Brooklyn was the third largest city in the United States at the start of the Civil War, after New York and Philadelphia. Even so, it was much smaller than it is today, with many farms and rural areas inside and outside of the city limits. Williamsburgh and Bushwick had only just been incorporated into Brooklyn in 1854. The towns of Flatbush, Gravesend, New Utrecht, Flatlands, and New Lots didn't become part of Brooklyn until later in the century. Brooklyn became part of New York City in 1898.
Many people lived in Brooklyn and worked in New York. The Brooklyn Bridge was not built until after the Civil War ended, so people took steam ferries back and forth across the river. Horse-drawn carriages were used within the city, and later trolley cars. Industry grew, especially at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and in Greenpoint, where the Continental Iron Works constructed the Monitor, the first ironclad warship in the US Navy. At home, women managed the cooking and cleaning, laundry and childcare, which were more labor-intensive tasks in the mid-nineteenth century than they are today. Children went to school, and many went to work at young ages.
Life in Brooklyn was not all work. The Brooklyn Academy of Music opened in 1859, Barnum's American Museum in New York offered exotic diversions, baseball was a popular pastime in the summer, and in the winter, children and adults skated on frozen ponds.
This section includes photographs, illustrations, maps, letters, and newspaper articles and advertisements about city life, transportation, clothing, money, Coney Island, baseball, and other documents that illustrate daily life in Brooklyn during the Civil War.