Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Brooklyn Heights is a neighborhood within the New York City borough of Brooklyn; originally designated through popular reference as 'Brooklyn Village', it has, since 1834, become a prominent area of the Brooklyn borough. As of 2000, the Brooklyn Heights sustained a population of 22,493 people. The neighborhood is part of Brooklyn Community Board 2.
Brooklyn Heights stretches from Fulton Street near the Brooklyn Bridge south to Atlantic Avenue and from the East River east to Court Street and Cadman Plaza. Adjacent neighborhoods are: DUMBO, Downtown Brooklyn, Cobble Hill and Boerum Hill. It is directly across the East River from Manhattan, and easily accessible to Downtown and multiple subway lines.
The area was heavily fortified prior to the largest battle of the American Revolutionary War - The Battle of Long Island (also known as The Battle of Brooklyn). After British troops landed on Long Island and advanced towards Continental Army lines, General George Washington withdrew his troops here after heavy losses, but was able to make a skillful retreat across the East River to Manhattan without the loss of any troops or his remaining supplies.
Brooklyn Heights occupies a bluff that rises sharply from the river's edge and gradually recedes on the landward side. Before the Dutch settled on Long Island in the middle of the seventeenth century, this promontory was called Ihpetonga ("the high sandy bank") by the native Lenape Native Americans.
It is historically descended from its precursor Town of Brooklyn and became New York's first commuter town in the early 19th century when a new steam ferry service provided reliable service to Wall Street.
The neighborhood is largely composed of block after block of picturesque rowhouses and a few mansions. A great range of architectural styles are represented, including a few Federal-style houses from the early 19th century in the northern part of the neighborhood, brick Greek Revival and Gothic Revival houses, and Italianate brownstones. A number of houses, particularly along Pierrepont Street and Pierrepont Place are authentic mansions. Brooklyn Heights was the first neighborhood protected by the 1965 Landmarks Preservation Law of New York City. Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims is in Brooklyn Heights.
The executive offices of the Brooklyn Dodgers were, for many years, located in the Heights, near the intersection of Montague and Court Streets. A plaque on the office building that replaced the Dodgers' old headquarters identifies it as the site where Jackie Robinson signed his major league contract.
The Promenade cantilevered over the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE) is a favorite spot among locals, offering magnificent vistas of the Statue of Liberty, the Manhattan skyline across the East River, as well as views of the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan Bridge. It is a popular tourist destination for the Macy's July 4th fireworks, and for the unobstructed views of the skyline. Robert Moses originally proposed to build the BQE through the heart of Brooklyn Heights. Opposition to this plan led to the designation of the Brooklyn Heights Historic District as a historic district, and the re-routing of the expressway to the side of the bluff, allowing creation of the Promenade.
Brooklyn Heights, being a historic district has very few high-rise buildings. Among these buildings are 75 Livingston Street, Hotel St. George, the Concord Village co-op development on Adams Street (though that is considered Downtown Brooklyn by some), and the Montague-court building. Because of the lack of high-rise buildings, Brooklyn Heights has a small town atmosphere.
Situated so close to the foot of Manhattan, Brooklyn Heights is serviced by numerous subway lines, specifically the A, C, F, M, R, 2, 3, 4, and 5.
Famous residents over the years have included John A. Roebling, Washington Roebling, Henry Ward Beecher, Marilyn Monroe, Norman Mailer, Thomas Wolfe, W. H. Auden, Truman Capote, Arthur Miller, Bob Dylan (who memorialized his stay on Montague Street in "Tangled up in Blue"), Gabriel Byrne, Jennifer Connelly, Paul Giamatti, Andrea Dworkin, and Carson McCullers.
The Jehovah's Witnesses have their world headquarters in the north heights just north of the BQE, and have a pronounced presence in the area. The organization has restored a number of historic buildings to house their staff, including the former Bossert Hotel, once the seasonal home of many Dodgers players, on Montague Street.
Saint Francis College, founded in 1858 by the Franciscan Brothers on Baltic Street, moved to its current location on Remsen Street in 1960. It was the first private boys' school in the Brooklyn Catholic diocese, and later became a college in 1885.
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