forgotten new york tour flatbush

See the oldest Brooklyn subway station house, gravestones in Dutch and the original Ebinger’s Bakery plus, of course, historic neighborhoods and houses on a tour of Ditmas Park and Flatbush tomorrow led by Kevin Walsh, who blogs at Forgotten New York and Brownstoner Queens.

The tour starts at noon at Avenue H station house for the Q train (on the Manhattan-bound side of the station), located at Avenue H and East 16th Street. Tickets are $20 or $15 for members of the Greater Astoria Historical Society, which helps fund the tour. More details here or RSVP by emailing info@astorialic.org. 

Image by Forgotten New York

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Another grotesque conglomeration of the old and new is planned for 533 Leonard Street in Greenpoint. A rendering on the construction fence shows an attractive red brick 19th century school building apparently being eaten alive by a “dark ‘n’ boxy Transformer” (Curbed’s words) clinging to its backside. The “Transformer,” aka the new addition, will house 13 apartments and be 50 feet tall.

Philip Toscano is the architect, according to Curbed, which was the first to publish the rendering. Click through for a close-up. At least they’re not demo’ing the old building, is all we can say.

New Greenpoint Building Looks Like a Transformer Ate It [Curbed]
Photos by Curbed (more…)

PH Precint, SSpellen 1

The first Police Chief of Greater New York City was John McCullagh. The job was not something that most people, even most career policemen, would want. He was tasked with overseeing law enforcement in the largest city in the country; the now-sprawling metropolis created by the union of the five boroughs in 1898. On top of the logistical problems inherent in making one police department out of many smaller departments, he had to play politics. He was not only a stranger to Brooklyn, Staten Island and Queens; he was a Republican in a Democratic administration. Worse than that, he was an honest man among a den of thieves. (more…)

Bergen Precinct, SSpellen 1

The first months of 1898 were rough on all of New York City. New Year’s Day heralded in the birth of Greater New York, with five boroughs, all operating from the central control of Manhattan. This new arrangement was hard on all the new city agencies, but nowhere was it felt more than in the departments of the police and fire services, two important agencies that were charged with keeping the city safe.

When Greater New York was created, the Bronx and Manhattan had already consolidated their civic infrastructure under one roof. Staten Island was too remote and isolated to really worry about right away, and Queens was a collection of towns, some of which were also pretty remote. The towns closest to Manhattan, like Long Island City, could be worked with, but Brooklyn was the biggest challenge for the new administration.

Brooklyn had been an independent city, with well-established civil institutions, including police and fire services that had their own headquarters, own uniforms, own equipment and own personnel, officers and procedures. All of that would now be under the control of central departments in Manhattan. This was not going to be easy. (more…)

clinton hill society walking tour

Brownstoner columnist Suzanne Spellen will lead a walking tour of Clinton Hill this weekend covering the neighborhood’s rich history and unique architecture. She’ll discuss everything from 19th century mansions to elegant apartment buildings. The Society for Clinton Hill is organizing the tour, which will run from 11 am to 1 pm this Sunday, September 28. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased through Eventbrite.

Photo via Society for Clinton Hill

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With live bands and art set in a field with a beautiful garden next to great architecture AND historic houses open for tours, the opening party for “Funk, God, Jazz, and Medicine: Black Radical Brooklyn” at the Weeksville Heritage Center Saturday was pretty much the most exciting couple of hours we have experienced in Brooklyn. Enjoy the photos and try to catch some of the exhibits, which will be running at several sites around Bed Stuy and Crown Heights for a month.  (more…)

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Up until 1895, New York City had the reputation of having the most corrupt police department in the country. Like most City agencies at the time, the police owed their allegiance not to the people, or even to each other, but to Tammany Hall; the political “machine” that ran New York. Tammany had a hand in who was hired, who was promoted, who was protected, and who you paid off. There was no such thing as “Protect and Serve,” it was more like “Show me the money.” Then Theodore Roosevelt became President of the Commission of Police. Like the sheriff coming into the lawless town in the Old West, Roosevelt brought law and order to a department that had forgotten what that was. (more…)

1515 bedford avenue demo 1 92014

The historic Fox Savoy Theater has been reduced to rubble at Lincoln Place and Bedford Avenue in Crown Heights. Demolition began last winter and moved along pretty slowly, because workers took the building down by hand and salvaged pieces of its ornate facade. The 1926 Neo-Classical structure was originally built as a movie palace for mogul William Fox (of 20th Century Fox), but in recent years a church occupied the grand white terra cotta building.

