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

  1. New York Online: Greetings From the Heartland - 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……

  5. Julie Strickland Says:

    What is the date on the Brooklyn Eagle article?

  6. wildnewyork Says:

    October 23, 1902

    • 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 […]

  8. The Rivalry of Brooklyn Neighborhoods: Pigtown and Spotless Town / The Notable Nook Facts And Stuff Says:

    […] a small neighborhood not-so-affectionately known as “Pigtown.” The area straddled what is now Prospect Lefferts Gardens and East Flatbush. It earned its moniker from its high density of pig farms, which filled the air with sounds and […]

  9. Robert Marvin Says:

    The photograph of Flatbush Avenue & Maple STREET [NOT Avenue] shows the Lefferts house and can’t be later than 1918, when the family finished selling off the lots in their former farm and donated the 18th Century house to the City, after which it was moved to its present location in Prospect Park. The immediate neighborhood, named Lefferts Manor by residents who formed the Lefferts Manor Association in 1919, is considerably west of the old “Pigtown”

  10. Larry Oren Says:

    I was raised on the very edge of Pigtown at the corner of Midwood and Kingston. The item about Guiliani is in error. He did not move to Queens with his parents, rather he moved there with his mother after his parents divorced. His father remained in Pigtown where he was a local bookie and loanshark. He could at a local tavern and pizza joint at the corner of Kingston and Rutland Road now occupied by Wingate High School.

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