Beginning in the 1890s and for nearly 40 years after, the Brooklyn Christmas Tree Society brought holiday cheer to Brooklyn’s underprivileged children, treating them to a huge meal, gifts and musical performances.
The annual tradition was founded by a woman named Lena Wilson Sitting, whose legacy of generosity and holiday spirit deserves remembering around this time of year.
For many people in Bedford Stuyvesant, home to Brooklyn’s largest African American community, Fulton Street’s Slave Theater is not just a building — it’s a metaphor.
The name has always been uncomfortable. Who wants to be reminded of slavery? Who wants to be reminded of slavery when going to the movies, of all times?
That’s just why Judge John L. Phillips chose the name.
The huge gray cement factory buildings that span Sunset Park’s shoreline between 30th and 37th streets are the remaining structures of Brooklyn’s largest industrial park, Bush Terminal.
The complex was the brainchild of Irving T. Bush, the son of an oilman-turned-yachtsman. Today, these buildings are known as Industry City, an evolving complex made up of workspaces for Brooklyn’s creative economy, as well as future dining, entertainment and shopping destinations.
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.
Read Part 2 of this story here.
In the last few years, Sunset Park’s Industry City, a 16-building complex along 3rd Avenue, has become a hub for artist studios and manufacturing bases for local food purveyors and makers, as well as outposts of large companies like Time Inc. The complex has seen increasingly more foot traffic, too, with popular dance parties in the summer and now the Brooklyn Flea and Smorgasburg through the winter.
Its namesake — industry — is still very much at its core. There are big things in store for Industry City, which today is run by Jamestown Properties, Belvedere Capital and Angelo Gordon, along with Cammeby’s International and FBE Limited, starting with a staggering $1 billion redevelopment plan that was announced earlier this year.
Instead of going toward high-rise luxury condos, this influx of big money is being used to renovate, repurpose and revitalize the massive complex, eventually bringing 20,000 jobs to the vast industrial hub that was once called Bush Terminal.
But how did we get here? It involves a man named Rufus Bush, floating railroad cars and bananas.
On Memorial Day 1897, a group of young adults from Stuyvesant Heights’ Green Avenue Baptist Church was involved in a horrible collision between an open horse-drawn coach and a Long Island Railroad train. Last week we shared Part 1 of the story. We now pick up as the investigations and funerals continue.
This month marks Brownstoner’s Steel Anniversary. We’re taking some time to look back at our past, even as we design a new future.
Imagine living in the far future, able to look back in time and watch when Roman engineers came up with the arch, or medieval church builders developed the flying buttress. Impressive stuff there — some of the foundations of modern Western architecture.
John and Charles Arbuckle came to Brooklyn from Pittsburgh and built the largest coffee company in the United States. By the early years of the 20th century, their operation in Dumbo received, stored, roasted and packaged more coffee than any other company in America.
Their signature brand, Ariosa, was packaged in small, one-pound, branded packages of freshly ground coffee. It was sold everywhere in the country.
Ariosa was nicknamed the “cowboy’s coffee,” as it was the brand of choice for cowhands on the range. The iconic cowboy campfires with the coffeepot on the fire, later copied into movie and television legend? They were drinking Arbuckle Ariosa.
Arbuckle’s success lay in the roasting process. John Arbuckle invented most of the company’s innovative methods and machines, then wisely patented them, further adding to the company’s revenues.
His first invention was a process using eggs and sugar in a glaze that coated the raw beans, sealing in the flavor. His patented roasting machines took care of the rest.