What did your Brooklyn row house look like originally? What year was it built? Who was the architect? Was it a two-family, one-family or something else? These are all questions original blueprints can answer. You may want to know because you are renovating, you have a passion for old houses, you are a new owner or you’re just curious.

Finding your original blueprints requires some legwork, ingenuity and persistence, as Brownstoner reader chemosphere recently discovered when researching his house in Flatbush.

He posted about the process, what he found and questions about the 100-year-old shorthand he was trying to decipher in a few separate posts in the forum. He has kindly allowed us to use those posts and the pictures of the blueprints he found to discuss in more detail how to find and read your original blueprints.


Read Part 1 and Part 2 of this story.

The past two Walkabouts have outlined some of the ways you can find information on Brooklyn’s historic buildings. There are sources on-line, as outlined in Part 1, and you can go to the Municipal Building at 210 Joralemon and try to trace your building’s history from the records at the Department of Buildings and the Real Property Records Room, as covered in Part 2. If you are still willing to do more of a background search, there are more places and resources you can tap into. We are quite fortunate that New York City has several excellent societies which are the repositories of our history, and even more fortunate that Brooklyn, because it was an independent city, had kept meticulous records of its own. Listed are many of these excellent resources: