Here they are, the last five great Brooklynites in our exhaustive (and exhausting) list; a list that has featured athletes, politicians, singers, actors, writers, bridge builders... even a hot-dog maker. We learned a lot in putting this together (everybody important used to live in Midwood), and hope you enjoyed it.
100 Greatest Brooklynites, Part One: 100 to 91
100 Greatest Brooklynites, Part Two: 90 to 81
100 Greatest Brooklynites, Part Three: 80 to 71
100 Greatest Brooklynites, Part Four: 70 to 61
100 Greatest Brooklynites, Part Five: 60 to 51
100 Greatest Brooklynites, Part Six: 50 to 41
100 Greatest Brooklynites, Part Five: 40 to 31
100 Greatest Brooklynites, Part Six: 30 to 21
100 Greatest Brooklynites, Part Seven: 20-11
100 Greatest Brooklynites, Part Eight: 10-6
5. Shirley Chisholm
While Chisholm’s name is certainly not as prominent as her fellow top ten great Brooklynites, her real-world accomplishments are as significant as any
. Chisholm was a trailblazer: in 1968 she became the first black woman to be elected to the United States Congress, and was the first African-American to seek her party’s nomination for president. In the 1972 Democratic Primary she survived three assassination attempts, taking the courage of her convictions just about as far they’d go, a lesson in resolve that resonates still. Throughout her career, Chisholm was a passionate and tireless voice for those less fortunate, and most certainly left Brooklyn—and the world—a far better place than when she found it.4. Woody Allen
Allan Konigsberg wasn't actually raised under the Thunderbolt
; he grew up in Midwood, and attended the high school of the same name. Then he got the hell out of Brooklyn: he went to college, wrote jokes for money, and became a famous movie director closely associated with his adopted borough, Manhattan. But, hey, we had him first! And made him the man he is today! Er, maybe we don't want to take credit for that
. Make that the artist he is today. Well, even that, sometimes... Hey, how about that Annie Hall
, huh?3. Woody Guthrie
Born in Oklahoma, Woody was the poet laureate of the dusty west, a folk singer who gave voice in song
to Tom Joad-types everywhere. A hater of fascism, he was also a hero of the working class, singing for unions. He wrote "This Land is Your Land," for Pete's sake! As well as box sets worth of iconic songs that gave voice to an entire generation struggling for a better life. And when he got out of the army after WWII, he moved with his wife to Coney Island, to a house on Mermaid Avenue, into which baby Arlo and other children were born. He left Brooklyn because of health reasons, returning in the early 60s to be a patient at the state hospital, where he would be visited frequently by a young Bob Dylan, who would assume the folk singer's mantle.2. Jackie Robinson
Of course, Jackie Robinson was an electrifying baseball player
, as the song tells us:
Did you see Jackie Robinson hit that ball?
(Did he hit it?) Yeah, and that ain't all.
He stole home. Yes, yes, Jackie's real gone.
But as we all know, simply being a great athlete wasn’t enough for Major League Baseball’s first African-American: he had to be tough, brave, resilient, and committed. For in coming to represent for black Americans a momentous shift in the idea of what was possible, he also served as a repository for the fury of a racist white America afraid of the inevitable change he symbolized. And so he endured an endless stream of abuse from all directions—both verbal and physical—and bore it all with the kind of grace and quiet dignity that would come to define the Civil Rights movement of the ensuing 15 years.1. Walt Whitman
The greatest goddamn editor the Brooklyn Eagle
ever had, Whitman moved to Brooklyn when he was four. He left at 16, bounced in and out for the rest of his life, at the end of which he could look back and say, "I gave the world Leaves of Grass
, thus I am one of the most important people who ever lived." To us Brooklynites, he gave us specifically "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry," which we think about once a day, roughly. Obviously, he's the greatest Brooklynite of all time, a source of eternal pride and joy and wonder, not only for our borough, not only for our country, but for humanity itself.