The neighborhood name Greenwood Heights is sometimes considered a real-estate stunt but the title was actually referred to in an 1846 Brooklyn Eagle article about a new ferry from Manhattan to the area. The article lists perks of the route including “facilities for communication with the groves of Greenwood Heights, and the lovely bay of Gowanus.”
From the 19th century through the middle 20th century, the area’s economy was dominated by the working Brooklyn waterfront but the neighborhood is best known for its namesake, Green-Wood Cemetery.
The 478-acre space was commissioned in 1838 as a retreat where visitors could respect the dead and appreciate nature. Until Prospect Park was completed in 1873, the cemetery was mostly used by Brooklynites as a recreational space and as the harbor became increasingly popular, a daily stage coach shuttled visitors from the ferries to Green-Wood.
Its success as a tourist attraction fueled a competition to design a public park for New York City. The winning design for “Greensward,” submitted by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux formed the basis for Central Park.
Buried among Green-Wood Cemetery’s half-million graves are William Marcy (Boss) Tweed, De Witt Clinton, Lola Montez, Peter Cooper, Henry Ward Beecher, Nathaniel Currier, James Ives, Margaret Sanger and Leonard Bernstein.