Posts Tagged ‘Gravesend Brooklyn’

A sleepy, beachy view across Gravesend Bay

April 12, 2013

Gravesend, Brooklyn has changed a lot in its almost 400-year history.

Founded in the 1640s by a group of religious dissenters, it went from colonial-era English town to farm community to the site of late 19th century beach resorts and a racetrack—then a suburban-like neighborhood by 1930, states The Encyclopedia of New York City.

In View Across Gravesend Bay to Seagate, a 1905 painting by Thomas Satterwhite Noble, the shabby wooden pier and debris-strewn beach give this stretch of Gravesend the appearance of a sleepy fishing village.

Today, this beach might be part of Calvert Vaux Park, named for the designer of Central Park who mysteriously died off these waters.

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.