Heights History:The Nabeguy Collection

nabeguy photo

nabeguy photo

BHB  community member Nabeguy has posted many vintage photos of Brooklyn Heights to the BHB Photo Club on Flickr.  About the pics he says:

These photos were taken in November 1961 by my father, who, along with other like-minded neighbors, was in opposition to the proposed zoning variance that would allow for construction of the Cadman Towers. He wanted to illustrate the variety and depth of the 19th-century architectural heritage that was at stake. In one of his last-ditch efforts to forestall the wrecking ball, he lobbied to have the building on Cranberry St. in which Walt Whitman set the type for “Leaves of Grass” designated a National Landmark. Obviously, his attempts were in vain, but we do now have the Whitman Townhouses, and these photos, as reminders of what was lost.

More photos after the jump.

nabeguy photo

nabeguy photo

nabeguy photo

nabeguy photo

nabeguy photo

nabeguy photo

nabeguy photo

nabeguy photo

nabeguy photo

nabeguy photo

nabeguy photo

nabeguy photo

nabeguy photo

nabeguy photo

nabeguy photo

nabeguy photo

nabeguy photo

nabeguy photo

nabeguy photo

nabeguy photo

Share this Story:

, , , , ,

  • AEB

    Marvelous photos, nabeguy and Homer!

    Not to focus on the trees rather than the forest, but the top shot shows a late 40s/early 50s Buick in the foreground. A kind of Proustian madeleine for me, as my parents owned such a model.

    Dig those K-R-A-Z-Y Ventiports on the car’s side, into which on my parents car malicious beings used to put pebbles and twigs….

  • BklynJace

    These are awesome, but I’d love a little help orienting myself so I know better what I’m looking at. Anybody?

  • Homer Fink

    This photo may help orient you:
    http://tinyurl.com/cgh6vp

  • nabeguy

    They’re all of Fulton Street, (now Cadman Plaza West) except for the 2nd shot from top.
    Top: bet. Pineapple and Clark
    2nd: Monroe Place towards Clark
    3rd. long shot bet. Orange and Clark
    4.: Anybody remember this barber shops and its location?
    5, 8 and 10 Corner of Middagh and Fulton
    6. Another long shot looking south
    7. Cranberry and Fulton
    9. Between Orange and Pineapple looking south
    11. Cranberry and Pineapple looking north

  • nabeguy

    Sorry, the last one is between Orange and Pineapple looking north.

  • BklynJace

    Thanks all — these are wonderful, nabeguy.

    Sure wish these buildings (and more importantly, this scale) were still there….

  • alex

    Thanks for sharing.

  • No One Of Consequence

    In some ways it looks like a cut’n'paste of Henry St.

  • josh

    Wow! Thanks for sharing, these are great!

  • brooklynite

    this is exactly why zoning is so important. what a loss!!!

  • nabeguy

    NOOC, given the prevailing attitudes at the time, it was more like a cut’n'waste.

  • nabeguy

    Since these don’t seem to be jogging anyone’s memories, let me weigh in. In the top photo, the building to the far left was where the Soviet spy Rudolph Abel was captured. The Waxman’s hardware store in the middle eventually moved down Fulton Street to the space next to Grimaldi’s. And the McGrath’s bar on the far right moved to Henry Street into the space now occupied by Noodle Pudding.

  • John Wentling

    I have a faint recollection of some of the stores and that barbershop – looking at it’s photo, it makes me sorry that, instead of tossing demolished bricks, I saved a few, they don’t make them like that anymore.

    Question: do you recall where the theater was? I’ve got it in my head that it was near Clark/Fulton?

  • bornhere

    John — The theater was on Pineapple at the corner of Fulton.

  • benita berman

    I thought the theatre was in the middle of the block, because I remember turning the corner and seeing the marquee with the name of what was playing. Has anyone ever seen a picture of the outside of the theatre or similar type pictures of Henry Street? What was in the Noodle Pudding space before McGrath’s bar? I thought it was another restaurant. Nabeguy, love the pics. As Nabeguy said, the one on Monroe looking towards Clark shows 97 Clark Street, my grandmother’s house that was demolished at the same time as Fulton Street. What other pictures do you have, Nabeguy? And what happened with your reconstruction of the St. George mural? I think Eastern Sports is now re-opened after the renovation. Anyone seen it?

