SNOW DAY ON BERGEN & FLATBUSH (1888)

Although today was merely a dusting in comparison to the Blizzard of 1888, it gives us an opportunity to look back on what the aftermath of a real snowstorm looked like. In the inset black & white photograph, we see men clearing snow outside of a coal & wood store after the blizzard at the corner of Flatbush Avenue and Bergen Street. We’ve included a Google Maps view of what that corner looks like today. The Coal & Wood shop is now a Gino’s Pizza at 218 Flatbush Avenue. Follow @BrownstoneDetec ———————————————————————————————————————– The Brownstone Detectives The story you have just read was composed from extensive historical research conducted by The Brownstone Detectives. We perform in-depth investigations on the historic homes of our clients, and produce for them their very own House History Books. Our hardbound books contain an illustrated and colorful narrative timeline that will bring the history of any house to life. Contact us today to begin discovering the history of your home.

ANALYZING A QUINCY STREET VICTORIAN

In 1902, Quincy Street, between Bedford and Nostrand avenues, had become a leader in the Bedford District in block beautification initiatives. A forerunner to the Greenest Block campaign that would come 70 years later, the campaign in 1902 would be called “Block beautiful.” Because the campaign had become so popular that year, this block of Quincy Street would have a number of pictures of its houses published in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Here we have three shots of 186 Quincy Street – the home of Daniel Winant (a dealer in hotel and steamship food supplies) – which the Eagle called “the old Joseph C. Hoagland residence.” It was, they noted, a “double mansion of red brick, with a large lawn on one side, one of the finest of Hill residences.” So apparently, even back then, Clinton Hill was encroaching upon the Bedford section. 😉 The first picture, above, a Google Maps northwest facing view of the house is from 2014, followed below by two more shots – a newspaper photograph from 1902, and then, through the magic of Google Maps, we have a shot from 2016. WHAT DIFFERENCES DO YOU NOTICE BETWEEN THE FOLLOWING TWO PICS!?!? Follow @BrownstoneDetec ———————————————————————————————————————– The Brownstone Detectives The story you have just read was composed from extensive historical research conducted by The Brownstone Detectives. We perform in-depth investigations on the historic homes of our clients, and produce for them their very own House History Books. Our hardbound books contain an illustrated and colorful narrative timeline […]

THE BOMBING OF BROOKLYN HEIGHTS (1892)

It was just past 1 a.m. on a cool Saturday morning in the tony Columbia Heights section of Brooklyn. The police reserves of the Second Precinct, under the able leadership of Sergeant Joseph Carrougher, would soon be arriving on the scene. Carrougher’s desk sergeant had just awoken him out of a deep sleep at the Fulton Street police station. The sergeant had looked at him gravely in the dark of the room. “Somebody exploded a dynamite bomb on Willow Street.” “GROTESQUELY DRESSED, THE RESULT OF A HURRIED TOILET” When Carrougher arrived on the scene, he found Officer Seymour, “a portion of whose post was the scene of the explosion,” along with “a crowd of citizens” busily disturbing the crime scene. It was not too troublesome, however, having this crowd of citizens, “grotesquely dressed, the result of a hurried toilet,” tromping about the evidence. So long as they did not take anything that would assist in apprehending the guilty party. But many at the scene that night had begun amusing themselves “by digging out the fine white powder of the cobblestone with their penknives,” taking away samples. Sgt. Carrougher had seen it all in his 25 loyal years of dedication to the force. And while there were a number of clues that pointed in a variety of directions, the good sergeant was clearly stumped. Many of the locals were privately suspicious that it was a socialist who had exploded the bomb in an attempt to incite fear in the lives of […]

A COLLAPSE, A DEATH, & AN INQUIRY (1912)

It happened just before Christmas of 1912. A young husband in the prime of his life rushes to buy a last-minute Christmas gift for his beautiful wife. With the pearl necklace safely deposited in his suit-coat pocket, he dashes to catch the train that is approaching. Rushing up the stairwell to the Long Island Rail Road (L.I.R.R.) platform, he quickly reaches the top step. As he turns the corner to run for the platform, he barely senses the very stairwell beneath him shifting almost imperceptibly beneath his feet. Then, as a loud crack reports his entire balance has shifted, and he is suddenly in a terrifying free-fall. Seconds later the young husband’s body is covered with tons of – what had seconds before been – concrete stairs. This fatal collapse of the L.I.R.R. stairwell occurred at Atlantic and New York avenues, and was subsequently blamed on the corrosion of two cast-iron posts which supported the entire concrete structure. The tragedy on the L.I.R.R. stairway at New York and Atlantic avenues ended in the sudden death of a well-known art expert, David H. Cochran of 113 Macon Street. THE BEGINNING OF A “BIG” INQUIRY The very day afterward, as the finger-pointing already began to take place, a “big” inquiry was established which would look into the cause of the accident. All city elevated stairwells, it was announced, were to be subject to “service board tests,” which would determine their strength and suitability for the daily traffic they received. Experts would be […]

THE FUR-MAN OF FULTON STREET (1896)

Fur was a big thing 100 years ago. The highest classes of women wore furs and those not as high a class wished to emulate them. There were all types of furs – from lynx, to fox, to otter and seal – even mole, squirrel and Persian sheep! James Cassidy not only sold the finest furs in the latest styles, but he also altered them as the styles changed, repaired them when they became damaged, and then refrigerated them in the summer when they were not in use. After a fur was selected, altered, and sold, it also needed to be cared for. So an entire industry sprang up around their cold storage in the warmer months. Cassidy used the latest in refrigeration techniques – an ammonia refrigerating machine – a freezing method which “far surpasses the old.” With refrigeration at hand within the same building where the furs were sold, an employee of Cassidy’s would simply send a wagon around to their client’s door and pick up their furs, bringing them back to Cassidy to summer in his cold storage. CASSIDY MOVES DOWN FULTON Cassidy’s fur emporium at 454 Fulton Street, a new “four-story brick building” in 1889, allowed him to expand his operations as he moved from his former shop at 277 Fulton Street. He held his grand opening later that year on October 29th. By 1900, Cassidy’s son, James, Jr., was running the business. In 1902, Although Cassidy continued to operate his store from this location, he […]

THE DELIGHT OF A CLINTON HILL BOY (1945)

(The following is an excerpt from the upcoming Brownstone Detectives House History Book, No. 241 Washington Avenue – The Story of a House.) On a cloudy windy December evening, the crew of the B-24 Liberator “Beaver’s Baby,” flying at an altitude of 23,000 feet, neared the Belgian border. On the return leg of a bombing mission over Hanau, Germany, the plane’s pilot, Captain Clarence “Bart” Barton, had a crucial decision to make. Their heavy bomber had lost an engine and, according to the Barton, “another was almost gone.” It was clear, he decided, that they would be unnecessarily risking their plane and crew if they attempted a channel crossing considering their plane’s condition. Barton thus alerted his men that they were going to have to make a forced landing somewhere. He, thus, directed his navigator, 18-year-old Lieutenant Robert F. Palestri, to identify the coordinates of the nearest friendly airfield and to guide them to that location. Nearing Belgian soil, after hours of flying over Germany, the crew’s navigator oriented the pilot toward what appeared to be a dark Belgian runway many thousands of feet below them. With the coordinates to guide them, the pilot began inching his aircraft downward. As they dropped altitude and their bomber began to approach the general location of the runway, the crew began to notice something that did not seem quite right. Flashes of light, intermittently at first and then in a constant pattern, began lighting up beside the runway. It was at this point […]

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