Posts Tagged ‘Van Corlears farm’

A New York street helps coin the term “hooker”

April 10, 2011

Corlears Hook was named in the 17th century for the Van Corlears family, early Dutch settlers who had a farm near this spit of land jutting into into the East River.

In the 18th century, the British renamed it Crown Point (on the 1776 map below), and in the 19th century it reverted back to its New Amsterdam moniker.

But it wasn’t farmland anymore. By the 1830s it became the city’s most notorious red-light district, attracting sailors and the women who serviced them.

The women of Corlears Hook
“. . . where the lowest and most debased of their class. They were flashy, untidy, and covered with tinsel and brass jewelry,” states Seafaring Women, by David Cordingly. “Their dresses are short, arms and necks bare, and their appearance is as disgusting as can be conceived.”

“The latter area is generally credited with giving rise to the term ‘hooker’ and certainly had its fair share of rough characters, male and female,” adds Cordingly.

By the 20th century, Corlears Hook had become a lovely park, which today offers views of the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges—and no hint of its importance in creating a popular term for ladies of the night.