From street art to hip bars, Williamsburg introduces you to Brooklyn’s thriving art and music scene, great restaurants and unique shops. Whether you’re along the East River or Bushwick Avenue, you’ll be inspired and filled with creativity.
The new found culture boom has enhanced the lifestyle within the neighborhood, but what was Williamsburg like before today?
We thought we’d share a few interesting facts about Williamsburg, before it was cool–before it was even “Williamsburg”.
Williamsburg Was Purchased For More Money Than Manhattan
The geographic area that is Williamsburg was acquired in 1638 from a group of Canarsee Indians, the same tribe that likely sold Manhattan. The price was greater than Manhattan, which now boasts the most expensive real estate in the city. Interestingly, the trade involved a collection of European tools.
It’s hard to imagine with the current urban landscape, but at that time, the area was heavily wooded and the East River was their equivalent of the BQE. Although there is little evidence that the tribe lived in future Williamsburg, it’s believed that they likely used the area seasonally for hunting and fishing.
Frenchmen Settled Williamsburg First Under the Dutch
The Canarsee Indians sold Williamsburg to the Dutch West India Company, which started to settle on the land surrounding Williamsburg. Under Dutch supervision, a group of Frenchmen set up a small village that local governor Peter Stuyvesant named “Bosjwick”, or “heavy woods” (the namesake of one of our favorite Bushwick bars). Bushwick, became the northernmost Dutch village in the borough, located near the intersection of Metropolitan and Bushwick Avenues. In 1802, real estate investor Richard Woodhull named it after the engineer who surveyed the land, Jonathan Williams.
One of the First Homes Built in Williamsburg Was At South 4th and Bedford Avenue
The intersection of South 4th and Bedford Avenues is the location of the neighborhood’s first house! Named “Keikout” (Dutch for “look-out”), a boarding house was built first as a refuge from battles. The most famous tenant was Captain William Kidd, whose pirate voyages were based out of Manhattan, where local merchants invested in his operations. Kidd may have been the first true Williamsburg hipster with his style and quick accumulation of wealth.
The Williamsburg Bridge Joined “Two Cities”
When construction began on the Williamsburg Bridge, Manhattan and Brooklyn were two separate cities. The bridge truly consolidated the five boroughs in 1898.
Williamsburgh Has Had Many Names
Exploring Williamsburg, you may occasionally come across signs and buildings written with an “h” at the end: Williamsburgh. The “h” was apparently dropped after the area officially merged with Brooklyn in April of 1854, as the settlement was originally a part of Bushwick. So, when it came to describing the land of future Williamsburg, “northern Kings County,” “Cripplebush,” and “Bushwick” were all terms used to describe this area north of Brooklyn. Printed references indicate that the two versions were used interchangeably for some time.
Knowing a bit more of its history, we have a deeper appreciation of Williamsburg –the hub for creative millennials to live, eat, and enjoy Brooklyn!