There were several reasons why people moved to Flatbush. Some of the most significant were Flatbush’s efficient transportation system, its sanitary conditions and its water supply system.
As waterfront neighborhoods of Kings County filled with newcomers, residents looked to Flatbush and other towns for a more suburban life. There were several reasons why people moved to Flatbush. Some of the most significant were Flatbush’s efficient transportation system, its sanitary conditions, its water supply system and school system.[i] Flatbush looked appealing to those from more densely populated sections because among other things, it had a superior transportation system that could get people to their jobs while allowing them to live at a remove from the congestion in business districts. One Flatbush resident said, “9 out of every 10 people who came to live in his section of Flatbush moved away [from their old homes] because of a lack of transportation facilities.”[ii] Flatbush (and even Brooklyn as a whole) had become much more accessible with the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge in 1883, the Williamsburg Bridge in 1903, and the Manhattan Bridge in 1910.[iii]
The creation of Prospect Park in 1868 had a similar effect. Its construction had cleared a path that allowed people to get to Flatbush more easily.[iv] Additionally, the creation of several major streets drew people to the area. Flatbush Avenue and Ocean Parkway are just two examples of streets that stretched through most of Brooklyn. These roads greatly improved the Flatbush image.[v]
what really put Flatbush over the top, in terms of transportation, was its new railroads.
However, what really put Flatbush over the top, in terms of transportation, was its new railroads. With this new and improved method of transportation people were now able to live further away from where they worked. This meant that many people who worked in Manhattan were now able to live in Flatbush. Overall, one can see that transportation certainly drew people to Flatbush.
Another factor that enticed people to move to Flatbush was the superior sanitary conditions. Flatbush put its sanitation at the top of its list of priorities. In late 1900 a meeting took place to discuss the sanitary conditions of Flatbush. One conclusion reached was, “everything ought to be done to get [an efficient] sewer system (and especially into the schools).” At that point in time they had already established a storm sewer system at the center of Flatbush Avenue,[vi] but the commissioners of the Flatbush Health Department clearly weren’t satisfied to stop there. Surely, their dedication to bringing adequate sanitary conditions to Flatbush was a major factor that lead people to move there.
When examined by the Health Department of Brooklyn it was concluded that “for purity and wholesomeness it is second to none.”
A third factor that made Flatbush look like a great place to live was its excellent water supply system. Flatbush officials set this issue towards the top of their priorities list. In fact, the Eagle claimed, “the necessity [of a water supply system] dwarfs all other questions.” Concern with this issue led Flatbush to have an unbeatable water supply system. When examined by the Health Department of Brooklyn it was concluded that “for purity and wholesomeness it is second to none.” [vii] Brooklyn Life Magazine went as far as to say, “Flatbush claims to have the best and purest drinking water… in the entire world.”[viii] Thus it can be seen that Flatbush had an incredible water supply system that certainly drew people there.
[i] Brooklyn Life Magazine, February 2, 1918.
[ii] Brooklyn Daily Eagle, November 26, 1907.
[iii] Allbray, Flatbush: The Heart of Brooklyn, 123.
[iv] Ibid., 125.
[v] Brooklyn Daily Eagle, October 5, 1900.
[vi] Brooklyn Daily Eagle, October 31, 1889.
[vii] Brooklyn Daily Eagle, November 26, 1907.
[viii] Brooklyn Life Magazine, February 2, 1918.