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A Bungalow by the Bay

By Anna Schwartz

Posted on August 20, 2020

Auction notice of valuable real estate at Sheeps Head Bay
Auction notice of valuable real estate at Sheeps Head Bay Auction notice of valuable real estate at Sheeps Head Bay; [1879], Map Collection, B P-[1879].Fl; Brooklyn Historical Society.

This 1879 auction notice advertising lots for sale in Sheepshead Bay sought to lure potential buyers to Brooklyn’s southern limits with the promise of “bathing, boating, and fishing.”

At the time, the area–named after a nightmarish fish with rows of human-like teeth once abundant in the bay–was less developed than its more popular beachfront cousins, Coney Island and Brighton Beach. Compared to these other resort destinations, Sheepshead Bay felt more like a sleepy fishing village during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Nevertheless, numerous hotels, seafood restaurants, and the nearby Sheepshead Bay Race Track (opened in 1880) served a growing number of avid anglers, gamblers, and day-trippers. The notice even boasts easy access to downtown Brooklyn and Coney Island via the short-lived Brooklyn, Flatbush, and Coney Island Railroad Company operated Brighton Beach Line.

In the late 1920s, rental notices for modest, one-story bungalows close to Emmons Avenue started appearing in local newspapers. These seasonal getaways catered largely to lower and middle income families looking to spend summers by the sea—though many stayed year round. Similar bungalow communities formed along the Coney Island boardwalk but were demolished in the late 1920s and early 1930s to make room for new apartment complexes. The Sheepshead Bay bungalow community, also threatened by nearby commercial and residential development, managed to survive for decades before falling into decline. A few of these early bungalows remain today along Dunne Place and Brown Street.

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