Saturday, May 31, 2008
THE GARDENS IN CARROLL GARDENS
Prior to the 1960's Carroll Gardens was known as simply, South Brooklyn, an area that encompassed pretty much everything along the waterfront from the Brooklyn Bridge, South. But, our beloved neighborhood could have easily been named Butts Gardens. Richard Butts was the man who designed the layout for this neighborhood of late 19th century Brownstones. He's also the guy who conceived of the idea to attach large front lawns, or gardens, to the homes. Most of them can be found on what we call in the neighborhood, the Place streets (1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th.) They run between Henry Street on the East to Smith Street on the West.
The neighborhood was actually named after Charles Carroll, a revolutionary war veteran and the only Roman Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence. Carroll never lived here. Never lived in Brooklyn and best I can tell never lived in the state of New York. So, how in the world did this chunk of South Brooklyn get his name. After the Dutch, the first families to settle here were Irish. Carroll was Catholic and Irish and among his expatriates from Ireland, he was an icon of historic proportions.
Most of the Irish moved out and the Italians moved in, and many of them from the town of Bari on the Adriatic sea. They were dock workers, mostly. Their original presence can still be found today. Many of the older generation of Italians don't speak English and the neighborhood is dotted with Italian pastry, butcher, pasta and bakery shops.
Dutch farmers bought the land now known as Carroll Gardens back in 1636 from the native American Indians of the region. Henry Street was a dirt path at the time.
A school and park were also named after Charles Carroll. The park was designated as a private garden in the 1840's, but later it became part of New York City's parks department and was re-named Carroll Park.
Now that Spring is in full bloom, I thought I'd take you on a pictorial tour of the gardens in Carroll Gardens.