Flatlands, in the southeastern corner of Brooklyn, is a low-lying terrain jutting into Rockaway Inlet and Jamaica Bay, and indented by creeks and small bays. Much of the southern section is unreclaimed marshland. In the residential section in the north are block after block of neat frame or stucco houses. From Marine Park north to Bergen Beach are pathetic communities of squatters, who live in makeshift houses, and eke out a living by fishing and scouring the near-by city dumps for odd necessities. At Bergen Beach, the brooding silence of the dour marshland hangs over old houses and shanties, over small patches of vegetable gardens and decrepit boatyards along the miserable beach front.
Flatlands or New Amersfoort was the name applied by the Dutch to the flat country lying east of Prospect Park Ridge from the Narrows to Hempstead. There was probably a rude settlement in the region now called Flatlands as early as 1624, but the town did not receive its charter till 1667.
Flatlands Dutch Reformed Church, Kings Highway north of Flatbush Avenue, erected in 1848, occupies the site of the original church which was built in 1663 and rebuilt in 1794. A white wooden structure with a well-proportioned steeple, it has a striking simplicity and charm.
In the graveyard are buried members of many noted Dutch families, including the Wyckoffs, Kouwenhovens, Lotts, Stoothoffs, Voorhees, Sprongs, and Suydams.
A plaque on the church lawn identifies Kings Highway at this point as the road along which Lord Cornwallis marched his troops on the night of August 26, 1776, to outflank the Americans at the Battle of Long Island.
Schenck-Crooke House, Avenue U between East Sixty-third and sixty-fourth Streets, is considered one of the oldest houses in New York City, the original section having been built in 1656. A white house with green shutters and red brick chimneys, it stands in a little hollow back of Public School 236, surrounded by old pine trees. Its Dutch origins are evident in the small twelve-paned windows and early round-end shingles. The slender-pillared front porch formed by an overhanging roof is an eighteenth-century addition.
Lott House, 1940 East Thirty-sixth Street, exemplifies two stages in the evolution of New York architecture. The north wing, which constituted the original farmhouse, was built by Coert Voorhees in 1676 and acquired by Johannes Lott in 1719; its age is apparent in the small windows, a precaution against Indian raids. The main part of the house was built in 1800 by Hendrick Lott; the high Ionic pillars in front and square pillar in the rear illustrate the change from the earlier period.