A Lack of Hills and a British Observation: How Flatlands Got Its Name

A map of Flatlands circa the mid-19th century, when the neighborhood was still a town. Photo via Forgotten New York


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

West of Canarsie and east of Midwood is Flatlands, a neighborhood crosshatched by Utica and Flatbush avenues. Flatlands was one of the original Dutch towns that comprised Brooklyn, originally going by the moniker Nieuw Amserfoort before the English set in. It was not consolidated into the City of Brooklyn until 1896.

Flatlands Brooklyn

Photo by Edrei Rodriguez

The nabe’s modern title, Flatlands, was assigned by the British and is derived from the area’s topography: namely, flat.

Due to the area’s isolation from any subway lines, it is hard to reach for anyone who doesn’t drive or take the bus. The peaceful area makes for a pleasant stroll, its tree-lined streets and low-rise homes providing a stark contrast to the hustle and bustle of much of the rest of the city.

Related Stories
Revolutionary Soldiers Carved Names on Beams of This Now-Gone Dutch Farm in Flatlands
The History of Kings Highway, a Road Almost as Old as Brooklyn
Brooklyn’s Forgotten Electoral Districts: The Lost History of the Ward System

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