Bushwick History

Bushwick Avenue developed in the late nineteenth century as a residential center of industry in North Brooklyn. German brewers and other manufacturers built large villas and commissioned churches and other cultural institutions along the avenue. Smaller speculative row houses, infill tenements, and other multifamily dwellings from the late-nineteen to the early twentieth centuries housed the workforce and middle management of this small industrial enclave, and characterize the rest of the street and the remainder of the neighborhood. The elevated subway runs along Broadway, one block southwest, providing a few small shops and other commercial establishments, while at the west of the avenue, where it turns to the north, lie the historic breweries, warehouses, and other buildings that provided the economic foundation for the neighborhood’s early growth. At their pre-Prohibition height, the fourteen breweries in Bushwick produced a peak output of 2.5 million barrels, supplying nearly 10% of all beer consumed in the United States. However, the advance of inexpensive rail transportation and mechanical refrigeration allowed entrepreneurs in other cities to make inroads into the market and brewing in Brooklyn declined. The closing of the remaining industry created an economic depression of the area. The population of Bushwick remained predominately German until the 1930s and 40s, when they were supplanted by Italian-Americans. In the late 1950s and 60s, African-Americans and Puerto Ricans migrated to the neighborhood, comprising more than half of its population by 1970. The economic downturn of the 1970s was keenly felt in Bushwick, when New York City’s fiscal crisis prompted cuts to fire department service in the area at a time when abandoned buildings were subject to frequent fires, further devastating the neighborhood. Redevelopment efforts began in the 1980s and continue to this day.

From AIA Guide to New York City
Bushwick was established in 1660. “Bushwick” means wooded district. The area was referred to as the Eastern District. Industries included sugar, oil, rope, lumber, shipbuilding, brewing and glue. Brewing started in Bushwick in the 19th century when the German population settle there after uprisings in 1848 and 1849. At first it was a farming community, by the 1840s the Peter Cooper glue factory moved there. Bushwick Avenue once had 20 blocks of mansions. Several of the mansions burned down.

After the breweries closed or moved, starting in the 50s and continuing into the 70s when all were gone, Bushwick suffered a slow decline, culminating in July 1977 when, during a blackout, Bushwick , in effect, was destroyed by arson and looting. Broadway, which with Bushwick Avenue comprise the main arteries of Bushwick, are still attempting to recover from the destruction that happened in just one night. On this page we’ll look at some of Bushwick’s gems which should be the keystones in such a comeback.

text from http://www.forgotten-ny.com/STREET%20SCENES/bushwick/bushwick.html

(Source: New York Public Library Digital Collection)

Early History of Bushwick from: Henry R. Stiles. A History of the City of Brooklyn, Volume 1 (Brooklyn, New York), 1867.
General Development of Brooklyn:
April 1609 – est. of Dutch colony in NY
1614 – United New Netherland Co. licensed for peltry trading
1623 – Dutch West India Co. charter approved
1627 – English settle New England
1636 – William Andriaense Bennet and Jacque Bentyn purchase 930 acres of land at “Gowanus” from Native Americans (from which village of Gowanus extended – including the area considered as the first step in the settle of the City of Brooklyn)
1637 – Jansen de Rapalie purchases 335 acres between present-day Nostrand and Grand Avenues
1638 – West India Company secures tract of land near Rapalie’s
September 1638 – Amsterdam Chamber opens New Netherland to free trade
July 19, 1640 – “Charter of Freedoms and Exemptions, for all patrons, masters, and private persons” – inhabitants allowed to select small tracts of land – greatly quickened the prosperity of New Netherland
1642-45 – Indian war (1943 = “a year of blood”) – nothing specific about uprisings in Bushwick area
1645 – Bout, Aertsen, Stoffelsen, Cornelissen, Dircksen, and van Couwenhoven established village of Breuckelen
1776- Battle of Brooklyn

History of Brooklyn according to the LPC’s William Ulmer Brewery Designation Report
1852- Williamsburgh became an independent city
1855-Brooklyn was incorporated into the City of Brooklyn. Bushwick and Greenpoint were collectively known as Brooklyn’s Eastern District until 1898 when Brooklyn joined Manhattan
1850’s- Germans began immigrating into Williamsburgh and Bushwick following the Europe’s political problems in 1848
1888-Construction of the Myrtle Avenue Elevated Railroad which spurred further residential development in the area
1930’s-1940’s- Italians began moving into the neighborhood, Germans were starting to move out of the neighborhood
1949-Brewer’s strike
1950’s-60’s-70’s- Neighborhood demographic includes a rising population of African-Americans and Puerto Ricans.
1970’s-Area experiences a severe economic decline that is further negatively impacted by a high rate of foreclosure, reduced community services and arson
1977-Citywide Blackout and Broadway St. riots

Bushwick Early History:
1638 – West India Company purchases lands from the Indians that subsequently forms the town of Boswijk, later “Bushwick,” which had be cultivated (by squatters’ rights) by settles who began to take out patents on the land in 1640
1647 – Hans Hansen Bergen (“Hans the Boore”) secured patent on land situated partly in Breuckelen (the town within the greater territory also called Breuckelen) and partly in Boswijk, comprising lands of settlement known as “Bushwick Cross Roads” (some settles: General Jeremiah Johnson, James Scholes, Abraham Remsen, Abraham Boerum, Araham Meserole, McKibbin, and Nichols, Powers, Schenck, Mills
February 1860 – several Frenchmen, with Stuyvesant’s permission, settled between Mespath Kil and Norman’s Kil, and laid the foundation of village of Boswijk
1661 – Bushwick is chartered by Peter Stuyvesant, becoming one of the six original towns comprising the independent city of Breuckelen.
1693 – “considerable commotion and disturbance among the Dutch towns of the county (more especially, however, in Bushwick), arising from some political causes not now fully understood”
1714 – Bushwick, Brooklyn, and Flatbush were to commune under same Minister
1769 – end of controversy between Breucklyn (with Flatbush and Bushwick) and Newtown concerning their respective bounds

Revolutionary War:Army quartered at Bushwick during Revolutionary War
September 15 – British army marched through Bushwick on way from Brooklyn to the shore
1778 – 1st battalion light infantry encamped between Bedford and Bushwick

1811 – English clergyman Dr. Bassett called to Bushwick (others called to other parts of Brooklyn in the 19th c.) (Dutch churches there since 17th c.)
War of 1812 – Volunteers from Bushwick in (as well as from other parts of Brooklyn)