A gracefully gentrified neighborhood in South Brooklyn, Carroll Gardens was originally considered part of more working-class Red Hook, just a few blocks to the south across the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. First settled by Dutch farmers, then Irish, Italian and Norwegian merchants, and now a combination of French immigrants, American yuppies and aging couples, this evolving area retains traces of all its past inhabitants. Most renowned for what it has preserved, Carroll Gardens today is increasingly full of independent-owned cafes, boutiques and antique stores, most set along Smith Street.
Named for Charles Carroll, a Revolutionary War hero and senator from Maryland and the only Roman Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence, the neighborhood is centered on tree-lined Carroll Park. Around and near the park is the Carroll Gardens Historic District, comprised of 19th-century brownstones with elaborate gardens out front.