Photo of the Week: Knickerbocker Field Club

[Men playing tennis, Flatbush, Brooklyn], 1889., V1974.7.71, Adrian Vanderveer Martense collection, Arc.191; Brooklyn Historical Society.

[Men playing tennis, Flatbush, Brooklyn], 1889., V1974.7.71, Adrian Vanderveer Martense collection, Arc.191; Brooklyn Historical Society.

If you’ve ever walked along Church Avenue in the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn, you might not notice a gated entrance to the Knickerbocker Field Club, also known as “the Knick”, located at East 18th Street and Tennis Court. Since 1889, the private, member-owned tennis club has maintained five tennis courts tucked behind a large apartment complex and above the Q train line. It’s a hidden Brooklyn gem and if you’re a tennis lover, they are still taking members! To learn more, check out the Knickerbocker Field Club website.

The photo of the week depicts the Knickerbocker Field Club in 1889. This photograph comes from the Adrian Vanderveer Martense collection that comprises lantern slides and photographs taken by Martense from 1872 to 1889. Many of the photograph depicts the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn, but other collection highlights include photographs of the Blizzard of 1888 and Prospect Park. 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

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Flatbush + Main Episode 05: Whose Crown Heights?

In episode 05 of Brooklyn Historical Society’s podcast Flatbush + Main, co-hosts Zaheer Ali and Julie Golia do a deep dive into the history and future of Crown Heights, a neighborhood in central Brooklyn, on the 25th anniversary of the 1991 Crown Heights Riot. Throughout Crown Heights’ history, its many diverse residents have debated the boundaries, ownership, and meaning of this ever-evolving neighborhood. Julie and Zaheer consider how the question “Whose Crown Heights?” has shaped the neighborhood’s history from the 18th century to the present, they crack open the “Crown Heights” folder from the Vertical File in BHS’s Library and Archives, and they listen to residents Rabbi Simon Jacobson and Iyedun Ince reflect on their relationship with and observations about Crown Heights. For complete show notes, go to brooklynhistory.org/flatbush-main.

Index

03:38 – Histories and Ideas: Whose Crown Heights?
17:15 – Into the Archives: BHS’s Crown Heights Vertical File
26:53 – Voices of Brooklyn: Rabbi Simon Jacobson and Iyedun Ince

Interested in more on Crown Heights? Brooklyn Historical Society recently launched “Voices of Crown Heights,” a multi-year oral history and documentary project exploring themes of identity, community, social justice, ethnic relations, gentrification, and displacement. Learn more about the project here.

Segment 1: Histories and Ideas

Want to learn more about the history of Weeksville, one of the earliest and most significant independent free black communities in America? Plan a trip to Weeksville Heritage Center in Crown Heights. Weeksville hosts amazing events, community projects, exhibitions, and tours of houses that date back to the early 19th century.

The Brooklyn Movement Center works with local communities on issues related to education, environmental justice, food sovereignty, police accountability, and more. Their podcast, “Third Rail,” explores issues of politics, culture, and history and their impact on communities in Bed-Stuy and Crown Heights.

Both Weeksville Heritage Center and the Brooklyn Movement Center are partners in BHS’s “Voices of Crown Heights” project.

Historian Judith Wellman’s 2014 book, Brooklyn’s Promised Land: The Free Black Community of Weeksville, New York, gives a terrific and readable overview of the neighborhood’s 19th-century origins and 20th century transformation.

Segment 2: Into the Archives

Here are images of some of the hundreds of documents in the “Crown Heights” folder from BHS’s Vertical File.

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You can find a collection-level description of BHS’s Vertical Files on Emma, BHS’s catablog.

Interested in learning more about the origins of Vertical Files? Take a look at this description from a turn-of-the-century library catalog.

Segment 3: Voices of Brooklyn

The oral histories featured in this episode of Flatbush + Main are from the Crown Heights History Project collection. The Crown Heights History Project, also known as “Bridging Eastern Parkway,” was a joint project by BHS with Brooklyn Children’s Museum and Weeksville Heritage Center (then known as the Society for the Preservation of Weeksville and Bedford-Stuyvesant History), undertaken in 1993, two years after the Crown Heights riot. The project included exhibitions at each partner institution, and the oral history interviews were a substantial component of the exhibition preparation and exhibited materials. The interviews are being made available for the first time in a digital format, thanks to a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) of the National Archives and Records Administration.

Below is the full interview with Rabbi Simon Jacobson:

And, here is the full interview with Iyedun Ince:

During the segment, we mention the Eastern Parkway Coalition papers, a manuscript collection in BHS’s Archives. Explore the finding aid here.

