Fascinating Brooklyn stories from our local history archivists.

Coney Island Season Is Here!

Posted in Brooklynology by Guest Blog: Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce on Mar 8, 2018

This guest post is in conjunction with the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce and their "Last Stop in Brooklyn" Contest. You can read the first post in the series here and enter to win a copy of "Last Stop in Brooklyn" here courtesy of Crown Publishing!   Last Stop in Brooklyn by Lawrence H. Levy   As you read Last Stop in Brooklyn by Lawrence H. Levy, you’ll get a beautiful vision of what Coney Island once looked like, yet a gloomy view into the late-1800s politics and social tensions. While you gear up for this summer’s adventures and the iconic Boardwalk,...

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The Eagle Above Our Doorway

Posted in Brooklynology by Diana Bowers-Smith on Feb 23, 2018

If you've been to BPL's Central Library, you may have noticed that there is a large eagle sculpture presiding over the inside of the front entrance, and if you've taken one of our building tours, you know that the sculpture came from the headquarters of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle newspaper. The records of the Eagle have been at BPL since 1957 and are still a large part of the Brooklyn Collection's holdings, so the eagle looms large here in more ways than one. There's been some debate about the eagle sculpture amongst our staff before. The questions center around a comparison of...

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Valentine's Day/Ash Wednesday: Musings & Photos

Posted in Brooklynology by Guest post by Larry Racioppo on Feb 13, 2018

Photographer Larry Racioppo is back with another guest post for Brooklynology, this one musing on this year's rare congruence of Valentine's Day and Ash Wednesday. Today is the first time since 1945 that Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day fall on the same day. This rare occurrence has made me think about the significance of each day and what they symbolize: Ash Wednesday – death, Valentine’s Day – romantic love. What I learned about Ash Wednesday in Catholic grammar school is summed up here: “…we use ashes made form the burned palm branches distributed on the Palm Sunday of the...

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Teaching with Primary Sources: Maps and Atlases

Posted in Brooklynology by Jen Hoyer on Feb 12, 2018

Brooklyn Connections is the education outreach program in the Brooklyn Collection. It focuses on cultivating 21st Century learning skills in students and supporting teachers on the incorporation of archives materials into curricula. This blog post is part of a series from the Brooklyn Connections team, sharing skills and ideas for using archives primary source material in the classroom. With Google Maps available at the touch of a finger, students are more familiar than ever with using maps to get around. Exploring the ways we can use maps as informational texts leads to great classroom...

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Welcome to Black History Month at the Brooklyn Collection! Last year our blog highlighted the good work of Hattie "The Tree Lady" Carthan. This year we want to share the story of another black woman pioneer – Susan Smith McKinney Steward who was Brooklyn's first black woman physician (who also happened to be the third black physician in the whole country.) Dr. Kinney Steward had a very successful practice with locations in Brooklyn and Manhattan but for her, medicine was more than just treatment. It was a means by which she could further elevate and impact the community she loved...

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Badges of Honor

Posted in Brooklynology by June on Jan 20, 2018

Most of the exhibitions we create here in the Brookyn Collection are comprised solely of material from our numerous holdings - historical photographs, letters, prints, maps,etc.  We took a slightly different approach with our curent exhibit, "Badges of Honor: Brooklyn's Protectors".  The result is an exciting collaboration, pairing the Brooklyn Collection's resources, with the unique Brooklyn badge collection on loan from Art Sinai. Brooklyn born Art Sinai started acquiring badges in 1978 when he worked for the Treasury Department.  His first badge was a gift from a...

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Brooklyn Connections is the education outreach program in the Brooklyn Collection. It focuses on cultivating 21st Century learning skills in students and supporting teachers on the incorporation of archives materials into curricula. This blog post is part of a series from the Brooklyn Connections team, sharing skills and ideas for using archives primary source material in the classroom. Archives are rich in primary sources that can be used for teaching valuable skills to our students. They key starting point to using primary sources in the classroom is teaching foundational skills of how...

