Opening September 23 at The New York Historical Society, The Battle of Brooklyn will examine the first major battle of the American Revolutionary War, which took place around Brooklyn Heights and Gowanus in late August 1776. Brooklyn landmarks like Fort Hamilton, Old Stone House, Cobble Hill Fort, Green-Wood Cemetery and Fulton Landing were among many strategic locations in this crucial battle, in which the Continental Army fought bravely against the mighty British force.
“The Battle of Brooklyn was a major part of American history that happened right here in our backyards but is often overlooked in stories of the founding of our nation,” said Louise Mirrer, President and CEO of the New-York Historical Society. “On the surface it could be seen as a moment of defeat, but this exhibition will show the resilience and strength of New Yorkers, who fought bravely and endured occupation of their city before finally becoming independent and free citizens.”
With more than 100 objects documenting major political and military figures, the dynamic debates over independence, and the artifacts of combat and British occupation, the exhibition will convey the atmosphere of New York City as it faced invasion by a British force that exceeded its own population.
An animated media piece on a projection table will dynamically show the order of events, depicting troop movements, the passage of time, and the skillful British maneuver that upended the American defenses and could have finished them for good. A custom-built model of the Vechte farmhouse (today’s Old Stone House in Gowanus) hidden within the projection table will illustrate one of the battle’s most dramatic moments: the outnumbered Maryland regiment fighting on to allow their fellow soldiers time to retreat across Gowanus Creek.
An off-site walking tour on October 15 will tour the battlefield and find little-known monuments that commemorate the heroes of the battle. Curator-led exhibition gallery tours at the New-York Historical Society will also take place on October 21 and December 5.