448-450 48th St. SP, NS, PS 1

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Wood-framed row houses
Address: 448-450 48th Street
Cross Streets: 4th and 5th avenues
Neighborhood: Sunset Park
Year Built: 1890
Architectural Style: Originally Queen Anne
Architect: George Walkinshaw
Landmarked: No, but Sunset Park is on the National Register of Historic Places (1988). Landmarking is needed

The story: The earliest houses still standing in Sunset Park are no older than the early 1880s. This neighborhood was one of the last of Brooklyn’s brownstone neighborhoods to be developed. There’s only one or two of them left, tucked in the brownstone and limestone rows. In the 1890s, builders began putting up the first of the row house groups, and along with those brownstones were also built some rows of attached wood-framed houses. Today, we tend to associate wood-framed houses with earlier times, but many of them were built at the same time as the masonry homes. Wood was just another choice for building materials.

This pair of wooden houses was built in 1890, right at the beginning of serious development here, and represented another choice for buyers, and an opportunity for some interesting design. Unfortunately, that design is now gone. It wasn’t destroyed in the 1950s, or 1970s, but only a couple of years ago, twenty years after the bulk of the neighborhood had been placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988. (more…)

438 45th street sunset park 92014

It’s not often we see a Sunset Park house with details in move-in condition, so we got excited when we saw this listing for a brownstone at 438 45th Street. There are fireplaces, built-in cupboards, moldings, pocket doors and other original details.

The bad news is that it’s set up as three floor-through apartments so there’s no owner’s duplex. However, there is an extension in the rear of the garden floor and a clean-looking cellar, so the ground-floor unit is more spacious than the average railroad apartment. The house would also be easy enough to convert back to a two-family, which is what we suspect this originally was, going by the floor plan.

A door on the parlor floor unit might be advisable as well, for privacy. What do you think of it and the price of $1,160,000?

438 45th Street [Elliman] GMAP


A group of neighbors on one of Sunset Park’s best-preserved blocks are hunting for a preservation-minded buyer to restore a three-story brownstone row house at 514 47th Street, which is for sale for $1,180,000. The brownstone exterior with terra cotta detail and original ironwork, above, appears to be in good condition, but the inside appears to have been stripped of all detail save the staircase. (Lots of interior shots after the jump, below.)

The house is on the corner of 5th Avenue, a busy commercial strip, so residents fear the worst. Neighbors would like to find “new owners who plan on restoring it versus investors who want to rip it apart to make a taller building and/or add unsightly retail on the ground level,” block resident Jeff Sundheim told us. “Since it’s the house closest to the 5th Avenue retail district it’s quite likely that could happen. The same thing happened on my old block nearby and it was tragic,” he said. (more…)

2nd Naval Battalion armory, composite

A look at Brooklyn, then and now.

Armories are fascinating buildings. They were built to house National Guard units; our volunteer citizen army, and provide them with permanent places to gather, train, and deploy. Many guard units gained great fame and honor from their service in the Civil War, and a grateful state and local government decided to honor them with facilities worthy of their service. These resulted in huge castle-like buildings built to impress and intimidate.

Every community wanted an armory. They wanted the protection of a citizen militia for emergencies and to put down social unrest. The late 19th century was a time of strikes and uprisings against the economic unfairness of the Gilded Age. They also wanted the armory because it was a great civic building for the community. Armories were perfect for large social gatherings, athletic events, trade shows, and the like. Architects and builders loved armories because they were prestigious commissions, and were cash cows for everyone concerned, and a source of jobs. An armory in one’s neighborhood was a win-win for all concerned. (more…)


The push to redevelop Sunset Park’s waterfront industrial spaces into a thriving manufacturing center for artisanal goods along the lines of the Navy Yard continues. The de Blasio administration has pledged to invest $100,000,000 into making over 500,000 square feet of the city-owned Brooklyn Army Terminal, pictured above, The Wall Street Journal reported. (more…)


Not a single biotech firm has taken space in the BioBAT biotech facility conceived eight years ago in part of the Brooklyn Army Terminal, although one company is reportedly close to signing a contract. The Sunset Park facility houses two other biotech firms, although not in the BioBAT space specifically created for biotech firms, according to a story in The Wall Street Journal. (more…)

555 39th street sunset park 62014

Here’s an affordable, no-frills one-bedroom in Sunset Park. The kitchen looks serviceable, and the living room is fairly large for a one-bedroom. There’s also a dining room with built-in cabinets that could become an office. But it would be better with a window, and the bedroom is on the small side. Do you think it’s a good deal for $1,390 a month?

555 39th Street, #2F [Elliman] GMAP


As part of its ongoing effort to preserve Sunset Park’s historic homes, the Sunset Park Landmarks Committee recently submitted its Request for Evaluation to the Landmarks Preservation Committee, the first application in the landmarking process. “We’ve had an amazing year in our community, finding so much support for a historic district, from residents, community organizations, our community board, our councilman, our state assemblyman, and our congresswoman,” the committee’s Lynn Massimo told us. “We’re hoping the wheels will turn quickly and we’ll get a historic district soon, though we know it’s slow process.”

