Unless you speak Dutch, have spent a lot of time in Brooklyn, or researched the NYC borough to a pulp, you’re unlikely to know that “Brooklyn” is nederlands for “Broken Land.” Of more than forty neighborhoods that have carved out space in the borough, many have similarly fascinating origins. Below, we share the back stories for several neighborhood located in and near Downtown Brooklyn.
One of the largest neighborhoods in Brooklyn, Bed-Stuy is the product of a neighborhood merger. Stuyvesant Heights, named for New Netherlands governor Peter Stuyvesant, merged with Bedford in 1930. Bed-Stuy is known as the birthplace of Norah Jones, Lil’ Kim, Tracy Morgan, Chris Rock, and Jay Z.
This little slice of Brooklyn, just south of Downtown, was referred to simply as South Brooklyn until its real estate gained traction in the 1990s. The name comes from a prominent Dutch family who helped settle Brooklyn, with roots to the borough dating back to 1649.
The first part of Brooklyn to be settled, Brooklyn Heights gets its name from the way it rises above the East River. Known for its stunning, well-maintained architecture, the neighborhood is definitely worth a visit. If you’re staying at NU Hotel Brooklyn on your upcoming visit, you’ll be right there.
Revolutionary Charles Carroll was a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Just a month after signing, Carroll led an assault on the British near the Gowanus Canal in 1776. His troops didn’t fare so well, but Carroll lives on as the namesake of this beautiful Brooklyn neighborhood today.
Brooklyn’s brownstone-clad Clinton Hill neighborhood bears no connection to the power political couple affectionately or less affectionately referred to as Bill and Hillary. It’s named after Dewitt Clinton, a New York governor who was once vetted for the office of the presidency himself.
Whereas Brooklyn is a transliterated form of the Dutch word Breuckelen, Cobble Hill is a direct translation of Ponkiesburgh, the name bestowed on the neighborhood by its first European Settlers. Founding father George Washington spent a lot of time in Cobble Hill during the Revolutionary War, capitalizing on the excellent vantage point found where present-day Court Street intersects with Pacific.
One of Brooklyn’s newest neighborhoods, DUMBO is simply an acronym for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass. Prior to 1970, hardly anyone lived in this now desirable neighborhood, which was something of an industrial cesspool for most of Brooklyn’s history.
All of these neighborhoods are easily accessible to NU Hotel Brooklyn, which calls Downtown Brooklyn home. Downtown Brooklyn, by the way, derives its name from its status as the borough’s business hub. This can be chalked down to the fact that the neighborhood was connected to Downtown Manhattan by the Fulton Steamship before any bridges connected Brooklyn with Manhattan.