The eyes of the nation will be on Brooklyn and the Brooklyn Navy Yard for the Democratic presidential debate, but not many Americans, or New Yorkers, for that matter, are aware of the role Brooklyn, and the Navy Yard, played in the birth of America. NY1's Jeanine Ramirez filed the following report.
It's being promoted as the Battle of Brooklyn. The Hillary Clinton-Bernie Sanders showdown takes place at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The debate will add another chapter to the borough's place in American history, a history that includes another Battle of Brooklyn, in 1776.
"The first major battle of the American Revolution, and one of its largest, was fought on Brooklyn soil," said Michael Roper, who teaches U.S. history to high school students at York Prep in Manhattan.
Brooklyn is part of Roper's lesson plan. The original Battle of Brooklyn was the first battle fought by the U.S. as an independent nation. The Navy Yard, on Wallabout Bay, is where British prison ships held thousands of captured American soldiers.
The remains of the more than 11,000 prisoners are buried in Fort Greene Park. The crypt is at the base of steps, part of the Prison Ships Martyrs Monument, the country's largest Revolutionary War gravesite.
"During the debate, I wonder if people realize where they are," Roper said.
These students not only study the Battle of Brooklyn, they have visited war sites. The grounds of what is now Green-Wood Cemetery was a battlefield. The Old Stone House in Park Slope, a replica of a Dutch farmhouse central to the battle, pays tribute to a regiment of soldiers who attacked the British in the surrounding areas. By holding the British back, Americans troops were able to escape across the Gowanus Creek, a strategic retreat that often gets overlooked.
"This was the largest engagement during the Revolution, but people decided to forget about it because it was a loss," said student Aaron Murphy.
"This battle had the potential to halt the American Revolution before it even started."
Although American troops lost the battle, and with it control of New York, they were able fight another day and eventually win the war, a war memorialized across Brooklyn, including at the site of the debate. Washington Avenue - named after the general, and president - runs right through the Navy Yard.