Count us among the legions of Brooklynites who have supposedly never heard of Dennet Place, a Carroll Gardens cul de sac covered in yesterday’s New York Times. Sometimes spelled Dennett Place and also known as Cat’s Alley, the one-block (two if you count Nelson Street) alley has been an Italian-American stronghold since it was originally built to house the workers building the church up the street. The Times is particularly taken with Dennet’s diminutive doors and on Sunday a reporter took to the streets to ask residents to offer their own theories on the “miniature street-level entrances, more appropriate for hobbits than humans.” “Maybe they had something to drink when they built it,” said one. “I always thought it was because of the cats,” said another. “I thought it was because there were so many kids,” said a third. Yet another attributes the moniker Cat’s Alley to a man named Katz who used to hold card games in his basement. And then there’s this final curveball: Lost City theorizes that it’s all a big misunderstanding and that the street’s true name in Bennett Place. This makes more sense, argues the blog, because the Bennetts were a very active real estate family in the 19th Century. There’s even a map from 1896 (reproduced on the jump) that labels the street Bennett Place. UDPATE: Turns out this map came from a post last month on the Brooklyn Historical Society Blog. It’s a far more in-depth exploration of the topic than the Times piece and well worth a read!
On Dennet Place in Brooklyn, a Tight-Knit Community [NY Times]