Posts Tagged ‘Fort Greene’

Walkin’ about Wallabout

November 10, 2009

Wallabout is either a dressed-up name for the gritty area abutting the Brooklyn Navy Yard and sliced by the BQE. Or it’s a true neighborhood with a vibe distinct from Fort Greene and Clinton Hill to the south.

Prisonshipengraving

Whatever your take, Wallabout is a stronghold of Brooklyn history that’s worth a look. The name comes from the Dutch word Waal-bogt, which means a bend in the river. This bend is Wallabout Bay. Here, the British docked 12 prison ships holding captured Revolutionary War soldiers.

More than 11,000 men died on ships like the one in the engraving above. Some of their remains are entombed in the haunting Prison Ship Martyrs Monument in nearby Fort Greene Park.

Wallabout grew into a residential district in the mid-19th century, housing workers who toiled along Brooklyn’s thriving waterfront. These workers lived in wood frame houses, some of which still stand.

Wallabouthouses

These 2- and 3-story houses, with lovely porches, are modest and charming—especially compared to the mansions up the hill closer to the Pratt campus.

In fact, historic Wallabout, which the Historic District Council defines as eight blocks roughly between Myrtle and Park Avenues, has the largest concentration of pre-Civil War wood frame homes in the city.

Wallabouthouses2

Wallabout has literary cred as well. Walt Whitman is believed to have lived in the nabe; his former home is supposedly 99 Ryerson Street (not pictured, since it’s covered in cheap siding).

The last old-school street sign in Brooklyn?

January 5, 2009

The corner of Auburn and North Elliott in Fort Greene no longer officially exists; it appears to have been de-mapped when the city put up the Whitman and Ingersoll Houses across Myrtle Avenue near Fort Greene Park in the 1940s. 

Luckily, someone forgot to take down this wonderful relic of a street sign:

oldschoolstreetsign

Here’s more on street sign design through the years.

The “Fort Green” fish market

December 17, 2008

It’s tough to tell when this photo was taken. The Williamsburgh bank building on the left means it must have been post-1929. But the hat and suit on the dude walking in front of the fish market dates the photo anytime from then through the 1950s.

Whatever year this depicts, judging by the empty lot and broken windows, things don’t look good. Who’d have thought that people would one day live in that bank building and pay million-dollar prices for the view?

fortgreenfish

The “Fort Green” misspelling is interesting. It doesn’t seem like the neighborhood was ever spelled without the e on the end; the nabe was named after Nathaniel Greene, a Revolutionary War general from Rhode Island. But a quick check of The New York Times archives shows that the “e” was often dropped in print in the 19th century. 

A Brooklyn family’s pretty portrait

September 26, 2008

I have no idea who these people are. Mother and father appear to be prosperous, their daughters plump and well-dressed. Could they be the circa-1900 equivalent of today’s upper-class brownstone Brooklyn family?

 

The portrait studio is located at 494 Fulton Street. Today, this is part of the Fulton Street Mall, but a century ago, Fulton Street was lined with opulent department stores (Abraham & Strauss, Loeser’s) and fancy restaurants (Gage & Tollner).

Perhaps this family lived nearby in fashionable Fort Greene or Brooklyn Heights. Maybe they had their own brownstone—one that is now home to another young Brooklyn family.