Photo of the Week: The Cyclone

Cyclone No. 2, 2005, 2005, 2008.035.2; Ron Meisel photographs, 2008.035; Brooklyn Historical Society.

Cyclone No. 2, 2005, 2005, 2008.035.2; Ron Meisel photographs, 2008.035; Brooklyn Historical Society.

It’s hard to believe that there are only a few more weeks to savor summer. This photograph by Ron Meisel reminds me to make the most of the long summer nights before fall approaches. Taken in 2005, the photo of the week depicts the Cyclone rollercoaster at dusk in the Coney Island neighborhood of Brooklyn.

The Cyclone is an iconic Brooklyn landmark. It was built in 1927 by Harry C. Baker and Vernon Keenan. In the mid-19th century, Coney Island was a seaside getaway for the upper middle class. By the turn of the century, Coney Island was the most popular amusement park in the world, thanks in part to popular attractions (like the Cyclone) and the closeness of Coney Island for New Yorkers compared to farther away beaches. The Cyclone is the last remaining attraction from that period, and in 1991 it was listed on the New York City Register of Historic Places.

This photograph was taken using a Hasselblad Xpan camera and color negative film. The Xpan is a viewfinder camera that exposes a frame with dimensions of 24mm by 65mm that creates the panoramic effect. Ron Meisel is a Brooklyn-based photographer represented by the Phyllis Stigliano Gallery in Park Slope. Check out this page for more panoramic photographs of Coney Island.

Interested in seeing more photos from BHS’s collection? Visit our online image gallery, which includes a selection of our images. Interested in seeing even more historic Brooklyn images? Visit our Brooklyn Visual Heritage website here. To search BHS’s entire collection of images, archives, maps, and special collections visit BHS’s Othmer Library Wed-Sat, 1:00-5:00 p.m. library@brooklynhistory.org

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Photo of the Week: The Michael Shellens family collection

[Shellens family portrait], circa 1912, V1988.468.61; Michael Shellens family collection, ARC,094; Brooklyn Historical Society.

[Shellens family portrait], circa 1912, V1988.468.61; Michael Shellens family collection, ARC,094; Brooklyn Historical Society.

The photo of the week depicts the Shellens family around 1912 in front of their home in the Bay Ridge neighborhood of Brooklyn. Michael Shellens (pictured back left) was born in Belgium in 1854 and moved to the United States at a young age. He became a ship’s cabin boy in his teen years and worked his way to captain, taking several voyages across the globe until his retirement in 1898. He later became a successful real estate businessman in Brooklyn.

Shellens married Ella Mabel Collamore (pictured back right) in Brooklyn in 1899. Their three children Hazel, Ruth, and Marshall are pictured above with their parents. In 1905, Shellens purchased a block of 25 lots in the Bay Ridge neighborhood of Brooklyn. The family resided at 371 73rd Street where the family lived for almost a century. Shellens died on April 22, 1944 and left his estate to his daughter Ruth, where she lived until her passing in 1987. Ruth Shellens bequeathed her father’s personal and business papers and a substantial monetary sum to Brooklyn Historical Society which went toward the renovation of the first floor gallery at the Pierrepont headquarters. The space is thus named the Shellens Gallery in honor of the Shellen’s family.

The photograph is from the Michael Shellens family collection comprised of personal and business correspondence, business and financial records, books, photographs, and ephemera related to Michael Shellens (1854-1944) and his family. The materials date from 1865 to 1984 and are principally about Shellens’s life and career as a mariner and businessman.

Interested in seeing more photos from BHS’s collection? Visit our online image gallery, which includes a selection of our images. Interested in seeing even more historic Brooklyn images? Visit our Brooklyn Visual Heritage website here. To search BHS’s entire collection of images, archives, maps, and special collections visit BHS’s Othmer Library Wed-Sat, 1:00-5:00 p.m. library@brooklynhistory.org

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Photo of the Week: Brooklyn Storefronts

La Borinquena, 2004, 2009.004.8; James and Karla Murray Counter Culture exhibition photographs, 2009.004; Brooklyn Historical Society.

La Borinquena, 2004, 2009.004.8; James and Karla Murray Counter Culture exhibition photographs, 2009.004; Brooklyn Historical Society.

The photo of the week depicts an exterior view of La Borinquena, a family-owned grocery store located in the South Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn. Known as Los Sures (Spanish for the Souths or Southside), the neighborhood’s Puerto Rican roots stretch back to the early half of the twentieth century, when Puerto Rican migrants began settling in the borough. A thriving center of Puerto Rican life and culture, the neighborhood has faced some of the same challenges of gentrification as other areas of Brooklyn, namely displacement and the vanishing of long-time community-based businesses. The grocery closed in 2013, after forty years. This photograph is part of an ongoing project by photographers James and Karla Murray to document storefronts in Brooklyn and New York City. Brooklyn Historical Society’s photography collection includes 41 color photographic prints taken by the Murrays between the late 1990s and 2008. The photographs were part of an exhibition at the museum in 2008 titled Counter Culture: The Disappearing Face of Brooklyn’s Storefronts.

