A remaining street sign for Hamburg Avenue remains chiseled into a building at Harman Street in Bushwick, close to the Myrtle Avenue el.

Bushwick in northeast Brooklyn used to be heavily German, and was home for breweries such as Schaefer and Rheingold as well as mansions owned by the brewmasters. Some of the mansions and breweries remain, put to different uses, some in better shape than others.

Some of the streets were named for German cities. However, when the USA entered World War I in 1917, the Germans were looked upon less favorably, to the extent that the street names were changed to something less offensive. Bremen Street became Stanwix Street, and in this case, Hamburg Avenue became Wilson Avenue, honoring Woodrow Wilson.

photo: Gary Fonville


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3 Responses to HAMBURG AVENUE, Bushwick

  1. andy says:

    “Hamburg” remained the name of a savings bank based in the Bushwick-Ridgewood area. In the early 1980s that bank merged with another one (believe it was College Point Savings).

    Schlitz also had a brewery in Bushwick till the early 1970s, I believe. Piels was nearby in East New York.

    The anti-German feeling in the US during World War I was why sauerkraut was briefly called “liberty cabbage”, and the dachshund dog breed was renamed “liberty pup.”

  2. Susan says:

    When I was a kid growing up in Bushwick trollies used to run on Wilson Avenue. The seats were made of rattan and the fee was just a nickel. Hope somewhere there are photos of these vehicles.

  3. gene s says:

    During WWI German-Americans had to carry photo-fingerprint id titled registration of enemy aliens. It read, if you are found without these papers you will spend the rest of the war in prison. My grandfather got his at the old 83rd precinct on Wilson and DeKalb Aves in 1918.

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