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Brooklyn is home to some of the most iconic winter tableaus in the world. Whether it's the ski worthy snow-capped hills of Fort Greene Park, the odd beauty of fire escapes adorned in holiday lights, or the faces of the brave souls who wait bundled and stoic for the B26 bus; Brooklyn winter is a special kind of wonderful! To celebrate the holiday season we’re decking the blog with some of our favorite seasonal photos from the Brooklyn Collection. We dug deep to find images that celebrate the character and vivacity of Brooklyn landmarks and people. There are hilarious snapshots from the Our...

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NYC Trash: Past, Present and Future

Posted in Brooklynology by Guest Blogger-Larry Racioppo on Nov 9, 2017

In this post, guest blogger, photographer Larry Racioppo shares with us a glimpse of his work photographing "Trash" in Brooklyn and NYC. His photos will also be on exhibit at the City Reliquary in their show "NYC Trash: Past, Present and Future" and will "present the stories behind New York City’s solid waste, from “one man’s garbage is another man’s gold” to the inventive ways New Yorkers are reusing and recycling." To view more of Larry's portfolio and his photos of trash in Brooklyn, visit us at the Brooklyn Collection! Natiba Guy-Clement,...

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In a few days, Halloween will roll through the city, with the trick-or-treating gaggle of supermen, frankensteins, skeletons and witches roaming the streets. There will also be a fair amount of ghosts and ghouls among them. The gossamer-looking ghosts will be swaying by the front porches and windows even past October 31st, until the obligatory turkeys and pilgrims will replace them. Brooklyn loves a good ghost story and is protective of several such legends. All Brooklyn ghost hunters know of the haunted apartment on the corner of State and Clinton once occupied by none other than H.P...

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Discovering Gravesend

Posted in Brooklynology by Ivy Zeng on Sep 7, 2017

“Lady Moody Established Gravesend Town.” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 11 June 1911, pp.17. “4 Here Made Trustees Of Gravesend Cemetery.” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 20 February 1943, pp.2. Old burying ground. 1946. Brooklyn Public Library, Brooklyn Collection.   “50- Family Apartment House to Displace Old Van Sicklen Home, an Historic Landmark.” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 13 September 1925, pp.15. Austin, Daniel Berry. Van Sicklen House. 190?. Brooklyn Public Library, Brooklyn Collection. Gravesend fire under the ‘L’. 1953. Brooklyn Public Library,...

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West Indian Immigration and Carnival: Coming to Brooklyn

Posted in Brooklynology by Emilia Boothe on Aug 31, 2017

In the summer of 2017, Brooklyn Connections was delighted to have two of our student alumni join us as interns. Over the course of seven weeks, these interns learned about archival research and chose a topic of their interest to dig into in the Brooklyn Collection. They assembled some of their findings, and we're excited to share them with you on the Brooklynology blog! This post is by Emilia Boothe. Caribbean immigrants have been coming to New York in small but significant numbers ever since the 1960s. The 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act (also known as the Hart-Celler Act) had a...

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Dog Days of Summer

Posted in Brooklynology by Deenah on Aug 11, 2017

Herzberg, Irving I. Elderly Woman Sitting on Boardwalk with Dog. 1974. The Brooklyn Collection, Brooklyn Public Library.   Thought you were the first and only Brooklynite to sweat so much you nearly transform into a salty pool on the asphalt below? Well, the dog days of summer have plagued our crowded city streets for decades and resouceful Brooklynites have had to turn to a number of different activities for respite, particularly when coasting from AC office to AC train to AC apartment just wasn't an option. We mined the Brooklyn Collection Historic Photographs to...

