Ever-entertaining website Ephemeral New York offers a fresh reminder on the naming of Brooklyn Heights’ Cranberry, Orange and Pineapple streets, which has been long been a fruitful part of neighborhood lore.
In its April post, the webbie offers:
“The Columbia Heights section of Brooklyn Heights might be the most beautiful enclave in the borough. The most charming part? Probably the three quiet, pretty streets named after colorful fruits.
The botanical names are a little odd for Brooklyn—and they can be attributed to Lady Middagh, a local resident during the turn of the last century who was a descendant of one of the first families to settle and farm here.
“Prior to her nomenclatures the streets were named for the aristocratic families of the neighborhood,” explains this NYC Parks website. “She found this pretentious and so removed the street signs and put up those of her own fruity design.”
The city took hers down and insisted on keeping the official street names. But Lady Middagh was pretty tough. She refused to give up and replaced the city names again. “Eventually, the city made her choices official, but ironically, named a street after her own family, which remains today.”
In 1997, the city completed Fruit Street Sitting Area, a small park linking Columbia Heights to the Brooklyn Heights Promenade. There’s also a less interesting explanation for the names, reports this 1993 New York Times piece: “One tale is that the Hicks brothers, who originally owned the land, sold exotic fruits in the area, and named the streets to honor this occupation.”
Brooklyn Magazine offered a similar story in July 2012… Likewise an archived story in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. And BHB’s own Karl Junkersfeld posted a video clip on the evolution of Columbia Heights.