The hipster-generated Brooklyn mystique has put New York City’s second largest borough under a bright limelight. From Tribeca to Stockholm, people care and know more about Brooklyn than ever before. Still, there are several fascinating Brooklyn factoids few people know.
The borough used to hold an annual “Most Beautiful Grandmother Contest”
Beauty contests are far from uncommon, but most of them focus on and prize youthful beauty. Not in Brooklyn. From 1932 to 1970, an annual beauty contest for grandmothers was held at Steeplechase Park near Coney Island.
Brooklyn hosted an NHL team for a year
After 15 years of attempting to make a name for themselves in Manhattan, the New York Americans relocated to Brooklyn for the 1941-1942 season. The Brooklyn Americans fared no better than the New York Americans. The franchise was not canceled until 1946, but the “Amerks” never played in Brooklyn again after 1942. Recently, we welcomed the Islanders to BK and the Barclays Center.
Brooklyn Borough Hall was once covered in WPA murals
One of FDR’s New Deal projects in Brooklyn was the design of two murals depicting the borough’s history from 1609 to 1898. The murals, each measuring 900 square feet, were unceremoniously removed from Borough Hall in 1946, less than ten years after their completion.
Dreamland Park had a real-life Lilliputia
Dreamland Amusement Park at Coney Island had several unique attractions. One of them was “Lilliputia,” named after the little people in Gulliver’s Travels. A small city, modeled after 15th-Century Nuremberg, Germany, was built to accommodate 300 little people from across the country. Sadly, residents were considered an attraction along with their city during the day, but lived ordinary lives in Lilliputia when the park was closed.
Mickey Rooney was all but born an actor
Actor and entertainer Mickey Rooney lived to be 93, and the Brooklyn son acted for almost as long. His nine-decade career kicked off when he first appeared in his parents’ Brooklyn vaudeville act at the age of 17.
Parking in Brooklyn has been an issue for more than 60 years
Even today, Brooklyn has a reputation for having more readily available and less expensive parking than Manhattan. But parking is still every car owner’s nightmare. A Brooklyn Daily Eagle article from May 1954 demonstrates that parking was a problem in the borough even then, although notably less so than in Manhattan.
Twizzlers were born in Brooklyn
No dearth of products were conceived or first created in Brooklyn. But not many people know that Twizzlers, originally developed by Y&S Candies, got their start in Brooklyn in 1845.
There’s a defunct wine cellar in the Brooklyn Bridge
There are numerous secret rooms built into the Brooklyn Bridge. In at least one of them, vaults were rented out to wine makers for storage. The humidity and temperature in these vaults made them naturally suitable for wine and champagne storage.
Williamsburg’s home to several mysterious miniature doors
Walking around Williamsburg today, you might notice what appear to be miniature apartment doors here and there. About 150 were installed in 2014, and were ultimately discovered to be part of an innovative marketing campaign for Speakeasy Dollhouse, an interactive and engaging experience you might wish to have while in New York.
Two in five Brooklynites are foreign-born
From the time it was settled by the Dutch in the 1630s, Brooklyn was long considered a home of immigrants. After being processed at Ellis Island during some of the largest waves of immigration in America’s history, Brooklyn was the first stop for many newcomers to the country. Some used it as a jumping-off point, but others stayed. Today, nearly 40% of Brooklyn residents were born outside the United States.
Hopefully you’ve learned something about Brooklyn from reading this post, and are getting even more excited for your visit. If you haven’t booked a room and wish to stay close to Brooklyn’s most historic and culturally rich spots, check out NU Hotel Brooklyn.