enter name and hit return
RECALL DAYS, NEARLY CENTURY AGO, WHEN BROOKLYN WAS VERY YOUNG
Brooklyn Daily Eagle - July 6, 1935
By Guy HICKOK
Even then, Aristocracy Turned Up Its Nose at Bridge, Plaza District
(Fourth in a series of articles on the famous old landmarks of Brooklyn
that must give way to the march of progress -- the Bridge Plaza Approach)
Except for the upper end of Liberty St. where a sort of dead-end "Pomander
Walk" afforded a shady promenade in 1840, little of the aristocracy flavored
that part of Brooklyn soon to be razed to make way for the Plaza.
A few stately houses stood in this dead-end; among them that of Mrs.
Henriette BIGLOW, who lived at No. 11, listing herself in the pocket-
sized directory of the day as "Widow of Levi".
Otto EBERLE, whose carpenter shop, a former stable, still stands at
Nassau and Liberty, remembers the quiet place and how he and other
boys repaired there to play, much to the annoyance of the occupant of the
little street, even as boys seek out and disturb such tranquil refuges today.
But most of the section between Washington and Fulton St. was distinctly
plebeian, sail-makers, saddlers, rope-makers, carpenters, milkmen,
wheelwrights, sawyers, millwrights, a few ship-masters, ferry masters, a
saw-filer, a flagger, a pump-maker, a few hostlers, a lime-burner and livery
stablemen making up the population.
Blacksmith shops were frequent among the livery stables, and James
O'BRIEN at 54 Talman St. listed himself as a whitesmith worker in
white apron, "polished," and tin.
D. J. LUCAS, introduced a festive note at 163 Fulton St. as a professor
of dancing; and at York and Adams Sts., just outside the area of the Plaza,
was James KENT, designer and he described himself more frankly as an
artificial limb maker.
A gentleman's hair dressing room stood at 213 Fulton St., where male
Brooklynites, readying themselves for social affairs, could find a supply of
perfumery, stocks, bosoms and suspenders.
L. A. STEPHENS at 58 Fulton St. and also at 250 advertised himself as a
Leecher, with a full supply of blood-suckers constantly on hand and no
extra charge for apply them. Mr. STEPHENS also carried a very superior
For ailing women who dislike being pawed over by such as Mr. STEPHENS,
Mrs. HALL at 125 Fulton St. announced that she was a female leecher.
Brooklyn had a bathing establishment on East River then. Between Fulton
and South Ferries, which opened at the extraordinary hour of 5 a.m., there
was a female in attendance Tuesdays and Fridays, which were ladies'
days; and the price scale was cold baths, 12-½ cents; warm baths, 25 cents;
5 tickets for $1, and a family of six for $8. The place was run by Edward
Repeated often through the directory without explanation of what would be
done about them, was a notice that lost children are to be left at 55 Henry
St., near Orange.
The Brooklyn Institute, outgrowth of the earlier apprentices Library, was on
Washington St., near Concord, and was popularly called the Graham
Institute, for August GRAHAM, who financed it.
Balm of Liverwort was recommended as a cure for consumption, lost of
flesh, palpitations, dyspepsia and raising of blood.
A milk war was in progress, rival dairymen taking veiled swipes at each
other in their advertising, one of them challenging visitors to find a cleaner
dairy anywhere and announcing that he fed his cows nutritious grass and
meal...without the addition of distillery slops or other unwholesome food.
Irishmen even then seemed to have a talent for policing the rest of the
population, and to have an effective family cohesion, since Thomas KELSO
of 160 York St. was constable and Thomas KELSO McGEE of 101 Gold St
was constable of the 5th ward.
James M'GREGOR of 6 Front St. was gunsmith and bellhanger.
William LITTLEWOOD at 15 James St. kept what he called a boarding and
eating house. George VAN BRUNT had a livery stable; and far ahead of his
time Abel QUIMBEY of 20 Sackett St. advertised himself as an electrician.
Frederick PHILLIPS at 8 Fulton St. was a historical painter.
