09/02/14 10:45am

Lane Bryant Ad, maternity gown, 1911, BEWestern society has long had a strange attitude towards pregnancy. Throughout much of its history, much has been made of producing children, whether they are the heirs to the throne, or workers on the family farm. We’ve told women that it is a biblical duty to have children, but up until the end of the 20th century, many Western societies have been loath to see a woman walking around pregnant. As soon as a woman was showing, in polite society, she entered her “confinement” and rarely left home until after the baby was born. It all has to do with attitudes about sex, and the war between fulfilling the biological and societal imperative to go forth and multiply, and the fact that one has to have sex in order to do it. We are a conflicted and messed up people.

At any rate, this is a story about a fashion empire and Brooklyn’s part in that empire. Pregnancy is at the heart of our story. At the turn of the 20th century, maternity clothes were not available the way they are now. Women of means had their maternity clothing custom made. Those who could sew made their own, and everyone else made do by letting their clothing out, or wearing larger clothes. Or they didn’t leave home much.

But this was not the Middle Ages. Women were out and about, unescorted, in record numbers. Many middle and upper middle class women had jobs, many more were active in sports like bicycle riding, and most did not want to spend half their pregnancies locked behind closed doors. There was a real need for well-fitting maternity clothing, including the ever present corset, so women could go out, be pregnant, and look beautiful and healthy. The conditions were right for the right person to come along and revolutionize the market. That woman was a Lithuanian Jewish immigrant named Lena Himmelstein. (more…)

09/02/14 10:00am

carlton mews townhouses fort greene 82014

Two years after construction started, the Carlton Mews townhouses in Fort Greene look like they could be getting ready to hit the market. The stoops are in, and the five townhouses are ready for cornices. The neotraditional homes have all their windows and brick facades, and it looks like interior work is under way. Construction signage says they’ll be finished by December.

The project has come a long way since one of the townhouses collapsed, killing a construction worker in September 2012. (more…)

09/02/14 9:00am

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It’s cheaper to buy than to rent in 94 of the top 100 largest metro areas in the U.S., according to a report from Zillow quoted in a story in Business Insider. Renters spend 29.5 percent of income on rent, on average, vs. only 15.3 percent of income home owners spend on mortgages. (The comparison doesn’t seem to take into consideration repairs, heat, insurance and other costs — or the homeowner’s tax deduction either.) (more…)

09/02/14 8:30am

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From J’Ouvert to the Parade [NY Times]
A Tower in Brooklyn, But Soon Just a Memory [NY Times]
Forensic Hydrology at the Gowanus Canal [NY Times]
Living in Mixed Luxury-Affordable Buildings in Brooklyn and Manhattan [NY Times]
In Greenpoint, a Situation Ripe for a Doughnut War [NY Times]
G Train’s Greenpoint Tube Back in Service Tuesday [NY Daily News]
Uber vs. AllState Car Service [NY Daily News]
A Home and “Haven” in Williamsburg [WSJ]
Coignet Building’s Historic Façade Emerges During Rehab [Brooklyn Eagle]
Bohemian Face-off as Activists Crash Gowanus Art Party [Brooklyn Paper]
Ask a Native New Yorker: Should We Build Condos in Brooklyn Bridge Park? [Gothamist]
Subway Mystery: Who Turned the G Train Into the Pee Train? [Gothamist]
Photos: Revelers Party in Brooklyn at J’Ouvert Parade [Gothamist]
The Abandoned Garden of Prospect Park [WNYC]
Canarsie Tops List of Most Flooded Neighborhoods According to ClaimStat Data [I Quant NY]
West Indian Day Parade Brings Colorful Crowds to Eastern Parkway [DNAinfo]
Red Hook’s Only Thai Restaurant Opens on Van Brunt Street [DNAinfo]
Teachout Calls out Cuomo on LICH Transparency [NY1]

08/29/14 1:15pm

Seems like the summer has gone by in a flash — probably because the weather has been so cool and pleasant. In honor of Labor Day weekend, we are shutting down early today and won’t publish Monday. See you back here at the usual time Tuesday, September 2. Have a great long weekend!

08/29/14 11:30am
46 anchorage road germantown ny

46 Anchorage Road, Germantown: $895,000

Let’s face it: If you’ve ever spent anytime in the Hudson River Valley, chances are, you have a couple of favorite towns that you return to again and again. We certainly do. In fact, we have many favorite towns. They’re our favorite towns for different reasons. Some we like because they’re close to the river. Some we like because they’re walking distance to somewhere. Some we like for the sheer lust we feel towards the houses as we drive down the residential streets. But mostly, it’s that last one. So here’s a sampling of the houses we love in or near our favorite towns in the Hudson Valley.

(more…)

08/29/14 10:45am

KCW, Grant Square, Composite

A look at Brooklyn, then and now.

During the last two decades of the 19th century, there were no cooler men on earth that the members of the Kings County Wheelmen’s Club of Brooklyn. They were like rock stars and the championship Yankees rolled into one; a collection of men’s men, gushed over by young ladies and reporters alike, the intrepid “Knights of the Silent Steed.” They were Brooklyn’s best and most famous amateur bicycle club.

While pictures of mustachioed men in striped shirts and caps on enormous high wheeler cycles are in the popular imagination for this period, the truth is that the bicycle of the day looked pretty much the same then as they do now. They were easy to ride for men, women and children, and their mobility made them as popular then as they are today. Mass production soon made them affordable to almost anyone, and they sold like hotcakes. The Victorians were a very social bunch, and loved getting together in organizations, so it didn’t take long for bicycle clubs of all kinds to spring up all over the country. (more…)