What remains of two long-gone Brooklyn villages

Ever hear of the Brooklyn towns of Greenfield and South Greenfield?

These “suburbs” appears to have been centered between Avenue M in today’s Midwood and Flatlands to the south.

Greenfield “was laid out in 1851 on 67 acres of land which the United Freeman’s Association had bought from Johnson Tredwell,” reports The Eagle and Brooklyn, from 1893.

“To this property they added the Ditmas farm in 1852, making a total acquisition of 114 acres.”

The Greenfield name didn’t last long; the town was renamed Parkville in 1870. Still, its main streets named after trees (like Elm, which starts across from the M Street subway station) that don’t conform to Midwood’s neat street grid remain.

South Greenfield appears to have hung on a little longer. It’s marked on this map from an 1895 New York Times article on Brooklyn suburbs. (Look in the center, off of “Smith Street Trolley.”)

“The pretty village of South Greenfield lies on the line between Flatlands and Gravesend,” another 1895 article says, cryptically alluding to its attractions.

At some point in the decades soon after, South Greenfield disappeared.

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10 Responses to “What remains of two long-gone Brooklyn villages”

  1. Mandrew Lynch Says:

    I went to college with a guy from this area. When I asked him where in Brooklyn he was from he just said “You know that area south of Midwood that doesn’t have a name?”

    I guess it does (or did).

  2. wildnewyork Says:

    I’m surprised real-estate people don’t seize the name again!

  3. Parnassus Says:

    I am fascinated by these types of towns that have disappeared–even if they have just been renamed or taken over by a larger city, they are essentially ghost towns. I love locating objects that refer to them–perhaps a tool manufactured there, or a letter with a postmark from a long-defunct post office.
    –Road to Parnassus

  4. Bob_in_MA Says:

    I’ve been doing some research on Brooklyn, 1900. One item that struck me as odd was an article in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle where these boys came across a body on some woods. I think this was near Avenue O and Ocean Ave. It seemed odd that there were still woods there, but what was really weird was that the body was thought to have been there for months because it was so decomposed. I’ll see if I can find that story. But it looks to me like that would be about where S. Greenfield is on the map.

    I was also investigating where African-Americans were living and I didn’t come across that area. There were several African-American neighborhoods, but many were living in other areas. But my search was fairly random.

  5. Bob_in_MA Says:

    Here’s the story, it was Ocean Ave between L & M, just East of Greenfield:

    http://eagle.brooklynpubliclibrary.org/Default/Scripting/ArticleWin.asp?From=Archive&Source=Page&Skin=BEagle&BaseHref=BEG/1900/09/23&PageLabelPrint=&EntityId=Ar00503&ViewMode=GIF&GZ=T

    • wildnewyork Says:

      Fascinating article, thanks for sending it in! Homecrest is still in use but Ryders Woods has long disappeared, as far as I know at least.

      I like how they say it was a particularly “lonesome” part of Brooklyn. I wish I could go back in time and see it.

      As for African-American neighborhoods in Brooklyn, have you researched Weeksville and Crow Hill?

      • Bob_in_MA Says:

        A Google-like street view from the time would be really neat.

        I came across Crow Hill (Carsville) recently, but in my time period (ca 1900) it is usually used as a euphemism for the penitentiary which was just below Eastern Pkwy.

        By 1900 I think these these old Afro-American neighborhoods (Carsville & Weeksville) had become kind of amorphic, but there were a disproportionate number of African-Americans living in the general area. There was also a concentration (one square block) at Lorimer (nee Gwinnett) St and Harrison Ave.

        There were a lot of small concentrations north and east of Ft Green Park, on Hudson Ave, Fleet Pl, what’s called Vinegar Hill now, etc. These were mostly recent arrivals from the South. They lived among a lot of Irish families. There are some Bernice Abbott photos from the ’30s of this area.

        There were also a number on the western end of Coney Island and in Unionville just across the bay. I think many of these people came to work in hotels. There was an AME church down there.

        But they were all over Brooklyn, also. At least the working class neighborhoods. I flipped through some census records, and found that blocks were mostly not completely segregated, but buildings almost always were. I saw
        two interracial couples, maybe 1%.

        African Americans were just 1% of Brooklyn’s population in 1900.

  6. Dave Says:

    Here:

    http://books.google.com/books?id=zuFSUZqQaiIC&pg=PA379&lpg=PA379&dq=brooklyn+%22united+freemen%27s+association%22&source=bl&ots=SLVM05COVj&sig=kp_CyHlD5hB-DdflihdfStnaezo&hl=en&sa=X&ei=l3ILT9HJGu3SiAK4se2CBA&ved=0CCIQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=brooklyn%20%22united%20freemen%27s%20association%22&f=false

    Greenfield is described as being a settlement of Irish emigrants (in the 1880s and 1890s)–this in the notes to the wonderful OF CABBAGES AND KINGS COUNTY.

  7. Jack Says:

    I lived at Ave. N and east 17th St. from 1939 to 1950. I thiught it was called flatbush.

  8. Jack Says:

    I know the I should be an O

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