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You might have heard of our recent initiative Books UnBanned, which allows individuals ages 13-21 nationwide to apply for a free BPL eCard, providing access to our full eBook collection as well as our learning databases, and which makes a selection of frequently challenged and banned eBook & audiobook titles always available for BPL cardholders. But obviously, banning books and restricting access to information is unfortunately not a new phenomenon. Did you know that in 1934, the Brooklyn Jewish Center founded the American Library of Nazi-Banned Books? Though it's...


Tuesday, June 14th is World Blood Donor Day, so this Photo of the Week takes us to a scene at Kings County Hospital on October 22, 1948. According to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle caption, eight firefighters donated four quarts of blood "To Save Three Lives." The firefighters knew the three girls for whom they were donating blood: "Dolores Johnson, 4, and her sister, Eleanor, 2, in the institution with critical...

Black and white image depicting a nurse in the foreground with a stethoscope on the arm of a man. In the background, two men stand with FDNY seals on their hats. On the righthand side, a standing doctor holds a stethoscope to the heart of a man

This From the Vault post was originally written by Tess Colwell and published on September 20, 2017 by the Brooklyn Historical Society. To see the latest Photo of the Week entries, visit the Brooklynology blog home, or subscribe to the Center for Brooklyn History newsletter. No matter the decade or time period, it sure is challenging to keep kindergarteners...


I recently reprocessed our small Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation publication and photograph collection (ARC.124), which includes this photograph. At first I was thrown off by a notation on the back reading "Sheffield," and thought this must show Sheffield Avenue in New Lots. But I quickly realized...


The Park Slope Civic Council (PSCC) was founded in 1896 as the South Brooklyn Board of Trade, a kind of chamber of commerce formed to lobby the city and state for improvements to infrastructure and services across the geographic area south of Downtown Brooklyn. In the late 1950s, the South Brooklyn Board of Trade changed its name to the Park Slope Civic Council in order to improve engagement in the neighborhood. As a result of this change, PSCC leaders planned to center civic projects and residents' needs, as opposed to focusing mostly on business owners. ...


When I first saw today’s POTW, I thought - Best jewelry ever, but what is the story here?  The photo’s caption covers the bare essentials, but left me opportunities to dig for more.  Miss Charlotte Villanyi [standing in front of several book shelves] tries out...

Young woman wearing large necklace made of skeleton keys

Today's Photo of the Week takes us to one of the city's first housing developments for veterans and their families. These semi-cylindrical structures made of corrugated steel sheets, known as Quonset huts, were erected along the Belt Parkway in the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Canarsie and Gravesend. The steel huts, leased from the Federal government and shipped from a naval base in Rhode Island, provided temporary...


The world-famous Wonder Wheel is a Ferris wheel (also known as a pleasure wheel) designed by Romanian immigrant Charles Herman and operated by his business partner Herman Garms. Herman walked away after the Wheel’s completion, reportedly earning no money for his invention. Garms ran the Wheel for sixty years, spending his summers sleeping in a home beneath the ride. In 1983, the Wheel was sold to Denos...


On Monday, June 18, 1962, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle announced the opening of a "New Borough Library": the Brooklyn Heights Branch and Business Library. The newspaper sent photographer Ben Schiff to take photos of the new library and its staff, including Janet Chien, seen in the above Photo of the Week. In the photos that Schiff took for the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Chien can be seen seated with library coworkers...


Throughout the Center for Brooklyn History’s archival collections there exists evidence of grassroots community organizations mobilizing to improve the quality of life for Brooklyn residents. Two recently processed collections provide insight into the people, programs, and services of community-driven neighborhood associations in Prospect Lefferts Gardens and Greater Gowanus, meanwhile illuminating common and reoccurring issues faced by residents throughout the greater metropolitan area. This month we take a closer look at the history and impact of the Prospect Lefferts Gardens...

A group of 20 people sitting indoors on wooden chairs in an open circle.

For this Photo of the Week, we are highlighting the work of Jamel Shabazz, a Brooklyn photographer who picked up his first camera at the age of fifteen. Shabazz says his goal is to contribute to the preservation of world history and culture. While having incredible range, Shabazz is often most known for documenting the people of Red Hook, Brownsville, Flatbush, Fort Green, Harlem, the Lower East Side and Bronx's Grand Concourse....


This week’s Photo of the Week looks back just 15 years to April 2007. A person in jeans and a raincoat rides their bicycle through at least eight inches of water with their kid in tow. The caption on the back of the photograph reads “4.15.07 - Flooding. End of 1st street and Canal.”  In April 2007, a devastating Nor'easter barreled up the East Coast of the United States,...

A person in jeans and a raincoat rides a bicycle on an urban street through 8 inches of water, a kid with a helmet sits on a rear seat.

