Posts Tagged ‘Brooklyn Daily Eagle’

The lawless district of Pigtown, Brooklyn

December 8, 2010

All Brooklyn neighborhoods should have as colorful a name as Pigtown.

This poor part of Flatbush seems to have been centered south of Empire Boulevard between Prospect Park and New York Avenue, where Prospect Lefferts Gardens and East Flatbush are today.

A lowland of roaming pigs, goats, and shanties, Pigtown had a lot of crime. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle archive (where the story above comes from) has clip after clip of arrests made there in the late 19th century.

The New York Times archive contains some gruesome stories of gangster murders in Pigtown, which was populated by Italian immigrants.

Like so many other rough neighborhoods in New York, Pigtown was cleaned up as the 20th century progressed.

[Above photo, from the NYPL digital collection: Flatbush Avenue and Maple Avenue, about 1920, after Pigtown was smoothed over]

One family who remained there until the 1950s: the Giulianis. Yep, Rudy lived the first years of his life in what was once Pigtown until his parents decamped to Long Island.

Nineteenth century Manhattan had a Pigtown too—a hardscrabble neighborhood known as the Piggery District.

Frontier town—or Flatbush, Brooklyn?

September 8, 2010

This gorgeous postcard, stamped 1913, claims to be the “business section” of Flatbush.

The trolley tracks seem very Brooklyn, but otherwise, it could be any town or small city in the country circa 1900.

So what stretch of Flatbush is this? A search of the Brooklyn Eagle archives turned up a “to let” listing for a Kodaks (see store sign at left) at 202 Flatbush Avenue.

That would put this image at about Flatbush and Bergen Streets.

Whatever happened to Yellow Hook, Brooklyn?

July 16, 2010

Back when the Dutch settled this part of the town of New Utrecht in the 17th century, they named it Yellow Hook—after its yellowish soil.

[illustrations from the NYPL’s digital collection]

The problem with Yellow Hook, however, was that it sounded too close to Yellow Fever, outbreaks of which were regularly killing New Yorkers.

So in 1853, locals gave Yellow Hook a more pleasant moniker: Bay Ridge, for the ridge that offers such amazing views of New York Bay. 

Or did they intend to call it “Bay Bridge”? An article in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle archives from December 19, 1853 includes this:

“. . . it was resolved that the locality hitherto known as Yellow Hook and included in the boundaries of School District No. 2, in the town of New Utrecht, be henceforth known by the name of Bay Bridge, and that an application be made to the proper authorities for an establishment of a Post Office in the vicinity, to be designated as the Bay Bridge Post Office.”

Two innocent typos, or perhaps the neighborhood’s real name?

Atlantic Avenue: the “Swedish Broadway”

February 22, 2010

Today, the harbor end of Brooklyn’s main drag has a mix of bars and restaurants, high-end boutiques and antique stores, and Middle Eastern shops.

But in the late 19th century, it was the home base of Scandinavian immigrants in Brooklyn, known as the “Swedish Broadway.”

(Photo of Atlantic and Third Avenue, from the NYPL)

A search through the pre-1902 Brooklyn Eagle archives turns up a Swedish press (Svenska Amerikanska Presson) at 563 Atlantic, a banquet hall (Tura Verein Hall) at 351 Atlantic, and a notice that the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Co. now prints signs in Swedish in street cars going through the “Swedish Colony.”

And an 1891 Eagle article describes the estimated 20,000 Swedes centered around Fourth Avenue as “frugal, industrious, and very well behaved.”

(Atlantic and Henry Street building, from the NYPL)

Bay Ridge’s Eighth Avenue soon took over as home to a large concentration of Scandinavian Brooklynites (mostly Norwegian) during the 20th century.

But back on Atlantic, one of the few surviving remnants of the old neighborhood is Bethlehem Lutheran Church (below photo), at Third and Pacific, established in 1874.

Another (now Episcopalian) church, at 424 Dean Street, began in the 1870s as Immanuel Swedish Methodist Church.

What’s playing at Brooklyn’s Opera House?

March 7, 2009

If it were November 26 and we were in the 1890s, it would be The Village Postmaster, strangely described in this Brooklyn Daily Eagle ad “as full of good, healthy fun as an egg is of meat.” 

The Grand Opera House used to be between Fulton and Livingston Streets in downtown Brooklyn. Check out that great old 4-digit phone number: