brooklyn  park slope

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001 Park Slope Historic District   002 The Montauk Club 003 Originally George P. Tangeman House   004 64-66 Eighth Avenue   005 889-905 Union Street  
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006 905-913 Union Street   007 70 Eighth Avenue   008 869 President Street   009 876-878 President Street   010 944-946 President Street  
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011 925 President Street   0I2 Montessori School 013 18 and 19 Prospect Park West   014 Caroll Street   014a.No. 863.  
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014b.Nos. 855-861.   014c. Nos. 878-876.   014d. Nos. 870-872. 014e. No. 862.   014f  No. 860.  
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014g. Nos. 858-856.   014h. No. 848.1905. 014i. No. 838-1887.   015 Originally Thomas Adams, Jr., House. 016 123 Eighth Avenue  
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017  747-789 Carroll Street   018 Old First Reformed Church. 019  195 Garfield Street 020 12-16 Fiske Place   021 Congregation Beth Elohim  
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022 Montgomery Place. 022a No. 11.   022b  No. 19.   022c  No. 21.   022d  No. 35.  
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022e  Nos. 37-43.      022f  No. 47.   022g  No. 16.  

022h  Nos. 30-34.  

022i  Nos. 36-46  
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022j  Nos. 48 & 50.  022k  No. 52. 022l  Nos. 54-60   023 Poly Prep Lower School   024 Brooklyn Ethical Culture Society 
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025 Brooklyn Headquarters, N.YC. Parks Dept. 026 108-117 Prospect Park West   027 580-592 Seventh Street   028 Memorial Presbyterian Church 029 Grace United Methodist Church
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030 Formerly Lillian Ward House. 031 St. John’s Episcopal Church   032 Originally William M. Thallon and Edward Bunker Houses   033 Brooklyn Conservatory of Music   034  214 Lincoln Place  
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035  Berkeley Carroll School   036 Lincoln Plaza Hotel.   037 Originally John Condon House   038 Sixth Avenue Baptist Church   039  Helen Owen Carey Child Development Center  
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040  99-109 Berkeley Place   041 St. Augustine’s RC Church   042 182 Sixth Avenue   043 Cathedral Club of Brooklyn   044 Tiger Sign Company  
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045 78th Precinct, NYPD 046 Second Street Child Care Center   047 Public School 39   048 Originally William B. Cronyn House   049  344 Ninth Street  
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050  466-480, 488-492, and 500-902 9th Street   051 Public School 107 052 14th Regiment Armory   053 Ansonia Flats 054 Ladder Company 122  
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055  Grand Army Plaza 056  Prospect Park 057 Park Slope Brownstone  058 Williamsburgh Savings Bank

A somber-hued wonderland of finials, pinnacles, pediments, towers, turrets, bay windows, stoops, and porticoes: a smorgasbord of late Victoriana and the successor to the Heights and the Hill as the bedroom of the middle class and wealthy. These three districts are together the prominent topographical precincts of old brownstone Brooklyn: the Heights sits atop a bluff over the harbor, the Hill is a major crest to the northeast, and the Slope slopes from Prospect Park down to the Gowanus Canal and the flatlands beyond. Despite its proximity to the park, the area was slow to develop. As late as 1884 it was still characterized as “fields and pasture:” Edwin C. Litchfield’s Italianate villa, completed in 1857, alone commanded the prospect of the harbor from its hill in present-day Prospect Park. By 1871 the first stage of the park had been constructed, yet the Slope lay quiet and tranquil, bypassed by thousands of persons making their way on the Flatbush Avenue horsecars to this newly created recreation area. By the mid 188os, however, the potential of the Slope became apparent, and mansions began to appear on the newly laid out street grid. The lavish homes clustered around Plaza Street and Prospect Park West eventually were christened the Gold Coast. Massive apartment buildings invaded the area after World War I, feeding upon the large, unutilized plots of land occupied by the first growth. These austere Park Avenue-like structures, concentrated at Grand Army Plaza, are in contrast to the richly imaginative brick dwellings of Carroll Street and Montgomery Place, the mansions, churches, and clubs that still remain, and the remarkably varied row houses occupying the side streets as they descend toward the Manhattan skyline to the west.

Park Slope Historic District

On July 17, 1973,the enclosed boundaries was designated the Park Slope Historic District. The New York Landmarks Preservation Commission was adamant in its findings and stated:
"The Commission further finds that, among its important qualities, the Park Slope Historic District is one of the most beautifully situated residential neighborhoods in the City, that its history and deveopment is closely related to that of Prospect Park, that it is almost exclusively residential in character with minimal inroads by commerce, that it retains an aura of the past to an extent which is unusual in New York, that the wide sunny avenues and tree-lined streets, with houses of relatively uniform height punctuated by church spires, provide a living illustration of the 19th century characterization of Brooklyn as "a city of homes and churches," that the major deveopment of the District within a realtively brief span of some decades, from the Civil War period to World War 1, produced a special quality of homogenuity and reularity reflecting the desire of developers, builders and architects to achieve coherence and dignity in planning, that this development was a reflection of the social and cultural aspirations of its residents, that the houses, churches and other structures provide, in microcosm, a cross-section of the important trends in American architecture of the time, that the styles include principally: late Italianate, French Second Empire, neo-Grec, Victorian Gothic, Queen Anne and exceptional notable examples of Romanesque Revival houses, the finest in the City and among the most outstanding in the country; followed by the neo-Renaissance, neo-Classical, neo-Federal and neo-Georgian, representing the last great wave of development of the District after the turn-of-the-centruty; and finally, that because of its distinguished architecture and its special character as a carefully planned, homogeneous community, it is an outstanding Historic District within the City which continues to attract new residents."


Pillar of Fire
Recalling the Day the Sky Fell, December 16, 1960

by Nathaniel Altman

with special thanks to 

Few Park Slope residents know that our neighborhood was once the scene of the country’s worst air disaster. At about 10:30 in the morning, on Friday, December 16, 1960, a United Airlines DC-8 jet en route from Chicago to Idlewild (now JFK) airport collided with a TWA Super Constellation propeller plane flying from Columbus to LaGuardia. The TWA plane broke into pieces and plunged onto Miller Field, a former military airport in the New Dorp section of Staten Island, killing all 44 on board. The crippled United plane managed to remain in the air for another eight and a half miles before crashing onto Sterling Place and Seventh Avenue, setting fire to over a dozen buildings and killing five pedestrians. In all, 135 people died as a result of the crash.

The crash and its aftermath bore the traits of a classic American tragedy: tremendous loss of life and homes and businesses destroyed. It was also a time of individual acts of kindness and powerful heroism. Many also believed that it was a day of miracles, as the two crashes could have been far worse. Government investigations sought to pinpoint the reason for the collision, but were accused of mounting a coverup. The real story remains unresolved to this day. Ironically, the crash was also a possible turning point for a declining Brooklyn neighborhood, and sparked a preservation movement that grew to include much of the city.

The Neighborhood
While still similar to the neighborhood that today’s residents would recognize, at the time the area around Sterling Place and Seventh Avenue was called “a neighborhood in transition.” While good shopping could be found on Seventh Avenue, middle-income families were moving out and banks began redlining the neighborhood, making it difficult for people to buy homes here. While some neighbors would still visit on their stoops during the warmer months, dozens of buildings—mostly between Fifth and Seventh avenues—were abandoned by their owners, who boarded them up and fled to suburbia. Commenting on the neighborhood in Brooklyn Heights Paper in 1995, Joe Ferris wrote, “There were abandoned and derelict buildings on every block from Flatbush Avenue to 15th Street. St. John’s Place between 5th and 6th Avenues looked as if it had been hit by heavy artillery.” Many of the brownstones became rooming houses, and once-large apartments were divided into smaller ones.

On the morning of December 16, the snow on the ground had turned to slush. The grey sky was heavy with low clouds and a wet snow was falling throughout the area. The New York Times reported that “about the only sound on Sterling Place from Sixth to Seventh avenues was the slushing passage of an occasional car.” Due to the bad weather, few pedestrians made their way along Seventh Avenue and Sterling Place, where two men were selling Christmas trees for the upcoming holiday.

The Aircraft
Trans World Airlines N6907C was a Lockheed Super Constellation delivered to TWA in 1952. Considered one of the most beautiful airliners ever built, the graceful “Super Connie” was powered by four propeller engines and featured a slightly serpentine shape and a unique tri-rudder tail section. The plane’s cruising speed was 325 mph and it could carry 64 passengers nonstop for 3250 miles.

United Airlines N8013U was a new Douglas DC-8 jet delivered to United Airlines barely a year before the crash. At that time the largest commercial jet in the air, the DC-8 was equipped with four turbojet engines. This long-range (5720 mile) transport had a cruising speed of 579 mph and could carry up to 189 passengers.

The Events
TWA flight 266 originated in Dayton, Ohio and stopped in Columbus, where a change of aircraft took place and most of the passengers boarded for the trip to New York. Leaving Columbus at 9 in the morning under the command of Capt. David A. Wollam, the Super Constellation carried five crew and 39 passengers, including two infants. Among the passengers were seven specialists in missile and aircraft development from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton; Richard Bitters, an Ohio University executive; four Ohio State University athletes; Gary Myers, president of the magazine Highlights for Children and his wife Mary, parents of five; and Louella Bricker, who was traveling to the Perkins Institute in Watertown, MA to bring her deaf son George back to Ohio for the holidays. At least one of the passengers had a premonition of death. Before she boarded the plane, Nancy Briggs, a student at Ohio State University, told her boyfriend Leonard Hart that she had a dream she was going to die and was afraid that she would never see him again.

As his plane approached the New York area in limited visibility, Air Traffic Control advised Capt. Wollam to stand by in an area known as the Linden Intersection (a five-by-ten mile oval-shaped holding area stretched from East to West above Linden, NJ and the northwest section of Staten Island) before heading towards LaGuardia at an altitude of 5000 feet. Like the route of many of today’s flights into LaGuardia, the plane would have crossed Staten Island into Brooklyn, turned left and flown over Prospect Park and into the airport.

After being given permission to land at 10:33:14, the captain began heading toward LaGuardia. Twelve seconds later, LaGuardia Approach Control advised that there “appears to be jet traffic off your right.” Communications with TW 266 then abruptly ended.

United flight 826 was on nonstop service between Chicago’s O’Hare Airport and New York’s Idlewild. It left Chicago at 9:11 with 76 passengers and seven crew members under the command of Capt. Robert H. Sawyer. The best-known passengers included Dr. Jonas Kamlet, a leading chemist; Raymond Walsh, President of Wesleyan University Press; and Allen E. Braun, Vice President of North Advertising. Dorothy Miner, head nurse at the University of Illinois Hospital in Chicago, was flying here to assist her stepmother who was to undergo surgery, and Elsie Platt was traveling from Illinois to see her newborn granddaughter for the first time. Many others were coming home for the holidays, like Frank R. Dileo, a senior at the University of Utah; Darnell Mallory, a student at Omaha University, and Enrique Bustos, Jr., son of the former Consul General of Chile. Some were on trips abroad, like Edwige Dumalskis and her children Patrick and Joelle, who were en route to France to visit relatives.

At approximately 10:21, the crew reported to Aeronautical Radio, Inc., operator of United’s aeronautical communications system, that one of their navigation receiver units was inoperative, which was relayed to United Airlines. Unfortunately, the crew failed to report the problem to Air Traffic Control, which probably would have provided extra radar assistance. At 10:32, the crew was told to enter the Preston intersection, an oval-shaped holding area 10 miles west of Red Bank, NJ, and well to the south of Linden. Its border was separated from the Linden intersection by five miles. The last transmission from the United crew was at 10:33:33. “Idlewild Approach Control, United 826, approaching Preston at 5000 [feet].”

“I think we have trouble...”
An instant later, at 10:33:34, LaGuardia radar observations showed that two targets merged over Miller Army Air Field, in New Dorp, Staten Island. The controller exclaimed, “I think we have trouble here with a TWA Connie...He’s not moving or anything. He might have got hit by another airplane.” Flying 11 miles off course and traveling at a speed of 500 mph— far faster than permitted by Air Traffic Control—the United jet slammed into the slower Super Constellation before the TWA pilot was able to react to the warning from the LaGuardia tower. The right wing of the DC-8 sheared through the upper right section of the Connie’s passenger compartment, causing the smaller plane to break into three pieces and spin out of control.

Rev. Milton Perry, a Staten Island resident, told a reporter from the New York Times that he “felt the earth shake” and saw the plane fall in flames and smoke. At that moment, a Mrs. Weber of New Dorp heard an explosion, went to her window, and witnessed the crash. “It seemed to fall a few feet and there was another huge burst of flame... It went down in a terrible way, one wing gone, and it turned over very slowly. You could watch it all the way and it was always red from the flames.” Others reported that the plane had broken into “millions of pieces,” with both airplane debris and bodies falling from the sky. One TWA passenger was sucked into an engine of the DC-8. Narrowly missing a housing development, what was left of TWA plane and its occupants (along with the engine and wing debris from the United jet) fell onto the vacant airfield, recently abandoned by the Army (it is now part of the Gateway National Park). Local residents rushed to the scene and began pulling bodies from the flaming wreckage until rescue workers and soldiers arrived.

Pillar of Fire
While the tragedy was over for the TWA passengers and crew, the terrible events awaiting those on the United flight and residents of Park Slope were still unfolding. Losing altitude, the crippled DC-8, which was missing its right engine and part of the right wing, managed to continue northeast in the direction of LaGuardia airport and towards Prospect Park, where witnesses speculated that the pilot was attempting to make an emergency landing. Slope residents first saw the plane heading directly for St. Augustine’s Academy on Sterling Place below Sixth Avenue, with over a hundred students in class, when it was able to bank to the right. After barely clearing the school, the jet lost altitude above Sterling Place between Sixth and Seventh avenues. At an estimated speed of 200 mph, the plane’s right wing struck the roof of a brownstone at 126 Sterling Place, causing the fuselage of the plane to veer to the left and crash directly, with tragic irony, into Pillar of Fire Church across the street. The aircraft and the church exploded in flames, killing dozens of passengers and Wallace E. Lewis, the church’s 90-year-old caretaker, as he lay in bed. The left wing, now on fire, sheared into an apartment building next door to the church, while another section of the cabin, filled with screaming passengers, crashed into McCaddin’s Funeral Home on the corner of Seventh Avenue and Sterling Place. The severed tail section, mostly intact, fell upright into the intersection of Seventh Avenue and Sterling Place. Several buildings were totally destroyed and at least ten were damaged.

