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Wallabout, Long Island, NY


Wallabout Bay is small body of water in Upper New York Bay along the northwest shore of the New York City borough of Brooklyn, between the present Williamsburg and Manhattan bridges, opposite Corlear's Hook on Manhattan to the west, across the East River.

The Wallabout became the first spot on Long Island settled by Europeans in May 1624, when several families of French-speaking Walloons opted to build homes there, having come across on the Dutch ship New Netherland.

Starting in 1637, the Wallabout served as the landing site of the first ferry across the East River from lower Manhattan. Cornelis Dircksen, the lone ferryman, farmed plots on both sides -- near to where the Brooklyn Bridge now spans -- to best employ his time on either bank of the river.

A feudal system of land tenure was suspended in 1638, and the small settlement became a colony of freeholders: after a ten-year period of paying the Dutch East India Company a tenth of their yield, colonists would own their farmland. ("Bruijk" means "to use" and "leen" means "loan" in Dutch.) The humble "Bruykleen Colonie" expanded out from the Wallabout to become the city of Brooklyn.

The area was the site where the infamous British prison ships moored during the American Revolutionary War (most horrific of which was the HMS Jersey), from about 1776-1783. Over 10,000 soldiers and sailors died due to deliberate neglect on these rotting hulks, more American deaths than from every battle of the war combined. Though their corpses were buried on the eroding shore in shallow graves, or often simply thrown overboard, local women collected remains when they became exposed or washed onshore and many more were discovered with the development of the area and expansion of piers. The nearby Prison Ship Martyrs' Monument in Fort Greene Park houses remains of the prisoners and overlooks the site of their torment and death.

The bay eventually became the site of the famous Brooklyn Navy Yard.

Gabriel Furman, in his Notes Geographical and Historical, relating to the Town of Brooklyn, in Kings County on Long-Island (1824), traces the name from the Dutch "Waal bocht" or "bay (or bight) of the Walloons", referring to the original French-speaking settlers of the local area.

Location : Latitude: 40.702393, Longitude: -73.970665

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