Sunday, September 30, 2012

Civil War Sunday - The Liberty Warehouse

The four of us were walking in Brooklyn on Friday when the young man approached us.

He smiled and said to us, "you look like tourists.  Do you want to know something about the history of this area?"

We did.  We were in a neighborhood called Red Hook (from the Dutch Roode Hoeck), one of six Dutch villages that became Breuklelen (Brooklyn).  The "roode" came from the red soil.  The "hoeck" means point, not "hook".  If you look at a map, you'll see what they meant.

The young man continued, "did you notice how a lot of buildings have the name "Liberty" in them? Like the building you are standing next to?"  Sure enough.....

"Many of these buildings pre date the Civil War", the young man informed us.  "They were used as munition warehouses".
So when I got home, I did a little research.  He was right about the age of the warehouse.  This building, the Liberty Warehouse, dates from the 1850's.  It is a wedding venue today.

In the 1850's and 1860's, Brooklyn was not part of New York City. It was a separate city.

During the Civil War, Brooklyn was the third largest city in the country.  Prior to the Civil War, Robert E. Lee was stationed at Ft. Hamilton in Brooklyn. Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson was stationed at Ft. Hamilton also, and baptized in Brooklyn. Ft. Hamilton is still an active military base.

The ironclad U.S.S. Monitor was built in another neighborhood of Brooklyn, Greenpoint.

A fascinating book on Brooklyn and the Civil War was published earlier this year. Highly recommended if you want to read more on this topic.

I'm not sure, though, about the connection between "Liberty" in the name of the warehouse and its Civil War link.  I suspect the "liberty" comes from Red Hook's closeness to the Statue of Liberty.  The weather conditions didn't allow me to photograph it, but on a clear day, the Statue of Liberty is very visible from Red Hook.

No matter where we live, we walk in history.


  1. Very interesting history lesson you've given your readers today. :D You've just given me a new research project!

    1. If you do find out anything, I'd love to hear about it. I wasn't able to find out much in the limited research I was able to do, but I know the information must be out there.

  2. This is such an interesting post! And how nice to be approached and offered history by a local. Thanks for sharing all this!


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