A Senator From Maryland: How Carroll Gardens Got Its Name

Carroll Gardens between President and Carroll streets in 1978. Photo by Dinanda Nooney

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

The small, historically Irish and Italian neighborhood of Carroll Gardens takes up barely 40 city blocks, but it packs a lot of punch. Look no further for quality cannolis, exquisite French food (courtesy of the area’s large French immigrant community) a quick game of Bocce, and one of the borough’s most exuberant Bastille Day celebrations.

Considered great for families, Carroll Gardens is chock full of both public and private schools, and is well serviced by public transit.

carroll gardens brooklyn

A couple outside the Carroll Street F/G stop in Carroll Gardens. Photo by Mary Hautman

Once considered part of Red Hook and the generally titled borough chunk known simply as South Brooklyn, Carroll Gardens is named for Charles Carroll, the oft-forgotten U.S. senator for Maryland, Declaration of Independence signer, and Catholic civil rights activist.

Carroll’s connection to the neighborhood was born in 1776 during the Battle of Brooklyn, when a regiment of 400 soldiers from Maryland died in an attack on a British encampment. According to John J. Gallagher’s book The Battle of Brooklyn 1776, Carroll sent the troops into the fray.

The “Gardens” part of the title refers to the generous front yards enjoyed by neighborhood residents.

carroll gardens brooklyn neighborhood

A family at 331 President Street on July 8, 1978. Photo by Dinanda Nooney

When the city purchased a former private garden in the neighborhood in 1853, the city chose to name it Carroll Park, a title the now-public park still bears today.

The name Carroll Gardens did not catch on until the mid 20th century when, in an effort to revitalize the then blighted area, realtors and community groups began encouraging the use of the name.

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