Brooklyn.com has a really cool section where they explain in detail where many streets in Brooklyn got their name.
Here are some selected streets that we found interesting:
|Albemarle Road||named after Albemarle Road in the borough of Kensington, London, England. Was originally called Butler Street, and before that, Ausable Avenue.|
Bedford Avenue, named for the neighborhood of Bedford Corners (originally centered at what is now Bedford and Flushing Avenues), is the longest street in Brooklyn, at about 10.2 miles long (16.4 km). The avenue originally served as a major North/South route between the farming village of Flatbush and Newtown Creek.
source: Brooklyn By Name & wikipedia.
Brooklyn is the anglicized form of "Breuckelen", and is most probably named after the municipality of Breukelen, in Utrecht province, in the Netherlands. The (new world) village of Breukelen was founded by Dutch settlers sometime after 1625 as one of five villages on Long Island (which they called Nieuw Amersfoort -- New Amersfoort, Amersfoort being another municipality in the Netherlands), the other villages being Bushwick (founded in 1638), Flatbush (1636), Flatlands (1636), and New Utrecht (1657). A sixth, Gravesend (1643 or 1645) by anEnglishwoman named Lady Deborah Moody. The British captured the Dutch territory in 1664 during the Second Anglo-Dutch War, and when the British combined the six villages into one County (Kings County), under the British flag, the Dutch residents began "anglicizing" many place names and family names -- that is, changing or translating the names into English.
|Bridge Street||Bridge Street was originally going to be the street that led to a bridge to Manhattan. But as it turned out, the first bridge to Manhattan, the Brooklyn Bridge, was built to the south and the Manhattan Bridge was built to the north. The street was the departure point of a sucessful ferry service, but the street fell into such disrepair that people didn't want to use it...a lot of existing Brooklyn streets didn't get paved until the second half of the 1800's.|
|Brooklyn||The origin of the word "Brooklyn" is sort of accidental. It is the anglicization of the word "Breukelen" -- which is the name of a town in the province of Utrecht in the Netherlands.|
Dutch settlers named their settlement on the western end of Long Island Breukelen after the town in their homeland, and when the English took over rule of New Amsterdam, the residents changed the spelling of Breukelen to "Brooklyn".
In the same way, many, many Dutch words became the "English" names for places in the New Amsterdam (which became New York) area. A couple of examples of things that still strongly bear their Dutch history in their names: many sources think Coney Island is thought to be named after rabbits....the Dutch word for "rabbit" is "konjin", pronounced, roughly, "con yeen". Another example is "Red Hook" -- originally named Roode Hoek, which, in Dutch, means "Red Point" -- a reference to the red clay of the area and the "point" of land that juts out into the harbor.
In addition to place names, the Dutch gave us a lot of words that became very common in post-Dutch New York, and the world. The word "cookie" comes from the Dutch word koekje, the word "boss" comes from the Dutch word baas and koolsla, which literally means "cabbage salad" became "coleslaw".
|Canarsie Road||This was the "road to Canarsie," an early settlement in the town of Flatlands, and named after Canarsie Indians who lived in the area.|
|Church Avenue||The main road to Flatbush Reformed Church at the center of the original Dutch town of Flatbush, founded in 1636.|
|Coney Island Avenue||For many years, this was the main road --a plank road no less -- to Coney Island.|
Although there are many theories of the origin of the name "Coney", probably the most popular is that it is supposedly an anglicized version of the Dutch word meaning "rabbit", "konijn" -- perhaps after the multitude of rabbits on the island.
Other theories are that it was named after "Conyn," a Dutch surname, OR after a small island near Sligo, Ireland, with a very similar size.
|Cortelyou Road||Named for Jacques Cortelyou (ca 1625 - 1693), one of the earliest settlers of New Amsterdam, a land surveyor who drew the first map of what we now call lower Manhattan and also helped build the fortification that gave Wall Street its name.|
His first job in the colony was as a tutor and guardian to the children of Cornelis van Werckhoven, who had settled a large tract of land north of Coney Island. When van Werckhoven passed away, Cortelyou applied for and was granted the right to divide the land into a town which he called New Utrecht, in honor of van Werckhoven's home in Holland.
