A Williamsburg street corner, 1937 vs. 2009

A lovely building graces the corner of Graham and Metropolitan Avenues in 1937. A barber shop occupies a ground-floor storefront, and a two-story ad for Kings Beer and Ale looms large on the facade.


At some point in the ensuring 62 years, the building was encased in siding, its cornices lopped off. (Hmm, why is that kind of siding so popular in Williamsburg? When did it become so fashionable?)


Today, the trolley tracks are gone, the phone wires buried underground, and the street light design has changed.

But a lot looks the same in 2009. The L train entrance remains, a huge ad takes up part of the building’s facade, and the corner has about the same amount of car and foot traffic as it did in 1937. 

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8 Responses to “A Williamsburg street corner, 1937 vs. 2009”

  1. mykola (mick) dementiuk Says:

    Why did they take off the tops? looks very boring, ho-hum yawnnnnnnnn…like the other buildings of Brooklyn

  2. Devyn Says:

    Building owners tear off the cornices primarily because they don’t want to pay for the maintenance of them, it is much cheaper to rip them off than keep them up. (This also is a reason that you often see windows bricked in, it is cheaper to brick in a window than replace it.) There was also a time in the middle of the 20th century that building owners thought tearing off the cornices would make their building look more modern therefore easier to rent out.

  3. oscar Says:

    not only the corner building, but check out the rest of the buildings also
    there was a period in NYC history where the city lost its class, and here is living proof

  4. Matt Says:

    Do you guys think any of the original detail survives up under that awful siding?

  5. wildnewyork Says:

    Probably not, but I wish we could peel it back and find out!

  6. mykola (mick) dementiuk Says:

    Probably just nails and wooden boards sighing for its lost compardres, cursing at the fickle age we now live under

  7. me Says:

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the wood siding was underneath that vinal siding – not that that only would do much to turn back the hand of time.

    I’ve noticed during constuction that a lot of the houses on my block – in greenpoint – have the original wooden clapboard underneath the siding – no one, myself included has attempted to restore it – every house has bland siding, but maybe one day when money is no object…

  8. Lidian Says:

    What a shame, it looked so much better back then!

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