The lawless district of Pigtown, Brooklyn

All Brooklyn neighborhoods should have as colorful a name as Pigtown.

This poor part of Flatbush seems to have been centered south of Empire Boulevard between Prospect Park and New York Avenue, where Prospect Lefferts Gardens and East Flatbush are today.

A lowland of roaming pigs, goats, and shanties, Pigtown had a lot of crime. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle archive (where the story above comes from) has clip after clip of arrests made there in the late 19th century.

The New York Times archive contains some gruesome stories of gangster murders in Pigtown, which was populated by Italian immigrants.

Like so many other rough neighborhoods in New York, Pigtown was cleaned up as the 20th century progressed.

[Above photo, from the NYPL digital collection: Flatbush Avenue and Maple Avenue, about 1920, after Pigtown was smoothed over]

One family who remained there until the 1950s: the Giulianis. Yep, Rudy lived the first years of his life in what was once Pigtown until his parents decamped to Long Island.

Nineteenth century Manhattan had a Pigtown too—a hardscrabble neighborhood known as the Piggery District.

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10 Responses to “The lawless district of Pigtown, Brooklyn”

  1. New York Online: Greetings From the Heartland - NYTimes.com Says:

    [...] an exploration of the extinct neighborhood of Pigtown, Brooklyn, home of a young Rudolph W. Giuliani. [Ephemeral New [...]

  2. Brian Westbye Says:

    Actually, Pigtown was leveled in 1912 by Charles Hercules Ebbets, owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers, to build Ebbets Field. Of course from there Robert Moses leveled Ebbets Field and built the Ebbets Field Apartments on the site.

  3. wildnewyork Says:

    Funny, when they razed the Polo Grounds, they put up the Polo Ground Towers. I guess old ballparks are memorialized by housing projects.

  4. A Beirne Says:

    William Caunitz wrote a police procedural set in the area called……
    Pigtown

  5. Julie Strickland Says:

    What is the date on the Brooklyn Eagle article?

  6. wildnewyork Says:

    October 23, 1902

    http://eagle.brooklynpubliclibrary.org/Default/Skins/BEagle/Client.asp?Skin=BEagle

    • Julie Strickland Says:

      Thanks! But I couldn’t find this specific article in their archives. Was wondering if you guys just happen to know the year that this article was published?

      • wildnewyork Says:

        If you type in Pigtown, it comes up on the second page of the search results in their archive. The headline is “High Time In Pigtown”

      • Julie Strickland Says:

        Got it, thanks!

  7. BreakThru Radio Says:

    […] ramshackle huts, and collapsing shanties made up the grounds of squatter villages with names like "Pigtown" and "Hard Lucksville". Rag pickers, bone boilers, and soap makers ejected from the general […]

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