It Was Invented Here: a Brief History of Business in Brooklyn

The story ranges from steamboats to crowdsourcing–and a lot of cool stuff in between. Here's a timeline to take you back

Immigrant Nathan Handwerker and his wife opened Nathan's Famous in Coney Island in 1916 (Photo by Birgit Kleber/VISUM/Redux)

Brillo pads, Benjamin Moore paint, Bazooka gum, Gretsch guitars, Twizzlers licorice, Mack trucks, Domino sugar, Kickstarter. If you’re a Brooklynite, you’ve probably already guessed what these things have in common: they were either invented or made right here in Kings County. Brooklyn isn’t just about brownstones, after all–it’s also a place for doing business.

As the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce celebrates its 100th anniversary this year with events including a gala last weekend and an exhibit opening Feb. 23, it’s a fitting moment to explore the rich and deep history of the business of Brooklyn. In fact, the Brooklyn Navy Yard, now the place where robots are built, got its start more than two centuries ago. We offer a timeline to take you back to the beginning:


Arden Phillips is a New York-based writer and a graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, where she received a degree in Television, Radio, and Film.