Williamsburg Brooklyn today can be divided into three distinct areas:
The North Side, The South Side and East Williamsburg. Historically, East Williamsburg is the newest section of the area (the two older sections were
developed sometime after 1800 while development in East Williamsburg did not
begin to appear on the maps until at least the 1830s). Today most of East
Williamsburg is located within Zip Code 11206 while a portion of the
neighborhood is located within Zip Code 11211. The following is a bit of
our neighborhood's history and some current-day images of some of the places
The neighborhood in which we are located has
always been home to immigrant people; for many years our immediate
vicinity was populated by German speaking Catholic, Lutheran and
Jewish people and was colloquially known as "Germantown" or "Dutchtown."
Another area of East Williamsburg within a very close distance was called "Irish Town" for
similar reasons. After the
heyday of the German and Irish presence in
Williamsburg, more diverse
ethnic communities settled in the area. For a significant part of
history, especially during the mid-twentieth
century, the neighborhood was home to many Italian-Americans.
also been and
is now home to those who have immigrated
from other parts of Europe and from Asia; it is
home to African-Americans, Puerto Ricans,
Dominicans, Ecuadorians, Mexicans and people from
other Spanish-speaking countries. In recent
years the neighborhood has seen the arrival of
people from Poland, one of the newest immigrant
communities to settle here. Looking to
the future, it is evident that our neighborhood
continues to attract a diversified community of
people, the newest of whom are known as "young urban professionals" and "hipsters."
According to historical accounts, the first Most Holy Trinity Church was
built by Father John Stephen Raffeiner in 1841 "in the middle of a cornfield at
the top of a small hill." He had purchased a section of a farm that had
been owned by Abraham Meserole (for whom nearby Meserole Street is named).
The original neighborhood that grew in the area was populated mostly by German
speaking people who had immigrated to New York from Germany, Austria and other
parts of German speaking Europe. In those days the second largest
population of people were of Irish descent. The immediate neighborhood in
which Most Holy Trinity, and nearby St. Mary's, were located was part of the
village of Williamsburgh (originally spelled with an "h" at the end of the
word). Williamsburgh had been incorporated as a village in 1827, received
its own charter as an independent city in 1852 and then was absorbed by the City
of Brooklyn in 1855 (by that point, Williamsburg was spelled without the "h"); as part of
Brooklyn, Williamsburg was consolidated with the area known as Bushwick and
called "the Eastern District." The entire area, as part of Brooklyn, was
later absorbed by the City of New York in 1889. Today the neighborhood is
part of Community Board #1 which comprises both Greenpoint and all of
Construction of the first church, a simple frame
structure, began in July of 1841. The first church stood in the
middle of a corn field; on the spot where the
present, and third structure stands today.
When the church was constructed, Montrose Avenue, then just a dirt road,
had not yet been given its name. Looking around the neighborhood
today, a densely populated urban area, it is hard to imagine its rural
and agricultural past.
This is how our towers appear as they stand over our
neighborhood. This view is looking south from Manhattan Avenue between Maujer and Scholes Street.
This is another view of our great church looking east from the
ball field in Sternberg Park (known
to many by it former name, Lindsay Park).
Sternberg Park (formerly known as Lindsay Park)
The children's playground in Sternberg Park (Lindsay Park) was completely
renovated and reopened in 2008. The park, while small compared to others
in the city, is an oasis within our heavily populated area. The towers of
the church are barely visible through the trees in this photo (look to the right
The ball field in Sternberg Park (Lindsay Park) was completely renovated
and given a layer of artificial turf in 2005-06. It is the scene of both
little league and adult softball games throughout the spring, summer and autumn.
In the background are two towers of the Lindsey Houses, co-op style apartments
built in the 1960s.
Sternberg Park is just a little over four acres in size. It was
originally called "Williamsburg Park" until 1925 when it was renamed "Lindsay
Park" after a Brooklyn Congressman; the park was renamed again in 1990 in order
to honor Frances Hamburger Sternberg (1920-1990). She had been a community
activist in the area and at one time was the chairperson of the "Friends of
Lindsay Park Committee." In the 1960s, when the Lindsay Houses were built,
the park was more than doubled in size as part of the massive housing project
and urban renewal plan.
This is another view of the children's playground in the park. The
Lindsay Park Houses can be seen in the background.
Above is the entrance to the Montrose Avenue stop on the "L" subway line.
