03/04/14 3:00pm

91 Pennsylvania Ave, ENYSB, KL, PS

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Former East New York Savings Bank, now M&T Bank
Address: 91 Pennsylvania Avenue
Cross Streets: Corner Atlantic Avenue
Neighborhood: East New York
Year Built: 1889-1890
Architectural Style: Renaissance Revival
Architect: Richard Upjohn, Jr.
Other work by architect: St. George Episcopal Church, Bedford Stuyvesant; St. Paul’s Church, Cobble Hill, State Capital Building in Hartford, Conn.; First National Bank, Salt Lake City, and much more
Landmarked: No

The story: The part of town we know now as East New York was the 26th Ward in the late 19th century. Considering the 1st Ward consisted of the piers and streets of Brooklyn Heights, this was a far-flung territory, and more proof that the city of Brooklyn was indeed huge, and one of the first rate cities of the United States. The people who settled in the 26th Ward were a determined bunch. East New York had once been New Lots, and New Lots had been an offshoot of Flatbush. Both were settled, beginning in the late 1600s, by the Dutch who established farms on the land, both large and small.

After the Civil War, and moving towards the end of the century, one by one, the Dutch farmsteads were bought out by land developers. The names of the new streets cut across the old fields and meadows were a list of many of these large landowning farmers; Lott, Rapelye, Schenck, Remsen, Stoothoff, Vanderveer, Wyckoff, and others. By the 1870s, large groups of Germans from Bushwick began to settle here, and open businesses and build homes.

One of the largest landowners in the latter half of the century was a man named Edward F. Linton. He and a group of prominent East New Yorkers worked diligently to bring city services to this, the furthest outpost in Brooklyn. He was a tireless promoter of the area, and almost singlehandedly got the city to pave the streets and sidewalks, lay sewer lines, put in streetlights and bring mass transit to the area. His story was told in a series of Walkabouts called “The Landlord of East New York,” beginning here.

The earliest community leaders in ENY really wanted their own bank. Just about every neighborhood had at least one community bank, founded by wealthy local merchants and businessmen, and supported by much of the rest of the community. A bank meant that your community was putting down roots for the long haul. It also meant you didn’t have to get on a train, trolley, or carriage to another neighborhood to do your banking. (more…)

01/15/14 9:00am

864-elton-street-011514

A Brooklyn landlord has actually been jailed — for criminal contempt related to failing to maintain his buildings. He was also fined $382,000, The New York Daily News reported. What is so striking about this case is that, according to the Daily News, landlord Kris Gounden didn’t merely fail to fix problems — he actually tried to prevent the city from repairing and fueling the boiler in his building at 864 Elton Street in East New York. He padlocked the basement door and parked his car over the oil cap so the tank couldn’t be filled.

Garbage was also piled up in the driveway and, best of all, sparks shot out of a light switch with exposed wires. Tenants went without heat or hot water “for weeks at a time,” said the story.

Brooklyn Slumlord, Who Blocks Boiler From Being Repaired, Slapped With Jail [NY Daily News]
Photo by Kate Leonova for PropertyShark

01/09/14 9:30am

504 georgia avenue east new york 12014

The two-family in East New York priced at $599,999 that was yesterday’s HOTD, above, also inspired The New York Daily News to take a look at East New York and whether it could be Brooklyn’s next “home buying frontier,” as the Brooklyn section teaser headline put it. “Spacious, affordable” properties there such as the one at 504 Georgia Avenue could lure buyers priced out of rapidly appreciating neighborhoods such as Crown Heights, Bed Stuy and Bushwick. “However, crime in the area remains a concern,” the story continued.

Listing agent Louis Belisario of Fillmore told the Daily News the area is good for investors because of its relative affordability and skyrocketing rents. “Rates are very low and rents here are going through the roof. It’s a great house because if you bought it, your rental income would cover most of your mortgage,” he said.

As other reports have shown, the area has seen an influx of renters priced out from other areas of Brooklyn. Violent crime in the area decreased last year, but “robbery, grand larceny and general assault” were all up.

