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1855: Williamsburg Becomes Part of Brooklyn
While it is hard to think of modern Brooklyn without Williamsburg, the neighborhood actually spent time as its own city before being absorbed into the city of Brooklyn, which would, of course, one day be incorporated into greater City of New York. Williamsburg became its own city on January 1, 1852, but became part of Brooklyn proper three years later. A fun fact is that Williamsburg was actually almost made into its OWN borough in 1898, separate from Brooklyn. And although it didn't happen that way, it's worth noting what an influential place Williamsburg had become in order for that idea to even be proposed.
The reason that Williamsburg even had the clout that it did by 1898 was because of all the growth it experienced in the middle of the 19th century. This point in history was a time of previously unimaginable expansion for the north Brooklyn neighborhood as wealthy industrialists came over to exploit the convenient location and available land. Businessmen like Cornelius Vanderbilt, Charles Pratt, Jim Fisk, and Charles Pfizer built homes and factories in Williamsburg, and the iconic Williamsburgh Savings Bank was founded in 1851 at 175 Broadway. With the more recent Williamsburg trend toward small and artisanal businesses, it's definitely interesting to think back to this prior economic boom, which was spurred by some of the most notorious and rapacious capitalists in American history. Probably, nowadays, many of their great, great, great-grandchildren live off the trust funds started way back in 1855. It makes you think, huh?