7. Old Porte Road
In the retreat from Brooklyn, American soldiers fled west from Prospect Park on the Porte Road downhill towards what was then the Gowanus swamp. In 2016, Nicholas Evans-Cato, a reader of Untapped Cities and professor at RSID who used to reside at 26 Garfield Place contacted us about a find he discovered checking out what had become of his former backyard. While 251 First Avenue was being constructed, a portion of the Porte Road where the soldiers traversed was visible.
Evans-Cato drew us a map which shows how a diagonal lot line at the rear of 12, 14 and 16 Garfield Place actually preserves the path of the original Porte Road. This map and the details were confirmed by Peter Joseph in 2011, a local historian and cartographer who is affiliated with the Old Stone House Museum, Evans-Cato says. Nonetheless he tells us, the topography has changed drastically here. What would have been the surface of the Porte and Gowanus Roads are now “way below the grade level.”