Nature Seen in Brooklyn, Now and Then / An Artist's Sketchbook Journals

September 15, 2009 - November 5, 2009
Central Library, Foyer Gallery Cases
Nature Seen in Brooklyn, Now and Then:

Three Photographers Look at Brooklyn: Brainerd, Austin & Golden

by Richard Golden


We usually think of Brooklyn as entirely urban, but according to the New York City Department of City Planning, a third of it is open space. So, Brooklyn has a greater proportion of open space than the New York City overall average, and also more than any other borough. Its open spaces include Prospect Park, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, other parks, ocean beaches, marshes, reservoirs and cemeteries, most of which are accessible by public transportation.

Through the vintage photographs I have chosen here, you can see Brooklyn's proximity to nature in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. My contemporary photographs further demonstrate how varied and beautiful Brooklyn's open space is today, with Brooklyn's beaches comparable to those of the Hamptons, and Brooklyn's ponds and woods comparable to those in the Catskills and the Adirondacks. Together, these photographs inspire a new appreciation of the vision and achievement of the people who set aside so much of Brooklyn as open space for our benefit today.

I selected the vintage photographs from the library's collection of black and white prints by Brooklyn-based photographers George Bradford Brainerd (1845-1887) and Daniel Berry Austin, whose work dates from 1899 to 1909.

BPL Exhibition, Richard GoldenRichard Golden retired in 2007 after 28 years as an assistant attorney general in the Office of the New York State Attorney General. His work is part of permanent collections in Bibliothéque Nationale in Paris and the Adirondack Museum in New York. He has also had solo exhibitions at the Burrison Gallery in Philadelphia and the Soho Photo Gallery in Manhattan, and was part of a group exhibition at the French Embassy in Manhattan. He earned a Juris Doctor from the University of Chicago and a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania.