This playground and the adjacent housing development were built at the same time and are named for one of New York’s oldest families, the Brevoorts. Today, the Brevoort real estate firm still maintains some of the family’s holdings, including a Manhattan residential building called the Brevoort at 11 Fifth Avenue. The Brevoort name, like the name Stuyvesant, is synonymous with the story of Old New York.
In 1660, Hendrick Janszen (ca. 1630-?) left his home village, Bredevoort (meaning “broad ford”’), in the region of Guelderland, the Netherlands, with his wife and children, and sailed for New Netherland. In keeping with the custom of being identified by one’s town of origin, he acquired the surname van Brevoort, or Brevoort. Nearly every Brevoort living in the United States is descended from him.
Hendrick’s son Jan Hendrick Brevoort (1644-1714) bought property in Harlem, where he served as overseer of the town in 1678 and 1679. At the beginning of the 18th century, Jan Hendrick left Harlem for lower Manhattan. Upon his death, he bequeathed equal shares of his farm in the Bowery to his children. His son Hendrick (1670-1718) came to own most of the property, which in turn went to his son, also named Hendrick (1711-1771), who expanded the family holdings to nearly 80 acres. The property stretched from the Bowery to Sixth Avenue and from what is now Ninth Street to Eighteenth Street. When the Brevoort lands were broken up and sold, they yielded a fortune to the family, which was by then an established social force, headed by Henry Brevoort (1747-1841).
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