Fort Hamilton has the unique distinction of being both a military base and a neighborhood in Brooklyn. Well, technically it’s a sub-neighborhood of Bay Ridge.
Named after founding father Alexander Hamilton, the neighborhood sits in the southwestern corner of Brooklyn and it’s about a square mile in size (give or take). Its boundaries are 86th Street to the north, Belt Parkway and Fort Hamilton military installation to the south, 7th Avenue to the east, and Shore Road to the west.
The area was originally inhabited by the Canarsie Indians and later settled by the Dutch in 1620. A few decades later, thanks to land grants from Governor Peter Stuyvesant, Cornelius Van Werckhoven from the Netherlands purchased what is now Bay Ridge and Fort Hamilton for a very small amount of money.
The area remained an isolated stretch of rural land until the electric trolley line was introduced to Brooklyn in 1892. The trolley connected various points of Brooklyn and Fort Hamilton soon flourished. .
Fort Hamilton and Bay Ridge experienced waves of immigration and just like other areas of New York City it became a true melting pot. Irish and Italians immigrants made their way to the neighborhood in the early part of the 20th century followed by Syrian and Lebanese immigrants in the 1950s. More recently, Asian and Arab-Americans call Fort Hamilton home.
Modern-day Fort Hamilton may not have the cool factor that other Brooklyn neighborhoods flaunt but there are many trade-offs. It offers tree-lined streets and friendly neighbors. Most residents will tell you it has a small-town feel with the added perk of affordable housing. Fort Hamilton’s proximity to the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and access to Manhattan-bound trains make it a very commutable neighborhood.