Photo of the Week: Willow Street

[79 Willow St. east corner of Pineapple Street, Brooklyn 1922.],1922, V1974.32.98; Eugene L. Armbruster photographs and scrapbooks, V1974.32; Brooklyn Historical Society.

[79 Willow St. east corner of Pineapple Street, Brooklyn 1922.],1922, V1974.32.98; Eugene L. Armbruster photographs and scrapbooks, V1974.32; Brooklyn Historical Society.

The photo of the week depicts 79 Willow Street, which stands on the southeast corner of Pineapple Street in the Brooklyn Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, around 1922. This house was torn down only a few years after the picture was taken, and by 1927, the large apartment building that still stands on that corner today had taken its place. In the 1970s, the building was bought by the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania (also known as the Jehovah’s Witnesses) and continues to serve as a dormitory  today – though, as the New York Times reported last week, the religious organization is in the process of selling off its assets and relocating its headquarters from Brooklyn to upstate New York.

In November 1965, New York City Landmarks Preservation designated Brooklyn Heights as the city’s first historic district, protecting remaining historical buildings. Today, tearing down a house like the one pictured would not be possible because of the neighborhood’s landmarked status. To learn more about this, be sure to check out the exhibit Preserving Historic Brooklyn Heights on view now at Brooklyn Historical Society.

This photograph comes from the Eugene L. Armbruster photographs and scrapbooks collection. This collection includes black and white photographs taken by Armbruster, circa 1920-1930. Armburster was an amateur photographer who lived in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn and worked at a cigar box manufacturing company. He photographed extensively in the New York City area, including street scenes in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Long Island. To view more photographs by Armbruster, 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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Photo of the Week: Majestic Theater

[View of Fulton Street.], 1959, V1974.9.13; John D. Morrell photographs, ARC.005; Brooklyn Historical Society.

[View of Fulton Street.], 1959, V1974.9.13; John D. Morrell photographs, ARC.005; Brooklyn Historical Society.

The photo of the week depicts a view of Fulton Street, including the Majestic Theater, in the Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn in 1959. The Majestic Theater opened in 1904 and was known for a variety of theatrical performances, including opera, musicals, and vaudeville. By 1942, the Majestic Theater became a first-run movie theater, and later a church. Not long after this photograph was taken (in 1968), the Majestic Theater closed its doors permanently, and remained that way for two decades.

Harvey Lichtenstein, Brooklyn Academy of Music President and Executive Producer, raised funds to renovate the theater and it re-opened in 1987 with many of the original elements and details. Today, the former Majestic Theater is the Harvey Theater at BAM, showcasing a variety of creative performances and productions.

This photograph comes from the John D. Morrell photographs collection. Morrell was an assistant librarian at Brooklyn Historical Society (formerly Long Island Historical Society) for many years. The collection includes documentary-style photographs depicting almost every Brooklyn neighborhood from 1957 to 1974. To view 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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Photo of the Week: Martense Farm

[Farm field, Brooklyn], 1880, V1974.7.9; Adrian Vanderveer Martense collection, ARC.191; Brooklyn Historical Society

[Farm field, Brooklyn], 1880, V1974.7.9; Adrian Vanderveer Martense collection, ARC.191; Brooklyn Historical Society

It wasn’t so long ago that what is today the borough of Brooklyn was a center of agricultural production. Kings County was once one of the leading vegetable producers for over 250 years, as late as 1880. It took just twenty years for areas in outer-borough Brooklyn to shift from agricultural to entirely urban residential between 1890 and 1910. To learn more about the history of agriculture in Brooklyn, be sure to check out Of Cabbages and Kings County: Agriculture and the Formation of Modern Brooklyn, available at the Othmer Library, as well as our online exhibition, “An American Family Grows in Brooklyn: The Lefferts Family Papers.”

The photo of the week depicts the Martense farm located in the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn, in 1880. The Martense homestead stood for several generations until it was sold in 1889, when Flatbush was transitioning from a farming community to a residential one.

This photograph comes from the Adrian Vanderveer Martense photograph collection. This collection comprises lantern slides and photographs taken by Martense from 1872-1889. Highlights include street scenes in the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn, and the Blizzard of 1888. To view 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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Photo of the Week: Ambrotype

Mariah Ramus, circa 1860, V1978.174.37; Ramus family papers and photographs, 1978.174; Brooklyn Historical Society.

Mariah Ramus, circa 1860, V1978.174.37; Ramus family papers and photographs, 1978.174; Brooklyn Historical Society.

The photo of the week is an example of an ambrotype, a wet collodian photographic process that produces positive images on glass that is backed with black paper or velvet. The ambrotype was introduced in the 1850s and patented by James Ambrose Cutting. This process quickly gained popularity and surpassed the daguerreotype as the preferred photographic process. Ambrotypes were less expensive, quicker, and some preferred the less-reflective surface of the ambrotype compared to the daguerreotype. Ambrotypes were fragile, and typically stored in folding cases or protective frames like the photograph above. New photographic formats and techniques introduced in the late 1850s led to the decline of the ambrotype by the 1860s.

The photo of the week depicts Mariah Ramus around 1860 at an unknown studio in Brooklyn. This photograph comes from the Ramus family papers and photographs collection. This collection comprises personal papers, correspondence, ephemera, and photographs spanning from 1848 to 1910, pertaining to the Ramus family in Brooklyn. Issac Ramus was a retail dealer in hosiery and undergarments with a store located at 385 Canal Street in Manhattan. He and his wife Esther Baruth lived at 214 Dean Street in Brooklyn with their two sons. To view 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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Teen Thursdays at BLDG 92 Part II

In 2014, NYC School’s Chancellor Carmen Farina announced a new program called Teen Thursdays, which pairs cultural institutions with middle schools to provide afterschool programming. Brooklyn Historical Society was proud to be a part of that pilot year, and to participate in the program’s expansion this year to our partner site at the Brooklyn Navy Yard Center at BLDG 92. They recorded their sessions on Tumblr (including a video of their final performance!). Last week, Janise Mitchell wrote about her experience with the Teens. Here, Heather Flanagan, School Programs Educator at BHS & BLDG 92, adds to the conversation.


 

A group of teens stand around a large gallery holding papers in front of themselves in preparation for a performance

The Teen Thursday group’s final performance in BLDG 92’s World War II gallery. The teens created a play based on oral histories from women & men who worked in the Yard during WWII. 

I’m new to museum education (in a previous life I was a public high school English teacher), and one of the things I love about working at Brooklyn Historical Society is we get to give kids a fun, high-interest experience that seeks to spark and nurture our students’ curiosity.  I’m definitely biased, but I think our debut Teen Thursdays program at the Brooklyn Navy Yard Center at BLDG 92 was a perfect example of this!

Teen Thursdays is such a special program because it gives us the chance to welcome back the same group of middle school students week after week, and for students to develop a relationship with a cultural institution that goes way beyond what a quick field trip could provide.  This fall was the first Teen Thursdays program at the Navy Yard, and we had a truly fantastic group!

In seven sessions, my co-teacher Janise and I taught students how to observe and interpret objects and images, how to distinguish primary sources from secondary sources, and how to approach oral histories.  We specifically focused on BLDG 92’s rich World War II collection that highlights the experiences of women and people of color working at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.  In one of my favorite activities, students listened to several oral histories and used them to create composite characters for original skits they wrote and performed in the gallery space.

A pile of student-crafted identification badges lying on a table

The students created Brooklyn Navy Yard ID’s to wear during the culminating performance of the program.

For our culminating activity, Janise wrote an amazing original performance piece that interwove excerpts from the oral histories that the students found most compelling.  The kids worked hard to get out of their comfort zones and speak their lines with feeling, and I just loved watching them connect to the people who broke down race and gender barriers at the Navy Yard over seventy years ago.

Janise and I had so much fun working with our group, and I loved getting the chance to learn from her.  I think we’re both really excited for Teen Thursdays to start up again next spring, and we hope our kids will be back to visit BLDG 92 again soon!

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