In 1646, the Dutch West India Company chartered the village of Breuckelen, becoming the first
municipality in what is now New York State. The General Assembly of Freeholders reorganized
the governmental structure in all of the province of New York in 1683 to divide the province
into 12 counties, each of which were sub-divided into towns. Brooklyn was one of the original
6 towns in Kings County, along with Bushwick, Flatbush, Flatlands, Gravesend and New Utrecht.
In 1776, General William Howe led the British Army in the battle of Long Island, which was the
first battle of the Revolutionary War. George Washington retreated across the East River, and
British soldiers occupied Brooklyn from 1776 until 1783.
The first federal census in 1790 showed that Brooklyn didn't have too impressive a population.
All of Kings County was recorded as having a total population of 4,495. This, however, is more
than double the population of the county's first census which showed a county-wide population
of 2,017 in 1698.
In 1816, the village of Brooklyn was incorporated into the Town of Brooklyn, also assimilating
the present-day downtown area. Eleven years later, Brooklyn annexed the City of Williamsburgh
(causing it to drop the 'h' at the end) as well as the Town of Bushwick to compose the eastern
district of the City of Brooklyn, the entire city eventually being incorporated in 1834. Brooklyn's
City Hall began construction in 1836, and was completed in 1849.
South Brooklyn is actually north of Southern Brooklyn, because up until 1894, South Brooklyn (known as the Red Hook area) was actually the southernmost part of Brooklyn.
Totally reversing the results of previous censuses (censii?), Brooklyn became the third largest city in America in 1860 with a population of 279,122.
In 1883, The Brooklyn Bridge opened to traffic. Not two years later, Brooklyn's first elevated
railroad is completed running from The Brooklyn Bridge to Broadway. In 1890, the first electric
trolley begins service in Brooklyn.
Brooklyn City Hall caught fire in 1895 destroying the original wooden cupola and several interior spaces. Ironically, the cupola served as the hall's fire watch until just two months earlier when the City Council eliminated the position of fire watchman.
In 1900, the U.S. Census showed a population of 1,166,582 for Brooklyn alone. By 1930, Brooklyn became New York's most populous borough, with a population of 2,560,401.
Today, Brooklyn remains New York's most populous borough, with its last count holding at a population of 2,300,664 in 1990, making it the equivalent of the fourth largest city in the United States, after New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago.