Greatest History Hits Up To Now...
While researching the history of our neighborhood over the last five years, I found stuff that might be interesting to mention at a Flatbush cocktail party. Or maybe not.
|1776 Battle of Brooklyn|
|1776 Topographical Map|
|1868 Map: Lott Farm Extends from Green on Right (Flatlands) to Pink Below (Gravesend)|
|1868 Map Showing Lott Farm|
-A somewhat reduced Lott farm (exclusive of the area east of Flatbush) was bought by the Germania Real Estate and Improvement Company in 1898. They dubbed their entire 100 acres “South Midwood” because at that time, Midwood was simply another name for Flatbush, the old town boundary for which lay just to the north along Foster Avenue. Germania sold to a relatively small number of builders hundreds of 40x100 and 50x100 foot parcels, attaching covenants to the deeds ensuring the residential park-like nature of the development would be retained until at least 1940.
-The original community association here was called the Marlborough-Westminster Property Owners League until 1924 when it became the West South Midwood League. It was only in the late 1950s that references to this neighborhood were shortened to West Midwood. [Residents of Parkville and the area surrounding Washington Cemetery originally appropriated the name West Midwood for their community group because back then the word “Midwood” was extremely prestigious.]
-Several residents of our neighborhood were arrested on election day in November 1908 for claiming addresses that did not exist on outdated maps used by the police. The maps showed the older names (East 12th, 13th and 14th Street instead of Westminster, Argyle and Rugby Road) and no indication at all for Waldorf, Wellington and Dekoven Courts. This was likely a voter suppression tactic used by the corrupt Tammany Hall machine to discourage turnout in a heavily Republican area.
-The original residents here per the 1910 census (the neighborhood was still farmland as of the 1900 census) were mostly from out-of-state and out-of-country and even those native-born inhabitants more often than not had immigrant parents.
|1920Westminster at Ave H - Stanchion Not Yet Built|
|2015:Westminster Stanchion at Ave H|
-The stanchions that stand at the boundaries of most Victorian Flatbush neighborhoods were always ornamental and were never used to erect barriers to traffic or pedestrians. They were constructed by neighborhood associations who collected an average of $10 per home owner and cost West South Midwood about $2,000 for the 12 pillars that were built in 1925.
|Feb 13 1940: Taxes Too Damn High|
-West South Midwood had many notable residents, including the co-writer of “Teddy Bears Picnic,” a female playwright/novelist, the over-seer of the port of New York, and a leading socialist who lost all ten elections he entered (which might be a record).
-Corbin Court, the lane between Foster and Glenwood, just east of Coney Island Avenue, was named for John R. Corbin who built the large building that borders the Court. Corbin also constructed most of the one family homes here, and T. B. Ackerson erected the entire block of two family homes on Westminster Road extending from Glenwood Road to Ave H.
|1890 Map: "4 Corners" Indicated by Red Circle|
-McDonald Avenue used to be called Gravesend Road because it extended from Greenwood Heights all the way down to the Town of Gravesend…until a local politician named McDonald got a chicken bone stuck in his throat back in 1933 and went toes up.
-Dahill Road, located just to the west of McDonald Avenue, used to be called West Street because it was once the western boundary of the Town of Flatbush. The Dahill name first appeared in print in 1920 but its origin is shrouded in mystery. I suspect it was named after Pvt. Cornelius Dahill, a New Yorker who was killed in France on November 28, 1918.
|1883 Evacuation Day Parade, Lower B'way|
|Bowling Green Adds An Evacuation Day Plaza Sign in 2016|
|1953 Letter To Eagle "Disremembers"|
|1907 Avenue H Station Looking North from LIRR|
Back in 1873 a "New York and Hempstead Railroad" was proposed which would steam from the East River near Long Island City to a ferry in Bay Ridge. The route pictured on these maps would change slightly and a few years later become the Manhattan Beach RR excursion line of the LIRR, which would feed passengers from the East River and Bay Ridge to a new branch (not yet envisioned) that would extend south from Avenue H to Coney Island, paralleling what would become the Brighton Beach line's right of way.
|1873 Map Showing Proposed Line Crossing Paerdegat Lane and the Lott Farm|
|1873 Parkville Map Showing Proposed Rail Line to South|
|1873 Map Shows Proposed Rail Line and Most of Gravesend Below It|
|1873 Map: Flatbush Village to Right. Vanderveer, Lott and Other Farms to Left|
|1874 Map: Rail (Red) Stops at Flatbush and Ave C (Clarendon Rd)|
|1878: New Manhattan Beach Line Opens|