A look at Brooklyn, then and now.
Last time we visited the Bedford Rest, a unique restaurant/café/rest stop developed primarily for the thousands of people from all walks of life enjoying the cycling craze of the 1890s. A place like that would be equally popular today. The owners wanted to expand with the new century. But how far could they go?
The Bedford Rest was Brooklyn’s most popular restaurant/café/event space of its day. Opening in the last years of the 19th century on the corner of Bedford Avenue and Eastern Parkway, it catered to the young men and women of the new leisure class.
Eastern Parkway was still primarily a beautiful road through undeveloped fields at this point. The Rest stood alone, a large tented structure on the northwestern side of Bedford and the parkway. It was a convenient rest stop for the many cyclists taking a break here at the top of the hill.
Bicycles were enormously popular at that time. Cycle technology had advanced the bike so that it resembled and rode like the single-gear bikes of today.
Unlike most sports, bicycling was equally popular with men and women, and it was one of the few sports a couple or a family could do together.
The streets of Brooklyn were filled with cyclists, and on weekends they rode up and down Bedford Avenue and Eastern Parkway by the hundreds, even thousands.
Bedford Avenue was part of a popular route to both Long Island and Coney Island. Professional and amateur racing clubs and excursionists used the Bedford Rest as a starting and ending place for their trips. (more…)