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Before it was a borough of skyscrapers, brownstones, and warehouses, Brooklyn was home to Dutch immigrants and farmers escaping the chaos and bustle of New Amsterdam. The original area was made up of six independent towns called Breuckelen (Brooklyn Heights), Boswijck (Bushwick), Vlacke Bos or Midwout (Flat Bush), New Amersfoort (Flatlands), Gravesend, and New Utrecht.

The homes that populated 17th-century Brooklyn are famous for pioneering the American-Dutch Colonial style that inspired architecture into the next century. The style's influence can still be seen in suburban homes today. Thanks to 19th-century photographer Robert L. Bracklow and others, an extensive photographic record of these homes exists, offering a clear visual contrast to the Brooklyn of today (though some of the original homes survive)!