Borough Park, Bensonhurst, and Bath Beach form one undistinguished neighborhood stretching from the southern tip of Greenwood Cemetery down to Gravesend Bay. The western part, along the shore from Bay Ridge to Gravesend, was until the 1890's the town of New Utrecht, first settled in 1652. In that year Cornelis van Werckhoven, a citizen of Utrecht, Holland, and a member of the Dutch West India Company, hearing that the English were making claims on the Dutch possessions on Long Island, came to the New World to found several colonies. He bought land from the Indians, paying a quantity of shirts, shoes, stockings, knives, scissors, and combs, erected a house and mill, and returned to Holland to recruit settlers for his new colony. In 1657 the settlement became a town and was named for Werckhoven's native city.
The New Utrecht Reformed Church, Eighteenth Avenue and Eighty-third Street, dates back to 1677. The present building, in meetinghouse style, was erected in 1828, with stone from the older church, built about 1700. The Liberty Pole in front of the building is the last remaining on Long Island, and the fourth (1910) on this spot since 1783. Among the relics of the church is an hourglass once used to limit the duration of the sermons.