Charity Baptist Church sold the Thomas Lamb-designed building at 1515 Bedford Avenue for the low seeming price of $575,000 in 2012, as we reported. A 10-story, 114-unit apartment building designed by Issac & Stern will rise in its place at 1515 Bedford Avenue. The development will have 60 subterranean parking spots, ground-floor space for a synagogue and a roof deck, as previously reported. The developer is Realty Within Reach.

Click through for a few more photos of the demolition.

1515 Bedford Avenue Coverage [Brownstoner]
Building of the Day: 1515 Bedford Avenue [Brownstoner]

(more…)

88th Precinct, SSpellen

On January 1, 1898, Brooklyn woke up to a new world in which it was no longer the master of its own destiny. It was now part of Greater New York City, where the seats of City power rested on the streets and in the buildings of Lower Manhattan, not at Brooklyn’s City Hall or in the office and bank buildings of Court Street. It’s hard to imagine what that may have been like. The closest analogy may be that it felt like Brooklyn had been conquered by another nation. All aspects of city life were different after January 1st, and in the coming months, it got a lot worse before it got better.

Take the police, for example. Since they were charged with maintaining order, stopping crime and apprehending criminals, all very important tasks, you’d think those in charge would have spent a lot of time planning for the re-organization of the police force, so that the transition of power and command would be swift and efficient. Yeah, you’d think… (more…)

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Yesterday the restored war memorial in Saratoga Park was unveiled at a moving ceremony with an honor guard and local politicians. The field behind the statue, draped in a gold cloth until the end, was dotted with flags in memory of the 106 locals who died in World War I. After speeches by Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, Council Member Darlene Mealy and others, the names of the dead were read out loud and Mealy placed a wreath at the foot of the statue. A bugle played taps and the gold cloth was drawn up to reveal it.

It was so hot in the sun we worried someone would faint of heat stroke, but luckily no one did. (more…)

Lane Bryant, SB, PS

By the time Lane Bryant, the maternity and plus-sized women’s clothing chain, reached its 50th year anniversary in 1954, it was on top of the fashion world. Who would have dreamed that maternity and “fat ladies’ clothes” could not only be lucrative, but would be on the cutting edge of fashion? The reasons were simple – good products, and a respect and love for the customer. Lane Bryant made fashionable, stylish clothing of all kinds for their special-sized customers. They didn’t marginalize them to a rack hidden in the back of the store, or design down for them. They made their customers feel that they were just as worthy of a fine shopping and fashion experience as their thinner sisters, and offered products and services that reflected that philosophy.

Downtown Brooklyn saw its first Lane Bryant store in 1922. It was a large four story building constructed for Lane Bryant, with entrances on Hanover Place and Livingston Street, near Flatbush Avenue. By the end of World War II, they had outgrown the space, and in 1950 moved to the former Balch-Price Building on the corner of Fulton and Smith Streets. Lane Bryant herself, now 71 years old, was on hand for the opening ceremonies and the ribbon cutting. (more…)

bridge street AMWE church

Several leaders of historic black churches throughout Brooklyn will gather at the Brooklyn Historical Society next week to discuss how they used their pulpits to shape the civil rights movement. Jennifer Jones Austin, CEO of the Federation of Protestant Welfare Organizations and cochair of Mayor de Blasio’s transition team, will lead a discussion inspired by her father, the late Reverend William A. Jones, who worked with Martin Luther King Jr. and led Bed Stuy’s Bethany Baptist Church.

The panelists include pastors who played a vital role in the fight for civil rights: Reverend Dr. Herbert Daughtry of House of the Lord, Reverend David B. Cousin, Sr., of Bridge Street AMWE, above, and Reverend Dr. John L. Scott of St. John’s Baptist Church. The free event will happen at 6:30 pm on Thursday, September 18.

Photo via Bridge Street AMWE Church