3. Boerum Hill was once a center for Mohawk ironworkers

Rowhouses in Boerum Hill

In 1916, Mohawk Native American ironworkers made their way to New York to work on the construction of the Hell Gate Bridge. By the 1930s, a Mohawk community of over 800 people lived in what was then known as North Gowanus, or Boerum Hill. The community earned the nickname “Downtown Kahnawake,” named for the Mohawk reservation near Montreal.

Although the community was originally just Mohawk workers who lived together in boarding houses, many brought their families to Boerum Hill during the Great Depression. The residents worked on some of the largest infrastructure projects of the time, including the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. The Wigwam Bar at 75 Nevis Street was a Mohawk community hub in the neighborhood.

”It was a lot more than just a bar; it was like Grand Central for the Mohawk Indians who came here,” Verlain White, who worked at the Wigwam Bar, told the New York Times. ”People sometimes picked their mail up there. They got rides back to the reservation there. They found out about jobs there. They met there. I saw everybody.”