A Look at Brooklyn, then and now.
Bedford Avenue stretches from Williamsburg to Gravesend. Rogers Avenue, almost as long, begins at Farragut Road, near Brooklyn College, and intersects Bedford at Dean Street. A trapezoid; almost a triangle, is formed at the meeting of these two important streets, St. Marks Avenue, and Bergen Street. Today, there are six buildings in that space, but in the late 1800’s, there were only three, and all of them may have been a part of the St. Marks Avenue Hotel, which faced St. Marks Avenue. An article in the 1918 Brooklyn Eagle says that the building was sixty years old, at that time, but that puts the date at 1858, and there is no record of any building there at that time. The paper exaggerated by about 30 years. The earliest record of the hotel dates back to the mid-1890s, when an ad appeared in the Eagle, which is the photograph to the left.
It advertised the services of the St. Marks Avenue Hotel, a family hotel, where guests had “all the comforts and conveniences of home.” This type of establishment was more of a residential hotel than a transient one, although overnight and short term guests were welcomed. There are no descriptions of the private rooms, but the hotel did have a lot of public rooms, including a grand dining room, a reception room, and a concert room for the many professional and community concerts that took place there.
Beginning in 1901, there are many articles in the Brooklyn papers that chronicle events that took place in the St. Marks. Musical events were frequent, including recitals, concerts; one by the wonderfully named organist J. Treadwell Bollwinkel, and singing club get-togethers. There were card parties, especially the game of the day; euchre, as well as wedding receptions, ladies club meetings, and all sorts of birthday events, organization meetings and the like. One night, all of the “colored waiters” in the dining room put on a minstrel show and cakewalk for the guests. It must have been quite the show, as it got a mention in the paper. (more…)
The listing only offers under-construction photos, but this Crown Heights four-bedroom shows promise. A very nice-looking interior with, if the listing is correct, a new kitchen and bathroom. It is also over 1,000 square feet. And because the apartment is south of Eastern Parkway, the rent comes cheaper than most other Crown Heights apartments at $2,200 a month. Considering it’s still close to subway stations, the park, and Franklin Avenue, this place could really be a steal.
1103 Carroll Street [CitySites Real Estate Group] GMAP P*Shark
Brooklyn, one building at a time.
Name: Row houses
Address: 668-704 Park Place
Cross Streets: Bedford and Franklin Avenues
Neighborhood: Crow Hill (Crown Heights North)
Year Built: 1902
Architectural Style: Renaissance Revival
Architect: Axel Hedman
Other Work by Architect: Similar row houses across Brooklyn, especially Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Crown Heights North and South, Prospect Heights, Park Slope, Bedford Stuyvesant, Stuyvesant Heights
Landmarked: No, but part of a potential Crow Hill HD
The story: In 1902, E.H. Bishop & Sons commissioned Axel Hedman to design a row of 19 two-family row houses here in the western part of Crown Heights North, now called Crow Hill. For those who follow these things, this was not extraordinary news. Eli Bishop had been using Axel Hedman for a lot of his projects, so much so that Hedman’s signature Renaissance Revival one and two family limestone fronted houses were part of the Bishop “brand.” E.H. Bishop & Sons were one of Brooklyn’s largest and most successful developer-builders, with projects all throughout brownstone Brooklyn.
An ad in a 1910 issue of the Brooklyn Eagle, touting his Hedman houses in Lefferts Manor, says it all: “If houses were stamped with Hall Marks, or labeled as other commodities are, the imprint BISHOP on a house would be the purchaser’s guarantee of the honesty of its construction, the cleverness of its design, and the excellence of its every detail.” These Park Place houses were built for about $10,000 each. (more…)
There’s only one photo of this FRBO unit at 894 Sterling Place in Crown Heights, which takes up the entire third floor and is said to be 750 square feet. At $1,500 a month, the one-bedroom apartment could be a decent deal if it’s in good shape and spacious. The owners are also renting a studio unit in the building for $1,000 a month.
894 Sterling Place [FRBO] GMAP P*Shark
Crown Heights is hot, hot, hot, so the timing couldn’t be better for the seller of this small condo conversion at 1239 Dean Street. The brownstone building sits on a lovely block between Nostrand and New York avenues. From the looks of it, the seller has done a very nice job on the renovation, preserving the key architectural elements and doing a decent job on the kitchen. The asking price for the floorthrough pad is $570,000, which until not too long ago would have gotten you an entire house around here. The times they are a-changing.
