(brʊk'lĭn), borough of New York City (1990 pop. 2,300,664), 71 sq mi (184 sq km), coextensive with Kings co., SE N.Y., at the western extremity of Long Island; an independent city from 1834, it became a New York borough in 1898. Brooklyn has the largest population of the city's five boroughs. Among its manufactures are machinery, textiles, paper products, and chemicals; it is also a center of foreign and domestic commerce and has extensive waterfront facilities. The Brooklyn (1883), Manhattan, and Williamsburg bridges span the East River, connecting Brooklyn with Manhattan; beneath the river are the Hugh L. Carey, or Brooklyn-Battery, Tunnel (vehicular) and subway tunnels. The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge connects the borough with Staten Island.
Brooklyn is a borough of well-defined neighborhoods, from the gentrified brownstone communities of Park Slope and Cobble Hill to Bedford-Stuyvesant, the largest African-American neighborhood in the city. Brighton Beach has a large community of Russian Jews, and there are also neighborhoods of Caribbean blacks, Hispanics, Italians, Poles, Hasidic Jews, Arabs, Chinese, and others.
Among educational institutions in the borough are Brooklyn College of the City Univ. of New York, Polytechnic Institute of New York Univ., Pratt Institute, St. Joseph's College, and Long Island Univ. Near Prospect Park, scene of fighting in the American Revolution (see Long Island, battle of), is the main building of the Brooklyn Public Library. Nearby are the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and the renowned, innovative Brooklyn Academy of Music.
In the “City of Churches,” the Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims, where Henry Ward Beecher preached, is perhaps best known. Other points of interest include Coney Island, with its beach, amusement park, and New York Aquarium; the Barclays Center (2012), home to professional basketball's Brooklyn Nets; Brooklyn Bridge Park; Green-Wood Cemetery; and the Lefferts Homestead (1777). Fort Hamilton (1831) overlooks the Narrows of New York Bay. Marine Park, Floyd Bennett Field (originally the city's first municipal airport), and parts of Jamaica Bay are included in Gateway National Recreation Area.
The Dutch and English settled the area (previously home to the Canarsie) in 1636 and 1637; about nine years later Dutch farmers established the hamlet of Brueckelen, near the present Borough Hall. By 1664, six towns had been established: Breuckelen (later anglicized to Brooklyn), Bushwick, Flatbush, Nieuw Amersfoort (Flatlands), Gravesend, and New Utrecht. Kings county was established in 1683; the Brooklyn Ferry area was incorporated as the village of Brooklyn in 1816, and the entire town was chartered as a city in 1834. In the 1830s Brooklyn Heights became perhaps the first modern suburb, accessible to New York City by ferry.
Brooklyn steadily absorbed neighboring settlements. After annexing Williamsburg and Bushwick in 1854, it became the third largest city in the United States, and continued to absorb other towns, including Flatbush, New Utrecht, and Gravesend, until it became coextensive with Kings County in 1896. In 1898, when it became a New York City borough, its population was 830,000. Immigration doubled its population in the next twenty years.
The New York Naval Shipyard (popularly, the Brooklyn Navy Yard) was located on the East River from 1801 until its closing in the late 1960s, when Brooklyn was declining as a port; the site is now an industrial park. The Daily Eagle, published in Brooklyn from 1841 until 1955, had Walt Whitman as one of its early editors. The borough is also famed as home to the Brooklyn Dodgers (at Ebbets Field), until the baseball team moved to Los Angeles in 1957.