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Entries in Then and Now Thursday (72)


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.


Then and Now Thursday: Sixth and Union, 1960

When this photo was taken 52 years ago, the northeast corner of Sixth Avenue and Union Street was home to a laundromat, with the no-frills name of Modern Automatic Laundry (automatic washers, originally called washer/extractors, both washed and wrung out the clothes). The second floor appears to have already been converted into an apartment by this time, and it looks like there's a back entrance/ second little storefront on the eastern end of that building.

All those buildings still stand, and only the ground floor of the corner building has been altered. It's now home to the 6th Avenue Animal Clinic. The mysterious little second storefront in the same building has long since been boarded up, but judging by the faded signage (and the fact that the animal clinic continues into the building to the east), these were all converted into a single storefront somewhere along the way.


Then and Now Thursday: The Prospect Expressway

Cutting a two-mile swath through Brooklyn before heading out through the rest of Long Island, the Prospect Expressway serves at the de facto border between Park Slope and the nebulous neighborhood just to its south, which some call the South Slope, others Greenwood Heights.

Looking northeast towards Fifth

The brainchild of (who else?) Robert Moses, it's a deep sunken trench of a highway and was constructed during the 1950s. The top photo was taken from the top of the Grand Prospect Hall (looking southwest), which was situated on a fairly glamorous block when it was first constructed in 1892. How times have changed!


Then and Now Thursday: 869 President Street

In 1886, via NYT

869 President Street, between Seventh and Eighth Avenues, isn't just one of the most interesting houses in the neighborhood, it's one of the most interesting houses in the entire city. The work of little-known architect Henry Ogden Avery, it was constructed in 1885 and was almost immediately noted in the Brooklyn Eagle for being "very pecular, a wide departure from ordinary forms."

The 36-foot wide brick facade was designed to be as simple as possible, with two arched windows on the first floor, two oriel windows on the second, and three pairs of rectangular windows on the third. In a New York Times profile of the building from a few years ago, they note that "the oriels had slightly projecting rivet-head details, peculiar cockscomb-like trim on the tops, and strange angled poles supporting them from underneath — strange because builders had long since determined how to support such features without resorting to such devices."

The building's original owner was Stewart L. Woodford, politician and diplomat who served as lieutenant governor of New York from 1867 to 1868. The Mannix family moved in in the late 1920s, and redesigned the interior. Per the Times:

"The entry door is an iron swirl depicting a pair of peacocks; the vestibule behind is paneled in mottled azure- and oatmeal-colored tile. The main hall has an Art Deco cornice, but the living room is more French Renaissance, with a strap-work ceiling, heavily modeled plaster walls and a terra-cotta fireplace. The library is at first glance wood-paneled, in impeccable repair — but it is faux-painted and varnished plaster."

By the time the above photo was taken, in 1950, the building had been sold to the Columban Foreign Missionary Society, who used the space as a home for "transient and convalescent priests of the society," according to the photo's caption.

Since 1988, the home has been occupied by Madelyn Schloss and her husband Martin, an opthamologist, and they've spent the past few years completely renovating it. Surprisingly, brokers told Madelyn that the building's unorthodox interior might actually be a drawback: "They say it’s too bad, people really want the dark brownstone-style interiors,” she said.

The "peculiar cockscomb-like trim" has been removed from the tops of the oriels, but other than that the building, like so many others in this neighborhood, remains completely intact.


Then and Now Thursday: Pre-Gorilla, 1960

Long before Gorilla Coffee, the northeast corner of Fifth Avenue and Park Place was occupied by Hy's Food Center, and a law and insurance office was next door. It looks like an old, faded ad is partially covered by a newer one on the side wall.

Gorilla certainly adds some vitality to the corner, still making the most of the original display windows, and the old ad has long since been painted over. The long-shuttered Natural Plus sits next door, and the times I've been able to peek inside the entire interior has been stacked high with boxes. The third building down received an unfortunate faux-stone facade somewhere along the way.

Top photo: BHS