Very little of the modern itch for fancy names for occupations betrayed
itself at the time. Undertakers were still undertakers. John ANGUS at 73
Main St. called himself a shingle shaver, Nathan BEERS at 59 Fulton St.
called his shop a tin store. Mrs. Anne BROADHURST at 180 Washington
St. ran a boarding house and Sylvia DEAN at 129 Fulton St. was a
Women whose husbands had gone to the great beyond let the fact be known
in the directory. Elizabeth BACK of 143 Fulton St. described herself as
Widow of Judah, but another Mrs. BACK at 100 High St. omitted her late
husband's name and (some lines missing)....
Charles and William BLAGROVE were both at 110 Fulton St. and
apparently in the same business but Charles listed himself as a druggist,
while William described his occupation as chemist.
Walt WHITMAN, who at 7 saw Lafayette lay the Apprentices Library
corner, was growing up and in 1848, when he was 30, launched his Brooklyn
Freeman at Orange and Fulton Sts. The building promptly burned down and
Whitman moved his paper to 106 Myrtle Ave. Politics was involved. Groups
known as Hunkers, Barn Burners and Free Soilers wrangled bitterly, and after
a brief two years Whitman abandoned the Brooklyn Freeman but edited The\
Long Islander at Huntington and took turns with The Brooklyn Eagle, the
New York Sunday Times and the New Orleans Crescent. While in New
York he drive (sic) the Broadway Stage coach for a year, turning his pay over
to a disabled driver that the man might recover from his injuries without
starving his family.
Mr. A. J. COOKE, now of Westfield, N. J., lived at 236 Washington St. in
a large frame house from 1865 to 1874 and remembers the street before the
erection of hotels and most of the stores.
"Where the Clarendon is, stood a frame house with a high stoop which was
occupied by detective headquarters," he writes from Westfield. "Husted and
Carrol's carpet store was next and then two frame houses, trim and neat and
painted white as were most of the homes along there, with large shade trees
along the curb. Nearby was a large marble house occupied by the KELLY
family and then a tailor and next an octagonal building used as a recruiting
station during the Civl Was. Near that was FOX the shoemaker, who, when
his boy would get in a fight and lose, would lick him again for not winning.
"HARRIGAN ad HART took some of their sketches from quarrels between
an Irishman named MALONE and a German storekeeper name MUELLER on
the corner of Washington and Tillary Sts.
On the site of the present Brooklyn Eagle office stood an Episcopal Church,
back from the street, with a high railing on the street line."
Though Mr. COOK does not mention it, a legend exists that two men worked
a ghost "racket" with the aid of this church yard, one of them disguised in a
sheet, moving and moaning among the tombstone, and the other, outside
the fence, picking the pockets of citizens peering through the fence.
Mr. COOK also remembers the time Temperance was a hardy annual,
and in 1841 a sort of temperance revival or series of camp meetings was
held in Bushwick, with crowds of zealous foes of the demon rum driving
out from Brooklyn and in from the surrounding villages to give ear to
eloquent total abstinence exhorters. A painting showing one of these
meetings, with a large overflow crowd extending far beyond the limits of
the meeting tent, hangs int he stairway of the Long Island Historical Society.
Down at 39 Fulton St., near the ferry, stood a shop which was listed in the
1840 directory as ARNOLD and VAN ANDEN printers. There was no
indication in the directory, and perhaps no though in the minds of the
printers, that the year following they would found the Brooklyn Eagle there.
Soon after the bridge was opened in 1885 the area now to be razed underwent
great transformation. The first rail of the El was laid in 1887 and the
Brooklyn City Railway, as it was then know, took over the part of the area
occupied by the El approach and the switch back tracks in Washington St.,
demolishing a great many old structures. The opening of Liberty St., with
the destruction of the alleys at its lower end further changed the district.
In 1890 and with great ceremony, the Brooklyn Navy Yard launched a
battleship which was not only one of the most powerful yet built in the yard
but which was to make history. The name was the U.S.S. Maine, and she
was to come to a tragic end, precipitating a war, in Havana Harbor.
Princess Eulalie of Spain, sister of the Queen, crossed the Bridge in 1893.
The following year Brooklyn voted to consolidate with New York. The Mayor
vetoed the measure, but the aldermen, who had voted the El over the
vetoes of two successive mayors, also went over the Mayor's head with the
Bicycles were the rage; and in 1896 they became so troublesome that a
special body of policemen was trained to ride racing bicycles and overtake
and arrest scorchers.
Transcribed by Carol Granville
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