69 vanderbilt avenue wallabout 122014

We’re sad to report that the city plans to demolish the crumbling mid-19th century wood frame at 69 Vanderbilt Avenue in the Wallabout Historic District. The HPD filed an emergency demolition permit last week.

A complaint from June said the house was shaking and leaning, and the DOB report said “front porch is unstable…neighboring houses may be in danger.”

Back in August after the construction fence went up we speculated the city had no plans to tear it down. Unfortunately, we were wrong.

“The New York Landmarks Conservancy has had No. 69 on its endangered list for years,” said the New York Times’ Christopher Grey in 2010. “There are only two ways it could get off the list, and right now it’s more likely to go feet first.”

Thanks to Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership for the tip and the photo.

69 Vanderbilt Avenue Coverage [Brownstoner]
Photo by Myrtle Avenue Revitalization Project LDC

60-64 Washington Ave, SSpellen 1

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Former Van Glahn factory and warehouse buildings
Address: 60-64 Washington Avenue
Cross Streets: Park and Flushing Avenues
Neighborhood: Wallabout
Year Built: 1892
Architectural Style: Romanesque Revival
Architect: John G. Glover
Other Buildings by Architect: other Van Glahn factory/warehouse buildings on this block, also Van Glahn homes at 229-231 Washington Ave. Row houses, tenements and factories in several Brooklyn neighborhoods.
Landmarked: No, but listed on Rookwood Chocolate Factory Historic District (1984). Also on proposed State and National Registers of Historic Places, Wallabout Industrial District. Also proposed LPC Wallabout Industrial District.

The story: Wallabout is one of my favorite Brooklyn neighborhoods. I never get tired of walking around there, for a number of reasons. I really like industrial buildings of a certain era, first of all, and I find the mix of industry and residence in a neighborhood fascinating from view of how the society developed and how it shaped the neighborhood, and the greater city’s history. The Brooklyn of today is literally built on the past, and buildings are the most tangible legacy of that past.

It’s remarkable how some of the products that flourished in Wallabout during the late 19th and early 20th century still are with us today; Drake’s Cakes and Tootsie Rolls, for instance. Wallabout was best known for its grocery and foodstuff businesses. The Wallabout Market, a huge wholesale meat and produce market, similar to Hunt’s Point Market, was located here, on grounds now part of the Navy Yard property. The market attracted all kinds of similar businesses, and by the end of the 19th century, was home to bakeries, candy factories, and many wholesale grocers and producers. (more…)


Plans for the building to replace the Pratt Station Post Office and other storefronts at 504 Myrtle Avenue, below, have changed. An application for a permit filed today shows the building will be six stories, not an eight-story building, as previously reported. It will have 92 apartments as well as 35,000 square feet of retail on the ground floor. All the buildings are still standing, we observed this morning.

Meanwhile, the related development next door at 490 Myrtle Avenue, pictured above, has made immense progress since we last visited in May. The exterior looks just about complete and some of the scaffolding has come down so the building is visible. It’s supposed to wrap summer 2015.

The Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership was the first to report on all these developments on its blog. Click through for more photos of both sites.

Scaffolding Comes Down at 490 Myrtle Avenue [Myrtle Avenue]  GMAP


38-42 Washington Avenue, SSPellen 2

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Mixed use retail and residential buildings
Address: 38-44 Washington Avenue, aka 200 Flushing Avenue
Cross Streets: Flushing and Park Avenues
Neighborhood: Wallabout
Year Built: 1907
Architectural Style: Renaissance Revival with Romanesque and classical details
Architect: Benjamin Finkensieper
Other Buildings by Architect: Knox Hat Factory building in Crown Heights, and many other factories, warehouses, churches and tenement buildings throughout Brooklyn.
Landmarked: No, but part of a proposed LPC Wallabout Industrial Historic District, and a National Register nomination for the same.