It is located at the corner of Montrose and Bushwick Avenues, just two and
a half blocks from the front door of the church.
To the right is the entrance to the Lorimer Street stop on the "J" and "M"
elevated lines. It is located at the corner of Broadway and Lorimer
Street, just four and half blocks from the church. Many of the people who
live in our neighborhood and who belong to our parish work or go to school in
Manhattan (or "in the city" as people around here
like say), just fifteen minutes
away by either train.
Above is the entrance to the Broadway stop on the "G" subway line.
It is located at the corner of Broadway and Union Avenue, just five blocks
from the front door of the church.
This subway line is the only one that does not go into Manhattan, rather it
connects Brooklyn and Queens. Typical subway trains are eight cars long,
but the "G" train, because it does not have a high volume of passengers, usually
has only four cars. Some people call the "G" train the "stepchild" of the
SUBWAYS: Most Holy Trinity -- St. Mary is conveniently located near three subway lines: the
"L", the "J" & "M" and the "G"
BUSSES: Most Holy Trinity -- St. Mary is conveniently located on
three M.T.A. bus lines: the “B60”, the “B43” and the “B48”
Additional M.T.A. bus lines are nearby as well.
This historical marker, located near the administrative
offices of the Williamsburg Houses on Maujer Street, reads: "The
Williamsburg Houses were built by the Federal Public Works Administration and
the New York City Housing Authority in 1935-38. Designed by a team led by
architects Richmond H. Shreve and William Lescaze, the Swill born architect who
helped introduce European-style modern architecture in the United States, the
twenty-three acre complex is notable for its generous communal spaces and human
scale, oriented to the sun and prevailing winds, the twenty free-standing
buildings are turned at fifteen degree angles to the street grid. The
facades are distinguished from earlier public housing developments by their use
of light colored brick and concrete, with multiple entrances enlivened by dark
blue tile and projecting stainless steel canopies. During the late 1990s,
the New York City Housing Authority undertook a sensitive and award-winning
restoration of the buildings. New York Landmarks Preservation Foundation
The Williamsburg Houses, some of the oldest, yet perhaps most enlightened
public housing projects ever constructed in the United States, are home to many
of our parishioners. This photo was taken looking northeast at the corner
of Leonard and Scholes Streets.
It seems that on every street and around every corner there is a brand new
building being constructed in our neighborhood. This has dramatically
altered the size of our local population and has further diversified the type of
peoples who live here. In this photo looking south and taken on Scholes
Street between Graham and Manhattan Avenues you can see just the very tops of
our two towers, now obscured by these new buildings.
This vacant lot on Bushwick Avenue between Montrose Avenue and Meserole Street
seems to be one of the last in the neighborhood. As you can see, they are
preparing to excavate the property for the construction of yet another new
This building is being constructed on the corner of
Leonard and Stagg Street.
These brand new buildings are on the
southeast corner of Leonard and Meserole Streets.
Nearby Grand Street is home to many
flourishing businesses. Graham Avenue also is home to many businesses.
Just about anything you could need, from food to health care to furniture to
banking, can be found in our neighborhood.
This McDonald's Restaurant is located on Broadway at Whipple Street. In
this photo, the "J" train
can be seen passing
on the elevated tracks above Broadway .
A Food Bazaar supermarket is located just a
few blocks away from the church. In this view, looking north from the
supermarket's parking lot, you can see part of one of the Lindsay buildings and
the top of our towers (just above the AR in the word bazaar).
Florama Hardware Store, located at the corner of Graham Avenue and Seigel
Street, has been a fixture in our neighborhood for many years. Whenever we
need a key made, a new tool or some paint we run to Florama!
Our neighborhood is home to many "99 Cent" stores. This one is
located at the corner of Broadway and Union Avenue. It is hard to visit
these stores without picking up a few bargain items.
This Walgreens Drug store is located on Union Avenue between Meserole Street and
Danny's Cafe, located near the corner of Bushwick and Montrose
Avenues, is a nice little Italian restaurant; it is associated with Danny's
Pizzeria located right next door. There is nothing better than New York
style pizza found at Danny's and in numerous pizza shops and restaurants located
in our vicinity.
