Karl’s Holiday Weekend Wrap-Up

Mr. J. finds some historical scenes to contrast with present-day realities, notes what’s new and what’s about to be, and finishes with a last look (it goes away after today, so brave the heat if you yearn to play) at folks playing the piano at Pier 1.

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  • lcd

    Karl, another enjoyable video. Art deco ceiling: could it be in the Bossert? I’ve always wanted to check out the lobby, but am deterred by the prospect of being proselytized to. Would love to go in and just poke around unnoticed.

  • Karl Junkersfeld


    Not the Bossert. I have plenty of film of Bossert’s ceiling that will be showing up in a video I am working on about Montague Street Part 2.

    The JW staff in the lobby of the Bossert are very accommodating and will not mind you coming in to look. In fact, they welcome visitors in to show off their handiwork. They have restored it to perfection. Trust me, it is worth a look see.

  • ashton

    The Bossert is not Art Deco style. It is Beaux Arts. Very different.
    The ceiling is probably in the Cranlin on Cranberry Street.
    In terms of neighborhood history, the facet that no one ever talks about is that the Heights was a center of prostitution in the 1950’s 60’s and 70’s. Almost every apartment building had call girls and many brownstones were brothers. They catered to the longshoremen and I suppose to men from both downtowns. This was hookerville. Speak to anyone who lived here prior to 1980.

  • ashton

    of course I meant to write brothels, not brothers, and I believe the Bossert and the St. George were quite famous “hot sheet” hotels.
    The Palm Hotel on Pierrepont and Henry was probably the most High-class prostitution establishment locally. Although from what I gather, and no, I am not old enough to remember, there were houses of ill-repute on every block.

  • nabeguy

    ashton, no one talks about it because it’s an absurd claim. “Almost every apartment building had call-girls and many brownstones were brother(l)s”? Since I doubt you were even born before 1980, I can only wonder who has been planting such nonsense in your head. Sure there was prostitution in the Heights. Homer even points that out on his tour, but you’re making it sound like the red-light district in Amsterdam.

  • ashton

    nabeguy, the Heights was hookerville, no doubt about it.
    When I moved here in the…well…a long time ago, there were still some semi-retired ladies in my building, and I thought “how quaint” but the more I read about the Heights, the more it became clear that this was the favored locale for houses of ill-repute. Close to the docks, convenient to transportation, still possessing an air of upper-class respectibility.
    Why do you think I am making it up?
    Do some research.
    It is actually very interesting social/urban history.

  • Karl Junkersfeld

    No not the Cranlyn.

  • ashton

    Karl, no of course not, it is not the Cranlyn, which is real Art-Deco.
    Viewing your lovely video again, the ceiling in question is papered in what I believe is Bradbury & Bradbury paper, which is more of an aesthetic movement reproduction wallpaper.
    There is not really much that is particularly Art Deco about that space. The ceiling fixtures are contemporary, the wallpaper is aesthetic-style reproduction, and the entryway opening looks non-descript. I’m stumped.

  • bornhere

    Nabe — Don’t discourage ashton’s input; between the whore houses and (earlier claims about) houses being torched right and left in the 1940s and 1950s, it’s a wonder any of us who have been here forever managed to survive the squalor and conflagrations.

  • ashton

    bornhere, what you are writing is just misinformation. I do not recall ever writing about houses being torched.
    Look, I don’t know you guys personally and I’m not an official Mouseketeer or whatever, but I do share an interest and affection for the neighborhood, which is why I occassionally post here.
    Also, Timewarner cable is out tonight, anyone else effected?
    Anyway, just because I am writing things that are new to you please don’t demonize me, that is so…..close-minded, -and not nice.

  • bornhere

    ashton: From a mid-June post of yours:
    “I agree that the Richard Upjohn designed mansion is far more attractive than its modern replacement. I think it burned -or more likely was torched, in the late 1940’s. A fate the entire neighborhood almost shared. It is a miracle anything survived the 1950’s.”

