Ditmas Park has long been considered one of Brooklyn's most beautiful and historically vibrant neighborhoods, and with such a history comes some little-known facts.
After sitting down with Brooklyn Borough Historian Ron Schweiger, we were able to learn some of them and have decided to share them with you. Know of some other Ditmas Park tid-bits worth talking about? Share them in the comments below.
Cortelyou Road is not pronounced the way you think
While many of us read the familiar street sign "Cor-tell-ya," it's actually pronounced "Cortle-you," after Jacques Cortelyou. He was Surveyor General of New Amsterdam, which later became New York City. His greatest accomplishment was creating the Cortelyou Survey, which was the first map of New York City, commonly called the Castello Plan (ring any bells?).
Stratford through Marlborough Roads were once East 11-16 Streets
Schweiger noted that real estate developer Thomas Benton Ackerson, commonly known as T.B. Ackerson, changed the street names to Stratford, Westminster, Argyle, Rugby, Marlborough and Buckingham to attract the wealthy to the area.
The area was commonly referred to as "Ackerson's SWARM of B's," and if you take the first letter of each of the street's names to form an acronym, that is what it creates, he said.
Albermarle Road through Ditmas Avenue were once Avenues A through D
In 1897, at the request of developers, the City of Brooklyn renamed several streets in the area. Avenue A was renamed Albermarle Road; Avenue B was renamed Beverley Road; Avenue C was renamed Cortelyou Road; and Avenue D was renamed Ditmas Avenue, Schweiger said.
There was almost an elevated railroad line in Ditmas Park
"In 1903, regular tracks ran along the street," Schweiger said. "The railroad was privately owned, and the City told the railroad 'you have to get these tracks off the street.' They were going to build an elevated railroad. Can you imagine an elevated railroad behind the houses on East 16 and Marlborough?"
The wealthy residents of Ditmas Park approached one of the chief engineers of the railroad, Charles Potts, and protested the building of an elevated line. "He approached his supervisor and the only other option was to put the tracks 18 feet down uncovered, and that's the way it's been ever since," Schweiger said.
You can thank those same residents for the Beverley Road station
"The railroad was going to eliminate the Beverley Road station because the Beverley and Cortelyou road stations are only one block apart, in fact they're the closest stations in the NYC subway system," Schweiger said.
The wealthy people of Ditmas Park strongly protested the elimination of the station and since they had so much influence within the community, the railroad kept the station to keep them happy.