On the corner, just up the street from our church, is El Brillante
Restaurant. They, like many other "ethnic" restaurants in our
neighborhood, serve food typically served in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Pfizer Inc., one of the worlds largest
pharmaceutical companies, was founded in our neighborhood in 1849 by two German
speaking Pfizer cousins. This building, located on Flushing Avenue between
Tomkins and Marcy Avenues, is very close to the original location of the
company. The Pfizer company has announced that this location will soon be
The Johan Food Corp (pictured to the left) is one of the
many "bodegas" located in our neighborhood. It is not unusual to hear
Spanish music playing in these wonderful neighborhood gathering spots.
Public Services and Utilities
City owned Woodhull Medical and Mental
Health Center, simply known to the locals as "Woodhull Hospital" is an enormous
building that dominates the neighborhood's landscape. It is located at the
intersections Flushing Avenue and Broadway. The building's construction was
completed in 1978, however because of bureaucratic mishaps it sat empty until it
opened until 1982.
The Verizon Building, located at the corner of Lorimer and Meserole Streets, is
perhaps the most unattractive "modern" building in our neighborhood. This
building could easily be mistaken for a jail house. Question: Why
don't telephone buildings have windows?
This high school building, that opened in
1981, was formerly known as the Eastern District High School (which officially
closed in 1995); it now houses three distinct high schools: the High School for
Enterprise, Business, and Technology, The High School for Legal Studies
and another known as Progress High School. Together the schools are known
as "the Grand Street Campus."
This enormous public school building, known as Ten Eyck School/Public School
196, is located on Bushwick Avenue between Scholes and Meserole Streets.
Our neighborhood is served by numerous public schools, many of which are housed
in grand old buildings such as this one.
This is the local branch of the Brooklyn
Public Library, the "Bushwick Branch," which is located at 340 Bushwick Avenue"
This building, a "Carnegie library" first opened in 1908. There are
thousands of Carnegie libraries throughout our country; they were built through
the generosity of the wealthy businessman and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie.
Visible behind the library is the twenty story tower of the Mayor John F. Hylan
Housing project; to the right is one of the low rise buildings of the Borinquen
Plaza Housing project.
The Borinquen Plaza Housing project consists of fourteen buildings spread
throughout the neighborhood. Ten of the buildings are located between
Graham and Bushwick Avenues to the west and east, and between Humboldt and
Seigel Streets to the north and south. The four buildings located to the
west of Graham Avenue (between Seigel and Varet Streets) have been
knick-named "little Borinquen;" perhaps they have this name because they are
located a few blocks away from the majority of the other buildings of the
The Moore Street Retail Market, known
locally as "La Marqueta" was dedicated by Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia in July
of 1941. Recently it has been threatened with closure, as the city has
hoped to build "affordable housing" on the site. Community activists have
worked hard to keep it open and for now it seems like they have succeeded.
There are many different kinds of restaurants in our neighborhood. In
addition to a few new places that offer table service in a more upscale setting,
we have a great selection of "ethnic" food and "comidas tipicas." We have
places that serve Latin American and Caribbean cuisine, and others that serve
typical "American" food such as hamburgers and pizza. Like any other urban
area in the world, we also have a good variety of Chinese take out places.
This one, "Nine Dragons" is located at 83 Humboldt Street (between Moore and
Seigel Streets). General Tso chicken anyone?
Louis Tommaso Funeral Home is located at
264 Bushwick Avenue (on the corner between Johnson and Montrose Avenues).
According to their advertisement on the back of our parish bulletin, they have
been "serving the community for 80 years." Many families of our parish
have used the services of Tommaso Funeral home when their loved ones have passed
away. Notice the brand new apartment building to the right of the funeral
home; not long ago, there was one story garage-type building located in that
Like any other neighborhood in New York City and Brooklyn, we would not be
complete without the constant presence of ice cream trucks passing up and down
our streets. These two trucks pulled up outside of P.S. 250 just before
dismissal on a beautiful September afternoon. No doubt, quite a few
parents would soon be cajoled into treating their children to an after-school
Our Lady of the Rosary of Pompei Church, located at 225 Siegel Street,
Brooklyn, NY 11206, was established in 1900 and originally ministered to people
of Italian decent; it is our closest neighboring parish. There are very
warm ties between our two congregations. The priests at "Pompei," as the parish
is commonly called, are of the Society of Catholic Apostolate, (a Catholic Order
of brothers and priests known as the "Pallotines". Our parish and Pompei
are the only parishes in Williamsburg served by men of religious communities;
the clergy of the two parishes have always had a very friendly and warm rapport with
All Saints Church, located at 115 Throop Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11206, was
established in 1866; as a "daughter" parish of Most Holy Trinity, All Saints
originally ministered to German speaking people.
