Posts Tagged ‘Colonial Brooklyn’

The only Brooklyn town founded by a woman

November 3, 2010

Of 17th century Brooklyn’s original six towns, five (anglicized as Brooklyn, Bushwick, Flatbush, Flatlands, and New Utrecht), were settled by Dutch men.

And then there’s Gravesend—founded in the 1640s by Lady Deborah Moody, a wealthy English widow who crossed the Atlantic to freely practice Anabaptism, a protestant sect that opposed infant baptism (they were  the forerunners to Quakers).

She must have been tough: Lady Moody was the only woman known to launch a settlement in colonial North America.

Tolerant Dutch leaders in New Amsterdam gave her a land grant “beginning at the mouth of a creek adjacent to Coneyne Island” and let her divide the new town into parcels.

What’s amazing is that today’s Gravesend still has a very off-the-grid quality. Village Road North and Village Road South cut through the neighborhood.

Two 17th century cemeteries, Gravesend and Van Sicklen, sit on one side of Gravesend Neck Road. On the other side is the little sloping house where Lady Moody supposedly (but probably didn’t) live.

Rumor has it the house served as a hospital during the Battle of Brooklyn in 1776.

The sweet story behind Brooklyn’s Love Lane

March 1, 2010

Today’s Love Lane is a cute one-block mews stretching from Henry Street to Hicks Street in Brooklyn Heights. 

But back in pre-Colonial times, it was an Indian trail leading to the nearby East River. And when the Dutch arrived in Brooklyn, it became a popular path for romantic walks.

An 1894 New York Times article states:

“The oldest residents can remember a time when there was a cool and shady path leading down “Lover’s Lane,” where plump, rosy-cheeked Dutch maidens, with their sweethearts, meandered on summer evenings out through the turnstile and down the grassy bank to the water’s edge.” 

I wonder if the name may have been reinforced by the presence of the Brooklyn Collegiate Institute for Young Ladies, an early 19th century finishing school located on what is now called College Place, a tiny lane that intersects Love Lane.

Perhaps eligible Brooklyn bachelors took romantic walks with some of the students here, making the Love Lane name really stick.