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Flatbush + Main Episode 15: Welcome to BHS DUMBO

By Julie Golia

Posted on July 3, 2017

In Episode 15 of Brooklyn Historical Society’s podcast Flatbush + Main, co-hosts Zaheer Ali and Julie Golia dive into the history of Empire Stores, the historic 19th-century waterfront warehouse that is now the home of BHS’s new satellite museum, BHS DUMBO.


02:57 – Histories and Ideas
20:13 – Into the Archives
35:30 – Voices of Brooklyn

For complete show notes, go to

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Learn more about BHS DUMBO – including how to visit – at

Segment 1: Histories and Ideas

BHS’s new satellite museum is situated in a historic 19th-century building – the details of which reveal important clues about the Brooklyn waterfront’s working history. Julie and Zaheer analyze the architectural components of the building – from its arched windows and schist walls to the original warehouse machinery BHS features in the new gallery space.

We hope local listeners will visit soon! In the meantime, here are some images of the building.

The winch and original beams shown here were restored thanks to the generosity of American Express.

Segment 2: Into the Archives

In the process of planning and opening the new gallery space, BHS historians pieced together a detailed history of the building and the site on which it sits. In this segment, Julie and Zaheer explore the maps and newspaper articles that chronicled the history of Empire Stores.

Here are images of the documents we looked at during this episode:

Taylor, “A new and accurate plan of the city of New York,” 1797, New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed June 30, 2017.
Dripps, “Map of the City of Brooklyn Long Island,” 1850, Brooklyn Historical Society.
Perris, “Insurance maps of the Warehouses,” 1861 New York Public Library Digital Collections.

Segment 3: Voices of Brooklyn

In this segment of “Voices of Brooklyn,” we listened to Angela Fontanez, who was born in the Bronx in 1943, and grew up in DUMBO. Her oral history interview, recorded January 29, 1989, is part of the Hispanic Communities Documentary Project. You can learn more about her and listen to her complete interview on BHS’s Oral History Portal here.

Segment 4: Endorsements

Julie endorsed “Gone Fishin’: Brooklyn’s Favorite, Forgotten Pastime. On Thursday, July 6, Jarrett Murphy, Executive Publisher of City Limits, leads a discussion with Sean Dixon, environmental law advocate at Hudson Riverkeeper and professor, and Michael Louie, fisherman and representative of the Brooklyn Urban Anglers Association, about the realities of today’s urban fishing landscape. Event starts at 6:30pm. Reserve tickets, ($5/free for members) here.

Zaheer endorsed “The New Crown Heights? A Neighborhood and Its Future.” On Tuesday, July 18, MSNBC host and author Joy-Ann Reid moderates a panel of people living and working in Crown Heights and their varied views on neighborhood change and transformation.Event starts at 6:30pm and is free. Reserve tickets here.

Special thanks to those whose support make Brooklyn Historical Society DUMBO and our upcoming “Waterfront” exhibition possible:

National Endowment for the Humanities, Institute of Museum and Library Services, Office of the Mayor of New York City, New York City Council, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, Office of the Brooklyn Borough President, Empire State Development, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Dormitory Authority of the State of New York, American Express, Bank of America, FHL Bank San Francisco, Midtown Equities, and M&T Bank. BHS programs are also made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

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