Transfiguration Church, located at 263 Marcy Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11211, was
established in 1874. The parish had a largely Irish population in its
St. Mary's Church, formerly located at the corner of Leonard and Maujer Streets
(five blocks away from Most Holy Trinity
Church), was a
good neighbor to Most Holy Trinity for more than one hundred and fifty years. This
photo was taken in September of 2005. The two parishes merged
under the name "Most Holy Trinity--St. Mary" in September of 2007.
This building is slated to be demolished.
El Eden Asemblea de Dios (Eden Assembly of God) literally falls under the
shadows of our towers. The church is located on Montrose Avenue between
Manhattan Avenue and Leonard Street.
St. John the Evangelist Lutheran Church (of the Lutheran Church-Missouri
Synod) is located at 195 Maujer St. Brooklyn, NY 11206 (between Humboldt Street
and Bushwick Avenue). The current pastor is Rev. Jonathan Priest.
The congregation and its pastor are very welcoming to visitors. They have a
nice web site that can be found at:
The Love Chapel, located at 167 Graham Avenue (between Montrose
Avenue and Meserole Street), is housed in an old movie theatre. The
building, formerly known as "The Rainbow Theatre," was affiliated with film producers RKO
Radio Pictures Inc., Lately it
appears the the church has been closed as there are "For Rent" signs on the
front of the building. For more information and discussion about the Rainbow Theatre,
visit this site:
The Little Zion Baptist Church is located on Scholes Street between Manhattan
Avenue and Leonard Street. This church ministers to a largely
African-American congregation. Interesting to note is that the church is
housed in a former Jewish synagogue; in the basement of the church is the former
synagogue's mikvah, a small pool that was used for ritual purification.
The church now uses the mikvah for its baptism rituals.
The Salon del Reino de los Testigos de Jehova (pictured above) is located on the
corner of Maujer Street and Union Avenue
The Seventh-day Adventist Church (pictured to the left) is
located on Humboldt Street between Graham and Manhattan Avenues. This
building once housed the "Daughters of Zion" as indicated by the inscription
above the top floor windows.
It seems that Pentecostal churches are sometimes located
practically right next to each other. There are two Pentecostal churches
located at two ends of the same block on Union Avenue between Stagg and Scholes
The Iglesia Pentecostal Abrigo del Altisimo is pictured
above. It is on the corner of Union Avenue and Stagg Street.
The Iglesia Pentecostal Misionera is pictured to the right
(this church building used to house St. Peter's Evangelical German Church).
It is on the corner of Union Avenue and Scholes Street.
In our neighborhood there are very many
small churches located in commercial spaces on the first levels of apartment
buildings (some call them "store-front churches"). The Primera Iglesia
Getsemani, located at the corner of Scholes Street and Graham Avenue, is one of
these kind of churches. The pastor of this church, Bishop Julio Mercado,
is the current president of the 90th Precinct Clergy Coalition.
This collage of photos shows just some of the small
churches that can be found in our neighborhood. They are: Iglesia
Bautista (a small Baptist church on Montrose Avenue), Iglesia de Dios Evangelica
(on Meserole Street), Iglesia Evangelica Samaria (at the corner of Montrose and
Manhattan), Iglesia Pentecostal Nazaret (on Manhattan Avenue), Iglesia Cruzada
Evangelica (at the corner of Meserole and Bushwick Avenue), Iglesia Pentecostal
Rosa de Saron (on Humboldt Street between Johnson and Montrose Avenues), Iglesia
de Dios, Inc. (on Manhattan Avenue), Iglesia Valle de Jesus (on Meserole
Street), Iglesia de Dios Pentecostal, Inc., El Lirio de los Valles (on Manhattan
Avenue), and Iglesia de Dios de Williamsburgh (on Johnson Avenue)
Notice the last church listed spells Williamsburgh with the "h."
Apparently, those who live in our neighborhood are very spiritual people!
And at all times our majestic towers keep
a solemn vigil over our wonderful neighborhood!
We hope you
enjoyed this visit to our neighborhood. Please come and visit us in person
sometime. You will always be welcomed by the people of the parish of Most
Holy Trinity--St. Mary.