The Dutch and English settled the area (previously home to the Canarsie) in 1636 and 1637; about nine years later Dutch farmers established the hamlet of Brueckelen, near the present Borough Hall. By 1664, six towns had been established: Breuckelen (later anglicized to Brooklyn), Bushwick, Flatbush, Nieuw Amersfoort (Flatlands), Gravesend, and New Utrecht. Kings county was established in 1683; the Brooklyn Ferry area was incorporated as the village of Brooklyn in 1816, and the entire town was chartered as a city in 1834. In the 1830s Brooklyn Heights became perhaps the first modern suburb, accessible to New York City by ferry.
Brooklyn steadily absorbed neighboring settlements. After annexing Williamsburg and Bushwick in 1854, it became the third largest city in the United States, and continued to absorb other towns, including Flatbush, New Utrecht, and Gravesend, until it became coextensive with Kings County in 1896. In 1898, when it became a New York City borough, its population was 830,000. Immigration doubled its population in the next twenty years.
The New York Naval Shipyard (popularly, the Brooklyn Navy Yard) was located on the East River from 1801 until its closing in the late 1960s, when Brooklyn was declining as a port. The Daily Eagle, published in Brooklyn from 1841 until 1955, had Walt Whitman as one of its early editors. The borough is also famed as home to the Brooklyn Dodgers (at Ebbets Field), until the baseball team moved to Los Angeles in 1957.