A look at Brooklyn, then and now.
Downtown Brooklyn has probably physically changed more than any other neighborhood in Brooklyn. That makes sense, since it has been the center of Brooklyn’s civic, retail, and entertainment life for much of the last century and a half.
Because of all of the changes, it’s sometimes hard to imagine what the streets looked like before the big stores came and cemented in many minds the idea that Downtown has always been a shopping hub.
It wasn’t always that way. The shopping district supplanted a residential neighborhood, one that had started to develop by the 1840s, as Brooklyn’s homes began to spread eastward, away from the harbor and the ferry.
This history has been easiest to see on the side streets. Gold, Duffield, Bridge and Lawrence streets between Fulton and Willoughby were all residential originally, and these blocks used to be the place to find many of the surviving remainders of this early residential enclave. But many of these buildings are now giving way to new mega-towers.
Today’s Past and Present highlights the few surviving buildings on Lawrence Street. (more…)