Offering a small town feel in New York City, Gerritsen Beach is often compared to a New England fishing village.
Here narrow streets and close-set homes, some sitting right on the water, are often decorated with lawn ornaments, religious icons and birdhouses. Meanwhile, children, cats and dogs frolic outdoors during the summer while adults host block parties, street fairs and neighborhood functions.
Located in the borough of Brooklyn between Sheepshead Bay and Marine Park, Gerritsen was named after Wolphert Gerretse, a Dutch settler who built a house and a mill on Gerritsen Creek. Gerretse died in 1662, but his mill lasted 300 years until it was destroyed by a fire in 1931.
The area was largely undeveloped marshland, aside from a few bungalows at the foot of Gerritsen Avenue, until the early 20th Century. In 1920, Realty Associates began building a summer resort there, though residential housing took over.
Home to a large Irish-Catholic population, many old-timers referred to the community as cois farraige, an Irish phrase meaning “by the sea.” Films such as The Departed and Moscow on the Hudson have taken advantage of its authentic working class setting.
Gerritsen Avenue is the main thoroughfare in and out of this self-contained, secluded peninsula. The B31 bus to Kings Highway, followed by the Q express train, will lead residents to downtown Manhattan. But many prefer the quiet, off-the-grid life in Gerritsen Beach, where many residents grew up, inherited their homes and chose to remain.
Most of the locals live west of Gerritsen, in two grids of streets divided by a canal. Many streets are one-way, all of them eventually dead-ending into water, and most are so narrow cars can only park on one side.
Because many of the streets are prone to flooding, many of those residents have had to struggle with the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy. However, the tight-knit feel -- where everyone knows each other -- plus close access to the beach, made it worth the effort.
Retail values remained steady here, despite the damage, but the community has largely appealed to those with Gerritsen Beach roots. Outsiders aren’t known to visit here due to limited access and understated retail options.
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