A few of the things seen along 13th Avenue in Brooklyn on a sunny day in April 2015.
In our first photograph at the corner of 39th Street and 13th Avenue, a once elegant building has been neglected and altered to detract from its original beauty. Portions of its roofline have been unmercifully lopped off at the building’s corner. Some of the ornamental features are still there, even the original building name. You just have to look for it. Near the roosting pigeons on the faded red roof just below what was certainly once an ornate cupola: The Abels and Gold Building.
Simon Abels and Louis Gold were Brooklyn real estate developers at the turn-of-the-century. The Abels Gold Realty Company developed and controlled buildings around the Borough Park and Bay Ridge neighborhoods. By the 1930’s Abels Gold Realty were gone. This building is the sole reminder of their real estate legacy.
Next, if you look down at the street at the same intersection, you will notice there used to be a trolley running along this stretch of road turning from 13th Avenue on to 39th Street. This small section of track was peeking through the asphalt.
Now the city talks about bringing back light railway (electric trolleys) to Brooklyn in areas that have limited transportation options like Red Hook along the Brooklyn waterfront. Continue reading →
Under The Brooklyn Bridge & The Classic Manhattan Skyline At Night -1928
The Brooklyn Bridge frames this unique view of lower Manhattan at night in 1928. The Woolworth Building (partially seen behind the tower of the bridge) was still the tallest building in the world.
In the center of the photo is the third tallest building in the world, the Singer Building at Liberty Street and Broadway. The second tallest building at the time was the Metropolitan Life Insurance Building on 23rd Street and Madison Avenue.
The next skyscraper to the left of the Singer Building is the Equitable Building. Just south of the Equitable with the pyramid shaped roof is the Bankers Trust Building.
2 Historic Photos Show the Enduring Popularity of Coney Island
This is what Coney Island looked like in the 1930s:
Coney Island July 4, 1934
Million Turn Out At Coney Island
Here’s part of the 1,000,000 New Yorkers who visited Coney Island, a summer resort, on July 4 to get away from the heat of the city, as they disported on the beach, many of them shirtless. Credit line: Acme -7/4/34
Many of them shirtless, imagine that! Don’t you love the old news captions?
While Coney Island doesn’t get a million visitors a day any more, it still gets crowded during summertime. One thing you might notice: there are probably lifeguards present in their high perch chairs to watch over the throngs of swimmers, but I cannot see any in this photograph.
When wandering through historic Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn it’s easy to be distracted by the grand mausoleums and elaborate memorials and pass by the more common looking tombstones.
I was struck by this simple memorial to Edwin John Gaddis who died July 23, 1883. His grave marker in section 91 of the cemetery reads as follows:
Edwin J. Gaddis, Born October 23, 1861 Died July 23, 1883. Drowned in Peconic Bay Jamesport L. I. While trying to save life Greater love hath no man than this
That he lay down his life for his friends. John XV.13
On the top of the tombstone the following words are inscribed:
Your honor, your name, And your praises shall ever remain. Your fame shall be eternized.
Eternized, a word not used much today means, to make eternal; immortalize.
Who was Edwin Gaddis? What was his life like? What would make someone risk (and lose) their life? Who exactly were the people he tried to save and were they actually saved?
Besides what is etched on Gaddis’ tombstone, there is virtually no information online about his life. There were however three news items online about his death. This most complete story that answers many of the questions I asked was reported by the New York Tribune on Wednesday, July 25, 1883: Continue reading →
The Unbuilt Brooklyn Dodgers Domed Baseball Stadium – 1956
Model of the proposed domed all-weather sports stadium planned to house the Brooklyn Dodgers is unveiled at the Dodger offices. photo Bob Laird February 6 1956
There are many “might have been’s” in baseball. One of the greatest has always been what if the Dodgers never left Brooklyn?
