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It is named for its location, south of the original Village of Brooklyn. In the early 19th century, the area Atlantic Avenue (then District Street), was farmland and called Red Hook, and the portion south of Hamilton Avenue was Red Hook Point. The somewhat historic name of South Brooklyn has been revived in recent years to foster a closer connection among the constituent communities, though the name has always been popular nomenclature for the neighborhood's locals. The revived term was less often applied to Park Slope and Sunset Park, which had come to regard themselves as distinct. Since the early 50s, some kids growing up in the areas that make up South Brooklyn have affiliated under the name South Brooklyn Boys.
This hilly area is not to be confused with the geographic southern region of the modern borough of Brooklyn, which includes Sheepshead Bay and Coney Island.