Today that area lies between Dyker Heights and Bensonhurst. Cortelyou was also a real estate speculator, and founded the town of Bergen, New Jersey.
|DeKalb Avenue||Named after Bavarian German soldier Johann de Kalb (b 1721 d 1780), who served as a Major General for George Washington's Continental Army during the American Revolution. De Kalb was killed at the battle of Camden, South Carolina. In his honor, many streets, counties, and towns are named after De Kalb, in Alabama, Illinois, Indiana, Texas, and probably most famously, Georgia, where DeKalb County contains part of the city of Atlanta. In Brooklyn, "DeKalb" is usually pronounced "DEE-kalb"...in Georgia it's usually pronounced as "deh-KAB". In both instances, there is no space inserted between "De" and "Kalb" in the official spellings.|
De Kalb's protégé in the American Revolution, the Marquis de Lafayette, is commemorated one block south of DeKalb Avenue: Lafayette Avenue.
|DUMBO||Not a street name, an acronymm for the neighborhood located Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass.|
|East New York Avenue||In 1835, John R. Pitkin bought a large plot of land as a speculative venture, and named it "East New York" thinking that this would become the eastern edge of New York City.|
His plan failed due to an economic depression in 1837, but the name stuck.
Pitkin Avenue also runs through the neighborhood.
|Fulton Street||One of the oldest streets in Brooklyn, it began as an Indian path, later becoming the main "road to the ferry," the "Road to Jamaica." and after the inception of the Fulton Ferry service, "Fulton Street." The street has undergone still further change: in 1967 the western end was renamed "Cadman Plaza West" after Reverend Dr. Samuel Parkes Cadman (see "Cadman Plaza" above); most recently the stretch nearest the|
East River has been renamed "Old Fulton Street."
"Fulton", of course, comes from Robert Fulton, who is often credited with inventing the Steamboat in 1807 (it was actually first conceived and patented by John Fitch in 1785-1787, but Fitch's venture failed due to a lack of financial backing).
Fulton, along with Robert R. Livingston, held a state-ordered monopoly on the operation of steam-powered boats on New York waterways for 17 years (see Livingston Street, below).
Fulton's invention was very important, especially to Brooklyn...so much so that in a 1902 article about the renaming of Brooklyn Streets following consolidation, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle noted that "It is the theory that when Fulton Street was named in honor of Robert Fulton, the city fathers, in order to further honor his name, determined to allow no street to cross Fulton, thus making it the dividing thoroughfare of [Brooklyn], all streets intersecting with it to have their beginning from it.
Fulton's first steamship, the North River Steamboat, also known as The Clermont, built in 1807, was the first steam ship to become a commercial success.
The ship created quite a stir when it first sailed, because nobody in the States had seen such a thing...
According to a newspaper account, people on the river "beheld what they supposed to be a huge monster, vomiting fire and smoke from its throat, lashing the water with its fins, and shaking the river with its roar, approaching rapidly in the very face of both wind and tide. Some threw themselves flat on the deck of their vessels, where they remained in an agony of terror until the monster had passed, while others took to their boats and made for the shore in dismay, leaving their vessels to drift helplessly down the stream. Nor was this terror confined to the sailors. The people dwelling along the shore crowded the banks to gaze upon the steamer as she passed by."
|Jay Street||John Jay was the first Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court.|
|Love Lane||May have received its name from the many admirers of Miss Sarah DeBevoise, who lived here with her uncles Robert and John.|
|Marcy Avenue||Captain William Learned Marcy (1786-1857) served in the War of 1812, and later became a U.S. Senator, Governor of New York State, Secretary of War, and Secretary of State.|
See some additional biograpical information on the US Army website.
Captain William Learned Marcy (1786-1857)
|Myrtle Avenue||Myrtle Avenue was named for myrtle bushes that were found in the area. The street was graded and paved in 1839 from City Hall (now Borough Hall, of course) all the way to Nostrand Avenue.|
|Nostrand Avenue||Nostrand Avenue takes its name from Gerret Noorstrandt, one of the earliest members of the Flatbush Dutch Reformed Church.|
For the full list click here.