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NYC's Smallest Landmark Is An 1800s Crown Heights Home

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Although it's no longer recognized on the map as a Brooklyn neighborhood, Weeksville was a bustling community founded in the 1800s, of which remnants still exist today. According to PropertyShark, one remaining home even claims the distinction of the city's tiniest landmark. The settlement, bounded by Fulton Street and Ralph, Troy, and East New York avenues in today's Crown Heights (disputed by other sources as Bed-Stuy), was founded in the mid-1800s by ex-slave James Weeks as a free African American community within the city of Brooklyn. At a time of civil discord and reconstruction, Weeksville was a thriving, self-contained community.

One of the first structures built in the community, and one of only three known remaining, was an 1840s vernacular-style one-story duplex wood house with a central chimney that today takes the address of 1702-1704 Bergen Street and the distinction of New York City's smallest landmark. In her book Brooklyn's Promised Land (PDF!), Judith Wellman says that the homes were "almost certainly built by and for African Americans before 1860 and moved to their current location by German-born carpenter Frederick Volckening in the early 1870s." The homes now face Hunterfly Road, a dirt path with origins preceding 1662 (PDF!) that is believed to have been initially used by Native Americans . Who exactly the homes belonged to isn't known—Wellman owes this to the large percentage of first-generation Weeksville residents who couldn't read or write—but No. 1704's changing appearance has been well-documented through the eras. The houses of Hunterfly Road were landmarked in 1970, and addedd to the National Register of Historic places in 1972.

The buildings of Weeksville were lost in the annals of history between when the community largely disbanded—according to Burrows and Wallace's Gotham, sometime around the construction of the Eastern Parkway when new throughways dismantled the community's ethnic character—and when they were "discovered" by Pratt Institute professor James Hurley during an aerial survey of the area in 1968. Under their landmark protection, the homes have been restored and now serve as educational facilities for the Weeksville Heritage Center.
· Hunterfly Road Houses [NYPAP]
· Archaeology at the Hunterfly Road Houses (Weeksville) 1978-1982 and 2000-2003 (PDF!) [official]
· Weeksville [National Trust For Historic Preservation]
· Weeksville HEeritage Society [official]