Friday, October 26, 2012

Brooklyn Timeline: Coney Island

Posted By on Fri, Oct 26, 2012 at 10:30 AM

Page 3 of 10

Coney Island sea rabbit, now, sadly, extinct.
  • Coney Island sea rabbit, now, sadly, extinct.

1645-1664: Salt Boom

Coney Island, which was then known as Gravesend, almost went to war with its fellow Dutch colony of New Amsterdam over a salt farm. Gravesend had been settled by Lady Deborah Moody in 1645 and she built a small community there predicated on religious freedom because she had been persecuted for her own religious beliefs prior to settling in Gravesend. The settlers of Gravesend had an uneasy relationship with the local Canarsie Indians, but that wound up being not so consequential because the local tribe was wiped out by rival Mohawk Indians. Problem solved? Ugh. Anyway, as the website tells us, "in 1663 a Dutch merchant named Dick de Wolf, having been granted a monopoly on salt manufacture in the new world by the Dutch East Indies Company, started a salt works on the nearby beach."

This did not go over so well with the pre-existing Gravesend residents, and they threatened to burn de Wolf alive, because that was the sort of threat people made back then, I guess. This tension almost led to war being declared on Gravesend by New Amsterdam—whose patron, the Dutch East Indies Company—supported de Wolf. Luckily for the people of Gravesend, war was averted because England took over New Amsterdam and didn't really care what happened to de Wolf and his salt farm. The people of Gravesend were then granted autonomy over the whole region, including Coney Island.

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About The Author

Kristin Iversen

Kristin Iversen

Kristin Iversen is the Managing Editor at Brooklyn Magazine and the L Magazine. She has been described as "a hipster buzzword made flesh." This seems pretty accurate.

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