Across from the Plymouth Church

December 15, 2009

Street Names and Land Owners

Filed under: — Koharu @ 2:41 am

I learned while at the Brooklyn Historical Society that just because a person owned a lot of land, that didn’t necessarily mean they lived there. On the contrary, a person could lease the land to another person who would build a house and then rent that house to someone else.

Since I didn’t have an exact address for my project, I started looking at land conveyances for the lots of land on what would have been Whitman’s side of the block. I noticed that many of the same people owned land in the area. Coincidently enough, many of the landowners had the same last name as the streets they lived on.

The major owners I’ve found so far are:

  • Sands Samuel
  • John Hicks
  • Jacob Hicks
  • Martha Middaugh

There are more people who owned multiple plots of land, but these are just the onesĀ I found while looking at the properties around Whitman’s childhood home.

What’s interesting about the streets in the area is that a lot of them are named after rich merchants and settlers from the 17th-19th centuries. Hicks Street for example was named after John and Jacob Hicks, two brothers who operated a ferry that ran between Manhattan and Brooklyn and who also owned a large portion of Brooklyn Heights.

Pierrepont Street was named after Hezekiah Pierrepont who encouraged the development of the village of Brooklyn and founded the Long Island Historical Society, which eventually became the Brooklyn Historical Society.

Other streets named after people:

  • Livingston Street- Named after Philip Livingston the only Brooklynite to sign the declaration of Independence.
  • Schermerhorn Street- Named after Peter and Andrew Schermerhorn who were both successful merchants.
  • Clinton Street- Named after DeWitt Clinton who was at one time Mayor of New York City and Governor of New York State.
  • Remsen Street- Named after Rem Jansen Vanderbeek, a blacksmith who was one of the first men to be married in Brooklyn.
  • Middaugh Street- After John Middaugh. (Note that the Middaughs married into the Hicks and coincidently, the two streets intersect each other).

There are many other streets in Brooklyn that are named after people like Fulton Street (After Robert Fulton) and Fleet Street (After Samuel Fleet) but they aren’t all in Brooklyn Heights.

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