3. Bushwick was once known as the “beer capital of the Northeast”

Sketch of William Ulmer Brewery circa. 1909
Sketch of William Ulmer Brewery circa. 1909. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons (NYC Landmarks Preservation Committee).

Following the integration of Bushwick into the city of Brooklyn in 1855, the area began to develop a more localized economy based around factories and industrial complexes. One industry that began to boom in the neighborhood was beer production, due in large part to the influx of German immigrants. At one point, Bushwick had as many as 45 breweries, and a 14-block area near Linden Street and Gates Avenue became known as “Brewers Row” because it had 14 consecutive breweries in operation. As a result, Bushwick was dubbed the “beer capital of the Northeast.”

One of the area’s most important breweries at the time was the William Ulmer Brewery Complex, which consisted of an office, a brewhouse, an engine-machine house, and a stable storage house — all built between 1872 and 1890. Though the brewery was highly successful, it ceased operations in 1920 due to Prohibition. Over time, the area’s brewing industry began to decline, and the neighborhood’s last two breweries, Schaefer’s and Rheingold, closed their doors in 1976. Today, many of the abandoned buildings of these long-gone breweries can still be seen. In 2010, the William Ulmer Brewery was given landmark status by the city, becoming the first brewery with this title.