Runners have been crossing the Central Park finish line of the New York City Marathon, cheered on by thousands of fans, since 1970.
But Brooklyn beat Manhattan on the marathon front by decades. Starting in 1908, Brooklyn began holding its own marathon—on chilly February 12, President Lincoln’s birthday, no less.
For the 1909 race, “the runners started at the Thirteenth Armory in Crown Heights, ran along Ocean Parkway, then past Coney Island’s silent amusements to Sea Gate and back, a 26-mile run,” wrote John Manbeck in Chronicles of Historic Brooklyn.
These photos from 1909 show us the 150 runners at the start being sent off by thousands of onlookers . . . and then the first and second-place winners.
The marathon appears to have been held in fits and starts and modified versions through the 1920s, then quietly disappeared.
[Photos: Bain Collection, LOC]