Segment 4: Endorsements

Zaheer endorsed “Are We There Yet? The Illusion of a Post-Sexist Society,” an event held at BHS on Thursday, September 8 at 7pm. Moderated by Teresa Younger of the Ms. Foundation, the panel includes some pretty amazing speakers, including Marcia Gillespie (Ms. and Essence), Anna Holmes (Jezebel), Muthoni Wambu Kraal (Emily’s List), and Rebecca Traister (author of All the Single Ladies). Tickets are $10 ($5 for members) and can be purchased here.

Julie endorsed BHS’s next Free Friday event, which will be held on September 16 from 5 to 9pm. One Friday each month, BHS stays open late and offers free admission, live music, activities, and access to our exhibition galleries. The theme for September is, of course, Back to School! Learn more here.

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Photo of the Week: East 25th Street

[As at present at corner of East 25th St. and Avenue D – 1917], 1917., V1986.65.1.14, John Jay Pierrepont photograph collection, Arc.197; Brooklyn Historical Society.

[As at present at corner of East 25th St. and Avenue D – 1917], 1917., V1986.65.1.14, John Jay Pierrepont photograph collection, Arc.197; Brooklyn Historical Society.

Last week, the stretch of East 25th street (between Avenue D and Clarendon Rd) in the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn was named the “Greenest Block in Brooklyn” by the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Judging criteria included maintenance, creativity, community participation, suitability of plants, and more. How does your Brooklyn block compare?

The photo of the week depicts one portion of this block, the corner of East 25th Street and Avenue D, in 1914. This photo comes from the John Jay Pierrepont photograph collection that comprises lantern slides, one photograph album, and black and white photographic prints taken by Pierrepont. This photograph is part of a photograph album compiled by Pierrepont that primarily documents 17th and 18th century homes in Brooklyn.

John Jay Pierrepont (1849-1923) was the youngest son of a prominent Brooklyn family. He was a financier and businessman who eventually took over the family business, the Pierrepont Stores, following his father’s retirement. He was an avid amateur photographer and actively involved in Brooklyn organizations.  He served as treasurer for the Long Island Historical Society (now Brooklyn Historical Society) and as one of the original board members of the Committee on Brooklyn History (supervised by the Long island Historical Society). If you’re interested in learning more about John Jay Pierrepont, or his family, be sure to check out the Pierrepont family papers collection available by appointment at the Othmer Library.

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: Red Cross

Red Cross Office, 1914 ca., v1973.2.238, Brooklyn Oversize, 19th Century Collection, v1973.2; Brooklyn Historical Society.

Red Cross Office, 1917 ca., v1973.2.238, Brooklyn Oversize, 19th Century Collection, v1973.2; Brooklyn Historical Society.

During World War I, the Long Island Historical Society (now Brooklyn Historical Society) transformed the 600-seat auditorium on the first floor of its Brooklyn Heights building into a Red Cross headquarters and office. The photo of the week depicts Red Cross activities in the BHS office location, around 1917.  According to their website, the Red Cross provided aid in the form of donations, medical supplies, garments and additional items in support of American and Allied soldiers. The Red Cross saw remarkable growth during World War I. In 1915 the organization had 16,708 members; by 1918, their rolls had swelled to over 20 million!

If you’re interested in additional information on the Red Cross in Brooklyn, check out the American Red Cross, Brooklyn Chapter collection available by appointment at the Othmer Library. If you’re interested in World War I research, take a look at the newly processed S. Spafford Ackerly papers collection and the Edward B. Watson collection of World War I and World War II illustrations and cartoons collection.

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: Nathan’s

[View of Surf Avenue Coney Island.], 1958, V1974.4.1146, John D. Morrell photographs, ARC.005; Brooklyn Historical Society.

[View of Surf Avenue Coney Island.], 1958, V1974.4.1146, John D. Morrell photographs, ARC.005; Brooklyn Historical Society.

Nathan’s Famous has stood at the corner of Stillwell and Surf Avenues in the Coney Island neighborhood of Brooklyn for 100 years. Polish immigrant Nathan Handwerker and his wife Ida Handwerker opened the hot dog stand in 1916. A New York Times article reported that the Handwerkers used their life savings of $300 to open the business. Ida Handwerker created the secret spice for the hot dogs, which were sold for five cents each.

The restaurant appealed to the hundreds of thousands of visitors to Coney Island each year. By 1923, the New York City subway extended to Coney Island, with a station right across the street from the restaurant, which aided the growth and success of the business. To date, Nathan’s claims to have sold over 435 million hot dogs to date.

The photo of the week depicts the Surf Avenue side of Nathan’s in 1958. This photograph comes from the John D. Morrell photograph collection which comprises over 2,000 black and white and color photographs depicting nearly every Brooklyn neighborhood from 1957-1974. If you’re interested in housing research, be sure to check out the fully digitized collection 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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