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Developer Walter L. Johnson was a powerhouse. When he began building his Dyker Heights suburban community, he went with the best of the best. First of all, he had one of the best locations in Brooklyn to work with. His father had purchased the old DeRussy estate back in 1888 with the idea to develop it into an upscale suburban community. The estate was on high ground, with magnificent views of the New York harbor. You could see from the Narrows all the way out to Sandy Hook and beyond. The air was clean and cooling, and living here would be the best of both worlds; a seaside house with easy access to the big city. (more…)

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Dyker Heights, one of the southernmost sections of Brooklyn, was developed as an upscale suburb. It was the vision of one family, the Johnson family. Patriarch Frederick Johnson bought the land that would become Dyker Heights in 1888. This was the DeRussy estate, established by Brigadier General René Edward DeRussy of the United States Army. He was a military engineer, responsible for the building of many fortifications and fortresses during the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. DeRussy’s estate overlooked Fort Hamilton, which had been built to his specifications.

Frederick Johnson realized that this bucolic location, with its hills overlooking the harbor, the clean, cooling ocean breezes, and the vast amount of land, was ripe for development. By 1888, Brooklyn’s population was already moving further and further out from its central core downtown. Johnson knew it was only a matter of time, and he was sitting on a potential goldmine. His estate was part of the greater town of New Utrecht, one of the six founding towns that make up Kings County. He petitioned hard to have New Utrecht annexed to the City of Brooklyn, but died in 1892, two years before that happened. It would be up to his son Walter to take up the challenge. (more…)

Dyker Heights 1897 BE Ad

As most people know by now, the city of Brooklyn developed from the six original towns settled by the Dutch, or in the case of Gravesend, the English, in the mid-1600s. Using their English names, they were Brooklyn, Bushwick, New Utrecht, Flatbush, Gravesend and Flatlands. England took over the whole thing soon afterward, calling the territory Kings County. Over the course of the next two hundred years, those towns grew to encompass smaller villages, adjacent cities like Williamsburg and Ridgewood, and stretched and moved around to become the boundaries of Brooklyn that we know today.

As the city grew, those separate towns, which once had space between them, grew closer and closer to each other, as farms and estates became streets and plots. The city spread out in all directions out from the Brooklyn Heights shoreline, as roads and public transportation made it easier and easier for people in the outlying areas to be connected to Brooklyn’s piers, and on to jobs and markets in Manhattan. (more…)

Two Brooklyn Public Library branches in Cypress Hills and Dyker Heights have received large grants from the city to repair and renovate their aging buildings, according to press releases. The Arlington Library in Cypress Hills, pictured above, has gotten $1,000,000 in city funding to replace its boiler and install new piping, concrete padding, and damaged partitions. The work will be done while the library is open and not in need of heating, unless it has to close because of noise disruptions. Also, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and Councilman Vincent Gentile have devoted $750,000 for replacing the badly damaged roof of the Dyker Heights library branch. Roof repair will involve demolishing and removing the current roof and installing a new one, as well as potential drain and paver additions. The roof replacement project will most likely be completed by 2016.

Image by Utopian Branch Library

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A WNYC radio story about test prep in Sunset Park uncovered some interesting facts about education and demographics: Of the top 20 zip codes that send the most children to New York City’s elite public high schools, only three are low-income. All of those are in Brooklyn, and they include parts of Sunset Park, Borough Park and Dyker Heights. In Sunset Park, at least, the high acceptance rates to elite high schools can be pinned on the Chinese population there and their embrace of extracurricular test-prep programs intended specifically to ace public-school admissions tests. Testing in Chinese culture has a very long tradition, according to WNYC, going back 2,000 years to the Han dynasty. The story profiled one Sunset Park family who, incredibly, spends $5,000 a year on test prep for its three boys out of a total family yearly income of only $26,000. (The family’s housing costs are low because they own a two-family they share with relatives.) Average yearly incomes in the three zip codes range from about $35,000 to $40,000. Most of the other admissions came from middle-class or wealthy neighborhoods such as the Upper West Side. As for the mother of the family profiled in the piece, she said she hopes her boys will go to Harvard.
Around Sunset Park, Tutoring Is Key to Top High Schools [WNYC]

