Clover Hill and the Shedding of a Suburban Identity: How Brooklyn Heights Got Its Name

Construction of the Brooklyn Heights Promenade and the Brooklyn Queens Expressway on August 18, 1948. Photo via New York City Parks Photo Archive


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

    Built atop a bluff, Brooklyn Heights is one of the borough’s most affluent, star-studded ‘hoods.

    New York’s first-ever historic district, Brooklyn Heights earned its protected status in 1965 through its varied stock of row houses, mansions and pre-Civil War homes. The history-rich area has some of Kings County’s oldest streets and residences, with renovated carriage homes and even a cobblestone street or two.

    Originally named Clover Hill back when it was pasture land, Brooklyn Heights went on to become New York’s first suburb, with residents commuting to Manhattan via ferry. The neighborhood’s current name refers to the area’s elevation, an attribute observed by both settlers and the native Lenape people, who called the area Ihpetonga, meaning “the high sandy bank.”

    Brooklyn Heights

    The Promenade in 2010. Photo by Daniel Avila via the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation

    Brooklyn Heights

    An embankment on Pierrepont Street, circa 1920. Photo via the Brooklyn Historical Society

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