Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Contrary to popular belief, Brownsville still has some great architecture, especially on its main commercial streets.

Name: Originally Lafayette Trust, then Provident Loan Society. Now a T-Mobile.
Address: 1698 Pitkin Avenue
Cross Streets: Corner of Rockaway Avenue
Neighborhood: Brownsville
Year Built: Early 20th century, before 1909
Architectural Style: Simplified Beaux-Arts
Architect: Arthur G. Stone
Other Works by Architect: Row houses on Hancock and other streets in Bedford; also flats and store buildings in Williamsburg, and other buildings throughout Brooklyn and Manhattan
Landmarked: No

Most people think Brownsville is little more than rows upon rows of high-rise NYCHA housing. There certainly is plenty of that there, but there is much more to the neighborhood.


Jazzy Jumpers perform at MGB Pops market. Photo via MGB Pops

Gentrification has not yet reached Brownsville but is lapping at its shores. Local residents are making a push to improve the area on their own terms, or gentrify “from within,” according to a story in Al-Jazeera. The idea is to improve employment, education, safety and quality of life before high rents arrive to push out longtime locals.

Efforts include job training, an outdoor marketplace with locally made goods and performances, a cafe and business incubator and street improvements:

  • MGB Pops, a seasonal outdoor marketplace at 425 Mother Gaston Boulevard, kicked off in fall 2014. In addition to locally grown produce and other locally made products, it features art and performances. Recent events have included a ribbon cutting for a street improvements such as seating and a happy hour.
  • Made in Brownsville offers architecture and design training and jobs to local youths.
  • A revitalization plan, spearheaded by the Brownsville Community Justice Center, will improve Belmont Avenue.
  • Dream Big Foundation’s Three Black Cats Cafe, set to open later this year on Belmont Avenue, will serve as a community hub and business incubator.

“We’re trying to disrupt the normal flow of things,” the story quotes one of the organizers of MGB Pops, Quardean Lewis-Allen, as saying. “If we can empower the residents with jobs and skills that will help them shape the neighborhood’s future, then they are less likely to be displaced when Brownsville suddenly becomes hip.”


Brownstoner recently received this email from the pastor of a prominent church in Ocean Hill-Brownsville:

“I recently saw several notices online advertising two newly constructed homes on St. Mark’s Avenue. Both of these listings called the neighborhood Crown Heights. This neighborhood is, always has been, and always will be Ocean Hill-Brownsville. It is not Crown Heights. In fact it is a significant distance from Crown Heights. Calling it that is misleading to potential buyers and disrespectful to the people of this community. We who live and work in Brownsville are proud of our community and resent others labeling us as someplace we are not for their own personal gain.


The City is moving ahead with plans for the long-delayed public housing project in Brownsville known as Prospect Plaza. On Monday, the New York City Housing Authority filed plans for the third and final building in the complex, at 1845 Sterling Place. (The Real Deal was the first to write about the filing; NY YIMBY had more info.)

In 2000, the city moved 1,500 residents out of three behemoth public housing towers at the site, saying they’d have new apartments for residents by 2005. But as readers may recall, it wasn’t until 2014 that NYCHA and developers finally demolished the long-vacant buildings.


Mayor de Blasio intends to lease unused land at public housing projects to private developers to build towers with 50-50 market rate and subsidized rentals, he announced Tuesday. Van Dyke and Ingersoll Houses as well as one complex in the Bronx will be the first in the project, which aims to raise $200,000,000 in fees from developers over 10 years as well as create 10,000 affordable units, The New York Times reported.

The money will go toward maintaining existing NYCHA housing, to make up for losing more than $1 billion in federal subsidies since 2001. Separately, an advocacy group for the elderly today recommended in a report that 39 parking lots at low-income senior housing be transformed into housing for seniors, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Stone Avenue Library
Address: 581 Mother Gaston Boulevard
Cross Streets: Corner Dumont Avenue
Neighborhood: Brownsville
Year Built: 1914
Architectural Style: Jacobean Revival
Architect: William B. Tubby
Other works by architect: Three other Carnegie Libraries, as well as fire houses, police stations, factory buildings, row houses, stables and free-standing mansions in Park Slope, Clinton Hill, Brooklyn Heights and other parts of Brooklyn and Manhattan. Best known for his Pratt Institute buildings and his house for Charles M. Pratt at 241 Clinton Avenue and the William Childs house at 53 Prospect Park West
Landmarked: No, but it was recently calendared by the Landmarks Preservation Commission

The story: William Tubby was one of Brooklyn’s most talented and well-rounded architects. There wasn’t much he couldn’t do. His houses, whether row houses or mansions, were all spectacular. There isn’t a bad one in the bunch. Even his stables and carriage houses were great. Living in a Tubby house would be a privilege; the man designed thoughtfully and well, using only quality materials.

Private homes are one thing, but his work for the public good was arguably just as good or better.


The Landmarks Preservation Commission voted today to calendar Stone Avenue Library in Brownsville, a spokesperson for the agency told us. That means the William Tubby-designed Gothic Revival structure at 581 Mother Gaston Boulevard is one step closer to possibly someday being designated a landmark, as the LPC has decided it will hold a hearing to consider designation.

The Andrew Carnegie-financed library celebrated its 100-year anniversary and a renovation last year. It opened in September 1914 as one of the country’s first libraries built specifically for children, although today it is a general library. It was intended to look like a “fairy tale castle,” according to a story in the Times last year.

Castle-Like, Tubby-Designed Brownsville Library Celebrates 100 Years [Brownstoner] GMAP
Photo via Historic Districts Council

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