We can blame the late Victorian era for the commercialization of Christmas. The late 1800s gave us an affluent society with the disposable income to buy the vast amount of machine-made goods coming out of American factories.

The Brooklyn Eagle gloried in this consumer excess, writing glowing reviews of the merchandise in stores all over the city and running thousands of ads. No time of the year was more important than Christmas.

We’ve picked five Brooklyn stores to highlight for the holiday shopping season — three old-timers from the Victorian age, and two more contemporary. None of them exist anymore.

They were founded by the same kind of smart, successful and lucky entrepreneurs that abound today, all striving to bring Brooklynites the next greatest thing, especially for the holidays.


Thanksgiving in America has always been a rather strange combination of festival, food and frolic. We watch colorful parades in the morning, stuff ourselves in the afternoon and then retire to our couches to watch two teams of modern gladiators beat each other silly for the prize of a silver trophy.

Traditions have evolved since Thanksgiving became a national holiday in the 1860s, but the sentiment has remained the same. Here’s how late-19th-century Brooklyn celebrated, with massive feasts and costumed Fantastics.

The written word has always been important to Brooklyn’s history. Walt Whitman, Truman Capote, Pete Hamill, Nelson George, Richard Wright, Isaac Asimov, Jonathan Safran Foer, Marianne Moore and countless other important American writers were either born and raised here, or moved here to write.

Brooklyn has writer’s ink tattooed in its bones, and the borough’s history can be told through its authors’ work as well as the spaces they’ve often occupied — Brooklyn’s libraries.


Thanks to landmarking, a new building going up on a sliver of an empty lot between brownstones on Macon Street in Stuyvesant Heights will be a convincing replica of a 19th century Italianate brownstone. The four-story building at 361 Macon Street will have a traditional cornice, stoop, and moldings over the door and windows — the works.

Its stucco facade will be the chocolate color Edith Wharton so famously despised, and incised lines will mimic the square pieces of actual stone brownstone facades were once made of.


Not everyone could get away with an apartment that feels like a nightclub, but Vikas and Vishal Sapra, brothers as well as roommates, come by the black walls, mirrored bar and bubble chandelier honestly. Vikas is a renowned DJ and founder of the soon-to-launch music app Rippi; Vishal works for a creative and technology agency.

After meeting designer Stefania Skrabak of Art Home Garden while they were all working on an event for the men’s online magazine UrbanDaddy, the Sapra brothers hired her to take their chaotically furnished two-bedroom Bushwick rental to a new level of organization and stylishness.


Evan Schwartz and his wife, Rebekah, were “tired of spending all their money on rent,” so they left Park Slope and migrated south to Bay Ridge.

“At first I pooh-poohed the idea, but 24 hours later it was a done deal,” said Schwartz, an interior designer for private clients and Homepolish, a company that provides affordable by-the-hour design services. “The streets are wide, it’s quiet, there’s good food. Yes, the commute to Manhattan is annoying, but the rent is reasonable and you get more space.”