The new Bowery Boys podcast that comes out this Friday will be about Brooklyn. So let’s get in the mood with some pre-Instagram tinted photography from the U.S. National Archives, most of them taken in 1974 by Danny Lyon. followed by some black and white images by Edmund V Gillon.
You might have seen many of these photographs before (perhaps even here on this blog), but it’s striking to revisit them in context of Brooklyn current gentrification patterns. The homes of Brooklyn Heights began seeing the arrival of ‘bohemians’ as early as the 1910s, and brownstone revivalists (the so-called ‘pioneers’) discovered the neighborhood after World War II.
But a noticeable trend of Brooklyn gentrification happened in earnest in the late 1950s, with wealthy escapees from Manhattan (fending off the urge to suburbanize) moving into South Brooklyn brownstones and row houses and giving enclaves attractive new names like Boerum Hill, Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens.
The most successful example occurred up on the park slope as a movement of urban activists and historical preservations refurbished and brought to life one of Brooklyn’s original Gold Coasts. Its official name became, of course, Park Slope.
While the ‘brownstone Brooklyn’ movement was well at hand in 1974-5 — the date of most of these photographs — much of the borough was still facing blight and deterioration then. Most of the neighborhoods pictured below are today considered ‘hot’, trendy places with incredibly high rents.
DUMBO, a name invented in the late 1970s, Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass.
The RKO Bushwick Theater, at the Bushwick/Bed-Stuy border.
Two pictures of Bond Street
Across from Lynch Park, near the Brooklyn Navy Yard
There’s no location listed in the caption but probably Park Slope?
This is taken on Vanderbilt Avenue but I can’t ascertain exactly here. Perhaps today’s Prospect Heights area.
Images of the Fulton Ferry area in 1975 (courtesy the Brooklyn Historical Society)
And a couple images from the Museum of the City of New York archives, all from 1975, taken by Edmund V Gillon. You can find many more of astounding photographs here:
397 Dean Street, considered part of Park Slope today
Williamsburg, looking east on Broadway from Bedford Avenue and South 6th Street.
Boarded-up buildings and the Bedford Avenue façade of the Smith Building, 123 South 8th Street
Clinton Hill: Row houses on the eastern side of Washington Avenue between Dekalb and Lafayette Avenues