Brooklyn, formerly a city of New York state, U.S.A., but since 1898 a borough of New York City (q.v.), situated at the S.W. extremity of Long Island. It is conterminous with Kings county, and is bounded N. by the borough of Queens, from which it is in part separated by Newtown Creek; E. by the borough of Queens and Jamaica Bay; S. by the Atlantic Ocean; W. by Gravesend Bay, the Narrows, Upper New York Bay and East river, which separate it from Staten Island, Jersey City and the borough of Manhattan. It has a water-front of 33 m. and extends over an area of 77.62 sq. m. Pop. (1860) 279,122; (1870) 419,921; (1880) 599,495; (1890, then Kings county) 838,547; (1900) 1,166,582; (1905, state census) 1,358,686; (1910) 1,634.351. In 1900 only 310,501, or 26.6%, were native-born of native white parents; 355,697 were foreign-born, 18,367 were negroes, and 1206 were Chinese. Out of 332,715 males of voting age (21 years and over), 15,415 were illiterate (unable to write), and of these 14,159 were foreign-born.
Brooklyn is connected with Manhattan by three bridges across the East river - the lowest, known as the Brooklyn, opened in 1883; another, known as the Williamsburg or East River bridge, opened in 1903; and a third, the Manhattan, was opened in 1909. And a tunnel directly across from the south terminus of Manhattan was completed in 1907. Ferries ply at frequent intervals between numerous points on its west water-front and points in Manhattan; there is also ferry connexion with Jersey City. Brooklyn is served directly by the Long Island railway; by about fifty regular coast-wise and trans-Atlantic steamship lines; and by elevated or surface car lines on a large number of its streets. Subway lines, begun in 1904, connect Brooklyn with the subway system of Manhattan.
The surface of Brooklyn in the west section, from the lower course of the East river to Gravesend Bay, varies in elevation from a few inches to nearly 200 ft. above sea-level, the highest points being in Prospect Park; but steep street grades even in this section are rare, and elsewhere the surface is either only slightly undulating or, as in the east and south, flat. Most of the streets are from 60 to 100 ft. wide. The principal business thoroughfare is Fulton Street, which begins at Fulton ferry nearly under the Brooklyn bridge, runs to City Hall Park, and thence across the north central section of the borough. In the City Hall Park are the old city hall (now the borough hall), the hall of records, and the county court-house. Two blocks to the north (on Washington Street) is the post-office, a fine granite Romanesque building. The manufacturing and shipping districts are mostly along the west water-front. Here, on Wallabout Bay at the bend of the East river to the westward, is the New York navy yard, the principal navy yard of the United States, established in 1801, and commonly but incorrectly called the Brooklyn navy yard.
It occupies altogether about 144 acres, contains a trophy park, parade grounds, the United States Naval Lyceum (founded 1833), officers' quarters, barracks, and three large dry docks (respectively 564, 465 and 307 ft. long), foundries and machine shops. A naval hospital (having accommodation for about 500 patients) to the east is separated from the navy yard by the largest and most interesting of Brooklyn's markets, the Wallabout (about 45 acres). The buildings of this market are Dutch in style and have a quaint clock tower. A little to the north of the navy yard are immense refineries of sugar. About 2 m. to the south, opposite Governor's Island, is the Atlantic Basin of 40 acres, with a wharfage of about 3 m. and brick and granite warehouses used largely for the storage of grain. A little farther south, on Gowanus Bay, is another basin, the Erie, of 161 acres, protected by a breakwater 1 m. in length, occupied by piers, warehouses, lumber depots and some of the largest dry docks in the United States; it also provides protection during winter to hundreds of canal boats. In this vicinity, too, are several yards for building yachts, launches and other boats.
For a considerable portion of its inhabitants Brooklyn is only a place of residence, their business interests being in the borough of Manhattan; hence Brooklyn has been called the "city of homes" and the "dormitory of New York." Residential districts with social lines more or less distinctly drawn are numerous. The oldest is that on Brooklyn (or Columbia) Heights, west of City Hall Park, rising abruptly from the river to a height of from 70 to 100 ft., and commanding a delightful view of the harbour. Here are hotels, large apartment-houses, many private residences and a number of clubs, including the Brooklyn, the Crescent, the Hamilton, the Jefferson and the Germania. On Park Slope, immediately west of Prospect Park, and St Mark's Avenue, in another part of the borough, are also attractive residential districts. The south shore of the borough has various summer pleasure resorts, of which Coney Island is the most popular.