1239 Dean Street #1 [Brown Harris Stevens] GMAP P*Shark
The St. Catherine is now open at 660 Washington Avenue, right on the corner of Bergen Street. It’s a cafe by day and a bar by night. According to this Prospect Heights Patch article, the owners plan to serve pastries, coffee, and sandwiches during the day. They’ll also have WiFi available. At night, they will serve comfort food alongside a full drink menu. The space itself looks very nice; you can check out the owner’s progress over at the Saint Catherine Facebook page. One of the owners here is a co-owner of Fresh Salt, another cafe and bar combination at the South Street Seaport. Did anyone check the place out last night? GMAP
Photo via Facebook
The price boom may be on in Crown Heights too, if the recent sale of 834 Lincoln Place is any indication. The renovated townhouse, which retains plenty of historic detail, closed for $1.375 million, 10 percent more than its asking price, Curbed reported. This is the kind of pattern we’re getting used to seeing over in nearby Bed Stuy as of late. It’s not a record for the neighborhood, though — although it might be the highest price for a single-family home there, according to Curbed.
Renovated Crown Heights Brownstone Fetches a Quick $1.375M [Curbed]
Photo by Nicholas Strini for PropertyShark
While the City Planning Commission moved to rezone Crown Heights to preserve its character and encourage affordable housing, the neighborhood community board, Board Eight, decided not to support a bid by a group of artists to convert a warehouse at 964 Dean Street as live-work space, DNAinfo reported; the no vote at the board level came despite support at the committee level. The concerns were similar; board members said they want to preserve the area’s industrial nature and encourage affordable housing, according to the story. The building was in foreclosure when the artists bought it with the plan of being able to stay in the area despite escalating property prices. ”It’s been a desire for those of us who are working together to make this happen — not to flood the market with these really high end apartments, not to make a killing on selling this, but so we can establish a place where we can continue to live and work,” said artist Nicola Lopez, one of the owners.
Brooklyn Board Votes Down Residential Conversion for Warehouse [DNAinfo]
Photo by Nicola Lopez for DNAinfo
The City Planning Commission yesterday said it is moving ahead with the process to contextually rezone a portion of western Crown Heights, at the request of Community Board Eight. (Take note, those of you obsessed with new neighborhood names: DCP is officially calling this Crown Heights West.) The proposed rezoning will encompass 55 blocks with the aim of preserving their historic character, promoting affordable housing, and improving retail in the area. The clock on the public review process started yesterday. If implemented, the zoning will establish limits for building height and commercial areas; it will also offer incentives for affordable housing development along Franklin and Bedford avenues. ”The rezoning of western Crown Heights builds on our commitment to protecting the character of Brooklyn’s distinctive residential neighborhoods,” said Commissioner Amanda Burden in a prepared statement. “This comprehensive rezoning proposal, developed in close consultation with the community and elected officials, will reinforce the neighborhood’s historic brownstone and row house blocks. It will also ensure new development is appropriately scaled along the area’s transit rich corridors and provides opportunities for affordable housing in select locations.” Community Board Eight has 60 days to review the proposal. Then it goes on to other City agencies. A map of the proposed rezoning is on the jump below, or you can view it on the City Planning website.
Crown Heights Rezoning Overview [NYC City Planning]
Brooklyn, one building at a time.
Name: Semi-detached row houses
Address: 341-347 New York Avenue
Cross Streets: President and Carroll streets
Neighborhood: Crown Heights South
Year Built: 1912
Architectural Style: Colonial Revival
Architect: Montrose W. Morris
Other Work by Architect: Alhambra, Renaissance, Imperial, Bedfordshire, Roanoke and Arlington apartments, as well as many houses and mansions in Bed Stuy, Crown Heights North, Park Slope and Clinton Hill
The story: Crown Heights, south of Eastern Parkway, was being developed rapidly as the first decades of the 20th century progressed. The removal of the Brooklyn Penitentiary, once on the outskirts of urban Brooklyn, was like the dam being broken in the area. The proximity to Ebbetts Field, the Brooklyn Institute for Arts and Science, Automobile Row, a short trolley ride to Prospect Park, as well as the expanse of available land between Eastern Parkway and Empire Boulevard, led to developers building, and people moving in as fast as the buildings went up.
