Faced with helping party guests navigate from Manhattan to a Brooklyn Heights abode, what was a 1930s hostess to do?
Finding dictating directions to puzzled guests over the telephone bothersome, the Garden Place Association stepped in to solve the dilemma and boost the profile of Brooklyn Heights. The group, a block association focused on neighborhood improvement, premiered a postcard-sized map of the neighborhood in 1933 specifically designed to make it easier for out-of-towners to reach the intended party.
The brainchild of block association head B. Meredith Langstaff and designed by Elmer Carson, the map included info on subway stops, major landmarks and the traffic flow of streets. All a hostess needed to do was place an “X” on the spot of their home and pop the card in the mail to invitees.
The Brooklyn Daily Eagle published the map and highlighted its practicality — it could even bring even guests from New Jersey safely to the neighborhood. Numerous prominent Brooklyn Heights hostesses quickly made use of the postcard, the paper reported.
At least two versions of the map seem to have been created. One, which was printed in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, indicated historic sites of interest such as where Fort Sterling once stood and where Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass was first printed.
Another, which made an appearance in the Langstaff’s 1937 booklet, “Brooklyn Heights: Yesterday Today Tomorrow,” was printed without the historic information.
While the map was handy for guiding guests then, today it provides a window into the neighborhood as it was before construction began on the Brooklyn Heights Promenade in the 1940s. Scan the map and there is the demolished Penny Bridge and streets that have now been bisected by the BQE.
Just how a map with the Brooklyn Heights Promenade and the BQE will look in 10 years is yet to be determined.
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