In the meantime, the group is also giving one of its walking tours of the area on Sunday, June 22. The website copy reads: “Tour the heart of Sunset Park. Learn how Sunset Park’s history makes it special and wonderfully different from other Brownstone Brooklyn nabes. Learn about how its built environment shaped Sunset Park: from the history of Bush Terminal, the 4th Avenue subway, and the first coops in the U.S. in the early 1900s, to the Section 8 housing of the 1970s, which stabilized the neighborhood and helped it transition out of blight.” Above, houses on 59th Street between 4th and 5th avenues in Sunset Park.

The tour starts at 10 am. For tickets or more information, please check the group’s website.

Photo via Sunset Park Landmarks Committee

4200 7th Ave, Sunset Play Center, Carl Forster, LPC

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Sunset Play Center
Address: 4200 7th Avenue
Cross Streets: 41st and 44th streets
Neighborhood: Sunset Park
Year Built: 1935-36
Architectural Style: Art Moderne
Architect: Herbert Magoon
Other Buildings by Architect: Bath houses at Jones Beach and Crotona Parks, as part of his tenure at Parks Department
Landmarked: Yes, individual landmark (2007)

The story: 1936 was a banner year for New York City and its Parks Department. That year 11 pools were opened across the city, built to help cool off the city’s residents struggling through a hot summer in the midst of the Great Depression. The city’s pool projects were funded for the most part by federal money through the Works Progress Administration, the WPA. Other cities had their own recreational and pool projects, but New York’s were blessed by having a superior staff of architects and engineers, all led by the formidable drive and determination of Robert Moses.

Because the Parks Department was using Federal money, there were a lot of requirements and guidelines that had to be followed. Each pool complex had to have a separate swimming, wading and diving pools. There had to be a bath house with locker rooms. The bathhouse could serve as a gymnasium in non-swimming months. The bath houses were the centerpieces of each complex, the design of which would determine the overall design of the entire complex, allowing diversity according to site. (more…)


Bush Terminal Piers Park on the waterfront in Sunset Park is 95 percent complete, according to city officials, but it’s still not open and will probably not be open this summer. It was originally supposed to ope in 2011, but the brownfield cleanup took longer than expected. Then it was set to open in fall 2013, then in spring this year. Now officials are mum on a target date, according to a story in Brooklyn Bureau.

Phase 1 of the project, located between 45th and 50th Streets along the shore, is 11 acres, with “great views of Lower Manhattan, two ponds, a picnic area, a lawn and wooded zone, plus crucial recreation spaces, including a softball/baseball field and the neighborhood’s first official soccer field.” So far, it has cost $38.5 million.

Eventually, it will hook up with the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway and to “local streetscape improvements.”

Impatience Grows Over Promised Waterfront Park in Sunset Park [BK Bureau]
Photo by City Limits


As part of Design Week, BKLYN Designs is back in Dumbo, and there’s a new show at Industry City about design objects and processes featuring local makers.

BKLYN Designs is a juried show of contemporary furnishings, lighting and accessories made or designed in Brooklyn. There will also be special events over the three-day show, which runs today through Sunday, including a panel on design moderated by New York Magazine’s design editor Wendy Goodman, a walking tour of Dumbo with Architect’s Newspaper editor Alan Brake, and a Kidville Brooklyn outdoor play lounge on Jay Street. The main exhibition space is at St. Ann’s Warehouse at 29 Jay Street. For more information, see the BKLYN Designs website.

Industry City/Design will also have demos, workshops and a “Meet the Maker” series. Participants include ToBeUs, Urban Glass, BHold, Alpi, Tools for Working Wood (pictured), and DDC/BuiltNYC. The show opens Saturday and runs through Tuesday May 20 at 220 36th Street in Sunset Park. For more information, check out the show’s website.

4801-4819 4th Ave, SP, SSpellen 3

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Flats Buildings
Address: 4801-4819 4th Avenue
Cross Streets: 48th and 49th streets
Neighborhood: Sunset Park
Year Built: 1904
Architectural Style: Renaissance Revival
Architect: Henry Pohlman
Other Buildings by Architect: Similar apartment buildings in Park Slope, Prospect and Crown Heights, also row houses in Sunset Park and above neighborhoods.
Landmarked: No, but on the National Register of Historic Places (1988)

The story: Henry Pohlman was a busy man around the turn of the 20th century. His firm, Pohlman & Patrick, was designing flats buildings and row houses in all of the still developing neighborhoods of Crown Heights, Park Slope, Prospect Heights, and most expansively, Sunset Park. According to the city records, Henry Pohlman was a draughtsman in Brooklyn for ten years, between 1887 and 1897. He then opened his own firm, Pohlman & Patrick, with a partner. I couldn’t find Patrick’s first name anywhere. The man was practically invisible. They weren’t together all that long, anyway.

Pohlman must have been the artistic half of the firm, and he was fortunate to be working when the last big wave of construction was about to take place in these neighborhoods. While designing upper class townhouses and mansions probably was a desired goal of many architects, there was a lot of design lower on the social scale. Attractive housing was being built for the middle and working classes, and there was plenty of work to go around. In Sunset Park, Henry Pohlman ended up with a lot of it. (more…)