What’s interesting, from an urban planning standpoint, is how these blocks were developed. The age of the single family brownstone was almost gone. Many of the limestone blocks in this neighborhood were designed to be for two families, with tenants on the top floor, as were many of the brick buildings. And there are a great many apartment buildings. Only the couple of blocks of mansions on President Street were really meant to bring in the single family homeowner. The modern middle class family did not have live-in servants, if they had any at all, and many did not want the expense or bother of an entire house.
But that didn’t mean that architects were stunted in their imagination. By 1912, Montrose Morris, one of the most famous and experienced of Brooklyn’s architects of the turn of the century, was starting to slow down. His best residential buildings had been designed thirty years before, and most of his work at this point in his career was taken up by larger projects, such as hotels and large apartment buildings. Ever a chaser of the rich and famous, he was also designing large estates out on the Gold Coast of Long Island, in Connecticut, and even Georgia. (more…)
It seems to be getting harder and harder to find listings in Crown Heights these days. But here’s a classic Crown Heights beauty with a center-hall staircase, deep parlor floor and something we’ve never seen before: A coffered ceiling in the bathroom! The furnace and roof are only two years old, according to the listing, but the kitchen and baths (except for that ceiling) look like they could use some freshening up. They’re asking $949,000. Think the ground-floor doctor’s office will pose any problem?
1038 Bergen Street [Douglas Elliman] GMAP P*Shark
The tenth Hello Living build is going up quickly in Crown Heights. Construction just started in February. Called “Hello Sterling” and located between Nostrand and Rogers, it’ll have six stories and 46 units.
Building Begins at Hello Sterling Development [Brownstoner]
The Crown Heights Hello Living Development Will Be Big [Brownstoner]
Sterling Place Lot Hits Public Records for $3 Million [Brownstoner]
Hello Living Plans Development Number Ten on Sterling [Brownstoner] GMAP
The group that wants to convert the warehouse at 964 Dean Street to work-live turns out to be a group of artists currently using the space for studios. After they postponed their hearing before Community Board Eight in January, the group made their presentation Thursday, Curbed reported. Reaction to the proposal was mixed: Two board members were concerned a variance would pave the way for more high-end conversion later, a la Williamsburg. Others would like to see this and other projects include affordable housing.
Artists Want Crown Heights Warehouse as Live-Work Space [Curbed]
CB8 to Hear Conversion Request for 964 Dean Street [Brownstoner]
A look at Brooklyn, then and now.
The communities that are now Crown Heights and Stuyvesant Heights saw most of their development take place in the last twenty years of the 19th century, on into the first decades of the 20th. This development was greatly aided by the advances in public transportation, as the roads, trains, trolleys, and later elevated trains opened up the eastern end of Central Brooklyn to development. Because there was so much relatively inexpensive land available, these areas became home to many large charitable facilities, including orphan asylums, old age homes and hospitals. There were hospitals and convalescent homes for all kinds of diseases and ailments, run by private charities and/or religious groups. Never again would there be so many health facilities in these communities. One of these was the Brooklyn Home for Consumptives.
The Home began as the Garfield Memorial Home, located at 219 Raymond Street, in Fort Greene. It opened in 1881 with a mission to care and shelter indigent sufferers of tuberculosis and other chronic lung ailments. In 1882, they changed their name to the Brooklyn Home for Consumptives, and in 1887, moved into this large hospital building at Kingston Avenue, on the corner of St. John’s Place, designed by Rudolph Daus, one of Brooklyn’s better architects, and the architect of the 13th Regiment Armory, on Sumner Avenue in Bedford, among many things.
The Home was a charity, and depended on its board of wealthy patrons for its funding. They provided long term and short term care to patients with tuberculosis, a rather common disease among the poor at that time, as well as other lung ailments. In 1890, the Home’s patrons had to go to court to get exempted for some estate taxes, and in their testimony, they explained that his was an almshouse, supported by donations, and that they also buried patients who died there, at their own expense. (more…)
Pretty! This Crown Heights two-bedroom at 1548 Union Street, between Albany and Troy avenues, is chock full of detail. We love the dark wood accents and the parquet floor. The smallish kitchen looks newly renovated. For this top-floor brownstone apartment, the ask is $1,500 a month.
