Saturday, August 14, 2010

Brooklyn Memories: A Glance backwards, 60 years Ago (2)

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Has any of our readers ever heard of the city of Olympia? Few of them have, doubtless, and yet many of them reside within its precincts. The city of Olympia was formerly the name of one of the villages of Brooklyn Township, and we cannot, but believe the author of the history we quote from was largely interested in the corner lots thereof, for he carefully sets forth all its advantages. "This tract of land," he says, was surveyed and laid out in streets as long ago as the year 1788, and then intended as a city; its progress has been arranged according to the plan, and it begins to have the appearance of regularity. It lies to the east of Brooklyn ferry, and is bounded by the Wallabout and the East River. The holders of this tract appear to be desirous to encourage the undertaking, by their willingness to dispose of lots and at a reasonable price. When we observe the elevated situations, the agreeable prospects, the salubrity of the atmosphere, and the contiguousness to New York, with many other interesting advantages, which the writer would doubtless have named if he thought the thing would not look too much like an advertisement its adaptability cannot be doubted.

The owners of the embryo city seem to have ideas commensurate with the high sounding name they baptized it. "It has been suggested, the writer says, that a bridge would be constructed from this village across the East River to New York. This idea has been treated as chimerical, from the magnitude of the design but whoever takes it into their serious consideration, will find more weight in the practicability of the design than at first view is imagined. This would be the means of raising the value of lands on this side of the River. Which is likely enough, and we wish for the sake of the lot owners and ourselves they had tried, the experiment, and succeeded and then we should have no Union Ferry Company, no big things, and no attempts to bribe incorruptible Legislatures.

"It has also been observed," says the writer, that the Wallabout would form an excellent Navy Yard for vessels to repair. Should such a plan be carried into execution, it would considerably increase the importance of this place." The ground was ceded to the U.S. Government for the purpose in 1807, and the Navy Yard established to the great advantage of several generations of "strikers," and we hope to that of the Olympian lot owners, though of this we are not so well assured.

"As a retreat from New York in Summer," the writer says, "Olympia would furnish many superior excellencies over other places, such is its vicinity to that city, the opportunity of freighting and uploading vessels during the period of fever, the sale of goods to the yeomanry, who are fearful of entering the city." From this is will be inferred that yellow fever was an almost yearly visitor to our sister city, and in another place we are told that Brooklyn is never troubled with that scourge unless it be a case imported from the New York side.

With the writers account of the great things in store for Olympia we take our leave of him for the present, promising to renew his acquaintance tomorrow or next day.

"The inhabitants have contemplated an incorporation, with the offices of Mayor, Aldermen and Council. This civil police, instituting courts, regulating a night watch, lighting of lamps, and erecting a court-house, and other buildings, must make the situation superior to any in the county. Whoever contemplates these advantages, and a multitude of others which might be offered, will be convinced that in time Olympia will become the most important place on the island."

To be continued: A Glance Backwards, Sixty Years Ago (3)

Source of Information: Brooklyn Daily Eagle 5/4/1860

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