For those on the ground, the scene was as if taken from a horror movie. Interviewed by a reporter from The New York Times, a Mr. Manza said, “All of a sudden, the right wing dipped: It hooked into the corner of the apartment house [122 Sterling Place], and the rest of the plane skimmed into the church and the apartment house across the street. All at once everything was on fire, and the fire from the plane in the street was as high as the houses.” Mrs. Robert Nevin lived at 122, and was in her nightgown standing in the front room of her top floor apartment doing her hair when she heard a shattering crash. “The roof caved in and I saw the sky.” Henry and Pauline McCaddin, owners of the McCaddin Funeral Home, were enjoying a mid-morning cup of coffee in their second-floor kitchen while their one-year-old daughter played under the table. Ms. McCaddin reported, “We were having our coffee and I said to Henry, ‘My goodness, that plane sounds awfully low!’ And just then the whole house shook like it had been hit by a bomb, and the room was all in flames.” The McCaddins escaped with the help of Robert Carter, owner of a hairdressing establishment on Seventh Avenue, who ran into the burning building to rescue them. A burning section of the plane’s left wing landed on top of 124 Sterling Place, and soon a fire spread to the roofs of numbers 122, 120 and 118. The jet also set fire to six buildings on Seventh Avenue, including numbers 18, 20, 22, 24, 26 and 28. Repairs can still be seen on the upper floors of many of these buildings.

The crash scene was described by reporters as “an orderly kind of pandemonium,” with screaming residents rushing from their shattered buildings into the snow, sirens wailing, emergency radios crackling, and firefighters spraying water on the flaming wreckage. Members of Fire Department Rescue Company No. 2 worked continuously for almost 72 hours at the crash scene, deploying their specialized equipment to both combat the fire and search through the wreckage for bodies. In addition to chunks of airplane and brick, the debris included broken dolls and wrapped presents destined as Christmas gifts, as well as mailbags bulging with holiday cards.

In addition to Mr. Lewis, five people on the ground were killed. The unlucky five were Charles Cooper, a sanitation worker who was shoveling snow, Joseph Colacano and John Opperisano, who were selling Christmas trees on the sidewalk, Dr. Jacob L. Crooks, who was out walking his dog, and an employee at a butcher shop located on Sterling Place. About a dozen others were injured, including several firefighters and residents of neighborhood buildings.

The Brave Little Boy
All of the occupants of the DC-8 were killed instantly, except Stephen Baltz, an 11-year old redhead from Wilmette, Illinois, who planned to spend Christmas with relatives in Yonkers. His father delivered him to O’Hare that morning, and he was to meet his mother and sister at Idlewild; they had flown in the day before. As the plane hit the ground and exploded in flames, Stephen was thrown from the tail section and onto a snowbank, where residents rolled him in the snow to put out his burning clothing. Though conscious and repeatedly calling for his mother and father, Stephen had inhaled flames and smoke, and also sustained severe burns and broken bones.

Dorothy M. Fletcher, who lived at 143 Berkeley Place, rushed to Stephen’s side. Knowing that he was in shock, she called on neighbors to throw down some blankets, and was photographed in a leopard-patterned coat holding an umbrella over the boy to shield him from the falling snow. The photo appeared on the front pages of both the New York Times and the Daily News the following morning. It was Ms. Fletcher who brought Stephen to Methodist Hospital. (See sidebar interview.)

Still conscious after his ordeal, Stephen Baltz later described the crash to doctors at the hospital. “I remember looking out the plane window at the snow below covering the city. It looked like a picture out of a fairy book. Then all of a sudden there was an explosion. The plane started to fall and people started to scream. I held on to my seat and then the plane crashed. That’s all I remember until I woke up.”

Newspaper reports said that people all over the country prayed for Stephen, whose courage and sweet disposition won the hearts of everyone who met him. In spite of heroic efforts by doctors and nurses at Methodist, Stephen Baltz died peacefully at 1 o’clock the following afternoon, his mother and father by his side. A small bronze memorial to the crash victims containing the boy’s blackened pocket change—65 cents—was set up at the hospital, where Ms. Fletcher places flowers on the Sunday closest to the anniversary of Stephen’s death. (The memorial is now in storage, to be reinstalled after new construction at the hospital is complete). Recalling the event recently, the 91-year-old great-grandmother said, “What broke my heart was when he asked me if he was going to die. I couldn’t do all I wanted to do. I couldn’t save him.”

Cause and Responsibility
Faced with the biggest air disaster in American history, the Civil Aeronautics Board (now the National Transportation Safety Board) undertook an extensive investigation into the causes of the crash and made recommendations so that similar events never happened again. On June 18, 1962—about a year and a half after the crash—the CAB released its report, which stated that the probable cause of the accident was that United 826 proceeded beyond the clearance limit allocated by Air Traffic Control, with contributing factors including a high rate of speed and a change of clearance which reduced the en route distance by approximately 11 miles.

Critics of the report called it a whitewash designed to prevent lawsuits resulting in punitive damages not covered by the airlines’ insurance. In an updated edition of Unfriendly Skies: Revelations of a Deregulated Airline Pilot, by “Captain X” and Reynolds Dodson (Doubleday, 1989), the authors wrote that FAA inspectors had previously complained that the United Airlines training program was dangerously unsatisfactory, that many crew members were denied training, and that United routinely falsified air safety records. Those who were critical of airline policy and government collusion were often transferred. “FAA inspectors who discovered serious fraud relating to violations of the government air safety requirements were blocked from taking corrective actions. Obstructing compliance with the air safety laws were FAA and United Airlines officials, and pressure from members of Congress.” Documentation related to these earlier charges were suppressed from the CAB report.

Overall, verdicts concerning the lawsuits (which exceeded $300 million) stipulated that United was responsible for 61 percent of the claims, Trans World Airlines 15 percent, and the U.S. government 24 percent, because the planes’ instrument landing approaches were being guided by FAA controllers.

In addition to the families of the deceased passengers and crew, local residents received settlements from United Airlines, some of which were considered unsatisfactory. Mr. And Mrs. Andrew Boyle, who owned a brownstone at 130 Sterling Place, received $3,700 in compensation, less $900 in lawyers’ fees. In an interview with the New York Times four months after the crash, Mrs. Boyle said, “We settled for peanuts. We’ll be in debt for the next ten years over that crash.” One woman told a different story. Her husband was also given a settlement of several thousand dollars, and the windfall (remember that $3000 went a lot farther in 1960 than it does today) caused him to go on a spending spree. “He went haywire with it—bought a television set, snappy clothes. Then he took off with the rest. He hasn’t been around for two months.” The four-story building containing the McCaddin Funeral Home was demolished and was soon replaced with a nondescript one-story building; it is now the site of a new multi-story construction that will contain both commercial and living space. While other families eventually moved back to the site of the crash, others simply left the area. Jimmy Moy, who owned a laundry on the parlor floor at 26 Seventh Avenue, decided to move to Manhattan. The vacant lot on which the building housing his laundry once stood is now also the site of new construction.

Saving the Neighborhood
In his article in Brooklyn Heights Paper, Joe Ferris addressed the danger the neighborhood faced after the crash: the government’s answer to dealing with damaged buildings in an already declining neighborhood was urban renewal: level the area and construct high-rise housing projects. This threat was a wake-up call for many local residents. Though many worked to save the neighborhood, Ferris cited a number of community leaders who helped save Park Slope at that critical time: Robert Makla, who helped found the Park Slope Civic Council; Irene Wilson, publisher of the monthly Park Slope Civic Council News; Evelyn and Everett Ortner, founders of the Brownstone Revival Movement and who helped secure landmark status for many local buildings; Herb Steiner, whose organization helped force the banks to stop redlining urban neighborhoods; and George Lovgren, who saved a local firehouse from closing.