The story: At the turn of the 20th century, the factories and warehouses of Wallabout and the activities within the Brooklyn Navy Yard were at an all-time high. Only the World War II years would surpass it. This group of buildings was built for Henry Waldeck, a very successful builder and developer who did a lot of work in both industrial and residential areas. A large fire on this, and surrounding blocks in 1907 damaged or destroyed the wood framed buildings that were on this site, giving Waldeck, who had owned many of them already, the perfect excuse to rebuild, and build better. (more…)

ted and honey cafe navy yard 82014

Ted & Honey Cafe at the Navy Yard’s BLDG 92 is closing this Friday, according to an email from Navy Yard reps. When we stopped by, the worker behind the counter told us business hadn’t been good. We don’t know what will replace the cafe, which is a branch of the original Ted & Honey Cafe and market on Clinton Street in Cobble Hill. But T&H will still run their catering operation, Parker Red, at a commercial kitchen in the Navy Yard. Food options are supposed to return to BLDG 92 in the spring. GMAP

2-12 Ryerson St. SB, PS

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Former B. A. Jurgens Grocery Warehouse
Address: 2-12 Ryerson Street, aka 246-254 Flushing Avenue
Cross Streets: Corner Flushing Avenue
Neighborhood: Wallabout
Year Built: 1890
Architectural Style: Romanesque Revival
Architect: Theobald Engelhardt
Other Buildings by Architect: Ulmer Brewery and Office, and many other factories and warehouses in Bushwick, Williamsburg and other parts of Brooklyn. Also hundreds of row houses, as well as mansions, tenement buildings, hospitals and churches in Bushwick, Eastern Bed Stuy and parts of Williamsburg
Landmarked: No, but part of a proposed Wallabout Industrial Historic District. Also part of Wallabout Industrial District on the National Register of Historic Places

The story:
William B.A. Jurgens, (more correctly spelled Jϋrgens) was yet another of those enterprising German immigrants who made his fortune in America. He established his grocery business in Brooklyn in 1867, and never looked back. Thirty-five years later, he was the largest wholesale grocery business in Brooklyn. When the company was looking to expand at the turn of the 20th century, they went to the foremost architect in Brooklyn’s German-American community; Theobald Engelhardt, and hired him to design a large new warehouse. (more…)

13-15 Waverly Ave, CB, PS

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Former Van Glahn stables
Address: 13-15 Waverly Avenue
Cross Streets: Flushing and Park avenues
Neighborhood: Wallabout
Year Built: 1907
Architectural Style: Renaissance Revival
Architect: Walter B. Wills
Other Buildings by Architect: Row houses, theaters and industrial buildings throughout Brooklyn
Landmarked: No, but part of the Rockwood Chocolate Factory Historical District, designated in 1984 by the National Register of Historic Places. It is part of a proposed Wallabout Industrial HD and part of a larger National Register Wallabout Industrial District

The story: The Van Glahn brothers, John and Henry, established one of the largest wholesale grocery businesses in Brooklyn in the late 19th century. They were both born in Germany, and came over to Brooklyn in that wave of German immigration that started in the 1850s. Like many of their countrymen, they became involved in some aspect of the food business. Many of Brooklyn’s retail grocers were of German extraction, and who better to supply them than fellow German wholesalers?

The wholesale grocery business needed a lot of space and employees. Wholesale product such as coffee, sugar, flour and other commodities were shipped into the large warehouse and then subdivided into smaller packaging for sale to retail grocers and restaurants. Many wholesale grocers also had specialty products made exclusively for them. These too, needed to be stored, sometimes re-packaged, and shipped out. (more…)


Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Former Mergenthaler Linotype Company, Defense Plant Corporation Building
Address: 35 Ryerson Street, at Park Avenue, block wide on Park, between Grand and Ryerson
Neighborhood: Wallabout, between Clinton Hill and Navy Yard
Year Built: 1942
Architectural Style: Factory modern
Architects: Lockwood Greene Engineers, Inc.
Other buildings by architects: Daily News Factory on Atlantic Avenue (Newswalk Building), several buildings in the Navy Yard, parts of Rockefeller Center
Landmarked: No, but Wallabout has been submitted to LPC for several separate districts designation, and also in the process of being submitted to the National Register

The story: This building is the last built in this amazing industrial complex near the Navy Yard. Prior to computerized printing, linotype machines were used to set type on most newspapers and magazines, as well as many books, and Mergenthaler was the largest manufacturer of these machines, all made right here in Brooklyn. The Mergenthaler complex remains one of the largest and most intact reinforced concrete industrial sites in New York City. The complete story of the company and the rest of the site will be the topic of another post. THIS building was the last one built, constructed by the US Government, and leased to Mergenthaler as a factory for machines built for the war effort of World War II. (more…)

133 carlton avenue fort greene 72014

A pre-Civil War house with a remarkably well preserved exterior (a former Building of the Day) at 133 Carlton Avenue in Wallabout is being marketed as a development site for $5,200,000, along with two neighboring lots that include another small wood frame house and a convenience store. The house at 133 Carlton Avenue, once used as a church, is a wood frame Greek Revival house built in the 1840s. (more…)

Wallabout Market, composite

A look at Brooklyn, then and now.

Throughout Brooklyn’s history, a lot of things have come and gone, but one of the greatest losses has to be the Wallabout Market. At its peak, in the early 20th century, it was the second largest wholesale food market in the world. The Market was a bustling place where produce, meat, dairy, fish and foodstuffs were sold and traded to the thousands of retail grocery stores, food shops, restaurants, institutions and other wholesalers who came there every day to haggle, buy, pack up and deliver. Similar to Hunt’s Point, the old Fulton Fish Market and the Brooklyn Terminal Market that replaced it, Wallabout Market was a world unto itself, a rough and tumble world that also included graft, corruption and crime. But the market had one big advantage over New York’s other markets: it was beautiful.

Wallabout got its name from the French-speaking Walloons of Belgium who were the first settlers on the bay. They arrived in 1624, along with the Dutch, who called their bay Waal-bogt. The bay was the perfect location for the first ferry across the East River to New Amsterdam, which cast off in 1637, and continued for centuries. The area remained rural through the Revolutionary War, with most of it belonging to the Ryerson family.

The waterfront was an excellent port, which the British took advantage of when they took over Manhattan and Brooklyn during the Revolutionary War. Wallabout became infamous as the docking area for the British prison ships holding American soldiers and sailors throughout the war. Over 10,000 prisoners died on those ships, only to be dumped overboard, or buried in shallow graves on the shore. Today, the Prison Ship Martyr’s Monument in Fort Greene Park holds their remains and honors their memories. After the war, much of the Wallabout area was purchased by John Jackson. He and his relatives decided to open a shipyard.

The new United States government was interested in a permanent shipyard in New York, and bought 40 acres of John Jackson’s property. They kept buying more and more acreage, so that by the 1850s, the Navy Yard had been pretty well established, with the first dry dock, the Commandant’s House, the Navy Hospital and other buildings on site. The Yard became one of the area’s largest employers, and houses, tenements and related businesses grew, filling up the streets of the Wallabout neighborhood. (more…)

Wallabout Tours

The Myrtle Avenue Revitalization Project is teaming up with the Fort Greene Park Conservancy to offer free walking tours of the park and Wallabout this summer. The 1.5-mile walk begins in Fort Greene Park and concludes at 99 Ryerson Street, where Walt Whitman wrote “Leaves of Grass.”

The tours will discuss the neighborhood’s development dating back to Dutch settlers in the 1600s and highlight the homes of famous residents. They’ll take place every third Saturday from June to September, and the first one is on June 21 at 11 am. Anyone interested in attending the free tour can register here through Eventbrite.

Image via Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership