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Charles Lewis Fussell - September 2007
 
 
painting
 
Charles Lewis Fussell
(American, 1840–1909)
Crow Hill, Shantytown, c. 1890
Watercolor on paper, 5 1/8 × 9 7/8 inches
Inscribed in pencil on reverse: “Crow Hill/Shantytown—”
RS 2424


Crow Hill was formerly a district in northeast Brooklyn that extended from the hills east of Prospect Park to East New York. According to tradition, it was named after the largest hill in the area, which was infested with crows. An article published in the Brooklyn Eagle in 1873, however, speculated that the area was named for a settlement established during the 1830s by blacks who were then colloquially known as “crows.”1 These impoverished people lived in shanties on Crow Hill, and worked in Manhattan’s meat and fish markets. In 1846 the Kings County Penitentiary was built on top of the hill, and it may be the large structure visible at the far right of Crow Hill. The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts owns six of Fussell’s views of Crow Hill, four of which represent dilapidated but picturesque shanties similar to the one in Crow Hill, Shantytown. The neighborhood was gentrified during the early twentieth century and renamed Crown Heights.

  


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