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Bridges are icons, creating unforgettable outlines across beloved skylines. The Kosciuszko Bridge may not often have been deemed postcard worthy, but the show-stopping cable-stayed design of its replacement (opened in April 2017) is drawing nostalgia over the soon-to-be-removed historic span. Taking a closer look at the Kosciuszko Bridge – and the many bridges that have stood in the same location through centuries past – paints a picture of a changing neighborhood in a changing city. Kosciuszko Bridge [picture]. Brooklyn Eagle. 4 August 1939. Brooklyn Public Library, Brooklyn...

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Third Avenue Series: Scrap

Posted in Brooklynology by One More Folded Sunset on Jun 30, 2017

Blogger One More Folded Sunset and photographer Larry Racioppo are working on a series of pieces on Brooklyn's Third Avenue. This is the fourth, about a visit to the 3rd Avenue Junk Shop. Click here for the first, second, and third, and stay tuned for more. The volume of business at the yard differs from day to day. Some days the scrap comes in as soon as the shutters roll up, and the place stays busy till closing time.  Other days things are quieter.  Business is "spotty," says owner Dominick Palmiotto. Business here boomed from the 30's to the70's,...

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The Many Faces of the Brooklyn Bridge

Posted in Brooklynology by Diana on Jun 12, 2017

Yesterday was the birthday of John Augustus Roebling, who designed the Brooklyn Bridge. In honor of that occasion, here is a selection of images of the bridge from our collections. Search our historic photographs here for more images of the bridge through the years. Front page of the Brooklyn Eagle on the Brooklyn Bridge's opening day, May 24, 1883. George Bradford Brainerd, c. 1870s Julius Wilcox, c. 1880 Julius Wilcox, 1892 c. 1920s From the Brooklyn Eagle, 1938 Steve Gera, 1947. From the Brooklyn Eagle,...

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Third Avenue Series: Mystic Essentials of Brooklyn

Posted in Brooklynology by One More Folded Sunset on May 24, 2017

Blogger One More Folded Sunset and photographer Larry Racioppo are working on a series of pieces on Brooklyn's Third Avenue.  This is the third.  Click here for the first and second, and stay tuned for more. It's loud on Third. Even in a changing city economy, with "makers" on the rise (how did we ever live without them?), and industry lighter than in earlier decades, that expressway traffic never goes away, and the cycles of delivery, spreading out across the city, roll on and on. Even when most of the businesses below bring down their shutters for the night, leaving only...

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Radio tribute to Brooklyn - Photo: Brooklyn Collection Back in the days of analog (film) photography, there was a lag, serendipitous or frustrating depending on how you looked at it, between taking a photo and seeing the result. Once the prints were in hand, shuffling through them brought the realization of joyful accidents and unforeseen failures, like seeing a friend's portrait that seemed quite right when taken and in the print she sprouts a lamppost from her head. Now, with the advent of digital photography, we can immediately see what we have taken, and have the...

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The Other Side of the Park

Posted in Brooklynology by Larry Racioppo on May 5, 2017

Photographer Larry Racioppo, whose work is on display in our current exhibition on Prospect Park for the park's 150th anniversary, shares some memories and photos of the park in this guest post. Racioppo is also working on our Third Avenue blog series with blogger One More Folded Sunset. Prospect Park was a part of my life long before I became a photographer. Glued to the black construction paper pages of Racioppo and Tenga family albums are photos of my parents and their friends posing ‘dressed up’ in the park or just outside it, along its stone walls. My mother and her friends,...

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Third Avenue Series: At the VFW

Posted in Brooklynology by One More Folded Sunset on Apr 4, 2017

Blogger One More Folded Sunset and photographer Larry Racioppo are working on a series of pieces on Brooklyn's Third Avenue.  This is the second.  Click here for the first, and stay tuned for more. Larry Racioppo, 2017   VFW Post #7096 has been at 804 Third Avenue since 1956.  When it opened, there were around ninety active posts in Brooklyn.  Today the VFW website lists fifteen. Post #7096 sits in the shadow of the Expressway, right around the site of the Gowanus village the Dutch settled almost four hundred years ago.  Before it was a VFW Post...

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