Crown Heights Brooklyn -- Bedford Academy Physical Education History

A look at Brooklyn, then and now.

Bedford was one of the town of Brooklyn’s oldest communities, with Dutch, then English settlement here in the mid 1600s. By the end of the 19th century, it had developed as a large, sprawling and successful neighborhood.

Bedford’s importance could be measured by its wealthy and upper-middle-class residents and their fine homes, as well as the abundance of churches, schools, clubs and organizations, and retail and industrial spaces.

Brooklyn’s first high school, Girls High School, was in Bedford, as was the even more impressive Boys High School, several years later. The headquarters of the Brooklyn Public Library was here too, along with many large elementary schools.

Like most upscale neighborhoods, Bedford also had its share of private learning institutions. Almost anyone with impressive credentials and a building could open a school, and if they were fortunate to generate a large following, that school could grow.

The classified section of the Brooklyn Eagle in the late 19th century has advertisements for a multitude of private academies and schools, with offerings including general studies, foreign languages, accounting, music and dance, religion and military studies.

Some of the private homes that served as schools are still standing today. But schools more often had their own public buildings, and today many of those are gone. (more…)

Crown Heights Brooklyn -- 1183 Bergen St History

A look at Brooklyn, then and now.

The pink house on Bergen Street was still standing when I moved to Crown Heights North in 2000. Only two blocks from my house, I saw it often. It was in rough shape then, but hadn’t been boarded up yet.

According to a 1976 survey of Crown Heights North by the LPC, this house, at 1183 Bergen Street, between New York and Brooklyn avenues, was the second oldest house in the neighborhood.

It was built, they figured, somewhere between 1860 and 1865.

The oldest house in Crown Heights North is the George and Susan Elkins House, at 1375 Dean Street, a couple of blocks away. The Elkins house is only 10 years older, built around 1853.

Both houses were the last remnants of this neighborhood’s suburban past, the two oldest surviving houses in Crown Heights North.

The Bedford branch of the Lefferts family owned most of the land making up Crown Heights North. They stopped farming and began selling it off in the late 1840s and ’50s. The street grid had been marked out in the 1830s, and this land was advertised as a great place for a suburban villa community. (more…)

Crown Heights Brooklyn 947 Prospect Pl Cottage Living

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Who wouldn’t want to live in these charming cottages? These six houses are unlike any others built in Crown Heights North.

Name: Row house cottages
Address: 935-947 Prospect Place
Cross Streets: New York and Brooklyn avenues
Neighborhood: Crown Heights North
Year Built: 1920-22
Architectural Style: British Arts and Crafts
Architect: A. White Pierce
Other Works by Architect: 759 E. 17th Street and other suburban houses in Victorian Flatbush and Laurelton, Queens
Landmarked: Yes, part of Crown Heights North Historic District (2007)

We visit this row of charming little cottages in my Crown Heights North walking tours, and I am always asked if they were built as servants’ quarters for the now-vanished mansions of St. Marks Avenue, which is right behind this block.

No, they weren’t. The earliest owners of these houses would probably have been highly offended at the suggestion. After all, they themselves were of more-than-moderate income, had domestic help and were fixtures in Brooklyn’s society pages. (more…)


This landmarked Queen Anne house at 1283 Bergen Street in the Crown Heights North Historic District has all the details you could want. Designed by architect firm Baker & Lincoln and built circa 1890, it is brimming with original mantels, woodwork, shutters, moldings and inlaid parquet floors.

It all looks to be in pretty good shape, too. Outside, the well-preserved exterior has a lot of curb appeal, with a curved limestone and brick front, arched windows and original ironwork, all adding up to a charming English cottage look. It is part of a row of five, all slightly different. (more…)


A rendering of the proposed restoration. Rendering via LPC

The Landmarks Preservation Commission Tuesday rejected a proposal to save Crown Heights’ oldest home, the badly deteriorated and individually landmarked Elkins House at 1375 Dean Street. The proposal would have turned the freestanding wood frame home — the only one dating from when the area was rural — into an attached row house with side extensions made of glass, destroying its unique character, The Brooklyn Eagle reported.

The owner of the house, Amber Mazor of Perfect Renovation, who has renovated other historic properties in the area, is caught between a rock and a hard place. For the project to be economically feasible, he must convert the house into at least four units, he told the LPC. (more…)

Automobile Row Brooklyn 73 Empire Blvd Crown Heights

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

When Ebbets Field opened in 1913, thousands of people flocked to the ballpark from all over. Since the automobile had worked its way into the hearts of Americans as securely as the love of baseball, many of those people had cars. They had to park somewhere, right?

Name: Former garage
Address: 73-97 Empire Boulevard
Cross Streets: Corner McKeever Place
Neighborhood: Crown Heights South
Year Built: Somewhere around 1913-14
Architectural Style: Brick commercial, with Gothic ornament
Architect: Unknown
Landmarked: No

Baseball Meets Automobile Row

The site for Ebbets Field was chosen for several important reasons, one of which was the availability of public transportation. This was the edge of Flatbush, on Bedford Avenue near Malbone Street (now Empire Boulevard) and Flatbush Avenue, all heavily traveled streets with trolley and rail service. (more…)