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Saitta House
Address: 1135 84th Street
Cross Streets: 11th and 12th Avenues
Neighborhood: Dyker Heights
Year Built: 1899
Architectural Style: Queen Anne, with Medieval and Tudor details
Architect: John J. Petit
Other Works by Architect: the “Japanese House”, and many other houses in Prospect Park South, as well as buildings in Downtown Brooklyn, Ditmas Park, and Stuyvesant Heights.
Landmarked: No, but on National Register of Historic Places (2007)

The story: Today, Dyker Heights is best known for its sprawling suburban houses and the Christmas lights that adorn them; each year a spectacle that draws tourists from all over. But before the remodeled McMansions and the Mediterranean villas, Dyker Heights was part of the Dutch town of New Utrecht, one of the original six towns that make up modern Brooklyn. In the late 1890s, inspired by the new suburban enclave of Bensonhurst-by-the-Sea, in nearby Bath Beach, developer Walter Johnson set about making his new community, which he named Dyker Heights, into a similar upscale, exclusive suburban community. The Saitta House would be one of the shining examples of that new community. (more…)


1. BROOKLYN HEIGHTS $3,200,000.00
19 Garden Place GMAP
19 Garden Place was a HOTD in 2008 and we didn’t have a bad thing to say about it. Although we commented, “The biggest challenge to achieving the asking price of $3,995,000 will likely be the somewhat diminutive size.” According to StreetEasy, it came off the market in 2009 and was re-listed this February for $3,600,000. Entered into contract on 6/27/11; closed on 8/24/11; deed recorded on 9/12/2011.

2. PARK SLOPE $2,400,000.00
475 4th Street GMAP
A HOTD in 2008 which read: “It’s a gorgeous house in move-in condition with tons of original woodwork (and no recessed lighting!). It also feels like it’s priced as if it were a year ago.” Ask: $2,995,000. Streeteasy shows a long, painful history of price cuts until 2010, when the home was pulled off the market. It was last priced at $2,575,000 before it sold. Entered into contract on 5/25/11; closed on 8/30/11; deed recorded on 9/13/2011.

3. GRAVESEND $2,350,000
801 Avenue S GMAP
A one-family home, 2,728 square feet in size. Entered into contract on 7/14/11; closed on 8/12/11; deed recorded on 9/13/2011.

4. BOERUM HILL $1,950,000
140 Dean Street GMAP
A one or two family house with a garage and vacant land. Before this sale, the building was purchased in 2010 for $475,000! Entered into contract on 7/21/11; closed on 8/31/11; deed recorded on 9/15/2011.

5. DYKER HEIGHTS $1,900,000
1062 84th Street GMAP
Quite a beautiful house in South Brooklyn. Asking $3,499,000 in 2007 and then $2,600,000 in 2010 before getting a few price drops. Entered into contract on 4/5/11; closed on 8/24/11; deed recorded on 9/13/2011.

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Bloomberg has a story about how the latest census numbers shows that a census tract in Dyker Heights saw one of the city’s biggest increases in ethic diversity over the past decade, contributing to New York’s standing as the most ethically diverse city in the country. The trend citywide—which was particularly pronounced in some areas, like the Dyker Heights census tract profiled in the story—involves a marked (31.8 percent percent) increase in the number of Asian residents in 2010 as compared to a decade ago. The article cites one broker who specializes in the Dyker Heights, long an Italian-American stronghold, who says that Asians have accounted for about half the home sales in the neighborhood since 2007. Another broker, meanwhile, says the majority of Asians who have moved to the neighborhood are professionals and not first-generation immigrants, and that they’re attracted to the area’s schools and housing stock.
Brooklyn Enclave Helps NY Top LA as U.S. Diversity Capital [Bloomberg]

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Photo by iandavid.

Best “Old Brooklyn” Restaurants?
A Fort Greene newcomer asked New York Times restaurant critic Sam Sifton if he could recommend any “old Brooklyn” eateries, and Sifton replied: “You’ll want to visit the Mill Basin Kosher Delicatessen on Avenue T. You’ll want to have some clams at Randazzo’s in Sheepshead Bay. You should absolutely have pizza at Totonno’s in Coney Island and more at L & B Spumoni Gardens in the Gravesend neighborhood. You should jog back down to Sheepshead Bay to Roll-N-Roaster and get a roast beef sandwich, a meal that has been satisfying high school students for 40 years. You absolutely need a hero from Lioni’s in Bensonhurst.” Any other classic Brooklyn spots to add to this list?

