Taking “South Brooklyn” Back For The Good Guys

Courtesy of BK Southie

In the following screed, Brian Hedden argues for reclaiming the term “South Brooklyn” for the part of Brooklyn that’s actually… you know… south. The post was originally published on his blog BK Southie. Short and to the point, I think it’s something all “Southern Brooklynites” ought to read.

Streetsblog commenter “kapes” on a bicycling thread last month:

I don’t know why I have to be such a stickler.

But it is such a common mistake I have to say something.

“South Brooklyn” is an area of Brooklyn close to downtown.

It is called this because it was south of the original (and quite small) city of Brooklyn. It includes Red Hook, Gowanus, Cobble Hill etc.

Mill Basin, Marine Park, Gerritsen Beach etc. are in southern Brooklyn.

You know, I usually make that distinction myself, but quite frankly, I’m a little tired of it. I blame Wikipedia for reinforcing this A-in-history-F-in-geography mentality. I mean, listen to this drivel.

South Brooklyn is a region or composite neighborhood in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, encompassing areas of Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, Red Hook, Gowanus, Park Slope, and Boerum Hill… The somewhat historic name of South Brookyn has been revived in recent years to foster a closer connection among the constituent communities, though the name has always been popular nomenclature for the neighborhood’s locals… [no, don’t stop there, here comes my favorite part] This hilly area is not to be confused with the actual flat southern region of the modern borough of Brooklyn…

Let me see… an area called South Brooklyn that’s not actually in, y’know, South Brooklyn – why would that be confusing? But hey, for those of us that noticed Brooklyn grew out of its onesie and into its big boy pants some 150 years ago, I propose the following revision.

South Brooklyn is the section of Brooklyn that takes its name from its location south of other parts of Brooklyn, and is not north of any other part of Brooklyn.

For archaic uses of South Brooklyn, see North Brooklyn.

Respect my geographah!

We at Sheepshead Bites are considering making the permanent switch to calling our territory South Brooklyn. Damn the hipsters and the yuppies. We know common sense down here, and South Brooklyn ought to be the part of Brooklyn that is south. What do you think?

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Comments

  1. So do you agree that Brooklyn is part of Long Island as well?

    My wife, a Brooklyn native absolutely disagrees with this.

  2. I've been calling it Southern Brooklyn for years. Let Red Hook have South Brooklyn, the residents are probably quite amused by the confusion that creates.

  3. Yes. Brooklyn is Geographically on the Island of Long Island. Long Island is the name of the entire Island that Kings, Queens, Nassau and Suffolk Counties is on.

  4. keep fighting for south brooklyn. let em' know where it's really at.

    why is long island being mentioned… let's try not to get too confused with the specifics.

  5. Perhaps people associate South Brooklyn with the Bank that stood on Atlantic Ave and Court Street since 1850. It changed its name in 1975 from South Brooklyn Savings Bank to Independence Savings. Its now a supermarket.

  6. South Brooklyn is the name of a neighborhood like Dyker Height is Bensonhurst is, etc. Southern brooklyn is the geogrphical location ot this area. That is my take..

  7. Brooklyn Heights aka Downtown Brooklyn, which was originally the town of Brooklyn is no longer simply called Brooklyn. It's called by its modern neighborhood name.

    Bay Ridge is no longer known as Yellow Hook.

    Times change and names change. South Brooklyn hasn't been South Brooklyn since the City of Brooklyn unified and became synonymous with Kings County.

    South Brooklyn IS Coney Island and Sheepshead Bay and it's environs. That's just the way it is.

  8. that and Downtown Brooklyn. I just tell my “south bklyn” friends “who the hell cares what you classify yourselves as. No one cares about Carroll Gardens when you compare it to SB”

  9. And what we called Midwood was actually the originally name for Flatbush (Midwout in the Dutch) Present day Midwood is within the old town boundaries of Gravesend.

  10. Funny, isn't it? How we can have three banks on every corner, but somehow the old bank buildings – the ones that look just absolutely amazing on the inside – get turned into supermarkets and flea markets and what not.

  11. If you're going to have a million branches of your bank you have to have small ones.

    Not all banks closed their large branches though. When Washington Mutual merged with the dime they kept the original bank structures. I'm not sure whether Chase will retain these buildings in the long term though.

