Brownstoner takes on Brooklyn history in Nabe Names, a series of briefs on the origins and surprising stories of neighborhood nomenclature.

Flatbush and Church avenues, circa 1918. Photo via Brooklyn Historical Society

Flatbush encompasses a sprawling mass of central Brooklyn, serving as a main artery and residential hub for more than 100,000 Brooklynites as well as being the borough’s literal center.

Photo by Barbara Eldredge

After being closed up for decades, with the very real possibility of condemnation and destruction in its future, the old Loew’s Kings Theatre came back to life spectacularly in 2015, like the legendary phoenix from the ashes. It was easily one of the year’s greatest triumphs.

“Legendary” is apropos, because this massive theater was one of the Loew’s company’s five “Wonder Theaters,” all built with great pomp and splendor at the beginning of the Great Depression.


This one-bedroom Flatbush rental sits within 123 Parkside Avenue, once the Caledonian Hospital, now an amenity-filled deluxe rental building of a kind not commonly found south of Prospect Park.

That means your monthly rent buys a lobby with a doorman, a gym with a yoga studio, a children’s play room, a TV and game lounge, and a landscaped and furnished roof deck with views of the park. Also important: The unit has a dishwasher and a washer/dryer.


Perhaps nothing is as emblematic of both the old and new Brooklyn as the newly restored Kings Theatre in Flatbush. After a $93 million restoration, it opened in February for the first time in 40 years and has gone on to win a preservation award and kindle renewed interest in the area.

And now it will be acquired by Ambassador, a vertically integrated theater chain, which produces shows, sells tickets and runs theaters. The iconic theater was not an acquisition target on its own but is part of another theater group, ACE Theatrical Group, that Ambassador is acquiring, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.


Editor’s note: An updated version of this post can be viewed here.

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Sears is one of the nation’s most recognizable store names. This landmarked building has been a shopping destination for Brooklynites for over 80 years.

Name: Sears, Roebuck & Company Department Store
Address: 2307 Beverley Road
Cross Streets: Corner of Bedford Avenue
Neighborhood: Flatbush
Year Built: 1932, addition added in 1940
Architectural Style: Late Art Deco
Architect: Nimmons, Carr & Wright, with Alton Craft
Other Buildings by Architect: NC & W — in Chicago, various Sears stores and private homes for Sears execs
Landmarked: Yes, individual landmark (2012)

Sears & Roebuck, Mail-Order Giant to the Nation

It’s hard to believe, but this store, which has always been a Sears, has been here for over 80 years. Just like its neighbor, the recently revived Kings Theatre located directly behind it, this Sears has been a Flatbush institution.

Sears started out in the 1890s as a mail-order catalog that sold a huge variety of goods to customers in rural areas who had little to no access to stores and shops. Its first retail store was built in 1925. Based in Chicago, Sears & Roebuck expanded all across the country.

Because of its dealings with Manhattan’s garment center, Sears was a presence in NYC long before its bricks and mortar stores were in place. When the company sought to expand its retail presence in the New York City area, Flatbush was seen as an ideal location.


Not your run-of-the-mill brownstone, today’s pick – at 621 East 26th Street near Brooklyn College — has some interesting features.

For starters, there’s an elevator, not something commonly found in a two-story-plus-cellar home. It’s Tudor style, which you don’t see every day in these parts.

And there’s parking for three cars, including a spot that sits within the house, so you can come and go without setting foot on the street, like Bruce Wayne leaving Wayne Manor in the Batmobile. If you’re stalked by paparazzi, this could be useful.

In the years after the Civil War, until the dawn of the 20th century, Brooklyn, as we know, experienced rapid growth. By the 1880s and ‘90s, real estate had become a huge business, and some large developers came on the scene.

Individual developers gave rise to row house neighborhoods like Sunset Park, Stuyvesant Heights, Prospect Heights and Lefferts Manor. Then they moved to the “suburbs” of South Brooklyn and created the communities of Borough Park, while others created Prospect Park West, Ditmas Park and Beverly Square, East and West.

Soon, these individual developers were joined by development companies. These corporations had a board of directors, issued stock and had shareholders. They were run by real estate men in conjunction with bankers and businessmen.

One of these companies was called Realty Associates.


Most likely setting a record for the neighborhood, this detached frame house at 154 Lenox Road recently sold for $3,550,000. The sale hit public records earlier this month. The two-and-half-story house is large for Brooklyn at a hair over 3,000 square feet. And it has a garage in the back.

But we’re willing to bet it’s not the spacious wraparound front porch or whatever period details remain inside that helped this seller get such a high price.