Brooklyn Heights is a lovely residential neighborhood within the New York City borough of Brooklyn. Originally referred to as ‘Brooklyn Village’, it has been a prominent area of Brooklyn since 1834. As of 2000, Brooklyn Heights sustained a population of 22,594 people.
Brooklyn Heights stretches from Old 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 neighborhood is largely composed of block after block of picturesque rowhouses and a few mansions. A great range of architectural styles is 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 and Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Catholic Cathedral are in Brooklyn Heights.
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 American Indians.
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.
This part of the Town of Brooklyn, south of the long-settled old Village of Brooklyn, 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 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 at 215 Montague Street 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, Manhattan Bridge, and spectacular fireworks displays over the East River. Robert Moses originally proposed to build the BQE through the heart of Brooklyn Heights. Opposition to this plan led to the re-routing of the expressway to the side of the bluff, allowing creation of the Promenade. The full story of the promenade’s creation is chronicled by Henrik Krogius in his book “The Brooklyn Heights Promenade.” It is a popular tourist destination, a fine termination point, with its spectacular views, after a breath-taking walk over the Brooklyn Bridge.
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