Today, the area around Seventh Avenue and Sterling Place is one of the most vital in the neighborhood. Though scars from the crash still can be seen on some of the buildings and a vacant lot remains where Pillar of Fire Church and an apartment house once stood on Sterling Place, few would recognize the quiet intersection as a scene of the nation’s worst aircraft disaster. With each new family that moves to Park Slope, the memory of the crash fades from the neighborhood’s collective consciousness. Yet the memories remain for many of the neighborhood’s long-time residents. Dorothy Fletcher, recalling the events over coffee at a neighborhood restaurant, said, “The crash remains so vivid in my mind. It’s like it happened just this morning.” PSR

Interview with eyewitness Dorothy M. Fletcher (external link at
with special thanks to 


Healing a Gash Among the Brownstones
By MICHAEL BRICK March 27, 2004

In New York City, even the empty places are already full.

This one is called Block 945, Lot 39, a vacant patch of ground where an angular and narrow street called Sterling Place intersects a boulevard called Seventh Avenue in the Borough of Brooklyn, County of Kings. Dolly Williams, who bought the lot a decade ago for $250,000, knows it differently, as a canvas of sorts.

"You can actually put your own dreams into anything that's vacant," Ms. Williams said.

For a vacant lot, though, this place is awfully crowded, with haunting memories and other unruly things.

Here, decades ago, the sky opened up and conjured a rain of metal and fire; a crashed airliner killed scores, ruining all that came before. Since then, people have projected their own dreams all around this lot, often at cross-purposes, and have provoked questions grander than those that the numbers of a catalog system can address.

user posted image
-United Press International
Wreckage of an airliner crash in 1960 at Sterling Place and Seventh Avenue in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

And so far Ms. Williams, like others before her for four decades, has been unable to complete something new in this empty place.

"I don't know what is wrong with this corner," said Ms. Williams, who counts among her accomplishments an appointment to the City Planning Commission. "Maybe it is jinxed or something."

There are rumors of such places in New York. One is 18 West 11th Street in Manhattan, where the Weathermen blew up a house in a bomb-making accident. Nearly a decade passed before the resulting vacant lot was filled. And there, the only homage to the past came in the form of a stark departure from it, modernist architecture with wild angles and open spaces.

Here in Brooklyn, the history is more gruesome still. But to truly know what fills this empty place, first look anew at the familiar and obvious sights around it. The crossing of Sterling Place and Seventh Avenue sits near the northern terminus of Park Slope, a leafy and bustling neighborhood peopled in the main by handsomely paid editors, lawyers and copywriters, and families with children and Manhattan money. The buildings are uniform three-, four- and five-story brownstones, done in dark colors with evenly situated windows and straight cuts, topped by carved details that draw the eye from one to the next, an urban sameness, like architectural toy soldiers.

And then look back in time to the way this ground came to be a jarring, hollow break in that continuity of form. There are photographs of an airliner that tore through the brownstone that stood here in December 1960 after a midair collision with another plane. Captured on film, lying in the slush on this corner, staring out battered and dazed, Stephen Baltz, 11 years old, embodied the worst disaster in the history of aviation to that time, with 134 killed. He was the plane's sole survivor, and he lived only a night.

It was into a decaying neighborhood that the airplane fell, and the blow struck hard. Jimmy Moy, owner of the laundry in the basement of the brownstone, left and never came back.

Those two images from past and present are hard to square, and what is more, jinxes are a suspect explanation for anything.

So, last, sit in a parlor inside one of these ornate and proud park-side brownstones and listen to Everett Ortner, 84, describe his version of the events that brought Park Slope to its present condition.

Mr. Ortner, a science editor, found what would become his own brownstone during a 15-minute stopover in May 1963 on the way to do some research on scuba diving.

"On Seventh Avenue, a quarter of the storefronts were empty," Mr. Ortner said. "There wasn't a restaurant. The local A.&P., which was the only supermarket, was filthy. You could have walked down our street and not seen a child."

Mr. Ortner volunteered to serve as public relations man for the neighborhood, and he set out to promote it with walking tours, block parties and open houses. The point of all this exertion, Mr. Ortner said, was to make a living monument to the beauty of the brownstones and the sense of community they can nurture.

"Never again, never again, never again will houses of this quality be built for the middle class of the city," he said. The beauty of the Park Slope brownstones, he said, is an abstract thing. "I suppose it's agelessness. There's a feeling of security in knowing it will look like this in the future, and there's a connection to the past, which I'm very sensitive to."

A generation later, that sensitivity has been codified, and it is into this place, hardly vacant at all in figurative terms, that Ms. Williams is trying to put something new. She is not the first.

In 1988, one Margaret O. Walker filed plans for a four-story building of two-bedroom apartments topped with a penthouse. Over the next few years, she sought to satisfy objections from the City Buildings and Environmental Protection Departments as well as from the Landmarks Preservation Commission. By 1991, she was missing deadlines from one agency while waiting for approvals from another, city records show. Ms. Walker ultimately gave up.

Later, Ms. Williams sought to impart her own vision onto this ground, still empty. In August 2001, she won the city's approval for her proposed departures from Ms. Walker's design, including eliminating the penthouse, installing lantern-style fixtures and painting the metal panels a color called Formal Garden SW1455.

But she did not get far. The Buildings Department issued a stop work order in February 2003 for failure to protect the neighboring buildings during excavation. The order was lifted the next month. In August, the Landmarks Preservation Commission ordered another halt, objecting to the placement of window openings in the shell Ms. Williams had constructed. That, too, was lifted.

All the while, the neighbors campaigned to have the shell torn down.

Judging by the framework, said Carmi Bee, an architect who lives nearby, the building appears poorly designed and hastily constructed. "First of all, it's on Seventh Avenue, and everyone knows that corner because of the plane crash," he said. "What's at stake here is that they can't let a precedent like this happen."

In a letter to the Landmarks Preservation Commission, another neighbor, Robert W. Ohlerking, raised an objection particular to this lot. "It offers no acknowledgment of the building that was there before or the tragic historic events that caused its destruction," Mr. Ohlerking wrote. "Aren't historic districts meant to also include historic events as well?"

As if in reply, a marker hangs from a lamppost directly in front of the lot. It says:

Principally built between the mid-1880's and World War I, Park Slope retains its 19th Century profile of three- and four-story buildings, punctuated by church steeples, recalling Brooklyn's character as the city of homes and churches.

The sign goes on to mention the Victorian Gothic, Queen Anne and Romanesque Revival architectural styles, but says not a word about any airplane crash, and certainly nothing about any walking tours, block parties or friends that Old Man Ortner can recall.

In the daytime now, nannies and young mothers walk by the lot pushing empty strollers, accompanied by young girls who push toy-sized empty strollers of their own.

"It's become a fertile place," Mr. Ortner said of Park Slope. "I'm amazed at the number of young people we have, too. Good looking. Well dressed."

And the blank space in Park Slope, Brooklyn, Kings County, New York City, will be filled come Christmastime if Ms. Williams has her way.

"Everybody knows the history," she said. "Being vacant doesn't serve any purpose."

