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September 24, 2020
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News + Views

Why South Brooklyn?

By Lisa M. Collins

Hey readers,

So I got an interesting email from a reader about resurrecting that old term, South Brooklyn, to refer to our living area. Here goes:

“I don’t get calling our neighborhood South Brooklyn. It is of course geographically speaking north west Brooklyn. I understand that a long time ago it was called South Brooklyn because everything South of it was farm land but it hasn’t been for a long time. I think its confusing and unnecessarily so. I used to live in Westchester which, more recently than Cobble Hill was South Brooklyn, was called The Bronx. Westchester didn’t exist, there was only the Bronx. No one said that we lived in The Bronx. There were no Bronx blogs that told you about life in Scarsdale. If someone did make a Scarsdale blog and called it the “Bronx something” because over a hundred years ago we lived in the Bronx it would be ridiculous. To perhaps make my point more clear the geographic south of Brooklyn is now called “South Brooklyn” by NYPD, FDNY, The City of New York at large and several other blogs, parent groups and so on. Not only has South Brooklyn come to mean the geographic South of Brooklyn for the last hundred years but rolling back the clock to call our area South Brooklyn is as dismissive now as it was back then. Incidentally during the same time Nassau and Suffolk counties didn’t exist. Everything west of Brooklyn was Queens. I wonder if there’s a Queens Beat blog that will let me know about Hampton rentals for next year…”

So what do you think? You can comment at the end of every article by hitting the “Comment” button. For us, we picked South Brooklyn because we think it gets confusing to use seven or eight different names for this area. Most of the neighborhood names came into play around the 60s and 70s when people began renovating homes and there were big influxes of new residents. Each neighborhood is distinct and carries its own personalty and charm. We shuttle through each, for restaurants, parks, shopping, businesses, and boundaries get blurred.¬†When you are on mid-Smith Street, are you in Boerum Hill, Cobble Hill or Carroll Gardens? Does it really matter?

Post Your Comment

Readers' Comments

Chris S
December 5, 2010
10:08 AM

Well, let’s see: The Upper West Side of Manhattan ends where? 100th Street? 110th Street? That’s what the people who live there would tell you. But if you look on a map, the geographic upper West side of Manhattan is actually several miles to the north, even north of Dyckman Street if you want to get picky, and it’s a forest where they often find dead bodies. The East Village used to extend to Thompson Street, three blocks east of Sixth Avenue, when there was only one “Village” — Greenwich Village. Now it goes all the way to Avenue D. People used to say fans wouldn’t go to Yankee games because it was in the South Bronx. That was in the late 80s and early 90s when George Steinbrenner was threatening to move the team to New Jersey. He used the term “South Bronx” because it scared people and suited his means. But 161st and River Ave. is actually in the central Bronx, 29 blocks south of Fordham Road, below which everything is the “South Bronx” in the minds of some. The point here is that names of neighborhoods and perceptions of neighborhood boundries are constantly evolving, and actual geography is secondary to what people generally recognize as their area’s proper territorial designation. People in Williamsburg recognize where “South Brooklyn” is just as much as people in Cobble Hill do.

December 4, 2010
2:44 PM

South Brooklyn Casket company opened in 1931 is on Union St.