Brooklyn in the Civil War
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Daily Life

Introduction | Documents
illustration of Old Fulton Ferry
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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.


Select images from the list below and click on the link to read more. Each image can be enlarged to view more details. To browse through the images, start at the first image and follow the “daily life” link for more on this theme.

Title Categories Date
thumbnail of map of Brooklyn in 1700

Map of Brooklyn in 1700

Document 1

Daily Life


thumbnail of Old Fulton Ferry

Old Fulton Ferry

Document 2

Daily Life


thumbnail of Brooklyn City Hall

"Brooklyn City Hall"

Document 5

Daily Life

ca. 1850s

thumbnail of the Original East River Bridge

"The Original East River Bridge. Crossing On The Ice In 1852."

Document 6

Daily Life

Winter 1852

thumbnail of Fulton Street, from the ferry, Brooklyn, N.Y.

"Fulton Street, from the ferry, Brooklyn, N.Y."

Document 9

Daily Life

ca. 1857

thumbnail of Fireworks at Brooklyn City Hall

Fireworks at Brooklyn City Hall

Document 10

Daily Life

April 28, 1859

thumbnail of Barnum's American Museum

"Barnum's American Museum"

Document 19

Daily Life

March 25, 1861

thumbnail of To-Let: Apartments and Houses to rent advertisement

To-Let: Apartments and Houses to rent

Document 20

Daily Life

April 15, 1861

thumbnail of The lure of base ball letter

The lure of base ball

Document 25

Daily Life

July 11, 1861

thumbnail of Clarence McKenzie, drummer boy

Clarence D. McKenzie, drummer boy

Document 26

Daily Life Soldiers

July 1861

thumbnail of L.I. Railroad Tunnel, under Atlantic Avenue

"L.I. Railroad Tunnel, under Atlantic Avenue"

Document 31

Daily Life

Fall 1861

thumbnail of Construction of the Monitor

Construction of the Monitor

Document 34

Daily Life Soldiers

December 21, 1861

thumbnail of Ten Cent Promissary Note, Brooklyn 1862

Ten Cent Promissary Note, Brooklyn 1862

Document 41

Daily Life


thumbnail of Map of the Consolidated City of Brooklyn, 1863

Map of the Consolidated City of Brooklyn, 1863

Document 51

Daily Life


thumbnail of photo of the beach at Coney Island

Strolling on the beach at Coney Island

Document 52

Daily Life

Summer 1863

thumbnail of lithograph of baseball game - Play ball!

Play ball!

Document 53

Daily Life

Summer 1863

thumbnail of Universal Clothes Wringer brochure

Universal Clothes Wringer

Document 67

Daily Life Women

February 22, 1864

thumbnail of Brooklyn Atlantics baseball match

Brooklyn Atlantics baseball match

Document 86

Daily Life

October 30, 1865

thumbnail of Coney Island Beach and Bathers

Coney Island Beach and Bathers

Document 91

Daily Life

ca. 1869

thumbnail of The Old Ferry House

The Old Ferry House

Document 93

Daily Life

ca. 1870

thumbnail of Williamsburgh Savings Bank

Williamsburgh Savings Bank

Document 94

Daily Life

ca. 1870

thumbnail of Stephen B. Bartow

"Stephen B. Bartow"

Document 104

Daily Life Soldiers

October 11, 1911

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