240th commemoration of Battle of Brooklyn brings a week of celebration

The borough is ready once again to commemorate and celebrate its history during Battle of Brooklyn Week, which will include a variety of activities and events to mark the 240th anniversary of the largest battle of the Revolutionary War. Though some may have forgotten, a portion of the battle – aka the Battle of Long Island — was fought in the borough in August, 1776.

“People have been celebrating the battle in one way or another since the early 1800s. A significant memorial movement started in 1930,” said Kim Maier, executive director of the Old Stone House, where the commemoration of the Maryland 400 takes place each year . “It’s a complicated narrative of the founding of our nation. It shows the culture going on in the borough and the towns of Brooklyn at the time.”

Maier, who has been involved with the Old Stone House for over a decade, discussed the importance of the week. “We ourselves have been involved with Battle of Brooklyn Week since 1997,” she said. “It means a lot to Brooklyn. It’s good to revisit why the battle is relevant and talk about resilience because you don’t always get the outcome you want immediately.”

From Wednesday, August 17 to Sunday, August 28, activities will take place at historic locations that also include Green-Wood Cemetery, the Brooklyn Navy Yard and Fort Greene Park, among others.

“Brooklyn Bridge Park encompasses the site of the great escape and the Waterfront Alliance is doing a program at Denyse Wharf [in Bay Ridge] where the British landed in 1776 [on Saturday, August 27][,” Maier added. “The Brooklyn Historical Society is having a lecture. There’s quite a bit going on throughout the borough and a lot of great stuff to experience. Tourists that are visiting Brooklyn want to know what lies beneath the urban landscape we now live in.”

One of the highlights of the week each year is the Battle of Brooklyn Commemoration at Green-Wood Cemetery. “Green-Wood is working in collaboration with Old Stone. We’re part of a larger team,” said Harry Weil, manager of programs at Green-Wood. “Our day is the culmination of  the slew of programs.”

Weil stated that the Green-Wood event, which includes costumed re-enactors, draws big crowds. “A lot of families come. We have a large and diverse group because it’s free,” he added. “What’s great about the event at Green-Wood is that it’s the largest one during Battle of Brooklyn Week.  It’s a great-crowd pleaser. People love to see the great re-enactors we have. They interact and engage with the audience and that’s what makes it so great. It’s not just looking at them. (Attendees) participate too. They can walk from the main entrance to the top of Battle Hill, and pick up replica regimental flags of the Revolutionary War.”

Cooking demonstration from the Revolutionary War and tactical demonstrations also take place.

A new addition to the commemoration at Old Stone House is introducing Witness to War. “The opening of our new exhibition has been a few years in making and is a great exhibit for Battle of Brooklyn aficionados,” said Maier. “It includes a three-dimensional interactive map which is a great element to exhibit and a hands-on strategy game.”

Maier added that every year, attendees look forward to the commemoration, “to get a greater sense of community and local history,” she said. “It’s a chance to share this look into our past and it’s great to do these events as a family.”

For a full list of events for the Battle of Brooklyn, visit www.theoldstonehouse.org.

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