Posts Tagged ‘Eastern Parkway’

The beginning of Brooklyn’s Eastern Parkway

November 17, 2011

A century ago, the majestic trees lining the pedestrian malls along lovely Eastern Parkway, seen here where it starts at Prospect Park (illuminated by what looks like one lone street light!), were not much more than saplings.

The handsome apartment houses flanking Eastern Parkway, which gave the boulevard the long-ago nickname Doctors’ Row, have yet to be constructed.

And that tower on the right? It’s the water tower built at Prospect Park, opened in 1893 at the northeast corner of Eastern Parkway and Flatbush Avenue.

Dingy and derelict store signs in Brooklyn

October 18, 2010

More shabby than chic, these vintage signs do have character.

Kelly’s Tavern in Bay Ridge makes a cameo appearance in Saturday Night Fever. (Tony and Stephanie walk past it after leaving a coffee shop.)

Maiman’s Pharmacy, off Eastern Parkway in Crown Heights, has an enchanting neon sign you’ll never find above a Duane Reade or Rite-Aid.

Hardware stores around the city tend to have great old signs, like Weinstein’s on Kingston Avenue in Crown Heights.

There’s something a little creepy about this bar in Sunset Park. Darkened windows, no-frills signage . . . barhopping frat boys from Manhattan may be viewed with suspicion.

When Crown Heights was Crow Hill

October 9, 2010

Neighborhood names are always changing. The area known today as Crown Heights—developed about a century ago on either side of Brooklyn’s grand Eastern Parkway—was once the site of a small outpost of shanties and piggeries known as Crow Hill.

It’s main landmark: the imposing Brooklyn Penitentiary, sometimes called the Crow Hill Penitentiary, which stood on Carroll Street between Nostrand and Rogers Avenues from 1846 until 1906.

The Crow Hill moniker remains something of a mystery. An 1877 Brooklyn Eagle article states, “The name Crow Hill was derived from the fact that in the trees which are scattered over this ridge, crows, who preyed on the neighboring farmers, found a retreat.”

Other sources say the penitentiary inmates were also referred to as crows. Then there’s a third explanation:

“Most historians agree that the name Crow Hill was coined in derogatory reference to the black community of Carrville and Weeksville, whose residents were sometimes known as “crows,” writes Henry Goldschmidt, author of 2006’s Race and Religion Among the Chosen People of Crown Heights.

The war memorials lining Eastern Parkway

May 29, 2010

Eastern Parkway, the grand boulevard that cuts through Crown Heights from Prospect Park, was conceived in 1866 as the nation’s first parkway.

Flanked by pedestrian malls for riding and strolling, this two-mile road features lovely towering elms lining the malls.

Eastern Parkway took on a more somber tone, however, after World War I, when Brooklyn residents began putting up plaques and planting trees honoring the borough’s war dead.

Today, these plaques aren’t always easy to find. Many were removed over the years because they damaged trees. Others became victims of the elements.

But after a restoration a few years ago, some are visible in the grass again—ghostly reminders of Brooklyn’s sacrifice and valor.

Brooklyn Museum, then and now

May 1, 2009

This early-1900s photograph of the Brooklyn Museum—known as the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences when construction began in 1895—shows a neo-Classic beauty of a building, looking majestic on a young Eastern Parkway (those little trees!)

And that grand staircase sure was something, rising 28 feet from street level. It was part of the original McKim, Mead & White design; the famed architectural firm also designed part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.


The staircase didn’t last long. In the mid-1930s, Brooklyn Museum officials decided to make the building more “democratic” by removing it. Visitors now entered the building through ground floor doors.

brooklynmuseum2009In 2000, museum honchos wanted a grand entrance again, something that would recall the original McKim, Mead & White staircase.

This is the result, completed in 2004. People seem to either love it or hate it; there’s no in between. 

Architectural monstrosity or “Brooklyn’s new front stoop,” as the museum’s director was quoted in a 2000 New York Times article?  You decide.

Brooklyn’s Prospect Hill water tower

October 17, 2008

This image is from a postcard dating back to the 1890s, soon after the tower was built. According to a Brooklyn Daily Eagle article from January 18, 1893, a water shortage threatened the city (the city of Brooklyn, that is, which had yet to become part of New York City):

“There would be no substantial relief until the water tower at Prospect Hill should be put in use, which would be in two or three months,” the article states. 

This prime part of Brooklyn looks awfully lonely and barren in the photo. But things would quickly change: The Brooklyn Museum would soon be built on a land to the east of the water tower and adjoining reservoir. Eastern Parkway would eventually be lined with trees and apartment houses.

The tower itself was constructed to supply water to houses near Prospect Park, which there would be many more of in the coming years.

Brooklyn’s little butterfly catchers

June 18, 2008

These are some small kids holding big nets in front of the old Brooklyn Children’s Museum. Nature clubs appear to have popular back in the day. According to a September 1901 story from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle: 

“All summer long, little children have been visiting the Children’s Museum, at Bedford Park, bringing in worms, bugs and butterflies….They have hung over the tables watching the process of mounting butterflies, then have borrowed nets and joined in the chase after them over the open fields bordering the Eastern Parkway.” Open fields? Neat.

Photo from the Brooklyn Historical Society