Photo of the Week: Collection Storage

[Collection Storage, Long Island Historical Society], circa 1980, v1974.031.60; Long Island Historical Society photographs, v1974.031; Brooklyn Historical Society.

[Collection Storage, Long Island Historical Society], circa 1980, v1974.031.60; Long Island Historical Society photographs, v1974.031; Brooklyn Historical Society.

Brooklyn Historical Society’s collections include books, photographs, archival materials, maps, oral histories, fine art, and artifacts. Many of these materials are stored on-site, however, because of the size and needs of such a large and diverse collection, BHS has two additional off-site storage locations. In order to responsibly care for collections, the materials have to be stored in climate controlled environments that monitor temperature and humidity. That’s why if you make a research appointment at the library, we ask that you give us 24-48 hours to pull archival collections.

With that in mind, the photo of the week is a peek into some of the Othmer Library’s collection storage from around 1980. How we store items on site has changed quite a bit since this photograph was taken, but our dedication to collecting and preserving Brooklyn History remains the same. This photograph comes from the Long Island Historical Society photographs collection comprised of photographs from 1925 to 1980 that document the Society’s historic building and activities of the Long Island Historical Society (now Brooklyn Historical Society). To see more photographs from this collection, check out this gallery.

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

Posted in Brooklyn Past & Present, Hidden Collections, Library & Archives | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Photo of the Week: Brooklyn Storefronts

Vasquez Grocery, 2004, 2009.004.3; James and Karla Murray Counter Culture exhibition photographs, 2009.004; Brooklyn Historical Society.

Vasquez Grocery, 2004, 2009.004.3; James and Karla Murray Counter Culture exhibition photographs, 2009.004; Brooklyn Historical Society.

James and Karla Murray are photographers who have spent years documenting storefronts throughout New York City. Their work is a unique and rich record of New York City infrastructure, documenting vanishing establishments and some that have stood the test of time. Brooklyn Historical Society is fortunate to have a small collection of photographs by James and Karla Murray that depict Brooklyn storefronts. They are digitized and available online.

The photo of the week is one of those photographs and depicts Vasquez Grocery, a family-owned grocery store and bodega, located at 591 Knickerbocker Avenue in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn. The store permanently closed in 2016.  This photograph comes from the James and Karla Murray Counter Culture exhibition photographs collection. To learn more about the Murray’s ongoing project to document storefronts in Brooklyn and New York City, check out their website here.

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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BHS DUMBO: Photographer Robin Michals reflects on the Brooklyn waterfront

Robin Michals is one of over two dozen photographers featured in the Brooklyn Historical Society DUMBO exhibition “Shifting Perspectives: Photographs of Brooklyn’s Waterfront,” on view through September 10, 2017. In this post, she reflects on what attracted her to the waterfront as a subject. Click here to learn more about the beautiful exhibition of Brooklyn waterfront photography. 

Robin Michals, Brooklyn Navy Yard, Dry Dock 3, Marcus G Langseth

Brooklyn Navy Yard, Dry Dock 3, Marcus G Langseth, 2015 Archival pigment inkjet print, 14 x 21 in. Courtesy Robin Michals

Robin Michals: The Brooklyn waterfront shares a history with urban waterfronts around the world from Hoboken, New Jersey to Kaohsiung, Taiwan. When technology moved shipping and manufacturing out from the core of coastal cities, the urban waterfront, often with a legacy of industrial pollution, was abandoned. In New York, there have now been several decades of planning and development to reclaim the waterfront for recreational and residential uses as well as to support the working waterfront through the designation of Significant Maritime and Industrial Areas (

The Brooklyn waterfront shares a history with urban waterfronts around the world from Hoboken, New Jersey to Kaohsiung, Taiwan. When technology moved shipping and manufacturing out from the core of coastal cities, the urban waterfront, often with a legacy of industrial pollution, was abandoned. In New York, there have now been several decades of planning and development to reclaim the waterfront for recreational and residential uses as well as to support the working waterfront through the designation of Significant Maritime and Industrial Areas (SMIAs).

The moment that I tuned into the Brooklyn waterfront was a transformative one. Years of planning were coming to fruition and the waterfront was under active development. Public access began to increase dramatically. In 2007-08, the Newtown Creek Nature Walk in Greenpoint and IKEA with its esplanade on Erie Basin opened. As I spent more time walking along the shore of Brooklyn, searching out every spot with any kind of access to the water, I became aware that there was more than one story here. Brooklyn’s southern neighborhoods from Gravesend to Canarsie, all coastal and severely threatened by sea level rise, had a different narrative, generally about ethnic succession as waves of immigrants moved through. This Brooklyn waterfront is actively used to fish and to swim as free recreation available to all. For many New Yorkers, this waterfront is their primary contact with nature.