    I have learned a lot about the Heights from reading this blog, and I’ve never considered myself to be a go-to person for answers on anything much more complex than “What was there before Clark’s Corner”; but when I read descriptions of the neighborhood that invoke the days of my “wonder years” (which actually seem to be never-ending) that substantially conflict with my own experiences and recollections, I take issue.
    My “good old days” precede nabe’s by just a couple of years; back then, the “big playground” was a little dicey, Atlantic Avenue was some sort of force field, and the area of Fulton north of about Orange was a bit of an adventure. We all grew up knowing — and embracing — the history of the Palm Hotel; but some of the things you write about are either neighborhood fiction or details that somehow escaped me and everyone I know. I don’t mean to demonize, but there’s fact and there’s fable. And I tend to believe my own experiences, and those of my family and local friends. And nabe.
    (And my Cable is okay now but was out on Friday.)

  • AEB

    Thanks for this lovely miscellany, Karl. Odd not to know the gender of a longtime contributor–I’m speaking of my2–with whom we’ve been otherwise acquainted for years.

    And (alas) most sex-trade has gone electronic. A loss in neighborliness!

  • Karl Junkersfeld


    Don’t know the gender but was just playing at being Sherlock Holmes, based on the comment left on one of his/her warning signs. Come to think of it, I guess a female could off left that note. Whichever gender he/she is, a great deed was done. Saving someone $60 in these difficult economic times is nothing to sneeze at. Didn’t ashton out nabeguy? I’ve met nabeguy and he is one beautiful guy.

  • Lauren

    Who was that kid playing “straight up” on the panio at the end of the video he was great!!

  • Karl Junkersfeld

    Don’t know. His parents told me that he loves to play but their apartment in New York isn’t large enough for a piano so they relished the opportunity to take him down to Pier One to play. If you saw him in person, you could see his love for the piano. Hope things work out for him.

  • nabeguy

    Thanks for the back-up, bornhere. Maybe now, ashton will begin to understand the difference between actually living history rather than experiencing it through hear-say. ashton, this is the internet (remember?). If you’ve got sources to support your claims, link us to them, but here’s a bit of history as I lived it: the Brooklyn docks were pretty much defunct by the mid’s 60’s and definitely by the 70’s, so you can forget the longshoreman angle. I don’t know what building you moved to when you pitched your tent in our nabe, but your stories sounds about as semi-retired as the women you spoke to. BTW, did you bother to ask them if they actually charged for their services? One thing I do remember growing up here was that there were some people, both male and female, who maintained rather liberal ideas when it came to the subject of sex. Henry Ward Beecher probably had more to do with attracting people of that ilk than the waterfront.

  • Jorale-man

    The lobby featured is that of 150 Joralemon Street. It was formerly an insurance building but converted to apartments in 1978, then a co-op in the mid 80s. The arcade around it was previously home to small stores (three continue to be 3 – Haystack, a yoga place and a dry cleaners).

    Great video. I liked the music montage at the end especially…

  • nabeguy

    BTW, bornhere, that was one of the most cogent and brilliant posts that I’ve ever read on this site, or any other for that matter. I think the time for some of us “time capsules” to get together and share memories on a face-to-face basis is long overdue. Chances are, we probably already know each other, even if it’s just a passing recognition in the aisles of Key Food.

  • Karl Junkersfeld

    Correct, 150 Joralemon and thanks for the short history.

    A quick note about prostitution in the Heights. There is no question that it was ubiquitous in the depression era here in the Heights and Red Hook. Obviously the reason being that there were an excellent customer base of longshoreman working the docks. Also, there were probably more women entering the trade just to survive financially. It was the depression. After that period, the long shoreman population started to decline. Quote from attached article, “the longshoreman work force in New York numbered 31,000 in New York in 1958. It fell to 24,000 over the next ten years , to 15,000 by 1973. Today (1978) it is 11,800.

    Of course the Heights went through some bad times in the 70’s, Hotels like the St. George. Bossert and Hotel Montague were converted to welfare hotels Obviously, due to the economics of the times and this influx of poor people the Heights prostitution population increased but probably no more than many neighborhoods in New York. In fact, my guess is that most of the prostitutes that lived in Brooklyn practiced their trade in Manhattan. Why, cause that was where the money was.

    Again, I moved here in 1980 so I don’t have on site information like nabeguy and bornhere but through my reading of the area. This is what I have surmised.

    Attached article about longshoreman.