15 Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About Brooklyn

Brooklyn facts

Brooklyn is a name that almost everyone is familiar with, regardless of whether or not they live in the US. Of the five boroughs that make up New York City, Brooklyn, which is coextensive with Kings County, is the most populous county in the state of New York. It is also the second most densely populated county in the country.

There is a lot that people don’t know about Brooklyn despite its fame. Things such as how the Manhattan Bridge was almost named ‘Bridge No. 3’. Also the fact that Tootsie Rolls and Credit Cards were invented in Brooklyn. By ‘invented,’ we mean more like the first ever credit card was issued by a bank in the area. This and so much more remains relatively unknown about this fascinating place. Here we’ve compiled a list of some of the best facts about Brooklyn.

Amazing Facts about Brooklyn

1. Brooklyn has a unique location and a vast population

Brooklyn is so extensively populated that if it were a city of its own, it would be the fourth largest one in the US by population. Although it is considered part of New York City, geographically Brooklyn is located on Long Island. As of 2020, 2.7 million people call Brooklyn home with many more coming to the borough from not just around the country but globally to find better prospects and greater opportunities in the area.  

2. The Brooklyn bridge rises about three inches during the winter

The Brooklyn Bridge is by far the most iconic location in the county. Construction started on the bridge in 1869 and it was opened on 24th May, 1883. Since it is a hybrid cable-stayed/suspension bridge, there is a lot of metal in its construction which naturally expands and contracts depending on the weather. In the winter, the cables contract causing the whole bridge to rise by approximately three inches. Although this is not noticeable to an everyday passerby, it is still amazing to know.

Brooklyn facts

3. The county was once the ‘Coffee Capital’ of the world

Americans have always been known for their love of coffee. However, Brooklyn is a place that stands out. As of the year 1906, more than 25 million pounds of coffee were roasted at the renowned Arbuckle Brothers coffee factory on John Street every month. Despite being unconfirmed, this amount was likely higher than any other building at the time that was roasting coffee. As a result, Brooklyn earned the title of being the ‘Coffee Capital’ of the world at the time.

4. In 2006, a Cold War bomb shelter was discovered under the Brooklyn bridge

During the year 2006 when city workers were carrying out inspection work at the Brooklyn Bridge for ascertaining its structural integrity, they discovered what was a Cold War bomb shelter tucked underneath the famous bridge. The bunker was filled with medical essentials, water drums, blankets and 352,000 packets of crackers for rainy days. This shelter is one of the most significant discoveries made in the area during recent times.

5. 26 fires broke out in the area now known as Brooklyn Bridge Park between 1822 and 1952

Since the Brooklyn area is a famed trading post and has been for a long time, between 1822 and 1952, it was packed with fire hazards that included ships as well as warehouses storing combustible materials. As a result of these, 26 fires broke out along the Brooklyn waterfront during this time. Eight deaths occurred due to these incidents and the events have become a significant part of the area’s history.

6. Brooklyn was home to America’s first roller coaster

On June 16th, 1884, America’s first roller coaster was inaugurated on Coney Island in Brooklyn. It was known as Switchback Railway and traveled at a measly speed of six miles an hour. The rollercoaster was amongst the earliest that were designed for amusement in the United States. The designer, LaMarcus Adna Thompson, based the design loosely on the coal mining trains of Mauch Chunk, in the mountains of Pennsylvania.

Brooklyn facts

7. Prospect Park is Brooklyn’s largest public park

Spread over 585 acres, Prospect Park is the largest public park in the Brooklyn area. It was created by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert B. Vaux in 1867. They considered it their masterpiece. Interestingly, these two are the same people who designed Central Park as well. However, Prospect Park still takes the crown as being the biggest of its kind and more importantly being located in Brooklyn which makes it extremely popular.

8. Brooklyn has given the world a ton of famous celebrities

The list of celebrities that have come out of Brooklyn and shook the world with their talents is not just long but illustrious as well. Notable mentions include Larry David, Woody Allen, Jay Z, Michael Jordan, Adam Sandler, Eddie Murphy, Al Capone, Judge Judy, Barbara Streisand, Nas and Spike Lee to name a few. There are plenty more who have risen from the streets of the city to heights of fame and global recognition over the past years.

9. Former President Barack Obama once lived in a brownstone in Brooklyn

Brownstone was a historically popular building material and the term is more commonly used in the US and Canada to refer to a townhouse that is built with them. A few decades before he became President of the United States, Barack Obama resided half a block away from Prospect Park on the top floor of a brownstone on Second Street. This was when he was living with his former girlfriend and hadn’t met now wife Michelle Obama.

Brooklyn facts

10. Brooklyn’s mergence with New York is referred to by some as ‘The Great Mistake of 1898’

There is no doubt about the fact that Brooklyn is a diverse and vibrant neighborhood that deserves recognition on its own. At one time during history, this was true when Brooklyn was a separate city. However, in the year 1898, administrative decisions were made according to which, it was merged with the city of New York. Some Brooklyn residents from that time still refer to this move as the ‘Great Mistake of 1898’.

11. The official motto of Brooklyn is Dutch with respect to the time when they settled here

“Een Draght Mackt Maght” or “Unity is Strength: stands as the official motto of Brooklyn and most people don’t understand how the motto can come from a language that exists thousands of miles away. Well, the Dutch settled in western Long Island and built a village near Brooklyn Heights. This community was called Breuckelen and Brooklyn itself is an anglicized version of that name.

12. Did you know? Prospect Park was once a cattle grazing area

Long before Prospect Park was built, farmers in the area let their cattle feed on the lands. Periodically, the animals would be collected and sent back to their respective owners. When the park opened in 1867, this became a huge cause for contention as the animals still continued grazing in the area. In 1872, more than a 100 animals were impounded for grazing in the Park and slowly, the practice stopped.

13. The name ‘Brooklyn Dodgers’ has an interesting backstory

The Brooklyn Dodgers, who are today known as the Los Angeles Dodgers, were known by several other names. The Brooklyn Grays, Brooklyn Bridegrooms, and finally the Brooklyn Trolley Dodgers, shortened to the Dodgers, were their original names. When Brooklyn had a tangle of streetcar lines, this was the case. Pedestrians who were not used to being hit by fast moving vehicles were frequently struck and killed, forcing them to learn how to avoid the trolleys.

14. Brooklyn is the ‘fastest borough’ in New York City

With an average speed of 8:14 minutes per mile, Brooklyn is the fastest borough for runners in the New York City Marathon, thanks to its mostly flat terrain.

15. The entrance to Greenwood Cemetery is a New York City landmark

Brownstone makes up the entrance of Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery. It’s one of the earliest areas in Brooklyn where brownstones were used. The 106-foot-tall Gothic-Revival style gates are a sight to behold.

Manhattan Vs. Brooklyn – A Comparison of Lifestyles

Ever wondered how it is different living in Brooklyn and compared to Manhattan. Here is an interesting video to showcase the major differences.

Summary

Brooklyn is the most densely populated and vibrant area in the state of New York. It is known for its hustle and bustle while also providing the residents as well as visitors with unique professional and personal growth opportunities.

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