Blog Posts tagged as: brooklyn history

The House on the Hill


The Albertype Co., Northwest Corner Ridge Boulevard and 85th Street, circa 1940; black and white photographic postcard, V1973.4.547; Brooklyn photograph and illustration collection, ARC.202, Brooklyn Public Library, Center for Brooklyn History.
Today's Photo of the Week showcases a beautiful home in Bay Ridge at 8311 Ridge Boulevard. This stunning mansion at the top of a hill is still standing today, though it is located at the corner of 84th Street and Ridge Boulevard, not 85th Street as this postcard states. The house…

Railfan Sandwich Man's Loco-Motive to Increase Business


Sodas delivered by train. WORK_0842. 1951. Brooklyn Daily Eagle photographs 
Local businesses are acts of faith - an individual dream of creating a place that people will want to patronize, enriching the owners and community alike. This Photo of the Week shows one inventive owner’s novel idea to boost his business. In early 1951, Ben Lewanda took over the Parkway Sandwich Shop, 4223 Fort Hamilton Parkway. Finding his custom lacked pep, he got the idea of installing a model train to travel around the periphery…

Documenting a Brownstone's Rebirth

Dee Bowers

In 2018, the New York Times published a story about an unusual Carroll Gardens brownstone for sale. 12 Second Place had been painstakingly restored during the brownstone revival movement of the 1960s and 70s, and had been owned by the same couple, Jane and Thor Rinden, ever since. Moreover, the Rindens had documented their five-year renovation process (1968-1973) in a charming and intimate scrapbook filled with photographs and memories. Fascinated by this story, I left a comment on the article, and fortuitously enough, the Rindens' estate decided that the scrapbook should come to the…

Midwinter Remembrance


[Fort Greene Park], 1926, gelatin silver print, PARK_0111; Brooklyn Daily Eagle photographs, Brooklyn Public Library, Center for Brooklyn History
  As we enter midwinter, take in this snowy Photo of the Week of the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument in Fort Greene Park from 1926. This monument was created by Stanford White and Adolph Alexander Weinman in 1908. It memorializes the roughly 11,500 captives who died aboard British prison ships in Brooklyn’s Wallabout Bay during the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783). The conditions on the ships were horrific…

Community-driven Change in Prospect Lefferts Gardens and Greater Gowanus

Aimee Lusty

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…

April Showers Bring May Flowers and Floods

Aimee Lusty

Flooding at the end of 1st Street and Gowanus Canal, April 15, 2007. Friends and Residents of Greater Gowanus records. Brooklyn Public Library, Center for Brooklyn History
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,…

In Honor of Black Life


What does remembrance look like? As an archivist, special collections manager and lover of history, a large part of remembrance for me is representation. This and other similar threads are constantly a part of how I think about the work we do at the Brooklyn Collection. Who are we representing? Who has enough, and who does not? I ask this every time I think about a possible donation or addition to our collection. Our current climate and the awakening being experienced by others around Black life and its importance (it is), how history is repeating itself and the renewed calls to remove…

Photographs and Reflection in the Time of Quarantine


I’m restless. I’m 72 years old and have been “sheltering at home” since March 7th. I’m not sure which I miss more – seeing my grandchildren or exploring the outskirts of New York City. I’ve spent many quiet hours photographing its waterfront and abandoned interiors. Almost every day since the 7th, I’ve scanned panoramic and large format negatives or made pigmented inkjet prints, and I expect to continue this routine in the weeks and months ahead. I’m lucky to have the means and equipment to do so, but man do I miss being out photographing. I’m trying to internalize the advice of my friend…

Hidden Ephemera in the Clippings Files

Michelle Montalbano

Beyond the stanchions, in the center of the Brooklyn Collection, sit two rows of cabinets. Clocking in at 110 drawers, they contain a collection of newspaper clippings that are finally getting some much-needed attention. The clippings files include folders with obscure labels such as "Local Color" and "Brooklyn Spirit", and the subjects they cover—the aforementioned included—are cataloged in a 447-page Word document. It is also one of our best-kept secrets. Though we use the clippings files to answer many reference questions, they are so sprawling and voluminous that even a…

On Native Land


On October 7th, I attended a convening of Brooklyn based cultural institutions, hosted by Brooklyn Museum in partnership with the Lenape Center. It was a 2-day workshop to discuss Living Land Acknowledgements and develop ongoing collaborative projects between Lenape-Delaware Nations and cultural institutions in Brooklyn. A Living Land Acknowledgment is a statement that recognizes the indigenous peoples who have been dispossessed from the homelands and territories upon which an institution was built and currently occupies and operates in. For Brooklyn, it was originally the “Lenapehoking…

A (Not So) Brief History of Red Hook

Michelle Montalbano

Shipyards, dry docks, and machine shops. The place with the IKEA and the Fairway. Home of the fabled wild dogs on Beard St. and the abandoned grain elevator. Former home of the Dell's Maraschino Factory and the Snapple Factory. A Brooklyn neighborhood with a "small town" feel, cobbled streets, and limited public transit. It's possible that no other section of the borough has been so readily defined by single facets of its complex character. A waterfront community with deep maritime and industrial roots, Red Hook—like many neighborhoods in Brooklyn—is in flux. This is vividly borne out…