  • benita berman

    Also, in the first picture, I think there was a diner on that corner across from Tommy’s grocery that was called The Blue Plate Diner.

  • http://mopostal.com mopostal

    These are fantastic! Are there any more lurking out there of the opposite view from Henry St?

  • http://mermaidsonparade.blogspot.com melanie hope greenberg

    These are so great. I walk there all the time and had no idea how it used to look. Thanks nabeguy.

  • nabeguy

    I’m delighted that so many of you enjoyed these photos. Given the response, I think that Andrew Porter has the right idea…set up a Yahoo group devoted to collecting memories of the neighborhood. Sorry, Homer, I don’t mean to poach on your territory, but it’s apparent that the field of reminiscences about the Heights is a rich one and deserves its own voice. If noting else, it will give us cronies a dedicated site to share our pasts without pissing off those who have no idea of what we’re talking about.

  • Andrew Porter

    These are absolutely outstanding. I have to admit I live in that part of the Heights (moved in in 1968) and I have never seen some of these shots. Thank you a thousand times for posting these! If I were still in publishing, I’d say there was a book in here, somewhere…

  • Andrew Porter

    There are two maps of those streets and buildings on the NYPL website, that I’ve downloaded, which show the individual property outlines as they were in 1885 or so. The names are: “3rd and 8th Wards” and “2nd, 3rd and 4th Wards”. The first ends at Pineapple, the second shows a slightly southern area. Both show Fulton. Quite fascinating.

  • No One Of Consequence

    It’s interesting to see the same trees as juveniles. The house on the south-west corner of Monroe/Clark looks in pretty good shape and about twice as tall as it is now.

    Just think, in 48 years we (or our kids, or clones of ourselves) can share our digital photos (which they will have converted to intra-cranial-hologram format) of how we used to be able to see a long-forgotten span called the Brooklyn Bridge from street level as they lament the loss on BHT (Brooklyn Heights TLOG [short for Telepathy-log]).

    The trees, of course, will have been replaced by carbon-fiber replicas made from ground-up old tires, which will be hailed as an improvement on the real thing.

    The Bridge itself, having been purchased by a developer, will have been quietly torn down and plans will be in place to construct a hi-rise multi-purpose structure that will block the magnificent views of the historic Dock St. DUMBO building, a monument to political manipulation. The developer will offer to include a middle-school in the plans as there will be none in the immediate area.
    Local opposition will rise up to “Save Dock Street” as it will no longer be viewable from Luxury Levee (a private, gated community; formerly Brooklyn Bridge Park; the levee to keep out the rising sea levels).

    Don’t laugh. I bet that 100 years ago, no one thought about tearing down the church at Monroe/Clark and replacing it with the duplexes that are there now.

  • AEB

    …but Great Wall will still be in biz. (Sorry! The devil made me post it….)

  • bornhere

    Benita – I think you’re right about the theater not being quite at the corner of Fulton; and I do remember the diner on Clark and Fulton, but I also remember noting that I never saw women or kids in there. I recall it looking very plain and basic. And as I think about it now, I am imagining Popeye and Bluto at the counter :)

    C’mon “old-timers” — can’t anyone ID the barbershop pole? The “200″ should rule out lots of streets. Could it have been Clinton? Even Atlantic Avenue?

  • JBennett

    It looks like that Barber shop is seen in the last photograph. It is the last storefront on that long stretch of grey buildings. If you look close you can see the barber shop pole sticking out by the doorway.

    Thanks nabeguy for sharing these great photographs. I have never seen shots of what that stretch looked like before demolition. Only arial shots I guess.

    Maybe you could upload these shots and any others to a flickr page so they can be seen larger and pooled with other BH photos.

    Thanks.
    JB

  • John Wentling

    Bornhere, wouldn’t the barbershop have been at 200 Fulton St? The photos are primarily of what it now Cadman Plaza West, so it just stands to reason.

