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Brooklyn History Gangs of New York

Screaming Phantoms, Tomahawks, Phantom Lords, Dirty Ones and other gangs of 1970s Williamsburg, Brooklyn

The Dirty Ones, a notorious gang from Williamsburg. My new column for A24 Films (a tie-in to the new movie A Most Violent Year) is up on their site devoted to culture and events from 1981. For this article, I look at what some of the dangerous undercurrents to life in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, in 1981. “By […]

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Brooklyn History Mysterious Stories

For Whom The Ghost Tolls: A Haunting in Bedford-Stuyvesant

The corner of Stuyvesant and Jefferson in 1900, looking much the way it does today.  The haunted house in question is a half a block south of this photo. (Courtesy the site Save Bedford Stuyvesant)More Brooklyn-themed ghost stories coming your way tomorrow.  But here’s an unusual tale I stumbled across while researching for this show. […]

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Brooklyn History Sports

Brooklyn Dodgers vs. Cincinnati Reds at Ebbets Field — in the first Major League baseball game ever broadcast on television

Seventy five years ago today, an extraordinary tradition began — televised Major League baseball! The location was appropriately Ebbets Field, one of baseball’s legendary ‘field of dreams’. The home team, the Brooklyn Dodgers, was pitted against the Cincinnati Reds in a key National League match-up. Both teams were quite strong that year, although it was Cincinnati […]

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Brooklyn History

History in the making 6/10: Sign of the Times Edition

Picture courtesy Steve Welsh/Flickr One of the most striking sights in Brooklyn is the old Kentile Floors sign in Gowanus, a pleasant sight to those who pass it daily and one of the last vestiges of non-franchise billboard art in the city.  The current owners of the location are preparing to tear it down, but […]

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Brooklyn History Sports

The short shelf life of the Tip-Tops, the Brooklyn baseball team situated near the Gowanus River and named for bread

The piping hot uniforms of the Brooklyn Tip-Tops, worn by baby-faced manager Lee Magee For a brief shining moment between 1914 and 1915, Brooklyn had two major league baseball teams — the legendary Brooklyn Dodgers and the not-so-legendary Brooklyn Tip-Tops. Baseball has long been a sport of two parallel sports leagues — the National League […]

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Brooklyn History Those Were The Days

The hottest place to listen to records in Brooklyn

One hundred years ago today, the Abraham & Straus department store on Fulton Street (today’s Brooklyn Macy’s location) kicks off the borough’s deep affection for record albums with newly designed listening stations, touted in this Brooklyn Daily Eagle advertisement as the best in the city (and it probably was). As the advertisement proclaims: “With the […]

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Brooklyn History

The horror of moving to Brooklyn — from a 1905 comic strip

Above: Food can do strange things to you at night: an excerpt from McCay’s January 7, 1905 strip, published two days after the one printed in full below. Dream of the Rarebit Fiend was one of America’s first great comic strips and easily one of the weirdest. Each eight-panel or nine-panel strip featured an individual […]

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Brooklyn History Neighborhoods

No sheep in Sheepshead Bay, but lots of fish with human teeth

The sheepshead is a common variety marine fish known for its distinctive black stripes and a very scary looking set of teeth.  If you look too long at it, you will have nightmares tonight.  Some believe the fish’s unusual name comes from the notion that its teeth actually look like those of adult sheep.  I […]

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Brooklyn History

This weekend: Explore an abandoned factory in DUMBO

For several decades, Ben Forman & Sons occupied the three-story, brick-constructed factory at 201 Water Street in today’s neighborhood of DUMBO, an industrial metal plant which produced “ornamental dies, lamp parts, brass sheets, chopsticks, domestic cutlery sets, butter spreaders, flatware sets, domestic serving utensils” and a myriad of other metal objects for the home. [source] […]

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Brooklyn History

A mysterious death at an ice factory, and a headline riddle

This unusual story appeared at the bottom of the front page of the New York World newspaper in July 17, 1913: MAN FROZEN TO DEATH OR KILLED BY A FALL Hugo Meissner, assistant engineer of the artificial ice plant at Rochester and Atlantic Avenues, Brooklyn, was found dead today lying on tons of ice in […]

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Brooklyn History

Henry Ward Beecher, on the 200th anniversary of his birth

If anybody could be called a patron saint of Brooklyn, one of the nominees would be Henry Ward Beecher, born 200 years ago today.  In 1847, he arrived in Brooklyn at the behest of a new congregation and, within a few years, his pulpit there at Plymouth Church would draw thousands.  Perhaps Beecher would also […]

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Brooklyn History Mysterious Stories

A Brooklyn ghost story: A famous actress, a rowdy tavern, Cobble Hill’s ‘ghost-haunted spot’ and a fool named Boerum

Above: While this is the old Brooklyn Schermerhorn house, it’s of a similar type to one that Ms. Melmoth may have owned, quickly becoming a tavern after her death. Less than two hundred years ago, in the area approximate to the neighborhood of Carroll Gardens today, there was a very, very rowdy tavern. It was […]

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Brooklyn History

History in the making: Hopscotch in Brooklyn edition

Children while away the days in front of 43-49 Willow Place in Brooklyn Heights, 1936. These buildings, known as Colonnade Row, were built over a hundred years before this picture was taken. And they still look pretty much the same today! Photo by Berenice Abbot. (courtesy NYPL) Carded: The evolution of the New York driver’s license, […]

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Brooklyn History

I’ve been out on jury duty yesterday so I haven’t had time to write anything for the blog. However, emerging from the courtroom on the 21st floor of the Kings County courtroom on Jay Street, I was able to take a few pictures of the clouds rolling over Manhattan. It occurs to me how few […]

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Brooklyn History Pop Culture

The curious tale behind the first film ever made in Brooklyn

Millions and millions of hours of television and film have been made within the five boroughs since the invention of the camera.  But have you ever wondered where the very first roll of film was ever shot? That distinction most likely goes to a nondescript rooftop studio built atop a building at 1729 St. Marks Avenue […]