Councilwoman Inez Barron (married to former Councilman Charles Barron) said keeping East New York affordable for current residents is a priority. She also noted the waves of newcomers moving in and said the area “has the greatest retention and growth of people moving into the community. We’re getting a grip on crime. Crime is going down.”

Commenters have previously said the area’s large number of public housing projects makes it an unlikely candidate for gentrification. What’s your opinion?

East New York: The Next Home Buying Frontier? [NY Daily News]

This freestanding brick two-family in East New York consists of two spacious floor-through apartments with some nice early 20th century details. The mechanicals are updated as are the kitchens and baths. The top floor apartment has four bedrooms and plenty of closets; the ground floor apartment is a three-bedroom with access to the basement.

The building is about 3,000 square feet and 23 feet wide on a 30 by 100 lot. It looks close enough to the elevated track that noise could be an issue, but it’s also convenient to the 1, 2, 3, and L trains. At $599,000, do you think it would be a good investment property?

504 Georgia Avenue [Fillmore] GMAP

12/11/13 3:00pm

68 Pennsylvania Ave, ENY, KL, PS

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Originally Tyrian Masonic Lodge, then Prince Hall Masonic Lodge, now Atlantic Senior Center
Address: 68 Pennsylvania Avenue
Cross Streets: Fulton Street and Atlantic Avenue
Neighborhood: Cypress Hills
Year Built: 1906-1907
Architectural Style: Neo-Classical
Architect: Harde & Short
Other buildings by architect: Kismet Temple in Bedford Stuyvesant, Bushwick Hospital, Maurice T. Lewis house in Sunset Park, several Brooklyn theaters, as well as Alywn Court and other apartment buildings in Manhattan
Landmarked: No

The story: Pennsylvania Avenue, which runs through Cypress Hills and East New York, was one of the 26th Ward’s premier avenues. In fact, it was THE premier avenue for the waning years of the 19th century, on into the 20th. Along its length were fine homes, as well as important institutions such as banks, churches, police stations, post offices and clubs. This building was home to one of the more influential local clubs.

Freemasonry has a long history, both in Europe and here in the United States. Throughout its history, the well-connected as well as the humble have been initiated into its ranks. There are many branches of Masons; the Tyrian Masons trace their history back to the ancient Biblical city of Tyre, and the time of Solomon’s Temple. They eventually made their way to England and Ireland, and then here.

The Tyrian Lodge Number 618 was founded in 1867, and had rooms on Atlantic Avenue by at least 1873. From their activities as chronicled in the newspapers, the lodge was primarily made up of men with Anglo-Saxon surnames. There were very few German members, which is interesting, as the 26th Ward had a very large number of German residents. The Germans did have their own Masonic lodge, not Tyrians, who often met in concert with Lodge #618. (more…)

11/20/13 3:00pm

400 GLenmore Ave, Holy Trinity RusOrthChurch, ENYP 1

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name:
Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Church
Address: 400 Glenmore Avenue
Cross Streets: Corner Pennsylvania Avenue
Neighborhood: East New York
Year Built: 1935
Architectural Style: Russian Orthodox Christian
Architect: Unknown, interior murals by Pimen M. Sofronoff
Landmarked: No

The story: East New York may seem to be an unlikely place to find an onion domed Russian Orthodox Church, but this only goes to show how diverse and desirable a place to live this neighborhood has been in its long history. The church is not only a visual treat in the neighborhood, it’s a monument to survival and determination, as it is still in use as place of worship by a new generation of people.

Like many European immigrant groups, a sizable population of people from Byelorussia, which today is called Belarus, came to New York during the end of the 19th century. They came for the same reasons most people immigrate to the US, for economic opportunity, and a chance to have a better life. Some of the Byelorusians in this first migration were Jewish, but many more were Russian Orthodox Christians. They had all been peasants in the Old Country, but here, became factory workers and other blue collar workers making their way up the economic ladder.

