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March 7, 2006

Tinkerville, Brooklyn

Have I mentioned that I love term papers? I had never realized it before, but I really do. Research is fun, particularly when you are studying something in your own neighborhood. And especially when you stumble upon an article like I did last night.

Tinkerville! Who wants to live in Tinkerville? You might already. If you reside in current day Red Hook, Brooklyn, there is a chance that you are living in one of the following (loosely definied) "municipalities": Tinkerville, Bunkerville, Slab City, Sandybank and (my personal favorite) Texas.

I found this information in a rather scathing 1872 Brooklyn Daily Eagle article entitled "Thirty Years in the Slums" (December 2, 1872, p. 4). It is a "retrospective" of Red Hook Point and its outlying areas, looking back to 1842. The author has a stellar opinion of the area, beginning the second paragraph with the following praise: RED HOOK POINT stands out in bold relief as being the grand central and amalgamated cesspool and sink of low life in Brooklyn. [Red Hook Point was where Van Brunt Street ended, probably where the Beard Street warehouses are now.]

The article goes on to talk about one of Red Hook's first labor riots (1846), how Red Hook�s marshes were filled in (in many areas, with dirt from Bergen Hill), how streets were named (King Street after a "ragpicker" turned landowner named, you guessed it, King) and how each area had gotten it's name (names that I had never before heard of).

SO! If you live in Red Hook, here is a new name for your area of the neighborhood:

  • Tinkerville: The area around Columbia, Richards, and Van Brunt streets (Special tidbit: "in days gone by was governed by a tall and gaunt looking fellow nicknamed 'Holy Dick,' owing to the fact that in his dealings with his customers where he mended one hole he generally left the article, whatever it might be, in such a state that two more were certain to require his further services before the week was out.")
  • Slab City (aka Bunkerville): The area around Hoyt and Bond, Fourth and Fifth streets, named as such for the slabs of lumber that were used to construct the shanties in the area
  • Slickville (aka Sleekeville): The area at the foot of Hamilton avenue, Luqueer, Nelson and Hicks streets. If you lived here in 1842, you probably lived in a swamp. Or, as the author of the article notes, "in swampy desperation."
  • Texas: Near the old Hamilton Avenue Bridge, named after the 1846 labor riot.

I love the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. I wish every single article were digitized.

Posted by callalillie at March 7, 2006 6:35 AM | History , Red Hook


I'm going to be looking for an opportunity to use "in swampy desparation!"

Posted by: mark at March 7, 2006 9:41 AM

Wow. Love that. Also, because of you, I've been mesmerized with my streets in the past weeks, having finally figured out what those coal vaults are that you mentioned earlier. We don't seem to have one, but all my neighbors do.

Posted by: beth at March 7, 2006 10:20 AM

I am intrigued!
Is the Brooklyn Daily Eagle on Microfilm? Where are you performing your primary research?
What is your term paper on?
(I love term papers too!)
I will send you the one (that really needs to be revised) on Weeksville in Brooklyn if you are interested in the "villes"

Posted by: Tiya at March 7, 2006 10:35 AM

Half of the Eagle is online through the Brooklyn Public Library. It's kind of a pain in the ass to search, however you can find great information.

My term paper is looking at the architectural and social history of one of the oldest school buildings in Red Hook. I stumbled upon this article the other night while doing a for fun blind search of "Red Hook."

Posted by: corie at March 7, 2006 11:14 AM

You used to be able to get your paws on the actual copies of the old Eagles at the Brooklyn Historical Society. But I think the digital project is designed to avoid that.

Posted by: Bill at March 7, 2006 12:28 PM

The digital version does 1841-1904, I think, which is a pity because I really need 1904-1950. The DB is searchable but clumsy. Still better than the alternative, which I am heading for next week to check out the later dates.

Posted by: corie at March 7, 2006 12:30 PM

I think the Brooklyn Business Library has many of the Eagles on microfilm as well as reference copies of its annual yearbook. Some of the yearbooks have excellent color maps.


Posted by: Kevin Walsh at March 7, 2006 1:20 PM

If you comb the auction web sites (not only eBay, but icollector.com, liveauctions.com, proxibid.com, ebayliveauctions.com, you should find an occasional auction of paper and ephemera that includes original copies of the Eagle. I bought a copy for ten bucks a year or so ago and love to open to a random page and read about life in Bklyn a hundred years ago. Of course my copy is not in collectible condition, but it is certainly worth ten bucks!

Posted by: famdoc at March 7, 2006 2:20 PM

Very timely post. Check out Dennis Hamill's column in today's Daily News: http://www.nydailynews.com/03-06-2006/city_life/tech/story/397599p-336782c.html

Posted by: Dave at March 7, 2006 11:47 PM

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