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Entries in History (125)

Thursday
Jan092014

Closed for Business: Christie's Jamaican Patties, 387 Flatbush Avenue

Some sad news to report: Christie's, the Jamaican patty shop on Flatbush Avenue between Sterling Place and Plaza Street, has closed. The phone has been disconnected, and there's a "For Rent" sign in the window.

In business since 1965, the shop was originally located across the street (where the eastern corner of the Crunch Gym is now) and it moved to its present location in 2006. Their $2.50 beef, chicken, and vegetable patties were about as good as it got (especially when tucked into coco bread), and their mains like macaroni and cheese, curry goat, and barbecue chicken were dependably good.

There was a scare back in November of 2011 that the small restaurant, which had a few tables but mostly did to-go service, would be forced to close, but it hung on, with owner Paul Hayes saying, “[Landlord Lina Feng] is trying to kick me out; I don’t think it’s worth the stress; it’s killing me. I’ve had so many sleepless nights.” The shop hung on, but Hayes had been in and out of court with Feng since then.

Christie's was an inexpensive and tasty option in an area where it's now just about impossible to fill up for $2.50. Another nearby option, El Gran Castillo de Jagua, is also now just holding on by the skin of its teeth, as it might be closing soon as well. If you haven't tried their roast pork yet, do yourself a favor and do it now.

As for Christie's, fingers crossed that Hayes can find a new, more hospitable location. In the meantime, their food truck will still be regularly parked on the corner of Seventh Avenue and Ninth Street.

Wednesday
Aug142013

Jackie's Fifth Amendment to Close September 14th

It was only a few years ago when Park Slope had no lack of what you might call "old man bars," older drinking establishments that predate a time when anyone might have even considered bringing their toddler to one, that opened early and served no-frills drinks to no-frills people in a no-frills room. There was the great O'Connors, Timboo's, Smith's, Old Carriage Inn, Mooney's, and Jackie's Fifth Amendment, bars where time seemed to stand still and the regulars all knew each other's names. O'Connor's, Timboo's, and Mooney's are all gone or have been transformed into different bars, and it's been announced that Jackie's will be the next to go, on September 14th.

Jackie's has been a bar since most likely the 1940s, when it was called Costello's. During the 60s and 70s it was called Tyson's Tavern, then briefly called His & Hers. In the 1980s it was sold back to the previous owner's daughter, Jackie Costello, and she named it "Fifth Amendment" because nobody was required to give their last name or let whatever happened in the bar leave the bar, according to bartender Linda. Jackie was a beloved neighborhood fixture for many years, and could always be counted on to serve a free Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner to her more down-on-their luck patrons (this was a time when there were a lot more SROs in the neighborhood when there are today, needless to say).

Jackie Costello

After Jackie passed away in 2005, her husband, Harold, took over the bar with his friend Sammy. According to bartender Becky (who famously attempted to secede the bar from Park Slope last year), Harold, who's now pushing 70, has decided to retire and, according to Brooklyn Magazine, has sold the bar to the pharmacy next door, who will presumably expand into the corner space.

Drinking at a bar like Jackie's (or O'Connor's, or even McSorley's, for that matter) is a rather different experience from drinking at a modern bar, especially during the daylight hours and on a weekday. I'd recommend you drop into Jackie's at some point before it closes, to overhear regulars chatting, take in the stuccoed ceiling, padded bar, wood-paneled walls, long-unused back room, jukebox, and no-nonsense attitude, and pay respects to a dying breed.

Friday
Aug092013

Liquor Store Coming to 487 Fifth Avenue, Amazing Ancient Signage Revealed

A liquor store is in the works at 487 Fifth Avenue, between 11th and 12th Streets. A permit has been filed to renovate the space, and a notice on the front door notes that it's been issued to a company named Acme Liquors. The storefront was last home to a salon called Hair Designs by Julie, and has been vacant since February of 2012.

More interestingly, signage for the old salon came down, and lo and behold there's an amazing relic that's been preserved underneath. The whole storefront has been essentially unchanged for decades, down to the black and white tile below the window, and the top left pane of glass still clearly reads "BUTTER EGGS CHEESE," remnants of an old market that, from the looks of it, appears to have been installed in the 20s or 30s. Lettering on the pane next to it is slightly less legible, but advertises "HOMEMADE SALADS."

Any regular visitor to this site knows that I have a major soft spot for ghost signage, which isn't revealed too often in this neighborhood, even though there are plenty of old storefronts to go around and a relatively high turnover. The most recent ghost signage to be uncovered was up on the north end of the avenue, where the old hand-painted sign for a meat market was revealed when Trade Winds Furniture gave way to the new Duke of Montrose bar.

That sign, which most likely dated from the 50s, didn't survive the transition, but it wasn't exactly in great shape. This one is so classically historic, though, and the lettering (most of it, at least) is in near-perfect condition after at least 75 years. It would be a shame if one day soon it's trashed to make way for a liquor store.

Thursday
Mar212013

Then and Now Thursday: The Ebbets Field Flag Pole 

Not sure how I missed this when it was in the news back in December, but now's as good a time as any to bring it up: did you know that the flagpole that stood in right-center field for Ebbets Field's entire 45-year life span is currently holding court at the junction of Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues?

This flag pole's history is actually a rather interesting one. It found its way to  a VFW post in East Flatbush after the stadium was demolished in 1960, and there it stood for about 50 years as the hall became a casket company and later a church. Marty Markowitz, in his infinite wisdom, knew the history of this flag pole the whole time, and happened to mention it to developer Bruce Ratner while the Barclays Center was under construction. Ratner then had the flagpole removed and replanted in a true place of honor, right in front of the arena, with a plaque to boot.

I can't help but find all this to be incredibly cool, and love the fact this this little bit of Brooklyn history was tracked down, preserved, and recognized for its historical significance. Ebbets Field now exists solely in the memories of those who had the privelige of seeing it in person, and in Brooklyn lore for those who didn't. To actually have a tangible memento of it, and such a prominent one, right there for all to see, makes you stop dead in your tracks.

Wednesday
Jan162013

Facelift for Newsstand on Fifth and Ninth

The tiny, ramshackle news stand that's held down the corner of Fifth Avenue and Ninth Street since at least 1931 has gotten a glassy makeover.

I was always a fan of S&P's previous incarnation, which was brimming with newspapers, magazines, fading Spanish-language advertisements, cigarette ads, and even a couple old pay phones. The new version has been stripped of all character, the newspapers and magazines are gone save for a couple dailies and popular periodicals, and the interior is essentially wall to wall refrigerator cases full of soda bottles and chip bags.

While the old news stand was decidedly run down and "nothing special," at least it had a hint of that old-school New York character. And while its replacement is shiny and new, it's just a glass box. I sense a trend.