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There will be a senior-friendly walking tour of the historic Wallabout neighborhood on Tuesday. The Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership has been hosting free walking tours of the area North of Myrtle Avenue the last Saturday of every month this summer, but this will be the first specifically senior friendly one.

The 3/4 mile, 60-minute walk along Myrtle Avenue will delve into 400 years worth of architectural history in the area.

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Dar gitane  — “home” in Arabic plus “gypsy” in French — is both the name of Alina Preciado’s online home goods business and interior design practice, and also shorthand for her life story.

Born in California, Preciado took off for Europe at the earliest opportunity, studying architecture and design in Spain and woodworking in Denmark, where she learned “the culture of simplicity,” as she puts it. “There, even simple things are well thought-out, beautiful and functional.”

And she traveled the continents, collecting artisans’ contacts as she went. (She eventually got a Masters in Industrial Design from Brooklyn’s own Pratt Institute.)

About 15 years ago, Preciado rented a 2,000-square-foot loft near the Brooklyn Navy Yard, on the seventh floor of a poured concrete building originally used as a textile mill and then by the military during WWII. She put considerable energy into making the raw space habitable.

“Whatever is here, I’ve put in over the years,” she says, including plumbing, wiring, a bathroom with a claw-foot tub, and the unfitted, farmhouse-style kitchen.

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New building applications were filed last week for five three-story townhouses on Park Avenue, next to the BQE in Wallabout. The houses at 306-314 Park Avenue will have three units each and range in size from 1,525 square feet to 1,750 square feet. It’s not the most optimal location for housing, but with three units each (and small ones at that), they’re probably intended as rental investment properties.

The applicant of record is BTE Design Services, and Moses Guttman is the developer. It looks like Guttman bought up the series of vacant properties at Park Avenue and Ryerson Street for a combined $210,000 over the last two years, according to public records. GMAP

Image via Google Maps

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Ted & Honey Cafe at the Navy Yard’s BLDG 92 is closing this Friday, according to an email from Navy Yard reps. When we stopped by, the worker behind the counter told us business hadn’t been good. We don’t know what will replace the cafe, which is a branch of the original Ted & Honey Cafe and market on Clinton Street in Cobble Hill. But T&H will still run their catering operation, Parker Red, at a commercial kitchen in the Navy Yard. Food options are supposed to return to BLDG 92 in the spring. GMAP

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name:
Former B. A. Jurgens Grocery Warehouse
Address: 2-12 Ryerson Street, aka 246-254 Flushing Avenue
Cross Streets: Corner Flushing Avenue
Neighborhood: Wallabout
Year Built: 1890
Architectural Style: Romanesque Revival
Architect: Theobald Engelhardt
Other Buildings by Architect: Ulmer Brewery and Office, and many other factories and warehouses in Bushwick, Williamsburg and other parts of Brooklyn. Also hundreds of row houses, as well as mansions, tenement buildings, hospitals and churches in Bushwick, Eastern Bed Stuy and parts of Williamsburg
Landmarked: No, but part of a proposed Wallabout Industrial Historic District. Also part of Wallabout Industrial District on the National Register of Historic Places

The story:
William B.A. Jurgens, (more correctly spelled Jϋrgens) was yet another of those enterprising German immigrants who made his fortune in America. He established his grocery business in Brooklyn in 1867, and never looked back. Thirty-five years later, he was the largest wholesale grocery business in Brooklyn. When the company was looking to expand at the turn of the 20th century, they went to the foremost architect in Brooklyn’s German-American community; Theobald Engelhardt, and hired him to design a large new warehouse.

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Former Van Glahn stables
Address: 13-15 Waverly Avenue
Cross Streets: Flushing and Park avenues
Neighborhood: Wallabout
Year Built: 1907
Architectural Style: Renaissance Revival
Architect: Walter B. Wills
Other Buildings by Architect: Row houses, theaters and industrial buildings throughout Brooklyn
Landmarked: No, but part of the Rockwood Chocolate Factory Historical District, designated in 1984 by the National Register of Historic Places. It is part of a proposed Wallabout Industrial HD and part of a larger National Register Wallabout Industrial District

The story: The Van Glahn brothers, John and Henry, established one of the largest wholesale grocery businesses in Brooklyn in the late 19th century. They were both born in Germany, and came over to Brooklyn in that wave of German immigration that started in the 1850s. Like many of their countrymen, they became involved in some aspect of the food business. Many of Brooklyn’s retail grocers were of German extraction, and who better to supply them than fellow German wholesalers?

