Brooklyn Eagle Building composite 1

A look at Brooklyn, then and now.

The Brooklyn Eagle newspaper began as the paper of record for a growing city, and was at its finest as the city grew into a great metropolis. The paper reported about Brooklyn life, events and people continuously for 114 years.

The Eagle began back in 1841 as the Brooklyn Daily Eagle and Kings County Democrat. Its owners were Isaac Van Anden and Henry Cruse Murphy. The two men had originally planned to publish the paper as a morning paper, which along with news, would be an arm of Democratic Party politics.

In 1842, Henry Cruse Murphy became Mayor of Brooklyn. The paper continued to grow, covering not just local news, but extending its range to international and national news as well. That was rare for most morning dailies.

The editor of the Eagle between 1846 and 1848 was poet Walt Whitman. Whitman was a printer by trade, in addition to being a writer and poet, and had worked for several different newspapers in NY and Long Island before coming to the Eagle.

He only lasted two years at the paper because he fell out with Isaac Van Anden. Whitman was a supporter of the “Free-Soil Movement” wing of the Democratic Party, and Van Anden was a strong supporter of their opposition, the more conservative wing of the party.

Crossing one’s boss over politics is never a good idea, and Whitman was encouraged to move on. During the Civil War, the paper continued to support the Democratic Party, quite a stand in what would be a very Republican city in later years. That would later change, as the times changed. (more…)


Three buildings in Downtown Brooklyn, at 8-16 Nevins Street, are being knocked down to make way for a new 28-story tower. The demolition is quite far along, as is apparent from these photos taken on Tuesday. The developer, Bushburg Properties, plans to build a 124,287-square-foot building on the site with 149 apartments as well as some affordable units.

One of the buildings, 16 Nevins Street, a Building of the Day in 2010, gained its whimsical mock Tudor look in the 1920 and housed a restaurant called Joe’s, once a favorite haunt of local civic leaders and politicians.

The new 318 foot-tall tower will be topped by a mesh-clad metal bulkhead that will light up with colored LEDs at night. The building, which was designed by Stephen B. Jacobs Group, will also have 6,440 square feet of ground floor retail.

Click through for more photos of the demolition and for a rendering of the planned tower.

Demolition Planned for Three Downtown Brooklyn Storefronts [Brownstoner]
Building of the Day: 16 Nevins Street [Brownstoner]


418-420 Fulton Street, SSpellen 4

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: The W. C. Vosburgh Building. Formerly the showroom for the W.C. Vosburgh Mfg. Co., now part of Macy’s
Address: 418-420 Fulton Street
Cross Streets: Hoyt Street and Gallatin Place
Neighborhood: Downtown Brooklyn
Year Built: 1888
Architectural Style: Queen Anne
Architect: Parfitt Brothers
Other Buildings by Architect: All kinds of buildings, all over Brooklyn, including Berkeley, Grosvenor and Montague Apartments, Brooklyn Heights; St. Augustine RC Church, Grace Methodist Church, Park Slope; Truslow House, Crown Heights North; plus hundreds of row houses, as well as apartment buildings, office buildings, fire houses, churches and more.
Landmarked: No, unfortunately

The story: After the Civil War ended, the building boom that swept Brooklyn made fortunes for companies producing the fixtures and products that went into the modern home. There were fixtures for the bathroom and kitchen, the hardware on every door and window, not to mention the decorative woodwork, marble, tiles, and the like. And of, course, there was lighting.

Gas fixtures were the modern lighting of the day in 1865 when William C. Vosburgh started his company, the W. C. Vosburgh Manufacturing Company. The company made all kinds of gas lighting fixtures for home, business and industry. Their manufacturing facility was a plant at 269 State Street, near Smith Street.

With all of the residential building going on, the company decided to open a large, upscale showroom to showcase their extensive inventory of chandeliers, sconces, table lamps, and more. Vosburgh hired the Parfitt Brothers architectural firm to design a handsome and elegant showroom for Fulton Street, rapidly becoming the shopping and entertainment hub of Brooklyn. (more…)

Schermerhorn Street Facade

Adam America is the new developer of the 21-story tower planned for an empty lot at 319 Schermerhorn Street in Downtown Brooklyn. The developer bought the development site from SC Nevins for an undisclosed price, reported Crain’s.

The brick building will be condos, Crain’s revealed. Construction has not yet started but could kick off any day because the permits and plans are already approved.

Plans call for 61 units — with one, two or three bedrooms — ranging from 650 square feet to 1,195 square feet, as we’ve reported before. Incorporated is the architect.

The development joins a few others in the vicinity offering condos, such as 388 Bridge Street, The Boerum at 265 State Street and on 4th Avenue, although rentals are much more typical in the borough. Click through for lots more renderings, including interiors.

Adam America Plans 21-Story Condo in Downtown Brooklyn [Crain's]
319 Schermerhorn Street Coverage [Brownstoner]
Renderings by Incorporated


420 albee square downtown brooklyn

The tall tower JEMB Realty is developing at 420 Albee Square in Downtown Brooklyn will be a mere 35 stories instead of 65, according to the latest permit filings, first spied by New York YIMBY. Meanwhile, we see the developer just closed on an adjacent site with a historically significant building on it and is planning a demolition.

