Before Prospect Park, before the “Slopes,” before the brownstones, there was “Temperanceville,” or the “South Brooklyn Temperance Village.”
This little remembered planned community was part of the first wave of residential development that transformed Brooklyn’s 8th Ward beginning in the early 1830s. This map, probably printed about 1849, advertises available lots for sale between Fourth Avenue and Seventh Avenue, and 12th and 15th Streets. On a current neighborhood map, the lots would be located right on the divide between Brooklyn’s Park Slope and South Slope neighborhoods.
The name “Temperance Village” would have attracted the attention of New Yorkers grown weary of the menace of urban vice and alcohol abuse, major social concerns in the 1800s. The American Temperance Society, founded in 1826, led the charge against alcoholism, warning that drinking could lead to poverty, idleness, and crime. Many middle-class Americans took up this cause, taking “temperance pledges” and abstaining from drinking altogether.
Robert T. Shannon –Irish immigrant, sometimes schoolteacher, book publisher, and eventual land speculator–began advertising his “Temperanceville” in local newspapers in 1848 as an ideal future home for “temperance men” and “mechanics, clerks, and others wishing to secure a home for themselves and families.”¹ While he was clearly angling to attract New York’s morally “woke” and worried to country life in South Brooklyn, it is unclear whether his community ever enforced strict “No Drinking” mandates or outlawed the sale of liquor, as other Temperance Villages around the country did.
Following the Civil War, the development of this part of Brooklyn picked up steam, benefiting from public interest following the completion of Prospect Park in the 1870s. By the early 1900s, Temperance Village faded from public memory into Park Slope, popular today for its diverse eating AND drinking options. How neighborhoods change.
View this map here. Interested in seeing more maps from BHS’s collection? Visit our new online map portal. You can also visit our online image gallery, which includes a selection of our photography and artifact collections. We look forward to inviting you back to BHS in the future to research our entire collection of images, archives, maps, and special collections. In the meantime, our reference staff are still available to help with your research! You can reach us at [email protected]Citations¹ “South Brooklyn Temperance Village,” Brooklyn Evening Star, December 9, 1848, 3; “To Mechanics, Clerks, &c.,” New-York Tribune, November 13 1849, 4; “Country Residences,” Brooklyn Evening Star, November 14, 1849, 2; “Secure a Homestead,” New-York Tribune, May 14, 1851, 2.