Immigration officials of the day tended to not see smaller regional ethnic groups as they self-identified, so many of the census and official records of the day list the Belarusians as either Polish or Russian. But they had their own culture and traditions, and in 1909, they founded the Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Church. As the church grew, and the parishioners became more prosperous, plans were enacted to build a traditional onion-domed church in the middle of their community. The church was built in 1935, when the Belarussian community in East New York was at its peak. (more…)

10/22/13 3:00pm

Arlington Village, NS, PS

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Arlington Village
Address: 3100 Atlantic Avenue (catch-all address)
Cross Streets: Atlantic, Liberty, Montauk Avenues, and Berriman Street
Neighborhood: East New York
Year Built: 1946-49
Architectural Style: Some buildings vaguely Dutch influenced
Architect: Unknown
Landmarked: No

The story: Whenever I had wheels, when I lived in Central Brooklyn, I would make it out to the Costco on Rockaway Boulevard, in Queens, or sometimes go to the Gateway Mall in East New York. Both trips would take me far along Atlantic Avenue, and I’d always pass this complex, the side buildings of which face Atlantic Avenue. Like most people who live in New York City, I always thought they were public housing projects, perhaps a precursor of the tower projects that now fill so much of Brownsville and parts of East New York. Turns out I was right, but also wrong.

These buildings were called Arlington Village, and take up two square blocks, bordered by Atlantic Avenue, Liberty Avenue, Berriman Street and Montauk Avenue, with a partially closed off Atkins Avenue in the middle. They were built by the East New York Savings Bank as housing for returning World War II veterans and their families, and were built between 1946 and 1949. The complex has 107 buildings, which included 3.5, 4.5, and 5.5 room apartments, a diner, grocery store, off street parking and a children’s playground. The apartments all faced into the interior courtyards.

Public housing was a big concern for the city at the time. Returning vets from the war were by and large working class men with families who could not afford expensive housing. Many were taking advantage of the G.I. Bill, and were getting an education, also limiting their incomes. The rush to the suburbs of Long Island would soon start, but those who called Brooklyn home were offered inexpensive rents in apartments in developments like this, as a reward for duty to country. These developments were not offered to all of the war’s veterans, but that’s another story. (more…)

10/10/13 3:00pm

135 Penn Ave, Magistrate's Court, PAL, ENY, KL, PS

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name:
Former Magistrate’s Court, now Arnold and Marie Schwartz Community Center, the PAL, and Community Board 5
Address: 135 Pennsylvania Avenue
Cross Streets: Corner Liberty Avenue
Neighborhood: East New York
Year Built: 1929
Architectural Style: Neo-classical
Architect: Mortimer Dickerson Metcalf
Other works by architect: Magistrate’s Court on 4th Avenue in Sunset Park, buildings in Palm Beach Florida.
Landmarked: No

The story: If you look in the frieze above the columns on the Pennsylvania Street side of this building, you can still see the faded ghosts of the “Magistrate’s Court” signage. This handsome Greek temple was once the courthouse for this busy neighborhood. Pennsylvania Avenue was once the grand boulevard of East New York. As you proceed down the street, from Atlantic Avenue, large bank buildings, this court house, the old police precinct, and fine homes still line the street. Many of these buildings have been greatly altered, and none of them have their original function, but they are still there, reminders that this neighborhood was once the fastest growing section of Brooklyn, the prosperous and busy 26th Ward. (more…)

10/09/13 1:30pm

It’s not often we feature a property in East New York, but this one caught our eye because of the beautiful original details and low price. The building at 620 Crescent Street is a six-family with herringbone parquet floors and decorative plaster moldings on the walls. The roof and boiler are three years old. The listing doesn’t say if the building will be delivered empty or has rent regulated tenants in place. How do you like it for $560,000?

620 Crescent Street [Ideal] GMAP

09/19/13 3:00pm

2883 Atlantic Ave, ViennaFlats, NS, PS, 2008

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Vienna Flats
Address: 2883 Atlantic Avenue
Cross Streets: Corner Jerome Street
Neighborhood: East New York
Year Built: 1885-1890
Architectural Style: Queen Anne
Architect: William Danmar
Other works by architect: Office of Cypress Hills Cemetery, and many other flats buildings, row houses, etc., in Brooklyn
Landmarked: No

The story: By the last twenty years of the 19th century, the 26th Ward, East New York, was growing fast. Atlantic Avenue was one of the neighborhood’s most important streets, and it was along here that the LIRR train tracks ran, and it was the major road connecting Downtown Brooklyn to Queens and Long Island. Banks, businesses, stores, clubs and a lot of commercial enterprises were built along Atlantic, but mixed in there were also residential buildings, including some row houses, free standing homes and flats buildings.