An old three-story 19th century wood frame building at 233 Duffield Street is one of three historic stops on the Underground Railroad on the block the Landmarks Preservation Commission tried to save from demolition back in 2007, as we reported at the time. (more…)

300 livingston street 33 bond street downtown brooklyn 32015

The block-long parking lot with shops at 300 Livingston Street in Downtown Brooklyn has been completely demolished. As readers may recall, developer TF Cornerstone is planning a 25-story apartment building here.

Several chains in the building — including IHOP, Subway and Papa Johns — shut their doors last summer before scaffolding went up around the garage in the fall. (IHOP plans to reopen across the street at 276 Livingston.) (more…)

305 Livingston St. SB, PS


Name: Mixed use retail and residential row house
Address: 305 Livingston Street
Cross Streets: Nevins and Bond streets
Neighborhood: Downtown Brooklyn
Year Built: Before 1880
Architectural Style: Probably Italianate wood frame, now neo-Classical
Architect: Unknown
Landmarked: No

Nowhere is Brooklyn changing faster than downtown. The pace is astounding.

Many of the new buildings replace parking lots and banal government buildings that were built in the mid-20th century. But others replace much older building stock. Some of it was pretty ordinary, and some of it is a real loss. This block of Livingston Street is one of the last of the old-time small store blocks on the avenues behind Fulton Street.

Most of Livingston and Schermerhorn streets looked like this block 100 years ago. Both streets began their lives as purely residential, with rows of brownstones and wooden row houses dating mostly from the 1840s to 1860s.

As Brooklyn grew, and this area became part of the Fulton Street shopping and theater district, some of the row houses were converted into mixed-use storefronts with apartments above, and many more were torn down and replaced with commercial buildings.

305 Livingston is a holdout from the very old days. (more…)

art along the waterfront conference

Artists, developers, gallery owners and community leaders will gather at Brooklyn Borough Hall Friday morning for a conference on creating and preserving art along the Brooklyn waterfront. The event, “Spaces and Places,” will explore the history of art in the borough. Artists and gallery owners will discuss how art has been made, shown and sold along the Brooklyn waterfront and the issues facing those who make and display art there.

Speakers include Tom Finkelpearl, commissioner of NYC’s Department of Cultural Affairs; Deborah Schwartz, president of the Brooklyn Historical Society; Borough President Eric Adams; Anita Durst, artistic director of chashama; Kathleen Gilrain, executive director of Smack Mellon; Lisa Kim of Two Trees; and Greg O’Connell Jr. of the O’Connell Organization.

See the full list of speakers here. The Brooklyn Historical Society and CUNY’s Brooklyn Waterfront Research Center are organizing the free event, which you can register for through Eventbrite.


Chase is opening a branch at 276 Livingston Street in Downtown Brooklyn, we noticed when we passed by a few weeks ago. It’s the same building where the International House of Pancakes is reopening, although it’s on a different corner.

We’re not sure what the exact address will be, since Chase doesn’t list the branch yet on its map, but it sits on the corner of Fulton and Bond, right across from the now closed-for-construction City Point mall. GMAP


Tangerine Hot Power Yoga is limbering up to open a custom-built hot yoga studio at 225 Schermerhorn Street on Monday, March 23. It will feature radiant heating panels, and there will also be a hot and cold water station and freshly laundered towels.

The space was designed by Ivana Martinovic and Nikola Martinovic of INM Architects.

A few items will also be available for purchase: Liquiteria raw and cold-pressed juices, scented eco-friendly candles from Brooklyn Candle Studio, organic body products from Plant Brooklyn and clothing from Good hYOUman, a spokesperson told us.

Click through to see a sketch of the interior. GMAP

Drawing by INM Architects

Weck composite

Every day we read about small companies relocating to Brooklyn. Inventive people in all kinds of ways are bringing their businesses to Brooklyn, attracted to available space, abundant public transportation and the possibilities of making their fortunes in the great city of Brooklyn. Everyone wants that Brooklyn name. Hopefully, we will once again be a city of makers. Our history is one of great manufacturing within our borders. We used to make everything imaginable, most of it in factories that were not tucked away in the outer fringes of the city, but with walking distance of some of the most desirable neighborhoods in that city.

I like to look at maps, and can spend hours examining our streets, and it never ceases to amaze me what used to be manufactured here. We were a self-contained city, capable of making everything we needed, except perhaps fresh food. And even that was possible well into the 20th century, in the outer parts of Southern Brooklyn and Flatbush. If you drive or walk around what was our industrial core – all of the waterfront areas, plus Gowanus, the border areas of Bedford/Clinton Hill and Crown Heights/Prospect Heights, Greenpoint and Bushwick, you can get an idea of what once was, and has since gone.

Most people don’t realize that downtown Brooklyn also had a lot of manufacturing going on, too. This part of town has been built up, plowed under, and built up again so often, it takes a look at maps, advertisements and old city directories to realize what a forgotten industrial hub parts of downtown once were. Two major bridges, ramps, highway exits and entrances, Metrotech, housing projects, hotels and college campuses have all but decimated the industrial parts of downtown. There were all kinds of interesting companies located there. One of them was Edward Weck & Company. (more…)