Posts Tagged ‘Bushwick’

Brooklyn’s lost village of Cripplebush

December 18, 2009

This map of the borough’s original five Dutch towns and one English town depicts a Brooklyn with the same geographic place names used today.

Bushwick, Flatbush, New Utrecht, Gravesend—they still go by their 17th century monikers. And the smaller villages within them, like Williamsburgh and New Lots, remain local names as well.

Then there’s Cripplebush, in the town of Brooklyn. What’s the deal with Cripplebush?

The Eastern District of Brooklyn, published in 1912, explains that Dutch residents of nearby Wallabout were granted a patent in 1654 to incorporate Cripplebush, “at the intersection of the Cripplebush Road and the Wallabout and Newtown Road or about Flushing and Nostrand Avenues of to-day.

“In 1830 Wallabout Village was started, including within its limits the Cripplebush settlement, and still later the section became known as East Brooklyn.”

Cripplebush Road no longer exists. And Cripplebush settlement, which other sources have described as a swamp, must have been quietly absorbed into Wallabout in the 19th century.

The Chinese Dragon of Bushwick

September 22, 2008

Maria Hernandez Park is a pretty, bustling six-acre spot in Bushwick named for a community activist who was shot to death in 1989. (Originally it was simply known as Bushwick Park, opened in 1896.)

Considering that the neighborhood went from predominantly German in the 19th century to Italian in the early 20th to Hispanic and African American today, it’s interesting that the park doors carry a Chinese dragon motif.

Somethin’ sweet in Bushwick

August 23, 2008

In the 1661 it was chartered as the Dutch village of “Boswijck” or “Boswyck,” aka “town in the woods.” By the mid-1800s, it had become Bushwick, part of the new city of Brooklyn. Until World War I, Bushwick was home to a huge German population. Then Italians began moving in, making it one of the city’s biggest Italian neighborhoods by 1950.

There’s not much left of Italian Bushwick these days, but Circo’s Pastry Shop serves as a reminder of when Italian shops and restaurants lined Knickerbocker Avenue. Just think of all the Italian wedding cakes they’ve baked since opening in 1945.

Arion Place’s musical mansion

July 14, 2008

Now known as the Opera House Lofts (and located in East Williamsburg, at least on paper), this stately building’s original name was Arion Hall, the headquarters for the Arion Singing Society, a German men’s choral group (or “Mannerchor”) whose musical selections catered to a working-class audience in Bushwick.

Some of the decorative elements on the fire escapes and roof (below) make it clear that this 1886 structure, on Arion Place (formerly called Wall Street) and Broadway, was all about music.


In the 19th and early 20th centuries, when Bushwick was a predominantly German neighborhood, the Arion Singing Society regularly performed for local crowds. Apparently they were very well-received, as this Brooklyn Daily Eagle blurb notes.