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Windsor Terrace was first inhabited by the Canarsee Indians and was later acquired by farmer John Vanderbilt. Upon Vanderbilt’s death, his land was divided into two farms that were sold in 1849 to William Bell, a developer.

Bell had 47 building lots created, around which the village of Windsor Terrace rose and was incorporated by 1851.

Row houses were built on and near Prospect Park Southwest in the early 1900s before two-family houses and large apartment buildings were constructed.

Throughout the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, the neighborhood remained quiet and isolated with the exception of the Prospect Expressway bringing in more traffic in the 1950s. 

A renewed interest sprang up around Windsor Terrace in the 1980s when new families who wanted to buy property but couldn’t afford pricier neighborhoods discovered the peace haven. New publicly assisted two-family houses were built on Terrace Place and Seeley Street with opportunities to buy them determined by a lottery.

The neighborhood was also rezoned in the late 1980s to keep high-rise buildings out.

How Windsor Terrace Got Its Name

This neighborhood, flanked by Green-Wood Cemetery to the west and Prospect Park on the east, was originally part of the Dutch town of Flatbush. It was acquired from the Gowanus Indians by a farmer named John Vanderbilt who received a land grant from the Dutch West India Company. (Vanderbilt Street in the neighborhood’s southern half was named for him.) Another large farm, in the northern half, was owned by John and Peter Wycoff.

After John Vanderbilt died, the land was sold in 1849 by Jeremiah Vanderbilt to Robert Bell, a developer who named it Windsor Terrace, after Windsor, the town in England best known as the site of Windsor Castle, one of the official residences of the British royal family. Bell soon sold it to Edward Belknap, who broke it up into 47 building lots, around which the village of Windsor Terrace was built.

The neighborhood was incorporated as a village in 1851 and started to be developed for housing soon after the completion of neighboring Green-Wood Cemetery, which became something of a tourist attraction. 

Brooklyn-born William L. Calder, a builder who reportedly originated the two-family house, erected and sold 700 houses in this small, roughly eight-block-long neighborhood between 1902 and 1919.

In the early part of the 20th century, Irish-Americans settled the neighborhood between Park Slope and Kensington, followed later by younger and more ethnically mixed arrivals, many from Manhattan and from neighboring Park Slope.

The subway arrived in 1933 with the IND South Brooklyn Line (now F and G trains).

The Prospect Expressway, built in the 1950s, runs right through the middle of the neighborhood.

Norm Goldstein

Brooklyn-born Norm Goldstein is retired, after working 44 years for the Associated Press, the global news agency, where he served as a reporter, feature writer, editor, author and administrator. He also worked for AP as director of Educational Services and editor of the AP Stylebook. He graduated from Brooklyn College and the Penn State Graduate School of Journalism. He currently lives in Brooklyn Heights.