This text is part of Parks’ Historical Signs Project and can be found posted within the park.Grand Ferry Park was a ferry landing that served the burgeoning populace of Williamsburg before it became part of Brooklyn. It is named for the 19th century Grand Street Ferry, which once carried farm goods and passengers across the East River to Manhattan.
In 1802, Richard Woodhull, spurred by the idea of creating a residential suburb of Manhattan, began a ferry service from present-day Metropolitan Avenue in Brooklyn to Corlear’s Hook on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Woodhull purchased 13 acres of land surrounding the ferry landing with a plan to build homes and, in 1810, named the area ‘Williamsburgh’ after Colonel Jonathan Williams (1750-1815), the original surveyor of the site.
In 1806 Woodhull went bankrupt, but the idea of Williamsburgh persisted; Noah Waterbury built the neighborhood’s first distillery in 1819, and David Dunham, called the “Father of Williamsburgh,” began operating a steam ferry in 1818