This photograph of what looks more like a kiddy pool with a baseball diamond in it, is a low-tech model of the proposed all-weather baseball stadium the Brooklyn Dodgers wanted to build. The Dodgers proposal was made ten years before the Houston Astrodome, the world’s first domed sports stadium made its debut in 1965.
For years before they moved to Los Angeles in 1958, Walter O’Malley, the Dodgers owner, had complained about the functionality of Ebbets Field in Brooklyn. The ballpark had character, but O’Malley considered it old and too small with only 32,111 seats and parking for 700 cars.
In 1955, O’Malley enlisted architect R. Buckminster Fuller to design a domed stadium to possibly replace Ebbets Field. The stadium would be in the form of a large bowl and seat approximately 55,000 people. Over the stadium, supported on a light-weight aluminum truss structure, would be a thin plastic dome 750 feet in diameter. The dome would be 300 feet high at its center and it would weigh only 500 tons. Up to that time the largest dome ever built was the 365 foot diameter Dome of Discovery at the Festival of Britain in 1951. Continue reading →
Mickey Mantle at bat as Yogi Berra waits on deck World Series Game 7 October 10, 1956 – photo: Ed Stein
The Yankee Hit Parade
Ebbets Field, N.Y. – This unusual photo of Mickey Mantle at bat and Yogi Berra (8), Yankee catcher on deck waiting for his turn with the lumber, typifies both hopes and fears of this series. Taken in the eighth inning of today’s final game, it shows Dodger catcher Roy Campanella ready to receive and plate umpire Dusty Boggess ready to call. In the background is the crowd as poised as Mickey himself. Mickey hit three homers in the series, though he only got out one hit out of four at bats in today’s game. Berra was one of today’s heroes for the bombers. He hit a pair of two-run homers and got a grand-slam homer in a previous game in the series. Yanks shut out the Dodgers 9-0, for the game and the series. 10-10-56 photo by Ed Stein
The year 1955 witnessed the end of the Brooklyn rallying cry of “wait until next year” when they finally defeated the New York Yankees in an exciting seven game World Series, highlighted by Johnny Podres’ stellar pitching for the Dodgers.
The Dodgers hoped to repeat as champions and even forced a seventh game at their home ballpark at Ebbets Field.
But it was not to be.
After having a perfect game pitched against them by Don Larsen at Yankee Stadium in game five, the Dodgers went back to Ebbets Field down three games to two to the Yankees. Continue reading →
Before There Was Central Park, There Was Green-Wood Cemetery
Greenwood Cemetery Bayside Ave. Fern Hill Mausoleums – print published 1855
While few New Yorker’s today take Central Park for granted, there was a time in the city’s history that open spaces where nature could be enjoyed unimpeded by noise and pollution were scarce.
Greenwood Cemetery The Angels Await stereoview circa 1870
The great public parks which we enjoy today did not come into existence until the late 1850’s with the creation of Central Park followed by Brooklyn’s Prospect Park in 1867. From the 1840s until the 1860s, the rural cemetery was the place to go if a New Yorker or visitor wanted to experience rolling hills, plains, lakes, fabulous artworks and stroll peacefully while contemplating life.
The oldest of these rural cemeteries in New York City is Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery which was founded in 1838.
Green-Wood itself put out its own tour book soon after its creation to give visitors what they called “the tour.”
Green-Wood Cemetery admission ticket 1886
What could you expect when you got there besides mausoleums and tombstones?
Nature in abundance.
To give you an idea of how popular it was to visit Green-Wood, this section of Appleton’sNew York City and Vicinity Guide by W. Williams, published by D. Appleton and Co. (1849) extols some of Green-wood’s virtues: Continue reading →
A Virtually Empty Ebbets Field As The Brooklyn Dodgers Draw Just 2,612 Fans During The Heat Of The Pennant Race – September 15, 1951
The Brooklyn Dodgers owner Walter O’Malley constantly complained that Ebbets Field was not suitable for the Dodgers. Six years after this picture was taken, the Dodgers, enticed by a sweetheart deal, packed up and broke Brooklyn’s heart by moving to Los Angeles. The name O’Malley was forever muttered by Brooklynites with contempt from that day on.
