A Short History
In the late 1600’s, at the crossroads of the Jamaica Plank Road and the Cripplebush Road, (near where Bedford Avenue and Fulton Street intersect today), the first European settlers established a tavern.
The village of Bedford, aka Bedford Corners, was a hub for stagecoach and commercial traffic, and a quiet farming community grew up around it. This entire area, now parts of modern Bedford Stuyvesant and Crown Heights North, was owned by the Lefferts family, the largest local landowner.In 1854, the heirs of “Judge” Lefferts Lefferts auctioned off most of the property that would become northwestern Crown Heights as “1,600 lots situated in the level, beautiful, and most desirable part of the Ninth Ward.”
Soon after, the area became a desirable suburban location, resulting in freestanding villas set on spacious lots. The oldest house, dating from the 1850’s, the George B. and Susan Elkins House, still stands today at 1375 Dean Street, between Brooklyn and Kingston Avenues.
Beginning in the 1870’s, and continuing into the beginning of the 20th century, speculative row houses were built in the area. Improved transportation, the 1883 opening of the Brooklyn Bridge, and the 1888 opening of the Kings County Elevated Railway, brought in wealthy and upper middle class residents. The Grant Square area and St. Marks Avenue became two of the wealthiest neighborhoods of all of Brooklyn. Important architects brought their talents to Crown Heights, designing many of the magnificent mansions, churches, apartment buildings, and rows upon rows of impressive and beautiful Queen Anne, Renaissance, and Romanesque Revival rowhouse masterpieces that grace our many streets.
As the 20th century opened, the need for multiple family spaces inspired the unique “Kinko” two family homes near St. Gregory’s Church. By the 1930’s, many of the mansions were replaced by the large Tudor and medieval inspired apartment buildings that line St. Marks, New York and Brooklyn Avenues. Crown Heights North has remained the same virtually since the 1930’s, one of New York City’s most beautiful and architecturally significant neighborhoods.