Fascinating Brooklyn stories from our local history archivists.

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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In January 2017, a new piece of art was installed at the intersection of Flatbush Avenue and Tillary Street, at the entrance to the Manhattan Bridge. Two snow-white resin sculptures representing “Miss Brooklyn” and “Miss Manhattan” were hoisted above the busy street traffic on two slowly rotating “Lazy Susans” supported by a stem-like post. Now, as they steadily revolve in opposite directions, they enjoy a 360 degree view of the area from whence they were banished nearly 60 years ago. The original “Miss Manhattan” and “Miss Brooklyn” were not rotating. Once upon a time, they were...

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Unsung: The Story of “Pinky”

Posted in Brooklynology by Natiba on Mar 28, 2017

The subject of this blog post was presented at the Medgar Evers College Conference Women and the Abolitionist Movement that took place on Sunday, March 26th 2017 in celebration of Women’s History Month. Women formed a central part of the abolitionist movement in the years that led up to the civil war and during war time. They participated in many varied ways, from writing and giving speeches to becoming conductors of the Underground Railroad and assisting union soldiers by organizing Sanitary Fairs around the country. There were others who participated in a more unconventional role...

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Under the Expressway: Marking Time on Brooklyn's Third Avenue

Posted in Brooklynology by One More Folded Sunset on Mar 7, 2017

Blogger One More Folded Sunset and photographer Larry Racioppo are working on a series of pieces on Brooklyn's Third Avenue.  This is an excerpt from the first.  In future posts, they'll be interviewing businesses owners, uncovering art, and continuing to find inspiration in the avenue's changing landscape. I'm drawn to city borders.  Not 'edge of town' divisions, but the ones inside the city limits, where infrastructure, for better or worse, creates some kind of boundary: a rail track, a highway, an elevated train line.  They're city landmarks, hardly ever...

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Ina Clausen & Protest in Brooklyn

Posted in Brooklynology by Deenah on Feb 27, 2017

Ina Clausen (center), 1957, Prospect Park, Brooklyn. With the inauguration of Donald Trump in January, it seems that we have entered a renewed moment in the public sphere, with each week defined by protests, community meetings, and urgent calls to contact your elected officials. This moment, however, is not so very brand new -- there is of course a long and varied history of protest movements and resistance both in the United States and abroad. Given the current political climate, I thought it would be appropriate to mine the Brooklyn Collection for some local precedent. I...

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“We’ve already lost too many trees, houses and people…your community – you owe something to it. I didn’t care to run.” – Hattie Carthan Welcome to Black History Month at the Brooklyn Collection. As most of you know, many great artists, leaders, educators, activists and politicians contributed to Brooklyn’s rich and indispensable Black history. Today we thought we would highlight one of those activists, Ms. Hattie Carthan, a community leader and environmentalist who forever changed Bedford-Stuyvesant. Hattie Carthan moved to Brooklyn from Virginia, and was once described as “the...

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You Gotta Believe

Posted in Brooklynology by June on Jan 31, 2017

Swimming is one of the best ways of keeping physically fit, and can be enjoyed by people of all ages.  There are those that swim recreationally, and then there are those brave souls who test the limits of their capabilities by endeavoring to swim the English Channel.  One such person was Mrs. Betty Cohn of 120 Ocean Parkway, who became the first grandmother to swim the channel when she swam from France to England in 1951. News of her swimming prowess was carried in newspapers around the world. like the Singapore Free Press, and Melbourne Australia's Argus newspaper where she...

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Gertrude Hoffmann's First Act

Posted in Brooklynology by Sunny Stalter-Pace on Oct 19, 2016

This week, guest blogger Sunny Stalter-Pace marks the 50th anniversary of dancer and choreographer Gertrude Hoffmann's death with a post sharing some information about Hoffmann's early life and career. Stalter-Pace is writing a biography of Hoffmann and has used the Gertrude Hoffmann Collection here at the Brooklyn Collection as part of her research. Gertrude Hoffmann (1885-1966) enjoyed a long career as a performer, choreographer, and producer. Brooklynology introduced the versatile vaudevillian in a blog post that’s now more than 5 years old; it followed that post with another on...

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Fashion, Fashion, Who's Got the Fashion?

Posted in Brooklynology by Diana on Oct 19, 2016

Recently, I had a to check a number of microfilm reels of the Brooklyn Daily Times. As I scrolled through the reels, a recurring comic feature caught my eye. Modish Mitzi features stunning fashion illustrations and the trials and tribulations of the titular Mitzi, a wealthy fashionista who always has to have the latest styles. With the help of her equally stylish friends Polly and Adelaide, and of course, the funds from her very accommodating father, Mitzi somehow manages to both navigate her socialite lifestyle and always be wearing the most up-to-the-minute 20s and 30s fashions while...

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Brooklyn on film at the Library of Congress

Posted in Brooklynology by Diana on Oct 12, 2016

A couple of months ago, a colleague at the Brooklyn Museum Library tweeted that she had found a film reel in their collection with nitrate film. Since nitrate film is highly flammable and needs to be stored in special conditions in order to prevent it from catching fire, the library needed to identify the film quickly in order to decide whether or not to keep such a dangerous item. All they knew was the film's title, "Brooklyn Progress," the date range, 1933-1937, and that the content included a kind of tour through prominent Brooklyn sites. Photo courtesy J.E. Molly Seegers I...

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