  12. Sovereign Bank (the descendant of South Brooklyn Savings/Independence Savings) actually keeps one of the original SBSB branches on 18th Ave and 65th Street. It needs a good bath on the outside, but it's gorgeous on the inside. And it's one of the few examples I can think of where old banks are still current banks.

  13. The branches of the Kings Highway Savings Bank are still used as banks. The one on East 15th and Kings Highway is now a Citibank. The one on Sheepshead Bay Road is currently a Banco Popular.

    I do wish they would clean the facades of more of these banks.

  14. Yellow Hook was definitely a name they didn't want. Though it was the Yellow Fever Epidemic of the 1840s that caused Bay Ridge to become the home of the very rich. Many of the most powerful Brooklynites, such as Henry Murphy, lived there. Interesting that they ignored the corruption in New Utrecht.

  15. Laura, It's easier to follow conversations if you hit the reply button. That's one of the awesome things about Disqus that Ned installed. Threaded replies.

    What information. You mean the history of Brooklyn?

    You are aware aren't you that Brooklyn was originally 6 towns? The original town of Brueklen (siq?) was located in what is now the Downtown Brooklyn/Brooklyn Hights area. They didn't consolidate into a single city till the late 1800's, just a few years before Brooklyn consolidated with New York.

    All this historical info is available on Wikipedia.

    Either way, when Brooklyn was a small town on the north end of Kings County South Brooklyn was in the area listed above (north of what was to become Pig Town).

    Today, and it's today that's relevant South Brooklyn is Sheepshead Bay, Coney Island, Homecrest, Gravesend, and Bensonhurst. Personally I think including Mill Basin is a stretch.

  16. Our area, Sheepshead Bay, etc., is now called Brooklyn South. South Brooklyn is north of here.

    Before Midwood was called Midwood, it was South Greenfield. And Trotsky owned part of a company shooting films there. Many of the films were westerns because at that time it was a wooded area, in the middle of the woods. Hence Midwood.

    And, yes, there was an area called North Greenfield. It was to the north.

  17. So it was, and was lost to the mists of history. It was south of Prospect Park in Flatbush and developed in the 1860s. South Greenfield dates from just before 1880.

    And Greenfield, developed in the late 1850s, is now what is known as Parkville.

  18. Unfortunately, corporate America has begun to show a flagrant disregard for taking responsibility for their errant ways. Americans and the rest of the world are beginning to realize that washington mutual bank locations corporate America is almost brazen in their defiance of the safe and steady path which they have replaced with the quick two step from no money to lots of money. Unfortunately, this has been a short-lived scenario that is now costing US taxpayers where it hurts the most- their wallets and pocketbooks, not to mention their retirement plans.

  19. And the link looks suspicious. Registered to a Bahaman company with multiple ownership and other record changes over the past three years. At any rate its an anachronism.

  20. Unfortunately, corporate America has begun to show a flagrant disregard for taking responsibility for their errant ways. Americans and the rest of the world are beginning to realize that washington mutual bank locations corporate America is almost brazen in their defiance of the safe and steady path which they have replaced with the quick two step from no money to lots of money. Unfortunately, this has been a short-lived scenario that is now costing US taxpayers where it hurts the most- their wallets and pocketbooks, not to mention their retirement plans.

  21. And the link looks suspicious. Registered to a Bahaman company with multiple ownership and other record changes over the past three years. At any rate its an anachronism.

  22. so what neighborhoods are considered South Brooklyn…your description gives no specific hoods…not being a smart ass…just curious to know what really is considered south brooklyn:
    “South Brooklyn is the section of Brooklyn that takes its name from its location south of other parts of Brooklyn, and is not north of any other part of Brooklyn.”For archaic uses of South Brooklyn, see North Brooklyn

  23. The easy way to understand it is to think of South Brooklyn as the part of Brooklyn just south of downtown. Atlantic Avenue is the dividing line.

    Harlem is north of Little Italy, but it is not part of Nolita. Coney Island is in the southern part of Brooklyn, but it is not part of South Brooklyn.

    Another geographic quirk in brooklyn is that south is considered up. For example, someone in Carrol Gardens might say: “I’m headed UP to Bay Ridge.”

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