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

Dyker Heights’ 13th Avenue in 1934. Photo via Bowery Boys

An isolated residential nabe, Dyker Heights is known for its large Italian-American population and distance from subway stations.

Despite much of the ‘hood’s relative inaccessibility, Dyker Heights still attracts an outpouring of locals and out-of-towners alike to its renowned Christmas lights display, an annual tradition in which residents deck their mansions in illuminated Santas and snowflakes.

But can you guess how it got its name?

Cresco Realty Company. Brooklyn Eagle, 1907

Read Part 1 and Part 2 of this story.

Developer Walter L. Johnson was a powerhouse. When he began building his Dyker Heights suburban community, he went with the best of the best. First of all, he had one of the best locations in Brooklyn to work with. His father had purchased the old DeRussy estate back in 1888 with the idea to develop it into an upscale suburban community.

Walter L. Johnson. Photo: Brooklyn Eagle, 1907

Read Part 2 and Part 3 of this story.

As most people know by now, the city of Brooklyn developed from the six original towns settled by the Dutch, or in the case of Gravesend, the English, in the mid-1600s. Using their English names, they were Brooklyn, Bushwick, New Utrecht, Flatbush, Gravesend and Flatlands.


Two Brooklyn Public Library branches in Cypress Hills and Dyker Heights have received large grants from the city to repair and renovate their aging buildings, according to press releases. The Arlington Library in Cypress Hills, pictured above, has gotten $1,000,000 in city funding to replace its boiler and install new piping, concrete padding, and damaged partitions. The work will be done while the library is open and not in need of heating, unless it has to close because of noise disruptions. Also, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and Councilman Vincent Gentile have devoted $750,000 for replacing the badly damaged roof of the Dyker Heights library branch. Roof repair will involve demolishing and removing the current roof and installing a new one, as well as potential drain and paver additions. The roof replacement project will most likely be completed by 2016.

Image by Utopian Branch Library


A WNYC radio story about test prep in Sunset Park uncovered some interesting facts about education and demographics: Of the top 20 zip codes that send the most children to New York City’s elite public high schools, only three are low-income. All of those are in Brooklyn, and they include parts of Sunset Park, Borough Park and Dyker Heights. In Sunset Park, at least, the high acceptance rates to elite high schools can be pinned on the Chinese population there and their embrace of extracurricular test-prep programs intended specifically to ace public-school admissions tests. Testing in Chinese culture has a very long tradition, according to WNYC, going back 2,000 years to the Han dynasty. The story profiled one Sunset Park family who, incredibly, spends $5,000 a year on test prep for its three boys out of a total family yearly income of only $26,000. (The family’s housing costs are low because they own a two-family they share with relatives.) Average yearly incomes in the three zip codes range from about $35,000 to $40,000. Most of the other admissions came from middle-class or wealthy neighborhoods such as the Upper West Side. As for the mother of the family profiled in the piece, she said she hopes her boys will go to Harvard.
Around Sunset Park, Tutoring Is Key to Top High Schools [WNYC]

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Saitta House
Address: 1135 84th Street
Cross Streets: 11th and 12th Avenues
Neighborhood: Dyker Heights
Year Built: 1899
Architectural Style: Queen Anne, with Medieval and Tudor details
Architect: John J. Petit
Other Works by Architect: the “Japanese House”, and many other houses in Prospect Park South, as well as buildings in Downtown Brooklyn, Ditmas Park, and Stuyvesant Heights.
Landmarked: No, but on National Register of Historic Places (2007)

The story: Today, Dyker Heights is best known for its sprawling suburban houses and the Christmas lights that adorn them; each year a spectacle that draws tourists from all over. But before the remodeled McMansions and the Mediterranean villas, Dyker Heights was part of the Dutch town of New Utrecht, one of the original six towns that make up modern Brooklyn. In the late 1890s, inspired by the new suburban enclave of Bensonhurst-by-the-Sea, in nearby Bath Beach, developer Walter Johnson set about making his new community, which he named Dyker Heights, into a similar upscale, exclusive suburban community. The Saitta House would be one of the shining examples of that new community.


1. BROOKLYN HEIGHTS $3,200,000.00
19 Garden Place GMAP
19 Garden Place was a HOTD in 2008 and we didn’t have a bad thing to say about it. Although we commented, “The biggest challenge to achieving the asking price of $3,995,000 will likely be the somewhat diminutive size.” According to StreetEasy, it came off the market in 2009 and was re-listed this February for $3,600,000. Entered into contract on 6/27/11; closed on 8/24/11; deed recorded on 9/12/2011.

2. PARK SLOPE $2,400,000.00
475 4th Street GMAP
A HOTD in 2008 which read: “It’s a gorgeous house in move-in condition with tons of original woodwork (and no recessed lighting!). It also feels like it’s priced as if it were a year ago.” Ask: $2,995,000. Streeteasy shows a long, painful history of price cuts until 2010, when the home was pulled off the market. It was last priced at $2,575,000 before it sold. Entered into contract on 5/25/11; closed on 8/30/11; deed recorded on 9/13/2011.

3. GRAVESEND $2,350,000
801 Avenue S GMAP
A one-family home, 2,728 square feet in size. Entered into contract on 7/14/11; closed on 8/12/11; deed recorded on 9/13/2011.

4. BOERUM HILL $1,950,000
140 Dean Street GMAP
A one or two family house with a garage and vacant land. Before this sale, the building was purchased in 2010 for $475,000! Entered into contract on 7/21/11; closed on 8/31/11; deed recorded on 9/15/2011.

5. DYKER HEIGHTS $1,900,000
1062 84th Street GMAP
Quite a beautiful house in South Brooklyn. Asking $3,499,000 in 2007 and then $2,600,000 in 2010 before getting a few price drops. Entered into contract on 4/5/11; closed on 8/24/11; deed recorded on 9/13/2011.