by Kevin Walsh

I haven’t made many forays into Bergen Beach, and its rather newer partner, Georgetown, at least not lately. When I lived in Bay Ridge it was fairly easy to reach on a direct line by bicycle, but I moved to Queens in 1993 and my visits for Forgotten NY surveys have been fewer. (The last two times I was in Bergen Beach were in 2008 and 2017.) Bergen Beach, Georgetown and Mill Basin (which I have been even fewer times) sit east of Flatbush Avenue and Marine Park. All these areas were developed after World War II and, for the most part, were not built out until the 1980s. Even today, some empty lots can be seen in the area.

I’m thinking about developing a series called “Never Built” in Map Room, which would examine neighborhoods depicted on official city maps before they were built. Companies such as Rand McNally and Hagstrom (both mostly supplanted now by online maps and GPS systems) consulted city planners and developers to create maps, and so anticipated streets that would be built eventually, or so it was hoped. Of course things like bankruptcies, wars and depressions happen and plans are scrapped…but the paper streets remained. Today I’ll look at some “paper streets” that were never built in Bergen Beach.

Here’s an excerpt from a 1922 Hagstrom Brooklyn map in Bergen Beach. In 1922, just a few of these streets actually existed north of about Avenue T. North of that, the enclave now called Georgetown was largely constructed in the 1970s and 1980s, which is why I call it “Brooklyn’s Last Frontier.” The map shows a smattering of short Courts between East 66th and 68th Streets, Appolline, Brenda, Celestial, Damask and La France; whoever was developing this area named streets in alphabetical order (and may have been named LaFrance). “Appolline” is the feminine version of the male name Apollo, most famously the Greek god. “Damask” is a woven fabric used for table linens and upholstery. While the numbered streets were built, these small courts never were.

In addition, there’s Bergen 1st through 20th Streets and Paergedat Avenue South, which also do not appear on modern maps. Paerdegat Avenue North did get built, along with the Paerdegat sequence of one-block streets, across Paerdegat Creek in Canarsie. In 1922, the creek was just that; it was later dredged and expanded and you can see the outline of what was planned on the 1922 map. The bridges shown at Bergen 6th and 12th Streets, of course, didn’t happen. (“Paerdegat” comes from Dutch words meaning “horse gate.”)

Modern map: Georgetown and Bergen Beach

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1 comment

P-j+Greiner September 17, 2021 - 11:09 am

I lived on East 58th Street, between J and K from 2007 to 2011. The neighborhood is largely composed of 2-family brick, connected homes with community driveways, front terraces and steps to the front door. I found it comforting to see many of my mostly Carribean neighbors and families gather on these steps in the early summer evening hours. Moving in mid-July, I heard something that first night I hadn’t heard in decades – that being the gleeful sounds of small groups of children on bicycles and scooters riding ’round the houses throught the community driveways, with several other kids just running beside them. What a pleasant sight and joyful noise.


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