1548 Union Street [Fraziers Realty] GMAP P*Shark
Who is confused by the border line between Crown Heights and Prospect Heights? Neighborhood old timers know it is Washington Avenue, pictured above, but for real estate agents, newcomers and Yelp, confusion reigns, according to an article in DNAinfo. “The boundaries are simple,” said Atim Oton of Community Board 8. Washington Avenue is the dividing line, she said. As Crown Heights becomes an increasingly popular place to live, the tendency to call its western edge Prospect Heights is lessening, said Nick Juravich, the I Love Franklin Ave blogger. Earlier this year, Yelp moved its border west to Washington. Yelp’s “boundaries were just wrong before,” said a Yelp spokeswoman. The borders are “arbitrary and dynamic,” city officials and residents quoted in the story agreed. Maybe DNAinfo should look into the border between Boerum Hill and Cobble Hill, which it seems no one agrees on.
Swath of Central Brooklyn Ceded Back in Neighborhood Border War [DNAinfo]
Brooklyn, one building at a time.
Name: Steinhardt Conservatory, Brooklyn Botanic Gardens
Address: 1000 Washington Avenue (mailing address)
Cross Streets: Eastern Parkway and Empire Boulevard
Neighborhood: Crown Heights South
Year Built: Original conservatory built 1917; rebuilt and expanded 1988
Architectural Style: Contemporary
Architect: Original: McKim, Mead & White. New Steinhardt Conservatory: Davis Brody & Associates
Other Work by Architect: McKim, Mead & White: Brooklyn Museum, among many other buildings. Davis Brody: Buildings all over the world, including Waterside Plaza, Portico Gallery at the Frick, New York City, and the Benning and Shaw libraries for the D.C. Public Library.
The story: The Brooklyn Botanic Garden is one of the treasures of Brooklyn. The history of the gardens is a great one, and it is perhaps fitting that the story begins with an ash heap upon which great beauty has sprung. The land that comprises the gardens was part of the purchase the city made for Prospect Park, in 1864. The park was originally designed to cross over the other side of Flatbush Avenue, so as to include the Mount Prospect Reservoir, one of the highest points in Brooklyn. After the Civil War, Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvin Vaux took over the project, and redesigned the park so that it ends at Flatbush.
That left the city with a large chunk of land, most of which they sold off for development. But they held on to the portion between Mount Prospect and Grand Army Plaza. Since it wasn’t being used, it literally became a marshy, wet ash heap and dumping ground for many years. There was not real development going on around here yet, and the area was home to small wood framed houses and shanties, which were adjoining the farmlands of Flatbush, just south of here.
By the 1890s, work had begun on the new Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences, the McKim, Mead & White masterpiece we now call the Brooklyn Museum. The entire area was now called Institute Park, and included the site of the 39 acre Garden, which was officially designated in 1897, and was designed by Frederick Olmsted Junior and James Charles Olmsted, the sons of Frederick Law Olmsted. The Garden was placed under the auspices of the Institute in 1910, and opened to the public in 1911. (more…)
The Blue Smoke Cigar Lounge opens this Saturday night at 593 Washington Avenue, between Dean and Pacific streets. This Brooklynian post says that it will be a “bring your own” setup — that’s how cigar bars get around the city smoking regulations. There isn’t much commercial activity here on the northern end of Washington Avenue approaching Atlantic, but there are a few developments under construction so the area should see a lot more life soon. But how do you think a cigar bar will fare in the Prospect Heights and Crown Heights areas? GMAP
Details are scarce, but real estate firm MySpace NYC Monday filed suit against a group identified as Crown Heights Assembly, The New York Daily News has reported. Apparently a group of that name organized a protest in November outside the Crown Heights office of the real estate firm, according to an announcement posted on the I Love Franklin Ave blog. A press release purportedly authored by the group and posted on the blog took issue with the real estate firm for supposedly brokering apartments whose landlords kept them in poor repair and overcharged for rents under the rent stabilization laws.
Real Estate Firm Files Suit Against Crown Heights Activists [NY Daily News]
A bike corral that takes up one parking space on the street on Franklin Avenue in Crown Heights has sparked a heated debate, reported The New York Times. The bike parking, which sits in front of the cafe Little Zelda, was installed there at the request of the owners of the cafe. They went through the standard approval process, including asking permission of the community board. But now longtime residents and other retailers on the street say they were not consulted. The corral, which has become a symbol of newcomers and gentrification, according to the article, will be a topic on the agenda of a town-hall meeting next month planned by the Crow Hill Community Association.
Parking Spot Causes Fight (No Drivers Are Involved) [NY Times]
Photo by Amy Sara Clark for Prospect Heights Patch