From The New York Times
From the (1939) WPA Guide to New York City:
The Park Slope District, centering about the Grand Army Plaza entrance to Prospect Park at the intersection of Flatbush Avenue and Eastern Parkway, has been since the mid-nineteenth century Brooklyn's "Gold Coast." In the quiet streets off the plaza are rows of residences that rival the mansions on Manhattan's Fifth Avenue. Around the plaza itself, and towering above the huge Soldiers' and Sailors' Memorial Arch, are tall apartment buildings, a solid bank of which extends down Eastern Parkway opposite the new Central Building of the Brooklyn Public Library and the Brooklyn Museum. Behind the latter are the grounds of the Botanic Garden, separated from Prospect Park by Flatbush Avenue. The broad, tree-lined parkway, leading straight to the arch, recalls the Champs Elysées.

Prospect Park West is an equally fine neighborhood, which west of Sixth Avenue changes into an area of seedy houses, industrial plants, and warehouses. In the latter section dwells a small colony of Newfoundlanders, known to the neighborhood as "blue noses" or "fish," who gain a livelihood on the fishing smacks that go down to the sea from Sheepshead Bay.

The Old First Reformed Church, Seventh Avenue and Carroll Street, was formally established in 1660, although services had been held four years earlier. The first church structure was built in 1666 on what is now Fulton Street, between Lawrence and Bridge Streets, and by a genial Dutch custom stood in the middle of the road. In 1792, English was substituted for Dutch in the church service. The present building, fourth on this site, was erected in 1889. It contains Vergilio Tojetti's mural, The Empty Tomb.

The Soldiers' and Sailors Memorial Arch, in the center of Grand Army Plaza, Eastern Parkway and Flatbush Avenue, a monumental granite arch modeled by John H. Duncan, faces the entrance to Prospect Park. The cornerstone was laid by General W. T. Sherman in 1889, and the arch completed in 1892. It is 80 feet high and 80 feet wide; the aperture is 50 feet high, and has a span of 35 feet. The arch is surmounted by a bronze quadriga by Frederick MacMonnies, the central female figure carrying a banner and sword, and accompanied by two winged figures of Victory. The inner faces of the pier are decorated with equestrian figures of Lincoln and Grant in high relief by W. R. O'Donovan and Thomas Eakins.

In a terraced oval fronting the arch is Bailey Fountain, the $125,000 gift of Frank Bailey. A sculptured group of male and female figures representing Wisdom and Felicity stands on the prow of a ship surrounded by Neptune and his attendant Tritons and a boy grasping a cornucopia. Eugene Savage created the fountain; Edgerton Swarthout designed the base.

Prospect Park, bounded by Prospect Park West, Prospect Park Southwest, Parkside, Ocean, and Flatbush Avenues, consists of 526 acres of rolling meadows, picturesque bluffs, and luxuriant verdure. The park is the chief playground of Brooklyn, with picnic grounds, tennis courts, baseball diamonds, ponds, a zoo, a lagoon, parade grounds, bandstand, gravel walks, and broad driveways. The city of Brooklyn purchased most of the area in 1859 at a cost of nearly four million dollars from the Litchfield estate, whose mansion serves as borough headquarters of the Park Department. Delayed by the Civil War, development was begun in 1866 under a commission headed by James S. T. Stranahan, the "Baron Haussmann" of Brooklyn, creator of its park and boulevard system.

One of the main entrances is at Grand Army Plaza, where, to the left of the drive, stands the portrait statue of Stranahan by Frederick MacMonnies. Beyond the plaza, gravel walks flank the Long Meadow, a rolling grassy hollow, affording an unimpaired view for nearly a mile. Folk festivals and native dances are frequently held on the meadow; and May Day is celebrated here by school children. Picnic grounds, and locker and refreshment houses are on the west; to the east is Swan Lake, a circular pond whose swan boat provides amusement for children in summer.

Walks wind across the meadow to Prospect Park West, the first terminating at the Third Street entrance, which is flanked by bronze panthers of heroic size, the work of A. P. Proctor. Near the Fifth Street entrance is the impressive Litchfield Mansion, a Tuscan villa in white stone built in 1855 from designs by Alexander J. Davis. Long a center of Brooklyn social life, the house was acquired by the city in 1892.

At the Ninth Street entrance is the Memorial by Daniel Chester French depicting Lafayette as a general in the Continental Army. Along the walk that leads into the park from this entrance are the greenhouses (open daily 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.) where flower shows are held annually; to the north and east are the tennis courts, the carrousel, and the picnic grounds shelter. At the southern extremity of Long Meadow is the fenced-in bluff of the Quaker Cemetery, a private graveyard of fifteen acres, established in 1846 and still in use. Simple stones, in the Quaker tradition, mark the graves.

The walk encircling Swan Lake reveals the rough boulders and wooded heights of the moraine ridge which bisects the park in a northeast-southwest direction. At its northern end Swan Lake flows into a brook which trickles eastward through a deep fissure in the ridge, creating a scene of charming wildness--banks strewn with boulders, rising tier by tier, and bridges arching over brook and adjacent bridle path.

The brook ends near the Music Grove, whose bandstand is fronted by tall trees, beneath which are rows of benches. In summer the wide-spreading branches form a leafy ceiling for the audience of Edwin Franko Goldman's Band, the Federal Music Project orchestras, or the occasional vaudeville and drama performances of the Federal Theatre Project.

From the east bank of the brook, walks branch down and cross East Drive. One of these paths leads south to a boathouse where rowboats are rented. Another path leads to Battle Pass (a little north of the zoo), an unusually. narrow defile marked by a granite block supporting a bronze eagle. Here the Valley Grove Road, known as the "Porte" or gateway to the hills on the south, crossed the old Kings Highway or Flatbush Turnpike going north, and offered General Sullivan and his men a chance to make a stand in the Battle of Long Island. Through the tragic failure to guard the Jamaica Pass in East New York, however, the British were enabled to attack from the rear, capturing Sullivan and forcing the Continentals to retreat.

Farther north along East Drive is the Vale of Cashmere, a natural amphitheater filled with azalea, summersweet, and rhododendron in tropical profusion. A place of retreat, as its poetic name implies, there is a lagoon in the center, with ledges of rhododendron. On the north side steps lead up to the rose garden, laid out in formal beds around three circular pools.

To the south is the menagerie (rebuilt in 1935), where thousands of visitors daily wind in and out of a neat semicircle of red-brick buildings facing Flatbush Avenue near the Empire Boulevard entrance. (Open weekdays days 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday, Sunday and holidays 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., closes one hour earlier in winter; admission free.) The sunken-barrier moats make it possible to view the animals without the obstruction of bars. Designed by Aymar Embury II, the menagerie is notable for its architecture. The plan centers on the elephant rotunda, to form a group far better integrated than the earlier Central Park Zoo by the same architect. The buildings are decorated with bas-reliefs and murals--the work of WPA artists--depicting scenes from the life of Mowgli, hero of Kipling's Jungle Books.

South along the East Drive is the Lefferts Homestead. (Open Monday, Wednesday, and Friday 1 to 5 p.m.; admission free.) It was built by Lieutenant Peter Lefferts in 1777 to replace the house burned by the British, and was presented by his descendants to the city in 1918, when it was moved from its original location at 563 Flatbush Avenue. A notable example of the late Dutch Colonial style, it has a low gambrel roof which curves out to form a wide overhang supported by slender columns. The front entrance has a richly paneled door, paned-glass side lights and top light, and an entablature of carved sunburst designs supported by paired shafts. The interior is under the care of the D.A.R. The living and dining rooms, separated by an arch, are on the north side of the main hall; the parlor and real bedrooms are on the south. Above are a children's room with four-poster and trundle beds, a maple room and workroom. The attic, of roughhewn beams, contains a smoke room. The lower two-story wing is used by the caretaker's family.