This flats building was commissioned in 1885, and finished in 1890. Although the name sounds like a rock band, it was an apartment building, aimed at housing small families. Early advertisements in the Brooklyn Eagle have the apartments renting for $10 and over, so this was a working and middle class building. I don’t know if the train ran past this part of Atlantic or not, if it did, having it chug past your window would not have been enjoyable. I think it turns off to go to the terminal before this.

The building was the design of William Danmar, sometimes confused with William Ditmars, another architect working at the same time. Ditmars was German, Danmar was Danish, and he was born in Denmark and immigrated here, like so many others. He became one of the founding members of the Architecture Department of the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences, the forerunner of the Brooklyn Museum. He sat on the board of that institution for many years. (more…)

09/12/13 3:30pm

317 LibertyAve, Piels, ENY, KL, PS

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Former Piels Brewery office and garage
Address: 317 Liberty Avenue
Cross Streets: Sheffield and Georgia Avenues
Neighborhood: East New York
Year Built: 1892
Architectural Style: Rundbogenstil Romanesque Revival, with Dutch detailing
Architect: Original factory, plus this office building- Weber & Drosser, additions to the factory-Theobald Engelhardt.
Other works by architect: tenements and row houses in Yorkville and Carnegie Hill neighborhoods of Manhattan, former Sheffel Hall, 3rd Ave, and alteration to the Yuengling Brewery complex on 128th St.
Landmarked: No

The story: The name “Brooklyn” has been branded for so many things lately; it has almost become a cliché to mention it. Brooklyn has been home to a lot of industries over the last hundred and fifty years, but none so famous and near and dear to people’s hearts as the brewing of BEER. Bushwick was at the heart of the Brooklyn brewing industry, but breweries were in many different neighborhoods in Brooklyn, especially those with a large German population. As Bushwick and the rest of the Eastern District swelled with people, they started to move eastward along Bushwick Avenue, and began settling in the newly developed 26th Ward, once called New Lots, but now known as East New York.

Apparently, East New York’s city fathers were so confident that a brewer would settle in their neighborhood, they built a brewery for him, a wood framed building without a tenant. They were right, it was soon leased and beer was being made there, as well as money. The brewery went through a couple of hands before being bought by Frank Lanzer. In 1856 the wood framed brewery burned to the ground, and Lanzer built a large four story brick facility on the site. A series of mishaps and tragedies occurred there, which you know I’ll be revisiting, and eventually, in 1883, the Piels brothers bought the block wide site for their own brewery.

The Piels brothers were Gottfried, Wilhelm and Michael. The latter was the brewer in the family, and he had come up with an excellent pilsner beer. Like lagers, pilsners were bottom fermenting beers, a German innovation, which needed to be stored in dark, cold caves in order to reach their peak of flavor and alcohol content. Lagers and pilsners had made German beermeisters rich, as Americans much preferred them to the heavier warm English style ales. Michael Piels was a brilliant inventor, he had already won an award in Germany for his invention of a centrifuge for processing honey, and he took his affinity for machines to the brewing industry, coming up with ways of utilizing the new mechanics of refrigeration, so necessary to pilsner beers. (more…)

Coretta-Scott-King-Houses

Yesterday construction crews broke ground on a new moderate-income senior apartment building in East New York. The Coretta Scott-King Senior Houses, which is being built on what was a vacant lot, will have 51 units. More than half of the funding for the $13.7 million project is coming from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development with the rest coming from the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development and various city funds. The Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council will provide services including medical and social security assistance. Residents will also be able to take exercise and educational classes as well as day trips and other outings. Units will be granted through a lottery to those who earn less than half of the area median income or $30,100 a year for an individual and preference will be given to those over 62 years old. Those who win spots in the building will pay no more than 30 percent of their income in rent.

Image: HPD