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Question:
How did Brooklyn get its name?


Answer:   Brooklyn is the anglicized ("corrupted into english") form of the Dutch word Breuckelen and it is named after the municipality of Breukelen, in Utrecht province, in the Netherlands (you can see it on a map here).

When the Dutch settled western Long Island they established a village near what are the present-day neighborhoods of Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO. They called it "Breukelen" after the town of Breukelen in Holland.

Europeans who came to New York (then called "New Amsterdam") did so as agents of the Dutch West Indies Company, and New Amsterdam became a territory of the Netherlands (also known as Holland).

After a war between England and Holland in 1667 (the second Anglo-Dutch War), the Dutch gave New Amsterdam, which included Breukelen, to the English. In exchange, the Dutch were allowed to keep their colony in Surinam.

After the English re-took control of New Amsterdam, the residents gradually "converted" various Dutch place-names into English equivalents -- anglicized them -- by gradually changing the spelling of some words and the pronunciation of others.

So "Breukelen" eventually became "Brooklyn"..-- it sounds roughly the same in Dutch and English, it's just spelled differently.

A commonly-found translation for "Breukelen" from Dutch is "Broken Land" (or more correctly "fractured lands"). - this may be the origin of the name.

A few places you've probably heard of have actually kept their dutch names: Staten Island is named after the Dutch parliament (the Staten-Generaal), and Yonkers is the dutch term referring to the "young gentleman" who was granted the land in the area in 1645.

The earliest known mention of Breuckelen in the New World is in a contract from 1646: "Gerrit Douman, sergeant, and Jan Tonissen, schout of Breuckelen, have this day agreed and contracted in manner as follows, to wit: Jan Tonissen promises to cut at Breuckelen, or wherever he can best do so, the following timber and to properly hew and deliver the same out of the woods near the ferryman on the strand…" -- from the records of the New Netherland Project.

A "schout" was a local official appointed to carry out administrative, law enforcement and prosecutorial tasks -- sort of a mayor, sheriff, and prosecutor, all in one.

It took a long time for the Dutch language to disappear from New York and Brooklyn...the first U.S. President from New York, Martin Van Buren (born 1782, died 1862, 8th President of the U.S., 1837-1841) grew up speaking Dutch; English was his second language.




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