At the Empire Boulevard entrance is the old Flatbush Toll House, an octagonal cabin with disclike roof, which marked the division between Flatbush and the town of Brooklyn in Turnpike days. Near the Ocean Avenue-Lincoln Road entrance the walk crosses the drive to the old-fashioned garden on the east. Here are the restaurant and refreshment stands, with statues of Beethoven, Mozart, Von Weber, Grieg, Thomas Moore near by, and, across the drive, Washington Irving. At the head of the terrace, below a flight of stairs, stands a statue, by Henry Kirke Brown, of Lincoln reading his Proclamation.

The view of the lake here is perhaps the best, exuberant foliage shrouding the shores of peninsulas and islets. The lake curves around the southern edge of the park; boating in summer, ice skating in winter, attract many of the park's 75,000 weekly visitors On the north side of the lake is the miniature yacht boathouse, housing the sloops which dot the wide water front in mild weather.

North of this boathouse is Prospect or Lookout Hill, the central pinnacle of the ridge for which the park is named. About halfway up is the chaste Monument to the Maryland Regiment that held the Hessians at bay to permit the Continentals to retreat during the Battle of Long Island. The polished granite column with bronze Corinthian capital and white marble globe was designed by Stanford White and erected in 1895 by the Maryland Society of the Sons of the American Revolution. Near by, tiers of stairs lead to the summit of the hill, which affords on clear days a panorama of the densely settled environs of Brooklyn, with the ocean and harbor beyond.

Drive and walk follow the lake shore to the Park Circle entrance at the southwestern tip, notable for the statue, The Horse Tamers, by Frederick MacMonnies.

Across Parkside Avenue to the south is the Parade Grounds, frequented by National Guard and American Legion units, a rectangular plain of forty acres, once used by the military and now divided into forty-five baseball diamonds, converted in season into football fields.

The Central Building of the Brooklyn Public Library, Flatbush Avenue and Eastern Parkway, finally approaches completion in 1939 The site of the projected building, which was intended to replace the small outmoded structure on Montague Street, was chosen in 1905, but the foundations were not laid until 1914. From that date until 1937, when the present administration took action, little progress was made. The total cost of the neoclassic building will be five million dollars. Githens and Keally are the architects.

Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Eastern Parkway, Washington and Flatbush Avenues, is known for its floral displays, and pioneer research and educational work. (Open daily from 8 a.m. to dusk, except Sunday and holidays, when the gates open at 10 a.m.; admission free.) Founded in 1910 as a department of the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences, it now occupies a fifty-acre plot, opposite the eastern edge of Prospect Park. The plot is enclosed by tall poplars and shrubs. The Horticultural Garden on the Eastern Parkway side leads to the Overlook, from which the rest of the grounds may be viewed. There are two entrances on Washington Avenue (south of Eastern Parkway), one at the conjunction of Flatbush and Washington Avenues, and one at Eastern Parkway, near the Brooklyn Museum.

The outdoor plantations include a general Systematic Section showing botanical relationships; special gardens including the Japanese, Rose, Rock Ecological, Native Wild Flower, Water, Wall, Iris, Children's, Shakespeare, and Herb Gardens; horticulture collections and plantings. The Laboratory Building contains the herbarium with some two hundred thousand specimens, an excellent reference library on plant life, and (in the conservatories) a display of economic or tropical plants and other groups such as those tracing the evolution of plant life.

Probably the most celebrated feature is the Japanese Niwa, or landscape garden. Designed and cared for largely by Japanese gardeners, it covers about an acre in the northeast corner just above the Laboratory Building. A typical example of the Japanese talent for condensation, the Niwa embodies aspects of four kinds of gardens steeped in religious or social tradition--palace, tea cult, Shinto, and Buddhist temple. It is built around a lake shaped like the Chinese letter meaning "heart" (the center of meditative calm) and is bordered by Japanese iris. The East Indian lotus in the lake is the Buddhist symbol of immortality; its root, flower, and seed pod--which symbolize the past, present, and future--appear at one time. This concept is the basis for the chief Buddhist doctrine, "The Covenant of the Eight Years." The torii, or bird perching gate, in the lake, marks the approach to a Shinto shrine on the rise beyond, where three distinct levels, representing the trinity of Heaven, Man, and Earth, are divided by a gorge and waterfalls. On the path to the shrine is a Kasuga stone lantern with elaborate ornaments and carvings of the zodiac animals, modeled after one in Kasuga Temple Yard in Nara, the ancient capital of Japan.

The Tea House, which has a circular latticework opening on one side, affords a dramatic panorama of the garden. From the north wing a path runs beyond a rustic torii to the Moon View House or Waiting Pavilion across the lake. Here, in Japan, guests would await the melodious gong calling them to tea. Just beyond the pavilion is a drum bridge leading to an island with stepping stones, beach, and cave for aquatic birds.

The garden is planted for the most part with hardy specimens such as mountain laurel, azalea, wisteria, and mulberry trees, to insure the proper year-around display. Except for the open lakeside, the whole is enclosed by a bamboo fence.

North of the Japanese Garden is the Herb Garden with varieties of medicinal and culinary herbs. To the west, under the Overlook, are Cherry Walk, popular in May; the esplanade with Norway maples on either side; the lilac collection, of some two hundred varieties, and the Rose Garden, in full flower in June.

Near the Eastern Parkway entrance rests a huge boulder with a bronze tablet memorializing André Parmentier, who in 1825, at Atlantic and Carleton Avenues, established the first botanic garden in Brooklyn. This and twenty-eight other boulders scattered throughout the grounds were unearthed in the excavation of the ridge, the second highest ground in Brooklyn, and part of the terminal glacial moraine deposited during the Ice Age and extending from the Narrows to Montauk Point. Other glacial rocks are utilized in the Wall Garden, running 385 feet along the Mt. Prospect Park embankment, near Eastern Parkway, and in the Rock Garden lying to the south near Flatbush Avenue.

The Rock Garden, built in 1916, contains eight hundred species of Alpine and rock loving plants from all parts of the world. In the Native Wild Flower Garden, between the Lilac Triangle and Wall Garden, a large number of species found wild within one hundred miles of New York City grow in profusion.

Most of the remaining outdoor area is devoted to the Systematic Section which winds north to south along the banks of a brook coursing through the grounds. The algae, mosses, and ferns on the south shore of the lake, are succeeded by various classes of gymnosperms (plants v with naked seeds) including the conifers. Last come the vast array of angiosperms, or flowering plants, with seeds enclosed in an ovary. In this section the exhibits are arranged in a sequence of plant families from the simpler to the more complex forms.

West of the Laboratory Building and conservatories is the Laboratory Plaza, a formal garden of magnolias and stone vases, and in Conservatory Plaza are two water-lily pools, one containing tropical varieties and the other, hardy specimens. The white stone and stucco Laboratory Building, Completed in 1918, was designed by McKim, Mead, and White. Its central and wing sections, two stories high, each surmounted by an octagonal cupola, contain research, lecture, and assembly rooms, and administrative offices, as well as the herbarium and library. In the rotunda of the central Section are bronze busts of Linnaeus, Darwin, Mendel, Asa Gray, Robert Brown, and John Torrey--the work of WPA sculptors--and two symbolic figures by Isabel M. Kimball. Southwest of the conservatories are the Children's House and Garden, pioneer project of its kind, where each year hundreds of boys and girls study nature and practical gardening under supervision. Near by, a Shakespeare Garden exhibits many of the plants mentioned in the poet's plays.

