Brooklyn, one building at a time.
Name: Industrial/commercial building
Address: 600 Bushwick Avenue
Cross Streets: Jefferson and Melrose Streets
Year Built: between 1908 and 1916
Architectural Style: Early 20th century commercial
The story: While much of Bushwick’s main thoroughfare, Bushwick Avenue, is residential, the lower part of that street is given over to mixture of industry and residential buildings. Car dealerships and garages mix on blocks with old and new apartment buildings, and across the street from churches and brewery complexes. It’s the quintessential crazy urban environment. This building stands out for both its current bright color, as well as its size and function. At 132 by 105 feet, it’s a big building, although only two stories high.
At first glance, you know it was built in some capacity for automobiles. The wide bays and general style are typical of garages and dealerships of the early 20th century. But how long ago? A look at old maps, as well as from information gleaned by the graduate students at Columbia University’s Historic Preservation Program, working under Professor Ward Dennis in 2011, gives us a timeframe: somewhere between 1908 and 1916. The building appears on a 1916 Sanborn insurance map, labeled “autos.” It could have been built as a garage and service station; it’s certainly large enough to hold hundreds of cars. Or it could also have been a show room. Turns out, in its ninety-some year history, it’s been both.
600 Bushwick is first mentioned in Brooklyn newspapers in November of 1939, in an ad for Nash Automobiles, which were available at Perfection Auto Service, Inc. at 600 Bushwick Avenue. This was their new showroom, because a previous ad from 1938 had them on Central Avenue in Queens. By 1940, they had added Packards, as well as Mercurys and Lincoln-Zephers, too.
By 1951, Perfection Auto was gone, and the establishment was K & O Auto Parts. They advertised jobs for mechanics and men who could assemble and disassemble engines. In 1954, a good sized ad appeared in the Eagle for the grand opening of Riteway Motors, an authorized DeSoto and Plymouth dealer. They sold both new and used cars, but mostly used. They ran many ads over the years 1954 and 55, and then disappear from the newspapers.
The fortunes of this establishment more than likely rose and fell with the general economic state of Bushwick. Fortunately, the building seems to have remained very intact, and home to some sort of garage all throughout these years. Today, downstairs is K & G Automotive Warehouse. I wonder if the “K” is the same name as in 1954? The upstairs rooms are advertised for those who live in the New Bushwick. It’s a club called the Lightning Bolt, or DMBQ, which hosts indie rock concerts. GMAP
(Photo: Christopher Bride for PropertyShark)