Brooklyn Restaurant Openings
And outpost of Dao Palate is opening at 201 Fifth Avenue (between Union and Berkeley), in a storefront “that’s recently been home to a couple failed Japanese restaurants (Tamari, Hakone),” says Here’s Park Slope… At the forthcoming Brooklyn Heights restaurant Colonie, you can “expect seasonal, locally sourced American cuisine with an open kitchen and counter-top dining,” says ZagatBuzz. To help with start-up costs, the owners raised $15,371 from 91 backers on KickstarterEater says that there’s new signage at the Greenpoint branch of Calexico, and a restaurant called Juniper is opening at Berry at North 7th in Williamsburg… Eater also notes that the owner of Le Barricou is “opening new restaurant Maison Premiere at 298 Bedford in early January. The restaurant is reportedly based on the 1890′s French Quarter New Orleans and will mainly exist as a bar and oyster bar, offering 25 different types of oysters along with cocktails and an ‘old world’ wine.” … And Bed-Stuy Blog reports on the openings of the new Mexican joint Alcatraz and the new market/sandwich shop Cinnamon Girl.

After the jump: 3 new Brooklyn bars, where to eat near the Dyker Lights, and another look at the underrated Umi Nom (more…)

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Here’s another one of those suburban-style stunners that you can only find to the south of Brownstone Brooklyn. This particular pad at 1062 84th Street in Dyker Heights has five bedrooms, a front lawn and an in-ground pool to brag about. It’s also got most of its original details intact. The only aspects of the house we’re not wild about are the kitchen and bathroom, but those are pretty easy to fix, especially if you’re the kind of person who can drop the asking price of $2,600,000 on a single-family house!
1062 84th Street [Fillmore] GMAP P*Shark

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1. BROOKLYN HEIGHTS $2,975,000
22 Sidney Place GMAP
A House of the Day back in November, this 17-foot-wide home with plenty of original details hit the market at $2,750,000. According to its listing on StreetEasy, this 1-family features “a large, open kitchen with center island,” “a fireplaced reception room,” “a sweeping staircase with original woodwork,” “a butler’s pantry with wet bar and a working dumbwaiter,” and its “spacious dining room is also warmed by a fireplace and overlooks the leafy garden through a large window and door.” Average Reader Appraisal was $2,457,326. Entered into contract on 1/4/10; closed on 4/29/10; deed recorded on 5/6/10.

2. DYKER HEIGHTS $1,685,000
1127 85th Street GMAP
This brick and stone 1-family home is located close to the Dyker Heights golf course. According to its listing on StreetEasy, “It has 5 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms, hardwood floors, central air conditioning, and a wood burning fireplace… This home is nicely elevated allowing stunning views of the Verrazano Bridge… and there is a heated in-ground swimming pool in the secluded backyard. The large garage and private driveway allow parking for two or more cars.” Entered into contract on 4/19/10; closed on 4/19/10; deed recorded on 5/4/10.

3. BERGEN BEACH $1,480,000
2553 East 64th Street GMAP
This 1-family 1,869-sf townhouse sold for $795,000 in 2006, according to StreetEasy. Entered into contract on 2/5/10; closed on 4/20/10; deed recorded on 5/4/10.

4. BOERUM HILL $1,466,000
226 Wyckoff Street GMAP
A House of the Day back in January, this legal 2-family is configured into a 1-family. It has lots of original details and a newly renovated kitchen. Hit the market at $1,395,000 and Average Reader Appraisal was $1,140,086. Entered into contract on 2/16/10; closed on 4/20/10; deed recorded on 5/4/10.

5. PARK SLOPE $1,400,000
398 4th Street GMAP
According to PropertyShark, this 3,620-sf, 3-family brick townhouse hasn’t changed hands since 1991. Entered into contract on 2/3/10; closed on 4/30/10; deed recorded on 5/6/10.

Photos from Property Shark.