Brooklyn’s 14th Regiment armory, day and night

Designed to look like a Medieval fortress with towers and turrets, the 14th Regiment Armory—also called the Eighth Avenue armory—has been part of Park Slope since 1893.

In daytime or at night, this block-spanning armory with brick and bluestone trim is a Victorian wonder, as these postcards (the first one with glitter!) from the collection at the Museum of the City of New York reveal.

It owes its existence to the wave of armory-building undertaken by New York between the Civil War and World War I. Not many survive, but putting the spotlight on one on Memorial Day will hopefully encourage New York to take a closer look at these magnificent beauties.

[First postcard: F2011.33.1067; Second postcard: MCNY, X2011.34.2288]

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4 Responses to “Brooklyn’s 14th Regiment armory, day and night”

  1. Bill Wolfe Says:

    Were these a response to the Draft Riots? That is, they were meant to provide the means, both practical and symbolic, to suppress any future such mob actions.

    • Bob Says:

      A previous post (https://ephemeralnewyork.wordpress.com/2020/07/06/the-medieval-granite-fortress-once-on-14th-street/) cites Nancy L.Todd’s book “New York’s Historic Armories: An Illustrated History.”

      Her book addresses your question thusly:

      “[…] Despite conflicting opinions about the performance of citizen soldiers at the front, there is one specific, Civil War–related episode that attracted widespread praise for the militia: the New York City Draft Riots of July 1863. The Thirteenth, Twenty-third, Forty-seventh and Seventy-first regiments were all called into state service.Some units even returned from the front to battle angry mobs rioting against the implementation of conscription. The militia is credited with assisting, and even leading, local authorities in regaining control of the situation and restoring law and order. Its success in dispersing the draft rioters, in addition to the respect it had gained during the antebellum period, was a major factor in establishing the National Guard’s primary role as the keeper of domestic peace during the late nineteenth-century era of labor-capital conflict.

      “[…] The antebellum disturbances and the Civil War Draft Riots paled in comparison with the labor-capital conflicts that plagued much of the nation during the Gilded Age, which spanned the last third of the nineteenth century. Urbanization, industrialization and immigration increased astronomically after the Civil War, especially after America rebounded from the devastating economic Panic of 1873. Clever,ambitious and sometimes unscrupulous entrepreneurs and leaders of burgeoning new industries ascended to previously unimaginable heights of wealth and power; concurrently, many others descended into the depths of poverty and despair. America, previously a classless society, at least compared to her counterparts in Europe, was suddenly stratified, with an ever-widening gap between rich and poor.

      “[…] The late nineteenth-century era of labor-capital conflict was ushered in with the Great Railroad Strike of 1877. […] Numerous ever-bloodier conflicts followed in the wake of the Great Railroad Strike of 1877, as workers in a broad range of industries rebelled against low wages, long hours and dangerous working conditions. At the national level, these included the Haymarket (Anarchist) Affair of 1886 in Chicago, the Carnegie Steel Strike of1892 in Homestead, Pennsylvania, and the Pullman Strike of 1894 in Chicago.24In New York, notable instances of unrest were the Buffalo Switchmen’s Strike of 1892 and the Brooklyn Trolley Strike of 1895

      “[…] the majority of Americans […] perceived the National Guard as ensuring, rather than threatening,their way of life. Thus, by the end of the nineteenth century, thanks to its effectiveness in suppressing working-class uprisings, the militia was at its peak in terms of public support. Whether citizen soldiers acted as brutal policemen of industry or trustworthy guardians of law and order is a question best left to military and labor historians; suffice it to say that the National Guard paved the way for orderly and productive industrial activity in capitalist America. And furthermore, despite continued debate about a centralized versus a decentralized armed force, the volunteer militia remained the backbone of the American military system throughout the remainder of the nineteenth century. The sudden increase in armory construction during the 1880s and the 1890s in New York State was a direct reflection of this meteoric rise in prestige and popularity of the National Guard during the Gilded Age. […]”

  2. Will Ambrico Says:

    This particular armory was used between the wars to stage mock trench battles. My uncle, in the 1930’s, was in the national guard and took part in many of those mock battles. My mom would tell us how elaborate the reenactments were.

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