Brooklyn, one building at a time.
Name: Semi-detached row house
Address: 199 17th Street
Cross Streets: 4th and 5th Avenues
Neighborhood: South Slope
Year Built: Before 1880
Architectural Style: Simplified Italianate
The story: When Brooklyn developed, it wasn’t always in solid waves, with housing spreading out like Lego blocks across the map. Some areas were farms that were slowly subdivided into lots. Some neighborhoods grew as towns, like Bedford; a crossroads that slowly grew to be much more down the road. Other towns grew totally off the standard rectangular street grid, like Weeksville.The streets that make up the South Slope had an interesting path to development. Houses here were built in fits and starts. Some of the land was farmland, although not particularly good farmland, it was hilly and rocky, the legacy of glacial activity.
The street grid was established well before the Civil War, but insurance maps don’t show a whole lot going on here until after the war. Some parts of the neighborhood had a reputation as a dumping ground, where one could conveniently get rid of all kinds of things, including an occasional body. For many years these blocks were just scruffy fields. Then as Green-Wood Cemetery grew in size and popularity as a tourist destination, and Park Slope began to flourish, this area began to be developed, as well. (more…)