An Aspirational Waterfront Community: How Manhattan Beach Got Its Name

A postcard of the Manhattan Beach Hotel in 1900. Photo via The Bowery Boys


      Brownstoner takes on Brooklyn history in Nabe Names, a series of briefs on the origins and surprising stories of neighborhood nomenclature.

      Quite far from the island of Manhattan, Manhattan Beach is located in Brooklyn’s southernmost reaches, at the eastern edge of the peninsula it shares with Brighton Beach, Coney Island and Sea Gate. The area is known for its Italian population, Russian immigrants and a large Jewish contingent. Vulnerable to weather and rising sea levels, the area was hit hard by Hurricane Sandy but, thanks in part to a loyal and resilient population, has since rebuilt.

      Brighton Beach Brooklyn

      Photo by Angela Sbano

      The name comes from that other borough across the river. When developer Austin Corbin purchased the property in the late 1800s, it was known as Sedge Bank. He named the area Manhattan Beach in hopes of bringing a similar level of fame and popularity to the beachfront community.

      Corbin and fellow real estate investor Joseph Day divided the area into residential lots and, as in other parts of Brooklyn, named the streets with English-inspired titles.

      Manhattan Beach Brooklyn

      The Manhattan Beach Hotel. Photo via The Bowery Boys

      The area is mostly residential, and it also includes an eponymous beach. Particularly good for families, the waves in the area are known for being gentle and the crowds are small.

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