Battle of Long Island, 1858 by Alonzo Chappel
241 years ago on August 27th, less than two months after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the largest battle of the Revolutionary War played out across Brooklyn. What was first known as the Battle of Long Island (Brooklyn was still just a small town at the time of the attack) was later dubbed the Battle of Brooklyn. On this summer day in 1776, The British took their troops from Staten Island to stealthily attack George Washington and his Continental Army at their Brooklyn camp. Greatly outnumbered in size and skill, Washington sent many of his soldiers on an escape route through Brooklyn Heights and across the foggy East River to Manhattan. To distract the British and buy the rest of the troops time, Washington also sent the entire 1st Maryland Regiment, known as the Maryland 400, on a suicide mission. All 400 soldiers from the regiment were killed in battle with the British, but the Continental Army made its escape and went on to win the war.
Not surprising since these harrowing events played out across a good portion of the borough, there are monuments, a museum, and plaques to commemorate it. And then there are popular Brooklyn locales—from Prospect Park to Green-Wood Cemetery—that you might not realize were former battlefields. After the jump, 6sqft rounds up the modern-day locations once crucial to the Battle of Brooklyn, with some tips on how to commemorate the event this weekend.
West Side Tennis Club via Joe Shlabotnik/Flickr; Althea Gibson via Wiki Commons
On August 22, 1950, what was then known as the United States Lawn Tennis Association (USLTA) accepted Harlem’s Althea Gibson into their annual championship at Forest Hills, New York (the precursor to the U.S. Open). The spot on the championship roster made Gibson the first African-American athlete to compete in a U.S. national tennis competition, launching a storied career in which she won a whopping 16 Grand Slams, including the 1956 French Open where she became the first person of color to win such a title.
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The Cornelius Vanderbilt II Mansion on 57th Street and 5th Avenue, now demolished. Photo via A.D. White Architectural Photographs, Cornell University Library.
New York City’s Fifth Avenue has always been pretty special, although you’d probably never guess that it began with a rather ordinary and functional name: Middle Road. Like the 1811 Commissioner’s Plan for Manhattan, which laid out the city’s future expansion in a rational manner, Middle Road was part of an earlier real estate plan by the City Council. As its name suggests, Middle Road was situated in the middle of a large land parcel that was sold by the council in 1785 to raise municipal funds for new newly established nation. Initially, it was the only road to provide access to this yet-undeveloped portion of Manhattan, but two additional roads were built later (eventually becoming Park Avenue and Sixth Avenue).
The steady northwards march of upscale residences, and the retail to match, has its origins where Fifth Avenue literally begins: in the mansions on Washington Square Park. Madison Square was next, but it would take a combination of real-estate clairvoyance and social standing to firmly establish Fifth Avenue as the center of society.
More on how the gilded mansions of 5th Avenue came to be
Postmaster General Harry Stewart New watches the solar eclipse of January 24, 1925, shielding his eyes with a photographic plate. Image: Wikimedia commons
During a total solar eclipse that occurred in 1925 in Manhattan, according to Space.com, “the streetlights turned on, three women fainted, vendors sold smoked glass while exhorting passersby to ‘save your eyes for 10 cents’ and seagulls landed in the water, assuming it was night.” Though today’s eclipse will be only a partial version for New Yorkers, we know enough about the moon’s orbit to accurately predict an eclipse’s timing as narrowly as a city block’s distance. At the time, though–long before anyone had landed on the moon, observing and measuring the shadow as it moved over the Earth provided important information on the moon’s size, shape and path.
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Image via Pexels
On average, New Yorkers use a staggering 1 billion gallons of water per day, but unlike people in many other U.S. cities, they don’t need to worry about their taps running dry. Over a century ago, city engineers devised a plan to ensure the city would have ample water and that the supply would meet the growing needs of the city over time. Today, the city’s century-old reservoir system continues to supply New Yorkers with clean water year round. For outdoorsy residents, the city’s water supply also serves another surprising purpose. Located just over two hours north of the city limits, the reservoirs are also an increasingly popular place to canoe and kayak without the distraction of motorized water vehicles and cottagers.
our complete guide here
Image via Wiki Commons
Everyone knows the folk-rock classic “Summer in the City” by the Lovin’ Spoonful, which topped the charts 51 years ago this August in 1966. But fewer know the song’s roots in Greenwich Village–lead singer John Sebastian actually grew up in the neighborhood and the act got their start in the local clubs–and fewer still know a 15-year-old Village student was responsible for a significant part of its composition.
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Image via Alisdare Hickson/flickr
After a violent weekend led by white supremacist groups in Charlottesville, Virginia, New York officials have announced plans to review and remove controversial public structures. Mayor de Blasio said on Wednesday the city will conduct a 90-day review of “all symbols of hate on city property,” by putting together a panel of experts and community leaders who will make recommendations for items to take down (h/t NY Post). On Wednesday, Governor Cuomo called upon the United States Army to reconsider its decision to keep the street names that honor Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, two Confederate leaders, at Fort Hamilton. Cuomo also announced the removal of the busts of Lee and Jackson from CUNY’s Hall of Fame for Great Americans in the Bronx.
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The Ramones outside of CBGB, photo via CBGB
On August 16, 1974, four men dressed in leather motorcycle jackets and Converse high-tops hit the stage at CBGB, an iconic East Village dive bar, for the very first time. After this debut performance, the Ramones, who hailed from Forest Hills, Queens, became the first regulars at CBGB, a spot known for the cutting edge punk rock musicians that played there, like Talking Heads, Patti Smith and Blondie. In the year 1974 alone, the Ramones played there over 70 times.
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General Lee Avenue and Robert E. Lee’s former home on Fort Hamilton, via Jeremy Bender/Business Insider
Following the tragic events in Charlottesville, Va. last weekend, officials announced Tuesday that two plaques honoring Gen. Robert E. Lee outside of a Brooklyn church would be taken down. The plaques, tacked to a maple tree, belonged to St. John’s Episcopal Church in Fort Hamilton, although the church has been closed since 2014. As Newsday reported, the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island owns the church and will sell it.
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Photo of 541 Clinton Street via Apartments.com
In the 1940s, two attorneys from Manhattan let the mortgage payments lapse on a building they owned in Carroll Gardens. Julius Freilicher and Martin Auslander had a $3,300 mortgage with Dime Savings Bank on their tenement at 541 Clinton Street. Believing it was a better idea to not pay the mortgage, the two lawyers decided the best thing was to file a deed of gift, as the Brownstone Detectives reported. The receivers of this gift? Adolph Hitler and Joseph Stalin.
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