    Having been so young, I can’t quite recall the actual businesses, my clearest recollection is of the door fences surrounding the site(s), prior to construction. I remember pulling a washing machine motor out of one of the holes, someone got it into their head they’d make a go kart or something with it.

    The theater is rather clear in my head, although I believe it closed well before demolition, perhaps 60/61?

    LOVE the pics, a Yahoo group sounds like just the ticket, I guess I’ll prod my mother, who lives in the Bronx, to dig out her photos. Like pulling teeth, but I’ll try. :)

  • bornhere

    JBennet and John — You’re probably right about the barber shop. (As little girls, my sister and I were toted to B. Altman for haircuts, and as we got older, we accompanied my mom to Rozelle’s on Montague.)
    John — Tell your mom that, if she doesn’t share her photographic treasures, you’ll post her phone number here so several of us could call her and whine a lot until she agrees :)

  • benita berman

    I dragged the photos from the subject page in the BHB to my desktop and then I imported them into my photo program (I have IPhoto) where I could view them in full screen. I also looked at them in full screen on the desktop by doing a control click and selecting “quick view” and then I was given the option to view in full screen. I don’t know if PCs work the same way.

  • http://www.azcdl.org John Wentling

    Bornhere, got my haircuts at the St. George, including my very first, by the people who are still there! I’m 51, they gotta be pushing 100 if that 3 year old judgment is any guide. )

    I’ll call her, the pics are probably in one of her steamer trunks, but she’s going on 93, might be a tough nut to crack.

    Nabeguy, I’m saving all these photos, see if I can enhance them to better see the storefronts – if I can, I’ll share.

  • since47

    In a lovely little booklet entitled, Brooklyn Heights Yesterday Today Tomorrow, published in 1937 (way earlier than what we’re writing about) by the Brooklyn Heights Association, ‘For the Benefit of the Residents of Brooklyn Heights,’ I found some interesting stuff. This book contains a Classified Directory of the stores in the Heights, including ads for many of them. Lottie & Jack has an ad calling itself a cocktail lounge, but mentioning nothing about Chinese food (location at 87 Pineapple/87 Henry). Womrath’s, which I only remember being on Montague Street, was, at this time at 187 Henry. In their ad, their main purpose was renting or selling the latest books, fiction and non-fiction; they also sold ‘smart stationery, unusual gifts and greeting cards.’ What we so fondly called Silver’s was actually Brooklyn Heights Stationery (Murray Silver, Proprietor). Leaving no room for error, he sold cigars, stationery, novelties, pipes, candies, table candles, films and greeting cards. I guess it took him a while to come up with the idea of selling toys. The garage that we see in the wonderful photos posted by nabeguy, was the Towers Garage, all 16 floors of it in two modern fireproof garages, at Orange & Fulton Streets. You were ensured of ‘Safety, Efficiency and Speedy Service.’ The St. George Playhouse was at 100 Pineapple. In my memory the building didn’t extend to Fulton Street – it just seems that all 992 seats (big theater!) were scrunched between two buildings. Heights Seafood was at 228 Fulton, which, if it’s the same one I knew from childhood in the 50s, it was around the corner from Clark Street (between Clark and Pineapple). For drugstores in 1937, there was a Whelan’s at 60 Henry and Yaffa at 89 Henry. Now, as far as where that barber shop at 200 Fulton Street was, I suppose it would have been somewhere between Clark and Orange, since the ‘rear’ entrance of 75 Henry Street (Cadman Towers) is 200 Cadman Plaza West. In 1937 the James Barber Shop existed at 200 Fulton, and the Rio Barber Shop was at 204. In nabeguy’s 9th photo, I can see a barber pole in front of the last gray building on the left. I think there may be another one in another photo, because the mention of a barber pole is not the one I saw. I know this is all 1937, but I find it fascinating. And thank you, Benita, for the idea of dragging the photos into iPhoto for better viewing – I never thought of that. And please – John – at the age of 93, your mother probably won’t want to start rummaging through steamer trunk, so how about you? We’re all obviously salivating here…