Brownstoner takes on Brooklyn history in Nabe Names, a series of briefs on the origins and surprising stories of neighborhood nomenclature.
Borough Park — sometimes written as Boro Park — is a quiet residential nabe notable for its large and growing population of Orthodox Jews.
The neighborhood, which sprawls out between McDonald and 9th avenues, is well serviced by city buses and is also accessible from various subway stops, yet it remains an insular community, unfamiliar to many.
Borough Park’s main shopping districts along 13th, 16th and 18th avenues are dotted with kosher markets and old-school businesses, some of their signage charmingly unchanged for decades.
While on the Sabbath (Friday night and Saturday) the area turns into a ghost town, with few cars on the road, the area comes alive with festivities and traditions both old and new on Jewish holidays like Purim and Sukkot.
As for Borough Park’s name, the story begins with one of the area’s first settlers, Electus B. Litchfield, the son of railroad magnate and developer Edwin C. Litchfield. Electus entitled a portion of the area which was built in 1887 Blythebourne, meaning “happy home” in Scottish.
The area’s present name came about when State Senator William H. Reynolds purchased a portion of land in the area in 1898 and named it Borough Park, though we’re not sure why.
Today, Borough Park has overcome the former title Blythebourne entirely — except in the instance of the Blythebourne Station post office.