The Lettered Avenues of South Brooklyn

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Many South Brooklyn residents are very familiar with Avenues H to Z. But, how about Avenues A, B, or C? Or, what about Avenue G?

Most of the streets in Brooklyn are named after numbers, people or places. However, while travelling south of Ditmas Park, through Midwood , and into Sheepshead Bay, one will encounter several east-west streets named after letters of the alphabet. Now, why is that?

Background

By the late 1890s and early 1900s, the hilly areas of Northern  and Western Brooklyn (Brooklyn Heights, Sunset Park, Gowanus, Williamsburg, etc.) were already developed. In addition, there were great advancements in the city’s public transportation sector. The Brooklyn Bridge was opened and train and trolley lines moved people all over the city.

Old Brooklyn Map

Brooklyn City Limits – Early 1900s

However, the flat Southern Central Brooklyn neighborhoods of Ditmas Park, Midwood, Kensington, Gravesend, and Sheepshead Bay remained quite rural. The map above indicates that these districts were not even considered within the limits of Brooklyn!

As the borough’s population grew, more and more people started building homes, stores, and other buildings on the these undeveloped lands. Eventually, the once sparsely populated South Brooklyn became one huge suburb.

Birds Eye View South Of Prospect Park 1907

Emerging Suburbs, South of Prospect Park – 1907. Credit: George Lawrence

In the years leading up to the annexation of Brooklyn into New York City in 1898, the Town Survey Commission designed a street grid that would include areas not yet incorporated into the borough. These included the east-west avenues south of Prospect Park, which were named alphabetically.

The original Avenue A is now called Albemarle Road while Beverly Road was initially called Avenue B. Today, Avenues A and B are two small streets  (less than a mile long) in Canarsie.

Avenue A and B in Canarsie

Avenues A and B in Canarsie

 

Avenue C in Kensington

Avenue C in Kensington

Avenue C is also a small street which stretches for 10 blocks between Beverly Road and Cortelyou Road.

Avenue D in Flatbush

Avenue D in Flatbush

Avenue D is located in Flatbush.

Avenue E was later renamed to Ditmas Avenue. According to a map in the  “Robinson’s atlas of Kings County, New York,” it ran between Dahill Road and Coney Island Avenue.

Avenue F in Kensington

Avenue F in Kensington

Avenue F is located in South Kensington and is less than a mile long.

Avenue G was renamed Glenwood Road. This also depicted in the “Robinson’s atlas of Kings County, New York.”

Lastly, Avenues H to Z, while not contiguous, still exist and function today as the early city planners intended.

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