For this Photo of the Week we have a captivating portrait of the Adelphi College senior basketball team from their 1910 yearbook. These six women, with their puffy, ruffled dresses, elaborate updos, and, in one case, an enormous hair bow, hardly fit our modern conception of athletic. Nonetheless, they project a confidence, even a ruthlessness, that makes it clear they were formidable on the court. Look...


This gangly construction was the brainchild of Rev. Dr. James Donohoe of St. Thomas Aquinas Church at 9th Street and 4th Avenue who, desiring to fund the construction of a new school to serve his parish, struck on the idea of offering outdoor picture shows on the planned school site. The setup was carefully considered, with a solid projection building, metal screen, electric...

Enclosed outdoor movie park with projection booth on stilts.

  The Seaside Home for Children, run by the Brooklyn Children's Aid Society, was a seasonal charitable facility for sick and lower-income children and their mothers. Located in Coney Island amongst the luxury shoreline resorts, the Home offered families a few days by the sea at no cost. On-site medical care from a dedicated team of doctors and nurses was also available....


The Eberhard Faber Pencil Company traces back to 18th century Bavaria, where carpenter Casper (Kasper) Faber began crafting and selling lead pencils in the small town of Stein. Casper’s son Anton Wilhelm (A.W.), took over the business in 1784, renaming it the A.W. Faber Company.   In 1790, French scientist Nicholas Jacques Conte developed a method for heating a mixture of graphite and clay to form a superior writing tool that could be...


Today’s Photo of the Week looks at a classroom in the early years of the Pratt Institute. The school was founded by businessman and philanthropist Charles Pratt, who envisioned a school for working-class people to get hands-on experience in industrial trades, arts, and engineering. The school opened in 1887, just a few blocks from Pratt’s home at 232 Clinton Avenue. Starting with only twelve...


In the mid-1980s, there was a rejuvenated plan to redevelop several blocks in Cooper Square in Lower Manhattan. Called the New Cooper Square Plan, it was a continuation of an earlier plan, called the Cooper Square Alternate Plan, that was formulated in reaction to a Robert Moses/New York City urban renewal plan that had threatened to...


This week's Photo of the Week highlights the work of Lucille Fornasieri Gold, a Brooklyn photographer. She started photographing with a Leica camera in 1968, while her children were in school. She would develop and print in the kitchen darkroom of her home in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn. When she moved, she lost her darkroom and while her negatives were processed, they remained unprinted for...


Founded in Chicago in 1942, the Congress of Racial Equality - better known as CORE - is an interracial organization focused on nonviolent, direct action to achieve equal rights for Black Americans in all areas of US society. While southern chapters of the organization often made national headlines, there were chapters outside the South, including in Brooklyn, New York. The Brooklyn chapter of CORE...

Cover of Changing Tides: 1965 Journal of Brooklyn CORE

This week's Photo of the Week takes us to a scene on the Canarsie Creek in 1924 where 1-year-old, William Johnson, floats in a little toy boat next to a skiff holding an unidentified man and boy. It's possible this creek is a section of the Fresh Creek Nature Preserve, a body of water between Canarsie and Starrett City in the Jamaica Bay Watershed. In October 2021, the Governor's Office of...

Black and white photograph depicting a toddler dressed in white in a small toy boat next to a skiff with a man and boy. The boat is next to a wooden dock and there is a person standing on the dock; only their legs are visible.

We've lately had some surprisingly warm days in Brooklyn, and though they've been mixed with days appropriately cold for February, I nonetheless found my thoughts turning toward Spring. So for today's Photo of the Week, we have this Brooklyn Eagle photograph of a spring-themed stained glass window. The window was commissioned by Howard E. Raymond in memory of his...


This From the Vault post was originally written by Tess Colwell and published on July 26, 2017 by the Brooklyn Historical Society. To see the latest Photo of the Week entries, visit the Brooklynology blog home, or subscribe to the Center for Brooklyn History newsletter. Visitors to the Center for Brooklyn History on Pierrepont Street sometimes...

Building with ornate details and arched windows.

The Brooklyn Bridge is arguably one of the most--if not the most--iconic symbols of Brooklyn. It has been depicted in art, like Hungarian-born American artist Miklos Suba’s version above, and replicated the world over. So, it's hard to imagine a time when the bridge was ever considered ugly. In fact, in the early 1900s, the approach to the bridge from the Brooklyn side was referred to by some as "the ugliest spot in the...


They probably won’t need a bigger boat to haul in this little shark, caught off the coast of Sheepshead Bay. Although sharks can be found in Brooklyn’s waterways, attacks are extremely uncommon. In fact, the last shark attack in Sheepshead Bay was in 1916, when swimmers Gertrude Hoffman and Thomas Richards escaped with non-fatal injuries. Brooklynites have little to fear from these finned...


His father called him Bully. His mother called him Wally. Neighbors called him Mouse. Relatives called him Eubie. And Eubie was the one that stuck for James Herbert Blake.  Happy Black History Month, Brooklyn fans! Today we're going to spend time with the American pianist, lyricist, and composer of ragtime, jazz, and popular music, Eubie Blake. Not orginally from Brooklyn, but a resident, Eubie Blake was born February 7, 1887...