If the Dodgers had attendance like this all the time, you couldn’t blame O’Malley for the move, but this sparse crowd was an anomaly. Here is the original caption to the photo:
PLENTY OF EXCITEMENT BUT FEW CUSTOMERS
There was plenty of excitement at this moment during first inning of the Dodgers- Cincinnati Reds game at Ebbets Field, Brooklyn, NY, Sept. 15, (1951) but not many fans to voice their support or disapproval. A crowd of only 2,612, the smallest Ebbets Field attendance since 1934 saw the display of fireworks in final game this season between the two clubs. The Dodgers outslugged the Reds 11-5, to protect their three-game lead over the pursuing New York Giants. – Associated Press Photo
The Dodgers did not end up protecting their lead and ended up tied with the Giants at the end of the regular season. This necessitated a best of three play-off series which the Giants dramatically won with Bobby Thomson’s ninth inning home run on October 3.
Yemeni Born Brooklyn Resident, Ahmed Rageh Namer Is Arrested For A Conspiracy To Assassinate President-Elect Richard Nixon – 1968
Ahmed Rageh Namer (in hat) is arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit murder, as a Brooklyn detective holds a rifle confiscated from Namer’s home. photo: AP
Some students of history are familiar with Samuel Byck’s 1974 deluded attempted assassination attempt of Richard Nixon by hijacking and flying a plane into the White House. Or they may know about Arthur Bremer’s attempt on Nixon in 1972. Bremer failed to get near Nixon and instead successfully shot and paralyzed presidential candidate George Wallace a few weeks after his failed attempt at Nixon.
But most people are unaware that a Brooklyn man, born in Yemen named Ahmed Rageh Namer was arrested along with his two sons in 1968 and charged with conspiracy to kill President-elect Richard Nixon. Continue reading →
Brooklyn’s Fulton Ferry House and Brooklyn Bridge circa 1885
This view captures the newly built Brooklyn Bridge and Brooklyn’s Fulton Ferry House, a beautiful Queen Ann style Victorian building with its ornate mansard roof.
This picturesque scene showing street railways, horse carts, telegraph poles and light fixtures are all vestiges of the 19th century that vanished long ago. The photo was taken around 1885 from the corner of Everett Street (that is the original spelling) and Fulton Street (now called Old Fulton Street) looking north toward Water Street and the Brooklyn Bridge. Besides the Brooklyn Bridge, the small hotel on the corner of Water and Fulton Street on the extreme right with the striped awning, is the only structure in this photo that is still standing.
The service that became the Fulton Ferry began in 1642. The ferry service moved location several times and Robert Fulton inventor of the steamboat, in the 1810’s secured the lease on the land at the foot of Fulton Street for East River ferry service. William Cutting established a ferry line there starting in 1819.
The Brooklyn Fulton Ferry House building was constructed in 1871 by the Union Ferry Company. Called “The Great Gateway to Brooklyn,” the Ferry House was designed by architect William Belden Olmsted a distant relative of Central Park and Prospect Park landscape designer Frederick Law Olmsted.
At a time when fire laws generally prevented construction of any wooden structures, the Ferry House was built of wood rather than iron because the company believed that vapors from the sewage deposited directly into the river and the salt water would cause iron to rust! It was probably more of an economic ploy to save on building costs as iron or brick was much more expensive than wood. The three story building measured 173 feet wide and 35 feet high, with the tower reaching a height of 86 feet and the main floor containing large waiting rooms featuring every modern convenience. Even opting for the cheaper wood construction, the final cost was a lofty $138,000.
As the new Fulton Ferry House building was opening its demise was literally right behind it. The construction of the Brooklyn Bridge which began in 1869 led to an inevitable and slow decline of the viability of Fulton Ferry service.