Brooklyn is the most heavily populated borough in New York City and is the second largest borough in terms of area. It covers an area of ninety-six square miles and has a population of approximately two and a half million residents. Brooklyn has a culture of its own and many of its neighborhoods are ethnic concentrations where a particular ethnic group’s culture is dominant. The first Europeans to settle here were the Dutch.
They formed a settlement that was called Midwood in the seventeenth century. In 1646, the Dutch West India Company authorized the formation of Breuckelen Village. This village became the first true city in New York state at the time. In 1664, the British conquered the area. By 1683 the British had organized New York into twelve counties and each county was sub-divided into towns. As the years passed, Breuckelen would evolve to become Brockland and then eventually, Brooklyn. Brooklyn was one of the original towns in Kings County, one of the original counties, and was named after King Charles II of England. In 1776, the Battle of Long Island started in King’s County. It was the first battle of the American Revolution and was also the largest.
George Washington lost the battle but did manage to keep his army intact as they retreated across the East River. New York would go on to become the military center for the British operating in North America. This caused many people sympathetic to the American cause to flee the area and caused the influx of many loyalist into the area. After the American Revolution, the area saw an increase in its growth, particularly during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The Brooklyn Bridge was built in 1883 and allowed for easier access to Manhattan. In 1898, Brooklyn joined with Queens, Staten Island, Richmond and Manhattan to become one of the five bouroughs of New York.
Today, forty-four percent of the employed population of Brooklyn works in the borough, the remainder work outside the borough. This has caused Manhattan to become an important part of the economic activities of the borough. Brooklyn in recent years has shifted from primarily a manufacturing based economy to one based upon the service industry. Most of the borough’s businesses are considered to be small businesses and have fewer then twenty employees. Over thirty-six thousand small businesses are established in Brooklyn.
The Brooklyn Bridge is not only one of the most recognizable symbols of the borough, but is also its most popular tourist attraction. This bridge is one of the oldest suspension bridges in the country and was built in 1883. It spans the East River and connects Brooklyn with Manhattan. When it was built it was originally called the New York & Brooklyn Bridge, but a letter to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle dubbed it the Brooklyn Bridge. In 1964m it was named a National Historic Landmark. The bridge is fifty-nine hundred feet long and is eighty-five feet wide.
Another popular attraction in the borough is the New York Transit Museum. This museum is situated in the Brooklyn Heights neighborhood and opened to the public in April of 1936. It contains a variety of railroad related items in its collection. Green-Wood Cemetery is another National Historic Landmark that is located in the borough of Brooklyn. This cemetery is just southwest of Prospect Park and is a cemetery that is made in a park like landscape. It was started by Henry Evelyn Pierrepoint and was where the most prominent New Yorkers of the nineteenth century were buried. Today, it still operates as a cemetery and has six hundred thousand graves spread out over four hundred and seventy-eight acres.
It has gentle hills, a chapel and several beautiful ponds. In 1861, a Gothic style entrance gate was designed by Richard Upjohn. Notable people who are buried here include Othniel Boaz Askew, Peter Cooper, James Creighton, Jr., Henry Ward Beecher, Horace Greeley, Henry Chadwick, Joseph Henderson, Nathaniel Currier, Samuel Akerly, Isaac Kaufmann Funk, Albert Anastasia, Elizabeth F. Ellet, Edwin Pearce Christy, Robert Stockton Green, James Gordon Bennett, Sr., Henry B. Hidden, Edward Ferrero, DeWolf Hopper, Thomas Hastings, Lorenzo Da Ponte, Henry Bergh, William Stewart Halsted, Charles Feltman, Florence La Badie, Leonard Bernstein, Philip A. Herfort, Henry James Montague and Samuel Blatchford.
Coney Island is another favorite attraction. Coney Island is a peninsula that is situated in the southern portion of the area of Brooklyn and has an Atlantic Beach. Its best known for its different amusement parks particularly Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park, 12th Street Amusements and Kiddie Park. Astroland was once a very popular amusement park, but was closed in 2008.