You can view more photographs from this collection in our online image gallery. A selection of photographs from this collection are on view as part of The Business in Brooklyn exhibition at Brooklyn Historical Society’s Pierrepont headquarters. The exhibition explores the past 100 years of business in the borough. James and Karla Murray have their related work from Lower East Side storefronts now on display in a mixed media art installation recently opened in Seward Park in Manhattan.

Interested in seeing more photos from BHS’s collection? Visit our online image gallery, which includes a selection of our images. Interested in seeing even more historic Brooklyn images? Visit our Brooklyn Visual Heritage website here. To search BHS’s entire collection of images, archives, maps, and special collections visit BHS’s Othmer Library Wed-Sat, 1:00-5:00 p.m. library@brooklynhistory.org

For more on the history of Williamsburg’s Puerto Rican communities, visit list to BHS’s “Puerto Rican Oral History Project records” oral histories on our online oral history portal

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Flatbush + Main Episode 27: Factories in Brooklyn (July 2018)

In Episode 27 of Brooklyn Historical Society’s podcast Flatbush + Main, co-hosts Zaheer Ali and Julie Golia are joined by guest Joshua B. Freeman, author of Behemoth: A History of the Factory and the Making of the Modern World. They consider the impact of factories on Brooklyn’s social and economic history, and discuss the experiences of factory workers that worked and lived in Brooklyn.

Index

02:58 Histories and Ideas with Joshua B. Freeman
26:27 Into the Archives
39.44 Voices of Brooklyn

For complete show notes, go to brooklynhistory.org/flatbush-main.

We hope you’re enjoying our podcast! Please subscribe, rate, and review us at brooklynhistory.org/fm-itunes. And share the news of Flatbush + Main far and wide using the hashtag #FlatbushandMain.

Segment 1: Histories and Ideas

In segment 1, Zaheer and Julie welcome guest Joshua B. Freeman, Distinguished Professor of History at CUNY Graduate Center and Queens College, and author of Behemoth: A History of the Factory and the Making of the Modern World. They consider the historical development of the factory, its impact on global commerce as well as local places like Brooklyn, and its changing role in the American popular imagination.

Get Josh Freeman’s important book here.

Segment 2: Into the Archives

Are factories always “behemoths,” like the massive complexes that Josh Freeman describes in his book? How do we categorize the smaller sites of production that dotted Brooklyn’s neighborhoods in the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries? In this segment, we look at documents from the Wellmade Glove records (ARC.224), a manufactory and store that operated in the neighborhood of Park Slope in the mid-20th century.

You can access the finding aid to this manuscript collection here. And here are pictures of the documents we examined:

Segment 3: Voices of Brooklyn

Zaheer and Julie listen to excerpts from the March 20, 1989 oral history of Ida Pollack from the Brooklyn Navy Yard oral history collection, 1995.005.005. The complete interview can be accessed onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society’s Othmer Library.

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Photo of the Week: Happy Summer!

[Charles (Karl) Blieffert photograph album], circa 1912, 2015.010.1; Charles (Karl) Blieffert photograph album; Brooklyn Historical Society.

[Charles (Karl) Blieffert photograph album], circa 1912, 2015.010.1; Charles (Karl) Blieffert photograph album; Brooklyn Historical Society.

We hope you’re having a fun and relaxing summer so far! The photo of the week is from the Charles (Karl) Blieffert photograph album depicting summer social activities, including boating, fishing, and sunbathing, from 1908 to 1917 in the Coney Island, Sheepshead Bay, and Brighton Beach neighborhoods of Brooklyn. To see more pages from this album, check out this page.

Charles (Karl) Blieffert was born on May 10, 1891 in the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn. His parents immigrated to the United States from Nuremberg, Germany. The family lived at 18th Avenue near Gravesend Avenue where Charles spent his childhood. In an effort to Americanize his name, he changed his name from “Karl” to “Charlie” and pronounced his last name “Bly-furt” rather than “Blee-furt.” During the Great Depression, Charles moved out of Brooklyn to Milwaukee where he found work in the insurance business. He did not marry until his widowed mother died in 1940.

While a family day at the beach is common today, this kind of urban leisure was a relatively new phenomenon in the late 19th century. Earlier in the century, elite and wealthy Americans began taking excursions to places like Saratoga Springs, but you don’t  see middle class people or immigrants like the Blieffert’s partaking in this kind of recreation until the turn of the century. That makes this album particularly interesting!

Interested in seeing more photos from BHS’s collection? Visit our online image gallery, which includes a selection of our images. Interested in seeing even more historic Brooklyn images? Visit our Brooklyn Visual Heritage website here. To search BHS’s entire collection of images, archives, maps, and special collections visit BHS’s Othmer Library Wed-Sat, 1:00-5:00 p.m. library@brooklynhistory.org

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