A look at Brooklyn, then and now.
After the Civil War ended, the building boom in Brooklyn began to take up speed again. By the 1870s, speculative building in the city’s neighborhoods began earnest, as the rows of Italianate, Neo-Grec and Second Empire houses began defining the neighborhoods radiating out from Downtown. Those were heady times, when fortunes could be made, and it seemed only logical that a business district worthy of a growing city would also be built. The area around City Hall was now the center of Brooklyn’s business world, so what better place to build?
Banks, law offices and brokerages were obvious tenants, but among the greatest catalysts for Brooklyn’s expansion at that point in time were insurance companies. Fire insurance was huge business, and companies based in Manhattan, as well as local Brooklyn companies were warring for business and for a prominent place on the street. One of those was the Continental Insurance Company.
Continental was a Manhattan -based fire insurance company, with headquarters across the river, and they were looking to expand into the lucrative Brooklyn market. They chose an advantageous and prime location, the corner of Court and Montague Streets, in the heart of the business district. They also chose architect George L. Morse to design them a building. He was at the beginning of what would become an important and stellar career. (more…)