On April 12, 1816, New York officially incorporated the village of… Brooklyn. The State of New York legislature passed an act of incorporation on this day—with the participation of Brooklyn Heights founding father Hezekiah B. Pierrepont—that gave Brooklyn its first charter, establishing its official boundaries.
Among the primary regions defined was Brooklyn Heights, which the Brooklyn Eagle says was once known as Clover Hill, and before that “Ihpetonga,” a Native-American name meaning “a long sandy bank.” The area was renowned for its fine fruits and vegetables, which were popular for sale in Manhattan. “There were waving fields of grain, orchards of apple, peach and plum trees, huge vegetable gardens and berry patches.”
The first boundaries of Brooklyn, according to the village charter: “Beginning at the public landing south of Pierrepont’s distillery, formerly the property of Philip Livingston, thence running along the public road leading from said landing to its intersection with Red Hook Lane, then along Red Hook Lane to where it intersects the Jamaica Turnpike, thence a northwest course to the Wallabout Millpond, thence through the center of the millpond to the East River, and thence down the East River to the point of beginning.” Um, did you follow all of that?
The Brooklyn Eagle, adds, “Meeting after meeting had been held at Hezekiah B. Pierrepont’s residence and at various taverns scattered throughout the area. Once incorporated, farms could be opened up and residences (could) take the place of orchards and gardens.”
(Photo: Colonnade Row from an 1840 engraving of Brooklyn Heights, built in 1837 by General James E. Underhill. It burned down in 1853./Brooklyn Daily Eagle)