Mill Basin, Brooklyn, New York City
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Mill Basin/ Mill Island is a neighborhood in New York City in the southeastern portion of the borough of Brooklyn lying along Jamaica Bay and bounded to the north by Avenue U, and to the east, south, and west by the Mill Basin / Mill Island Inlet.
The area was called Equandito (Broken Lands) by the local Canarsee Native Americans who sold it in 1664 to John Tilton Jr. and Samuel Spicer. During the seventeenth century it became part of Flatlands, and tidal mills were built on it; the land was owned from 1675 by Jan Martense Schenck and between 1818 and 1870 by the wife of General Philip S. Crooke. The Crooke-Schenck House, which stood at East 63rd Street, was dismantled in the early 1960s and reassembled at the Brooklyn Museum. The area retained its rural character until Robert L. Crooke built a lead-smelting plant in 1890. The Crooke Smelting Company was bought out by the National Lead Company, and Crooke sold the remainder of the land to the firm of McNulty and Fitzgerald, which erected bulkheads and filled in the marshes.
Until the early twentieth century, the chief resources were the abundant crabs, oysters, and clams in Jamaica Bay. In 1906 the Flatbush Improvement Company brought marshland and engaged the firm of Atlantic, Gulf and Pacific to dredge creeks and fill in meadows. Eventually the parcel had an area of 332 acres and was fit for industrial development, and within a decade National Lead, Gulf Refining, and other leading firms engaged in heavy industry opened plants there. Atlantic, Gulf and Pacific bought the land in 1909 and built three large drydocks employing a thousand workers; it also began promoting Jamaica Bay as a major harbor but failed to attract a large volume of shipping. A project begun in 1913 and completed in 1923 to extend Flatbush Avenue to the Rockaway Inlet provided an additional 2,700 feet of dock facilities and a strip of land for a road across the marshes. In 1915 a channel was dredged to the main channel of Jamaica Bay, and a bulkhead and wharfage platform were build on the mainland side of Mill Creek. By 1919, Mill Island was the site of at least six manufacturing and commercial concerns. During the late 1920s and 1930s the docks were rented to a number of small industrial firms. The neighborhood remained a grimy industrial area for thirty years, but its further development was hindered when plans for rail service to the rest of Brooklyn went unrealized. Residential development began after World War II, when Atlantic, Gulf and Pacific sold to the firm of Flatbush Park Homes the land bounded to the north by Avenue U, to the east by East 68th Street and East Mill Basin / Mill Island, to the south by Basset Avenue, and to the west by Strickland Avenue and Mill Avenue. Brick bungalows were built in the late 1940s and early 1950s, many of which were later replaced by large, custom-built, detached one-family houses on lots measuring fifty by a hundred feet.
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