History of Brooklyn
In 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge was completed, and transportation to Manhattan no longer required a boat trip. Brooklyn now prepared to engage in the still-grander consolidation process developing throughout the region. In 1894, Brooklyn residents voted, by a slight majority, to join with Manhattan,The Bronx, Queens, and Richmond (later Staten Island) to become the five boroughs of the modern New York City.
This referendum took effect in 1898. Kings County, nonetheless, retained its status as one of New York State's counties.The Dutch were the first Europeans to settle in the area on the western end of Long Island, then largely inhabited by a Native American people, theLenape (often erroneously referred to by the Lenape place-name, "Canarsee", in contemporary colonial documents).
The first Dutch settlements, established in 1634, were called Midwout (Midwood) and Flatbush (Vlacke Bos). The Dutch also purchased land during the 1630s from theMohawks in present-day Gowanus, Red Hook, the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and Bushwick. The Village of Breuckelen, named for Breukelen in theprovince of Utrecht in the Netherlands, was authorized by the Dutch West India Company in 1646; it became the first true municipality in what is now New York State.
At the time, Breuckelen was part of New Netherland. Other villages which were later incorporated into Brooklyn were Boswijk (Bushwick), Nieuw Utrecht (New Utrecht), and Nieuw Amersfoort (Flatlands). A few houses and cemeteries still bear witness to the Dutch origins of the borough of Brooklyn.
The Dutch lost Breuckelen in the British conquest of New Netherland in 1664. In 1683, the British reorganized the Province of New York into twelve counties, each of which was sub-divided into towns. Over time, the name evolved from Breuckelen, to Brockland, to Brocklin, to Brookline, to Brookland and eventually, to Brooklyn. Kings County was one of the original counties, and Brooklyn was one of the original six towns within Kings County. The county was named in honor of King Charles II of England.
In August and September of 1776, the Battle of Long Island (also called the Battle of Brooklyn) was fought in Kings County. It was the first major battle in the American Revolutionary War following the Declaration of Independence and the largest battle of the entire conflict. While GeneralGeorge Washington's defeat on the battlefield may have cast early doubts on his abilities as a military tactician and leader, he did keep the Continental Army intact with a brilliant overnight tactical retreat, across the East River, a maneuver seen by historians as one of his greatest practical accomplishments.
New York became the British political and military base of operations in North America. This encouraged the departure of patriots and their sympathizers while attracting loyalist refugees fleeing the other colonies. Loyalists swelled the population of the surrounding area, including Brooklyn. Correspondingly, the region became the focus of General Washington's intelligence activities (see Intelligence in the American Revolutionary War). The British also began to hold American patriot prisoners-of-war in rotting hulks anchored in Wallabout Bay off Brooklyn. More American prisoners died in these prison-ships than the sum of all the American battle casualties of the Revolutionary War.The first half of the nineteenth century saw significant growth along the economically-strategic East River waterfront, across from New York City. Brooklyn's population expanded more than threefold between 1800 and 1820, doubled again in the 1820s, and doubled yet again during the 1830s. The county encompassed two cities: the City of Brooklyn and the City of Williamsburgh. Brooklyn annexed Williamsburgh in 1854, which lost its final "h" in the process. With the addition of this new area, Brooklyn grew from a substantial community of 36,236 to an imposing city of 96,838.
The building of rail links, such as the Brighton Beach Line in 1878 heralded explosive growth, and, in the space of a decade, the City of Brooklyn annexed the Town of New Lots in 1886, the Town ofFlatbush, the Town of Gravesend, and the Town of New Utrecht in 1894, and the Town of Flatlandsin 1896. Brooklyn had reached its natural municipal boundaries at the Kings County line.