"He’s sort of a crazy guy," said Walter Goldwater about Irving Binkin, the proprietor of Civic Center Book Shop, in New York City Bookshops in the 1930s and 1940s: The Recollections of Walter Goldwater. "And has a great big bookshop with a lot of stuff in it." The "great big bookshop with a lot of stuff in it," Civic Center Book Shop was...


Today, former Brooklyn Collection materials, staff, and all the rest officially moved to our new home at the Brooklyn Historical Society building on Pierrepont Street in Brooklyn Heights. As our own exhibits at Central Library also become a thing of the past, let's appreciate this view of the Flatbush Avenue side of Central Library, where the Atoms for Peace exhibit trailer was parked in the 1950s. While we may not know exactly what was on...

Exterior view of large van, parked on Flatbush Avenue near Brooklyn Public Library's Central Library, with large sign,

Hell's Gate Explosion

Ally
January 17, 2022

On October 10, 1885 the ground in Princeton, New Jersey shook. There was no great earthquake. It was, instead, the largest planned detonation prior to the atomic bomb. In order to clear obstacles from Hell Gate - a narrow tidal strait in the East River -- and free up ship traffic the US Army Corp of Engineers started blowing up several obstructions in the waters. This...


Ever wonder how the pasta gets made? This photograph from circa 1932 shows an "Automatic Short Paste Drying Unit," which promised pasta-making "From Press to Package without Handling." The machine itself was manufactured by the Consolidated Macaroni Machine Corporation at 156-166 Sixth Street in Gowanus. Ignazio De Francisci, an engineer from Sicily, founded Consolidated Macaroni...

Image showing warehouse room with machine in the middle. Caption in lower righthand corner of image reads:

If your New Year's resolutions include getting more exercise, perhaps these gals in a Brighton Beach dance class can provide a little inspiration. Photographer George Cohen captured the scene in 1987 at the Shorefront YM-YWHA (Young Men's and Young Women's Hebrew Association), a Jewish Community Center on Coney Island Avenue in Brighton Beach.  The first YMHA...


It's January in Brooklyn, but one can always take a journey into summer through the collections at the Center for Brooklyn History (CBH). CBH holds many archival collections and digitized photographs on our digital collections portal and online image gallery that document Coney Island and its fantastic amusement parks, such as Luna Park, Dreamland and Steeplechase Park.  

Riders on Steeplechase Park's Flying Turns

Brooklyn Public Library kicked off celebrations of its 125th anniversary on November 30th and will continue them into the new year. In honor of that, and in the spirit of celebration and possibility brought by the New Year this week, today's Photo of the Week is of fireworks at the Central Library for BPL's centennial in 1997. On November 30, 1896...


Cycling recently through Bed-Stuy I was startled to see two huge onion domes, one with a sag to its finial, rising above neighboring rooflines and I stopped to take some pictures of a remarkable building. A banner on the front indicated it is the Friendship...

Architectural rendering of Kismet [Shriners] Temple, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.

We’re thrilled that Gil Hodges has finally been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. Hodges was one of the famed “Boys of Summer,” but he started life as a son of the Midwest. Born in Princeton, Indiana in 1924 he excelled at high school baseball, basketball, track, and football. After attending...


At the Center for Brooklyn History, a variety of collections document Brooklyn's vaudeville and theater scenes—from scrapbooks where individuals preserved programs and tickets, to periodicals like The Opera Glass, the Brooklyn Daily Programme and The Brooklyn Daily Stage. These serve as a testament to the popularity of these performances among a wide and diverse segment of Brooklynites.


As part of Brooklyn Resists, we have invited local photographers, both amateur and professional, to contribute their work to the community-driven digital archive hosted by Urban Archive. Interested in submitting your own photographs, ephemera, audio recordings, or artwork? Click here to find out more about our community collecting project. At the end of May 2020, the case of George Floyd unleashed an unprecedented series of protests all over the United States and beyond...

Protestors kneel down on Flatbush Avenue.

  This photograph, aside from being an excellent candidate for the liminal spaces Twitter account, depicts the view that park-goers would have seen when exiting the Endale Arch and entering the Long Meadow. It is located under Park Drive, which at construction, would...


    The Thanksgiving holiday often revolves around food, family, and friends, but awaiting those holiday mainstays brings its own traditions. For some, one of these might be tuning into the National Dog Show. With a nod to that event, this week’s Photo of the Week...


Brooklyn poet Marianne Moore was born on this day in 1887. For a birthday tribute, today's Photo of the Week is this striking portrait of her from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle photo morgue. This image appeared in the Eagle on June 3, 1951 alongside an announcement of Moore winning an honorary degree at the University of Rochester. That same year, Moore's Collected Poems...


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