The wholesale grocery business needed a lot of space and employees. Wholesale product such as coffee, sugar, flour and other commodities were shipped into the large warehouse and then subdivided into smaller packaging for sale to retail grocers and restaurants. Many wholesale grocers also had specialty products made exclusively for them. These too, needed to be stored, sometimes re-packaged, and shipped out.

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Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Former Mergenthaler Linotype Company, Defense Plant Corporation Building
Address: 35 Ryerson Street, at Park Avenue, block wide on Park, between Grand and Ryerson
Neighborhood: Wallabout, between Clinton Hill and Navy Yard
Year Built: 1942
Architectural Style: Factory modern
Architects: Lockwood Greene Engineers, Inc.
Other buildings by architects: Daily News Factory on Atlantic Avenue (Newswalk Building), several buildings in the Navy Yard, parts of Rockefeller Center
Landmarked: No, but Wallabout has been submitted to LPC for several separate districts designation, and also in the process of being submitted to the National Register

The story: This building is the last built in this amazing industrial complex near the Navy Yard. Prior to computerized printing, linotype machines were used to set type on most newspapers and magazines, as well as many books, and Mergenthaler was the largest manufacturer of these machines, all made right here in Brooklyn. The Mergenthaler complex remains one of the largest and most intact reinforced concrete industrial sites in New York City. The complete story of the company and the rest of the site will be the topic of another post. THIS building was the last one built, constructed by the US Government, and leased to Mergenthaler as a factory for machines built for the war effort of World War II.

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A pre-Civil War house with a remarkably well preserved exterior (a former Building of the Day) at 133 Carlton Avenue in Wallabout is being marketed as a development site for $5,200,000, along with two neighboring lots that include another small wood frame house and a convenience store. The house at 133 Carlton Avenue, once used as a church, is a wood frame Greek Revival house built in the 1840s.

A look at Brooklyn, then and now.

Throughout Brooklyn’s history, a lot of things have come and gone, but one of the greatest losses has to be the Wallabout Market in the Brooklyn Navy Yard — at the site of today’s Steiner Studios. At its peak, in the early 20th century, it was the second largest wholesale food market in the world.

The Market was a bustling place where produce, meat, dairy, fish and foodstuffs were sold and traded to the thousands of retail grocery stores, food shops, restaurants, institutions and other wholesalers who came there every day to haggle, buy, pack up and deliver. Similar to Hunt’s Point, the old Fulton Fish Market and the Brooklyn Terminal Market that replaced it, Wallabout Market was a world unto itself — a rough and tumble world that also included graft, corruption and crime.

Late 19th c. postcard showing relationship to Navy Yard. From the Museum of the City of New York

But the market had one big advantage over New York’s other markets: it was beautiful.

Wallabout got its name from the French-speaking Walloons of Belgium who were the first settlers on the bay. They arrived in 1624, along with the Dutch, who called their bay Waal-bogt. The bay was the perfect location for the first ferry across the East River to New Amsterdam, which cast off in 1637, and continued for centuries. The area remained rural through the Revolutionary War, with most of it belonging to the Ryerson family.

The waterfront was an excellent port, which the British took advantage of when they took over Manhattan and Brooklyn during the Revolutionary War. Wallabout became infamous as the docking area for the British prison ships holding American soldiers and sailors throughout the war. Over 10,000 prisoners died on those ships, only to be dumped overboard, or buried in shallow graves on the shore. Today, the Prison Ship Martyr’s Monument in Fort Greene Park holds their remains and honors their memories. After the war, much of the Wallabout area was purchased by John Jackson. He and his relatives decided to open a shipyard.

Late–19th century photograph: New York Public Library

The new United States government was interested in a permanent shipyard in New York, and bought 40 acres of John Jackson’s property. They kept buying more and more acreage, so that by the 1850s, the Navy Yard had been pretty well established, with the first dry dock, the Commandant’s House, the Navy Hospital and other buildings on site. The Yard became one of the area’s largest employers, and houses, tenements and related businesses grew, filling up the streets of the Wallabout neighborhood.