Atlantic Avenue: the “Swedish Broadway”

Today, the harbor end of Brooklyn’s main drag has a mix of bars and restaurants, high-end boutiques and antique stores, and Middle Eastern shops.

But in the late 19th century, it was the home base of Scandinavian immigrants in Brooklyn, known as the “Swedish Broadway.”

(Photo of Atlantic and Third Avenue, from the NYPL)

A search through the pre-1902 Brooklyn Eagle archives turns up a Swedish press (Svenska Amerikanska Presson) at 563 Atlantic, a banquet hall (Tura Verein Hall) at 351 Atlantic, and a notice that the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Co. now prints signs in Swedish in street cars going through the “Swedish Colony.”

And an 1891 Eagle article describes the estimated 20,000 Swedes centered around Fourth Avenue as “frugal, industrious, and very well behaved.”

(Atlantic and Henry Street building, from the NYPL)

Bay Ridge’s Eighth Avenue soon took over as home to a large concentration of Scandinavian Brooklynites (mostly Norwegian) during the 20th century.

But back on Atlantic, one of the few surviving remnants of the old neighborhood is Bethlehem Lutheran Church (below photo), at Third and Pacific, established in 1874.

Another (now Episcopalian) church, at 424 Dean Street, began in the 1870s as Immanuel Swedish Methodist Church.

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4 Responses to “Atlantic Avenue: the “Swedish Broadway””

  1. petey Says:

    those well behaved swedes!
    there was a swede two doors down from me (yorkville, never a swedish neighborhood afaik), always with his cigar, i grew up with his son who eventually went off into america.
    the top picture is remarkable, not much of nyc is one-storey anymore.

  2. Carolina Salguero Says:

    and after that, it was Spaniards.

    Spanish ships in NYC docked at west end of 14th Street and foot of Atlantic Avenue, leading to a concentration of Spanish (not Latin American) businesses on both streets. Montero’s and Meson Flamenco on Atlantic Avenue are vestiges of that era. My father was from Spain (emigrated here on a ship to Manhattan’s west side in 1959); and in the 60s, when we lived in what is now called Carroll Gardens, he used to go to Atlantic Avenue to play dominoes and hang around with the compatriots.

  3. wildnewyork Says:

    Montero’s is a great place with an interesting history. Last few times I was there it was pretty empty, so the owner’s wife–or daughter?–made us pasta and chicken soup!

  4. RED DAVE Says:

    Another reminder of Swedish Brooklyn is the former Swedish Hospital at, i think, Atlantic and Bedford. There was also a Swedish deli on Flatbush at about Bergen into the 1970s.

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