Robin Michals, Newtown Creek, 2011, Archival pigment inkjet print, 14 x 21 in. Courtesy Robin Michals.

Robin Michals, Newtown Creek, 2011, Archival pigment inkjet print, 14 x 21 in. Courtesy Robin Michals.

These two stories, the story of Brooklyn’s collapse as an industrial superpower and rebirth as a global brand, and the story of Brooklyn immigrants and working people, creating neighborhoods and communities, are both unfolding along the waterfront. While these two narratives conflict and battles over development are being waged, waterfront neighborhoods now face another serious global challenge: sea level rise. In 2012, Superstorm Sandy hit New York City, making the vulnerability of low-lying areas of the city crystal clear. There are two basic strategies for coping with sea level rise: retreat or resilience. Since few would accept the first option, the waterfront and its communities must transform order to survive. This story is in progress and the ending is not at all clear.
I first became interested in the Brooklyn waterfront in 2007 after going on a tour of Sunset Park with Francis Marrone. Growing up in Manhattan, the Perlwick Hampers sign in Queens was visible from my bedroom window from across the East River, but I had no idea that the container was decimating the shipping and manufacturing industries of the city. I did know that the water in the East River was dirty because, on a family outing to Wards Island, my mother was upset when she saw me with my legs dangling in the water. And as a young adult, I trained my dog on the ballfields of Red Hook, never thinking why so much had been abandoned. Walking around Sunset Park and inside the Bush Terminal that day in the spring of 2007, I finally saw what had always been there but somehow I had ignored.

Robin Michals, Coney Island, November 3, 2012, Archival pigment inkjet print, 14 x 21 in. Courtesy Robin Michals.

Robin Michals, Coney Island, November 3, 2012, Archival pigment inkjet print, 14 x 21 in. Courtesy Robin Michals.

Posted in Brooklyn Past & Present, Exhibitions | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Photo of the Week: Happy Summer!

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

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

We hope you’re having a fun and relaxing summer! The photo of the week is from Charles (Karl) Blieffert’s personal scrapbook, depicting some of his summer adventures in Brooklyn around 1912. The album includes 249 black-and-white photographs of Charles Blieffert’s young friends in the Coney Island, Sheepshead Bay, and Brighton Beach neighborhoods of Brooklyn. He documented social gatherings, dinner parties, and informal portraits of his friends and family. This collection is not fully digitized, but you can see a few additional pages from the scrapbook here.

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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Flatbush + Main Episode 16: Living in Fort Greene

In Episode 16 of Brooklyn Historical Society’s podcast Flatbush + Main, co-hosts Zaheer Ali and Julie Golia examine the many identities of the Brooklyn neighborhood of Fort Greene.

Index

02:43 – Histories and Ideas
21:15 – Into the Archives
33:30 – Voices of Brooklyn

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

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

Segment 1: Histories and Ideas

In segment 1, Zaheer and Julie trace the transformation of Fort Greene from a rural frontier to a thriving middle-class black community, from a mecca of brownstones to a haven for artists.

Segment 2: Into the Archives

Here are images of the document Julie and Zaheer discuss in this segment.

And here’s a similar house tour brochure from Fort Greene.

Untitled

Fort Greene House Tour, nd; H. Dickson McKenna collection, 1994.001, Box 3, Folder 21; Brooklyn Historical Society.

These documents came from the H. Dickson McKenna papers (ARC.060). Peruse the finding aid here. Want to explore other archival collections on the development of brownstone Brooklyn in the late 20th century? Check out the Robert Vadheim Brooklyn neighborhood renewal and development collection (1987.002) and the Everett and Evelyn Ortner papers and photographs (ARC.306).

Charles Lockwood’s Bricks and Brownstone: The New York Row House, 1783-1929 is a classic history of the ubiquitous New York Brownstone. A terrific book about the impact of “Brownstoners” on Brooklyn is Suleiman Osman’s book, The Invention of Brownstone Brooklyn.

Segment 3: Voices of Brooklyn

Zaheer and Julie listen to a clip from an oral history with Ron Shiffman, an architect, urban planner, community advocate, and educator. You can hear the full interview with Shiffman here.

Segment 4: Endorsements

This month, Zaheer endorsed “The Original Celebrity Chef: The King of Curry,” a public program at BHS’s Pierrepont building on August 10, 2017 at 7pm. Get tickets here.

As a homage to walking around neighborhoods (like Fort Greene), Julie endorsed two of her favorite walking tour companies, Big Onion Walking Tours and Turnstile Tours.

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