Photo of the Week: Hunterfly Road Houses

[Hunterfly Road Houses], 1922, v1987.11.2; Eugene L. Armbruster photograph and scrapbook collection, v1987.011; Brooklyn Historical Society.

[Hunterfly Road Houses], 1922, v1987.11.2; Eugene L. Armbruster photograph and scrapbook collection, v1987.011; Brooklyn Historical Society.

The photo of the week depicts Hunterfly Road Houses in 1922, the last remaining structures of the Weeksville community, part of the present-day Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn. Weeksville was founded in 1838, and named after James Weeks, a former slave from Virginia, who was an early investor and resident of the community.  It quickly became a thriving community of black landowners, reaching 521 residents in 1855. Land ownership was particularly important to black New Yorkers because at the time, New York State’s constitution required men of color to own $250 worth of property to be able to vote. No property requirements existed for white New Yorkers.

After they were rediscovered in the 1960s, the Hunterfly Road Houses were designated New York City landmarks in 1970. To learn more about this history, you can visit the Weeksville Heritage Center which just opened a new exhibition titled Weeksville: Transforming Community/In Pursuit of Freedom, part of a public history project in partnership with Brooklyn Historical Society and Irondale Ensemble Project that explores the heroes of Brooklyn’s abolitionist movement. You can also visit Brooklyn Historical Society’s sister exhibition, Brooklyn Abolitionsists/In Pursuit of Freedom  on display through 2018.

The photo of the week is from the Eugene L. Armbruster photographs and scrapbook collection that comprises seven scrapbooks and several hundred photographs taken by Armbruster during late 19th century and early 20th century Brooklyn. Armbruster was an amateur photographer and historian, who was interested in historic infrastructure; particularly those he believed were at risk of being destroyed. Thanks to a generous grant from Gerry Charitable Trust, Brooklyn Historical Society is digitizing and cataloging all seven scrapbooks from this collection. To see more photographs form 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 , , , , , | Leave a comment

Photo of the Week: Brooklyn Sewers

[New Catch Basin/Court + Remsen Sts], 1920 ca, v1974.24.42; Arthur Weindorf glass plate negatives , v1974.024; Brooklyn Historical Society.

[New Catch Basin/Court + Remsen Sts], 1920 ca, v1974.24.42; Arthur Weindorf glass plate negatives , v1974.024; Brooklyn Historical Society.

You’ve probably heard the urban legend of alligators living in the New York City sewers, but did you know there is small grain of truth to that? In February 1935, a few teenage boys discovered a 125-pound alligator in a sewer at 123rd street while shoveling snow. A New York Times article describes one of the boy’s encounter with the alligator: “What he saw, in the thickening dusk, almost caused him to topple into the icy cavern. For the jagged surface of the ice blockade below was moving; and something black was breaking through. Salvatore’s eyes widened; then he managed to leap to his feet and call his friends. ‘Honest, it’s an alligator!’ he exploded.”

Thursday, February 9 is unofficial “Alligator in the Sewer Day” hosted by Michael Miscione, Manhattan Borough Historian, at Greater Astoria Historical Society. If you’re interested in learning more about this fascinating history, and other urban legends, check out the event!

The photo of the week depicts a catch basin, and a group of men and boys, at the corner of Court and Remsen Street in the Brooklyn Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn. This photograph comes from the Arthur Weindorf glass plate negatives collection comprised of glass plate negatives from 1901 to 1920 that document the construction of the sewer system and subway tunnels in Brooklyn. Arthur Weindorf was a Queens-born illustrator and artist, who later joined the Public Services Commission of the City of New York where he worked as an engineer and designer. This collection is not digitized, but we hope you will make an appointment at the Othmer Library to view the collection in person.

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 , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Flatbush + Main Episode 10 Bonus Segment: Voices from the NYC Women’s March

This month, Flatbush + Main listeners get a bonus segment of “Voices of Brooklyn!” On January 21, 2017, hundreds of thousands of people, including countless Brooklynites, took part in the Women’s March on NYC. Julie spoke to several participants about why they marched, what activism means to them, and how their beliefs have evolved since the 2016 election. We’re honored to share their thoughtful reflections.

For complete show notes, go to brooklynhistory.org/flatbush-main. Don’t forget to subscribe, rate, and review Flatbush + Main on iTunes at brooklynhistory.org/fm-itunes.

Were you one of the marchers that proudly brandished a protest sign? Our Library & Archives is looking to collect signs from the march to chronicle this historic event. If you’d like to donate it, you can mail it to Brooklyn Historical Society or drop it off in person. Our address is 128 Pierrepont Street, Brooklyn NY, 11201.

Special thanks to our Production Associate Andrew Kaberline, who edited this bonus segment. And don’t forget to subscribe to, rate, and review Flatbush + Main on iTunes!

Posted in Flatbush + Main Podcast | Leave a comment

Photo of the Week: Jackie Robinson

[Jackie Robinson in dugout], 1950 ca, v1987.1.3; Photography collection, v1987.1; Brooklyn Historical Society.

[Jackie Robinson in dugout], circa 1950, v1987.1.3; Photography collection, v1987.1; Brooklyn Historical Society.

Yesterday would have been Jackie Robinson’s 98th birthday. He became the first African American baseball player to play in Major League Baseball (MLB) when he debuted for the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947. He played ten years in the MLB and helped lead the Dodgers to their 1955 World Series championship. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962. On April 5, 2017, Brooklyn Historical Society will open a new exhibition, “Until Everyone Has It Made: Jackie Robinson’s Legacy,” which celebrates Robinson’s role integrating professional baseball and his lifelong commitment to racial equity.

The photo of the week depicts Jackie Robinson in a dugout (possibly at Ebbets Field) sometime around 1950. Othmer Library has several collections related to the Brooklyn Dodgers, including Brooklyn Dodgers collection, Brooklyn Dodgers Spring Training photographs, and Brooklyn Dodgers photographs. We hope you will visit the Othmer Library to see for yourself, and be sure to check out the Jackie Robinson exhibit when it opens this spring.

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 , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Photo of the Week: Blizzard of 1888

[Horse-drawn sleigh, Flatbush Avenue and Clarkson Avenue], 1888, V1974.7.74; Adrian Vanderveer Martense collection, ARC.191; Brooklyn Historical Society.

[Horse-drawn sleigh, Flatbush Avenue and Clarkson Avenue], 1888, V1974.7.74; Adrian Vanderveer Martense collection, ARC.191; Brooklyn Historical Society.

I’ve been missing the magic of a Brooklyn snow fall during this unseasonably warm winter, but looking at this photograph, I’m reminded that I should be careful what I wish for. New Yorkers were reportedly experiencing similarly warmer temperatures and rain leading up to the Blizzard of 1888. No one suspected a four day blizzard in March, with high winds and roughly 40 inches of snow. The storm paralyzed transportation in the city and is considered one of the most severe blizzards in United States history. The photo of the week depicts a horse-drawn sleigh at the intersection of Flatbush Avenue and Clarkson Avenue following the Blizzard of 1888.

This photograph is from the Adrian Vanderveer Martense collection comprised of lantern slides and photographs taken by Martense during the late 19th century. Martense was a descendent of early Dutch settlers to Brooklyn and the Martense family were longtime residents of the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn. Many of his photographs depict Flatbush, as well as other areas of Brooklyn. To view more photographs from this collection, including other images from the Blizzard of 1888, 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 , , , , , , | Leave a comment