The Botanic Garden is a semi-public institution. The city, which furnished the land and most of the buildings, provides maintenance; the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences supplies the administrative personnel and scientific material. Garden members are entitled to previews, free docent and technical service, reduced tuition rates and free copies of publications.

The Brooklyn Museum (Central Museum of the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences), Eastern Parkway and Washington Avenue, is outstanding not only for its collection of the arts and crafts of primitive Oriental, Egyptian, and American peoples, but for an extensive and progressive educational program that has made it one of the leading educational forces in New York. (Open weekdays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday 2 to 6 p.m.; admission Monday and Friday, adults 25¢, children 10¢, other days free.) The activities of the Brooklyn Museum include many courses and lectures for children and adults; concerts, folk festivals, demonstrations of art techniques, motion pictures, and touring exhibitions. The museum is used by more than a million people annually.

The building was erected by the city and leased for a nominal fee to the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences (see page 453). Funds for the maintenance of the building and grounds, which are under the jurisdiction of the Department of Parks, are provided by the city. The income from a private endowment is used to pay curators' salaries, to purchase works of art, and for incidental expenses.

The building, constructed in four sections between 1897 and 1925 at a cost of $3,300,000, was designed by McKim, Mead, and White. Of a huge projected plan, only the central portion and one wing have been completed. Like other works by the same architects, it is an impressive monument, but in terms of contemporary museum requirements it is quite outmoded. During the past few years a WPA project has been making the museum one of the most modern and pleasantly arranged in the country. The most striking change has been the removal of a monumental stairway which originally gave access to the third story, and the building of a new entrance hall at the ground level.

In the recent alterations the galleries were completely modernized with respect to color, lighting, and dramatic presentation of material. Architecturally treated walls have given way to plain surfaces, pleasantly colored and ideal as backgrounds for the display of works of art. Maps and educational labels designed for easy reading accompany the exhibits. A progressive directorship has widened the cultural ties between the museum and the community; in the words of the director, "the whole museum is conceived as a place for enjoyment, recreation and education, not as an exclusive palace where art is remote from the common touch."

The entrance hall gives the first hint of the recent transformation. With its interesting forms, levels, contrast of materials, lighting--a maximum of effect with a minimum of expense--it is an example of the best in modern architecture. Devoid of the elaborate decorations which so often clutter up the entrances of public buildings, it contains only a few works of art changed from time to time, and cases for feature exhibits. Among the sculpture now shown there is a bronze cast of Bourdelle's war memorial, France Saluting America, which stands in Bordeaux. Adjoining the hall are several galleries for special temporary exhibits. Usually four such exhibitions are on view.

The permanent exhibitions on the first floor embrace the Indian cultures of North and South America, and the primitive cultures of Malaysia, Polynesia, Melanesia, Northern Japan, and Negro Africa. The American Indian collections, including rich specimens of pre Columbian gold ornaments, are among the finest and most extensive exhibitions of the native arts of the Western Hemisphere to be seen in any museum. The collections of primitive material, though less extensive, reveal the specific qualities of each culture, the materials and techniques used by each race, and the direct relation of the arts and crafts to the daily life of these primitive people. Whether it is an Ecuadorian jaguar in clay, exquisitely woven shrouds from Peru, totemic carvings from the northwest American coast, a stylized frigate bird as a Melanesian fisherman's god, or the sturdy fetish figures from the Congo, each local culture is seen to produce objects which are at once useful and beautiful. In the cases are also musical instruments, bows and arrows, shields, dolls, rugs, shawls, pots, delicate pieces of jewelry, and models of Maya temples.

The offices and classrooms of the educational division, as well as the museum restaurant, are also on the first floor.

A long gallery on the second floor, near the main stairway, serves as an approach to the permanent collection of the art of Persia, India, Japan, and China, which, emerging from a more complicated social organization than that of the primitive peoples, has a wider range and subtlety of form and subject. The great technical advances made by the Oriental craftsmen in metal and pottery are demonstrated in this collection.

The Persian collection includes exhibits of art objects from Persia as well as those lands which were influenced culturally by Persia, such as Turkestan, Mesopotamia, and Turkey. It features paintings of incidents in the lives of heroes, princes, and poets; thirteenth- and fourteenth-century pottery; examples of Persian calligraphy; and rugs, which are still popular in western parlors.

Among the East Indian collections are paintings dating from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries that bear witness to the interesting struggle ale between the Rajput of India and the Moghul invaders: the Rajput paintings are expressive of folk art, with its simple designs and flat color, and contrast with the courtly style sponsored by the invaders, with its European atmospheric effects, subtle tones, and complicated court subjects. Other East Indian exhibits are statues and paintings of Buddhist and Jain religious figures, a chess set, early pottery figurines, heavy gold and silver jewelry, and jade objects of the Moghul aristocracy.

In the Japanese collection, a few workingmen's coats of simple but beautiful design are shown with a large display of lacquer and pottery, costumes, war masks, and arms and armor. A treasure of the Japanese exhibit is a group of Hokusai sketches.

Religious paintings, sculpture, masks, and ceremonial costumes are the main objects in the exhibits from Siam, Tibet, and Korea.

The Chinese collection represents many centuries of civilization during numerous dynasties and religious transitions, in bronze figures, delicate paintings of animals and birds, grave figurines, jades, porcelains, and cloisonne.

The well-equipped library and Department of Prints and Drawings are also on the second floor. A print study room is available to students, while a small gallery near the Print Department is devoted to temporary exhibits of the graphic arts. Among notable items in the print collection are the Goya Capricios, Whistler lithographs, Picasso's Metamorphoses, Segonzac's Treilles Muscate, a first edition of Piranesi's Carceri, Maillol's Art d'Aimer, Pennell lithographs, and selected prints by Millet, Degas, Manet, Dufy, Bonnard, and Toulouse-Lautrec.

The Greek and Roman collections on the third floor summarize the art of the ancient world from pre-Hellenic times to the decline of the Roman Empire. While the number of exhibits is somewhat limited, essential objects have been chosen which characterize the daily lives of the people of the Aegean and Mediterranean worlds. Large illuminated photomurals of architectural remains, such as a Mycenaean grave circle, the temple of Zeus at Athens, the Colosseum, and the aqueduct at Segovia, supplement Cretan and Greek sculpture, household articles and coins, and Roman glass and frescoes.

Other galleries on the same floor house the Egyptological collections. They consist principally of two collections, one formed by Charles Edwin Wilbour about 1880, the other a loan of the New York Historical Society. The Wilbour collection is especially rich in items of the Amarna period. New objects are acquired through a fund donated by the Wilbour family, by purchase, and through joint expeditions, such as that with the Egypt Exploration Society. A small tomb, royal and private sculpture, jewelry both gold and enamel, textiles, utensils, scarabs, and the mummies of three bullocks are among the displays. Adjoining the Wilbour Gallery is the Wilbour Memorial Library of Egyptology.

In a small room adjacent to one of the Egyptian galleries are twelve Assyrian ceremonial bas-reliefs from the palace of Ashur-nasir-pal, also lent by the New York Historical Society. They are from the same excavations as those at the Metropolitan Museum.

