It’s easy for residents of Kings County to think they are kings of the world, but they may be surprised to find out that they are not the only Brooklyn in the United States. There are other cities, villages, and towns in America called “Brooklyn”—ten by The Brooklyn Ink‘s count based on the 2010 Census. Five townships also share the Dutch name, as well as neighborhoods in Baltimore, Maryland, and Portland, Oregon, in addition to a couple of unincorporated towns in Mississippi and Washington state. Here are some fun facts about five Brooklyns that caught our attention. If you have a favorite or want to add to our list, let us know.
This Brooklyn is the oldest black town in America, incorporated by the state of Illinois in 1873. According to Sundiata Keita Cha-Jua’s book America’s First Black Town, Brooklyn, Illinois, was first settled in 1829, when eleven families seeking freedom—both fugitive slaves and free persons—fled from the slave state of Missouri across the Mississippi River to Illinois, the closest free state, with the goal of establishing a predominantly black community. This Brooklyn was also a stop on the underground railroad, helping fugitive blacks achieve freedom during the Civil War. Today, African-Americans still make up 95% of the town’s population. By contrast, African-Americans make up just over 34% of our Brooklyn.
This Brooklyn’s bragging rights include Revolutionary War figure Israel Putnam, who led Connecticut soldiers during the Battle of Bunker Hill and was a major general of the Continental Army during the American Revolution. The town also boasts the oldest agricultural fair in the country, which has been held every year here since 1809. Features of the 2011 fair included: the Womens’ Skillet Toss, the Chainsaw Show, the Ox Pull Contest, the Corn Husking Competition, and Vegetable Car Races. Nice, but we’ll take the Brooklyn Flea.
In a 2008 proclamation, our Brooklyn’s Borough President Marty Markowitz declared this rural Iowa town “the official Brooklyn of the Midwest” when Gersh Kuntzman, the editor of The Brooklyn Paper, stayed here to cover the Iowa caucuses. Hollywood movie star John Wayne lived in Brooklyn, Iowa, back when he was known as Marion Morrison; his father owned a pharmacy in the town. One of the main attractions: downtown’s “Avenue of Flags,” a display of the flags of 35 countries and all 50 states. Think of it as the Smorgasburg of flags.
This Brooklyn claims two firsts under the leadership of long-time mayor John M. Coyne (1948-1999), the longest serving mayor of a U.S. city at the time. During his half-century tenure, he signed the nation’s first mandatory seatbelt law in 1966 and the nation’s first law prohibiting the use of handheld cell phones while driving in 1999. In addition, the city’s largest and best-known employer is American Greetings, which has been headquartered in Brooklyn for more than 50 years. But not for much longer; in May, the greeting card company announced that it would take its talents to the nearby suburb of Westlake after the city hiked its income tax. The Brooklyn Ink can’t help but wonder whether American Greetings announced its departure in the form of a greeting card.
Start your engines: this Brooklyn, located 67 miles southwest of Detroit, is home to the Michigan International Speedway, a NASCAR (and former IndyCar) racing destination. Designed by the same architect who designed the Daytona International Speedway, the track has hosted renowned NASCAR drivers like Cale Yarborough, Dale Earnhardt, Richard Petty, and Jeff Gordon. In fact, twice a year, NASCAR season drives up the town’s population from 1,200 to 150,000, making it the state’s third biggest city during these events. The population of our Brooklyn is 2.5 million. Every day.
What words do people associate with Brooklyn? On December 7, 2011 these words appeared in tweets with the hashtag #brooklyn.