Entries in History (124)
Friday, February 25, 2011 at 3:57PM
There's been a lot of fallout since details emerged earlier this week about the coming renovation of O'Connor's Bar, on Fifth Ave between Bergen and Dean, expected to be completed in time for the summer. While some have been mourning the irreversible altering of one of the country's finest dive bars, others have been glad to see that the bar is finally modernizing.
Whichever side of the fence you're on, one fact should make you happy: the classic phone booth, with its rotary dial, will be restored to working condition and "ain't goin' nowhere," according to owner Mike Maher. "If I lay a finger on it my wife will divorce me!"
The phone booth, one of the city's last, goes back to the bar's earliest days in operation in the 1930s, and it certainly has a special place in a lot of locals' hearts. A reader sent the following email to me:
"On Sept. 11, 2001 I worked in Lower Manhattan and was outside when the first tower started to come down. I ran for my life, stuck in a stampede that took me across the Brooklyn Bridge and, long story made short, many many many hours later I was finally able to call my family to tell them I was alive from the rotary dial payphone at O'Connors!"
"This pay phone saved someone's life?!" replied Maher when I told him the story. "No, it's definitely not going anywhere!"
Thursday, February 24, 2011 at 3:39PM
It's fairly common knowledge that the 1970s were not kind to Park Slope. Whole blocks were abandoned or burned out, and Fifth Avenue's dining options were largely limited to a bodega sandwich.
All that's changed, obviously, but the dilapidated buildings were revitalized and renovated instead of torn down. The photo above stopped me in my tracks when I came across it on Brooklyn Public Library's great online photo archive. No exact address is given (just "Fifth Avenue") so it took some snooping to figure out which exact corner we're talking about. Any guesses? The answer will be revealed here soon.
Update: The buildings seen above are on the corner of Fifth Avenue and Lincoln Place, looking northeast. Times have changed!
Thursday, February 24, 2011 at 3:18PM
Photofaction has been developing photos and selling camera equipment on Seventh Avenue between Carroll and President Streets since 1974. For a twelve year window during the 80s and 90s, however, an independent video rental store also operated out of the storefront, called Video Action. From the sidewalk there's no indication that it ever existed:
But if you take a peek under the awning, though...
Video Action lives! Wish I could say the same for the Brooklyn 212 area code.
Monday, February 21, 2011 at 7:29PM
Ask anyone who's lived in the neighborhood for a while what they think the oldest store in Park Slope is, and Triangle Sporting Goods will invariably come up in the conversation. While it isn't (that distinct honor goes to Neergaard Drugs on Fifth, open there since 1886), it's easy to see that this store has been here for a while. If walking through the old wooden doorway into the impossibly narrow space and taking a look around doesn't give it away, one glimpse at the framed photos to the left of the counter will. They span nearly six decades of operation, starting the year the store opened on the triangle of land surrounded by Fifth Avenue, Flatbush Avenue, and Dean Street in 1916.
|Matriarch Betsy Shapiro stands in front of her store in 1916||.|
|The store's earliest sign boasts army shoes and raincoats. A dentist once occupied the second floor. This looks to be from the early 1920s.|
|Triangle in the 1930s. Fifth Avenue begins at right; note the elevated tracks (they took a right turn on Fifth from Flatbush).|
By the 1940s the sign had gone neon and Deco, and the owners decided that guns and tackle would bring in more shoppers than raincoats. The store had expanded to the second floor by this time.
The neon sign's still there in what appears to be the late 1960s. Note the old name: Triangle Sport and Army Goods. This view is looking down Flatbush.
The neon sign has been replaced, but other that that the building is completely intact, still occupying a prime corner of land.
The interior has been spruced up piecemeal over time, and most likely hasn't been fully renovated in decades. The first floor sells general purpose clothes like sweatshirts, jeans, and Carhartt jackets, and the second floor (up an ancient staircase) sells specialized supplies like baseball bats and fishing rods. The salespeople are helpful and have a good knowledge of the merchandise.
|The staircase from the second floor|
Triangle Sporting Goods, 182 Flatbush Avenue Brooklyn NY 11217. 718-638-5300.
Photos Courtesy of Triangle.
Thursday, February 17, 2011 at 1:17PM
After the Fifth Avenue Elevated was torn down in the early 1940s, a part of the neighborhood that was once shrouded by darkness suddenly saw the light of day for the first time. This photo, taken most likely around 1945, looks northeast from Fifth Avenue and Fifteenth Street.
The stretch of Fifth just south of Ninth Street was still one of Brooklyn's premier shopping districts at this time, and a couple large stores are visible, including John Mullins Home Furnishings and Michaels Brothers, which sold radios and later TVs. Both had large wall ads and towering vertical neon signs. The corner building was most likely constructed as a bank in the 1920s, but its ground floor had already become home to a food market and a liquor store by the time the photo was taken. There's also one of the ubiquitous "LUNCH" signs, as well as the even more common trolley tracks and overhead wires.
The Mullins building is no longer standing and Michaels is now Mandee, but the former bank and the rest of the buildings on the block are still there, looking only slightly the worse for wear.
Top photo via BPL.