In this episode of City Between – the podcast of New York History’s forgotten and mysterious corners – we go on a slightly Quixotic hunt in Brooklyn for a remanent of the farm of Anthony Jansen van Sale, New York’s first documented Muslim. This farm dates from 1639 and to make our journey 400 years into the past we follow old Indian and Colonial roads whose ghosts can be traced in the modern city. We begin in New Utrecht – once a Dutch Village – and head south in search of the farm.
There is a lot of information out there about Anthony Jansen van Sale, but the most thorough is a history put together by one of his descendants named Brian Smith in 2013. It was indispensable for my account in this episode.
Damian and I begin our journey in New Utrecht. Here is an old map of the area under discussion from 1852, showing New Utrecht and Gravesend :
We traveled south along the main road (now 18th Ave) from New Utrecht, then along the Bath and Coney Island Road (now Cropsey then Harway Ave) to this area around Jansen’s farm:
Remembering that this map was made nearly 200 years after Jansen’s time, we can still see an area marked “12 Morgens” – this had been part of that farm. We can also see on this section of the map the Harway Basin that we discuss and the Mill Road running below it. One of the best accounts of the modern Mill Road is from the indomitable Forgotten New York. They also have some great photos there.
Next using a map made closer to the 1879 discovery of the Jansen’s ruins (mentioned in Bergen’s history) we can see Mayor Gunther’s property with the mentioned buildings just below the “Bath & Coney” text. We can also see the Mill Road here which runs just below the tidal basin (the Harway) coming from the right of the map:
Here it is on a modern map:
And here is the 1879 map with the suspected site of the farm and the surviving modern day section of Mill Rd circled in red in three sets of overlays from old to new (oriented North):