled Brooklyn — a colonial farm belonging to the Boerum family occupied much of the area then. It’s somewhat of a mystery where the “Hill” came from, as the neighborhood is actually flat.
Photo courtesy of Dmadeo via Wikipedia.
Brooklyn Penitentiary | via Ephemeral New York
Before Crown Heights was a hip and bustling neighborhood, it was actually the site of a small outpost of shanties and piggeries known as Crow Hill. The name “Crow Hill” is somewhat unknown, and may refer to the crows known to frequent neighboring farms or the “crows” (another word for criminals) at the nearby Brooklyn Penitentiary. Crow Hill lost its hold after Crown Street was established through the neighborhood in 1916. And for whatever reason, the “hill” became “heights,” referring to the high elevation of the neighborhood.
Lefferts Subdivision map | via Lefferts Manor
Prospect Lefferts Gardens
This area was originally known as Lefferts Manor, named after the early Dutch settler James Lefferts. Lefferts specified land-use convents for development in the area, making sure each lot contained a single family house made with brick or stone. The Lefferts Manor development is still well preserved and was declared a city landmark in 1979. The full name of Prospect Lefferts Gardens was created in 1968 by the Prospect Lefferts Gardens Neighborhood Association. The residents decided to take the names of three nearby locations — Prospect Park, Lefferts Manor, and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden — and combine them into one neighborhood name.
Sunset Park | via Sunset Park Chronicled
Sunset Park is yet another Brooklyn neighborhood long referred to as “South Brooklyn.” The neighborhood name was stolen from the local park, Sunset Park, which is located between 41st and 44th Streets and 5th and 7th Avenues. As you may have guessed, the hilly park, one of the highest points in Brooklyn, is known for amazing views of the Manhattan skyline and the sunset.
For more on how Brooklyn neighborhoods got their names, check out Part 1: Red Hook, Bed-Stuy, Sheepshead Bay, and Dyker Heights, Part 2: Bay Ridge, Carroll Gardens, Flatlands, and Fort Greene, Part 3: Coney Island, DUMBO, Gowanus, and Park Slope, and Part 4: Bergen Beach, Clinton Hill, Gravesend, and Prospect Heights.