Originally inhabited by the Lenape Native Americans and settled in 1623 by French Waloons in an attempt to escape puritan oppression, Flatlands was given right to local rule in 1661 by Peter Stuyvesant as one of the five Dutch Towns on Long Island.
Prior to British rule, Flatlands was known as Nieuw Amersfoort (named after the Dutch city of Amersfoort) and was established as a farming community when, in 1636, Andreas Hudde and Wolphert Gerretse bought 15,000 acres of land centered around what is now the intersection of Kings Highway and Flatbush Avenue. Crops typically grown in the area were beans, corn, marsh hay, squash, potato bean and tobacco. Oysters and clams were also farmed and harvested from Jamaica Bay, surrounding marshes and basins. The amount of farming done in the area also made Niew Amersfoort a slave town by necessity until the state declared emancipation of all slaves in 1827, after which black laborers took up farming jobs, many times on the farms they worked on as slaves. Historic homes dated to the 18th century include the Stoothoff-Baxter-Kouwenhaven House and Joost Van Nuyse House. Other historical structures are the Hendrick I. Lott House (East 36th Street between Fillmore Ave and Ave. S, built around 1720), which was a stop on theUnderground Railroad, and the Flatlands Dutch Reformed Church.
The town’s growth and development came late because of a lack of a transit system or set of roads connecting it with other parts of Brooklyn and the population decreased until the creation of The Junction at Flatbush Avenue and Nostrand Avenue and the creation of a subway system (2 and 5 trains) which replaced the town center and made it easier to get to and from Flatlands.