A glorious birds-eye view of early 1900s Brooklyn at night

Sometimes a simple penny postcard really can blow you away. Behold this turn-of-the-century nocturne downtown in the county of Kings, with office windows glowing with amber light and trolley cars making their way.

The one building I can make out with clarity is Brooklyn Borough Hall at the far left, with the clock and domed tower. Completed in 1848, it was formerly called City Hall.

[MCNY; 2004.36.3]

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20 Responses to “A glorious birds-eye view of early 1900s Brooklyn at night”

  1. boxwoodbooks Says:

    Atlantic Avenue breaking away from the wider Fulton Street, both heading towards the East River.

  2. boxwoodbooks Says:

    No. I’m wrong! It’s Flatbush. Of course. The old Native American trail, the life line of Brooklyn.

  3. beth Says:

    very cool perspective

  4. countrypaul Says:

    Gorgeously expresses the atmosphere with which we think we remember “old New York” (or wish we did).

  5. Newportcarl Says:

    Love this sight (and this site)

  6. Lon Black Says:

    This postcard is from about 1907.

  7. Greg Says:

    The new Williamsburg Savings Tower is visible in the distance. On the lower right is the soon to be demolished courthouse I believe.

    • ephemeralnewyork Says:

      Ah, I suspected that was the Williamsburgh Savings Bank Tower (now rebranded as One Hanson Place) but wasn’t sure, thank you!

    • Lon Black Says:

      Not Williamsburg Savings Bank. That would not appear until over 20 years after this card was published.

      • Greg Says:

        Not true. The Williamsburgh Savings Bank Tower went up in 1928, and this postcard predates it.

      • Lon Black Says:

        Correct. This postcard predates the Williamsburg Savings Bank Tower by over 20 years.

      • Greg Says:

        Meant to write “may not predate it.” But I see elsewhere you believe it is from 1907.

      • Lon Black Says:

        Likely earlier than 1907. Published by the Illustrated Postcard Company, which went out of business well before the Williamsburg Bank tower was built. Their colophon is in the white border, top right. For the record, I’m a deltiologist with a specialty in New York City postcards.

  8. Nancy Anderson Says:

    I would have guessed Court Street, not Flatbush Av.

  9. velovixen Says:

    Having lived in the neighborhood (though a few decades after that image was made!), I would guess that it’s Flatbush Avenue, in part because of the “turn” near what would be Atlantic Avenue. (The Williamsburg Savings Bank/One Hanson Place is located at that intersection, along with the Brooklyn Academy of Music and the Atlantic Terminal, a.k.a., the site of Barclay’s Center.)

    In a weird way, those windows and the shapes of the buildings make me think of a Mondrian painting, at least in its composition.

  10. Toni Rorapaugh Says:

    I would love to see on this site more about Brooklyn, particularly more interior Brooklyn. My parents grew up in Crown Heights and Bushwick in the 1920s. Thanks.

  11. jms Says:

    Ahoy! This is clearly (ahem) a view looking east along Joralemon Street from, I’d reckon, about the SW corner of Brooklyn Borough Hall (https://mapper.acme.com/?ll=40.69264,-73.99060&z=19&t=S); our “bird” is flying maybe a few dozen feet above that spot. The road seen curving from behind Borough Hall is Fulton Street — OLD Fulton Street, which cut across what is today Cadman Plaza from around Montague to Adams Streets. So the route we’re looking down would today be Fulton Mall, and the street diverging from it heading left is Willoughby. Evidence of the latter is the prominent old New York & New Jersey Telephone & Telegraph HQ at 81 Willoughby Street (1905), with its arched windows near the top; here’s a recent view: https://www.google.com/maps/@40.6922061,-73.9863918,3a,75y,61.4h,113.91t/data=!3m7!1e1!3m5!1shHqfe9bpTn-JDwEOkSOfSA!2e0!5s20110701T000000!7i13312!8i6656 .

    Running along the right side of our postcard we see a trio of buildings no longer around: the mansard-roofed former Municipal Building, the domed Kings County Supreme Courthouse, and the Hall of Records. Here are some views from various perspectives confirming the location:


    As for the tall tower in the distance … I haven’t a clue! Might some church with a tall steeple have been around there back in the day? A shot tower?

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