The large sculpture court on this floor plays an important role in the museum's life. For want of an auditorium, concerts, lectures, folk festivals, and other cultural activities are held here. Scattered around the sides are representative works of contemporary sculptors, among them Barye, Rodin, Maillol, Meunier, Milles, Epstein, and Ahron Ben-Schmuel.

The gallery of medieval art on the fourth floor provides examples of painting, sculpture, and craftwork from the late Roman Empire to the Renaissance The Byzantine, or Eastern Empire, and the Western Empire are both represented. Here are textiles of the Copts (Christianized Egyptians of the third to sixth centuries); fifteenth-century carved polychrome figures of Christ; statues from France, Germany, and Spain; tempera altarpieces of the Italian and South German schools; English stained glass; and chasubles of Roman bishops. A small group of icons, mostly from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, testify to the persistence in the Greek Catholic Church of the stylized rendering of religious figures and scenes characteristic of near eastern iconography.

An adjoining gallery contains a large collection of peasant costumes and fashionable women's dresses chiefly of the nineteenth century. Different techniques of weaving, embroidery, and other processes of ornamentation are comprehensively illustrated. Extensive study collections of textiles are available to students.

A notable group of Colonial American and Early Republican interiors is also on this floor. Rooms of farmhouses, plantation manors, and merchant chant homes have been reconstructed with zealous attention to decorative and architectural detail. The rooms range in provenance from New England land to South Carolina, in date from 1665 to 1820.

A series of galleries is devoted to the painting, sculpture, ceramics tapestry, glassware, furniture, and plastic art of the Renaissance, including the Frank Lusk Babbott and Michael Friedsam collections. While there are no outstanding works of great masters, Italian paintings typical of the chief schools convey the lively charm of Florentine and Venetian artists. A few French, Dutch, and Spanish masters are represented, among them Clouet, Hals, Ter Borch, and Goya.

A comprehensive collection traces the diversity of schools in American painting from the eighteenth century to the present day. The portraits of Copley, Sully, Stuart, and Peale contrast with the work of naive and refreshing early American painters of lesser renown. Next come the Hudson River painters with their preoccupation with landscape; and these are followed lowed by Impressionists, Realists, and Romanticists. Good examples are to be seen of the work of Albert Ryder, George Inness, John Singer Sargent, Winslow Homer, Thomas Eakins, Childe Hassam, Mary Cassatt, Arthur B. Davies, John Sloan, Alexander Brook, Walt Kuhn, Thomas Benton, and others. Among the water-colorists are Charles Demuth, John Marin, and George Burchfield. Homer and Sargent are each represented by a number of water colors.

Across the rotunda from the Renaissance galleries is a long gallery containing nineteenth-century European painting. Here are represented Delacroix, the great romantic; Corot and other members of the Barbizon school; the Impressionists, Degas, Sisley, Monet and Pissarro; the Realist Courbet; and the father of so many moderns, Cézanne.


St. Saviour High School, 588 Sixth Street

Ozzie's Coffee & Tea, 57 Seventh Avenue

Review: Park Slope Brewing Company (January 1996)

Pictures of Park Slope by Rushton Young

The Old First Reformed Church, 729 Carroll Street

Congregation B'nai Jacob of Park Slope, 401 9th Street

December 28, 2003

Rezoning, and Redefining, Park Slope


New developments like Prospect Park Estates on Second Street, have extended the traditional boundary of Park Slope to Fourth Avenue.

TEN years ago, when Karen Brenner first moved to Park Slope, she settled in a rented one-bedroom floor-through on Third Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. In 2001 she moved again. She bought a two-bedroom apartment in a newly built 36-unit condominium called Park Slope Estates on Second Street between Fifth and Fourth Avenues.

To outsiders that might not seem like a big change. Geographically, it isn't. But Park Slope residents long believed that housing down the slope from Fifth Avenue was much less desirable than housing on the more easterly blocks off Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Avenues as far as Prospect Park West at the park itself. Fifth Avenue was dismal as a commercial street, and it was a psychological boundary from the standpoint of housing value.

In the last three years or so, this has changed.

"Fifth Avenue is becoming the new trendy street, like Smith Street in Carroll Gardens," said Ms. Brenner, a television editor in her 30's. "In 1991 you wouldn't go there at night to find a hamburger. Now you can get a full meal any time of day."

You can also find new housing on the side streets, as Ms. Brenner did. For the striking phenomenon in Park Slope, especially though not exclusively between Fifth Avenue and Fourth Avenue, is the presence of new construction on large midblock parcels of the Lower Slope.

Most of the buildings recently completed or in construction are on land that was formerly vacant or else occupied by commercial buildings.

Over the last year buyers have been paying about $335 to $440 a square foot for new apartments throughout Park Slope, based on 36 closings, said Peggy D. Aguayo of the firm of Aguayo & Huebener. Based on 43 sales now under contract, prices have risen to $368 to $535 a square foot, she said. Last month, for example, a buyer paid $369,985, or $406 a square foot, for a 910-square-foot two-bedroom two-bath condominium under construction on Sackett Street. Occupancy is to start in the spring.

Now a rezoning adopted in April has set in motion plans for new 12-story buildings along Fourth Avenue. The rezoning encompasses most of the blockfronts from Warren to 15th Street, on both sides of the street, excluding those with significant commercial or industrial activity. The rezoning also adjusts regulations between Fourth Avenue and Prospect Park West to assure the preservation of low-rise buildings. (Details of the rezoning, Page 7.)

"This was a perfect opportunity to balance preservation with growth," said Amanda Burden, chairwoman of the City Planning Commission. "We were beginning to see some sore-thumb buildings, while Fourth Avenue could accommodate apartment-house construction." Contextual rezoning was adopted for northern Park Slope blocks in 1992, but the new rezoning extends the concept to a far larger area.

The city councilmen from Park Slope — David Yassky and Bill de Blasio — expressed satisfaction about the new zoning in general but disappointment in its failure to require builders to provide a certain amount of moderate-income housing in exchange for the right to build taller structures on Fourth Avenue. "We're concerned about the need to maintain economic integration," Mr. Yassky said.

Mr. de Blasio noted that the Bloomberg administration had agreed to make funds available to create 133 units of moderate-income housing within the new zoning district in the next five years.

As broadly defined by brokers marketing real estate there, Park Slope runs all the way from Flatbush Avenue on the north to the Prospect Park Expressway on the south, and from Prospect Park and Prospect Park West to Fourth Avenue on the east. The April rezoning actually goes as far as Third Avenue on some blocks, and only to 15th Street on the south.

While census tracts do not precisely coincide with these boundaries, the area had an approximate population of 62,200 in 2000, and there were 29,800 housing units. Over 20 years, the population has declined but the number of housing units has increased. The 1980 census showed a population of 65,200 and 29,000 housing units.

The population decline reflects the influx of younger people replacing older households, bringing a drop in average household size. "There's been an influx of a lot of singles and people living with roommates," said Joseph Salvo, director of the population division of the Department of City Planning.

Concurrently, the new arrivals have raised the proportion of college graduates in Park Slope. They were 60 percent of the people over the age of 25 in 2000, census figures show. In 1990 they were 49.5 percent.

HISTORICALLY, the most desirable blocks, with the highest housing prices, have been along the park and on the park-bounded side streets from President Street perhaps as far as Sixth Street, brokers say. Typical sales prices last year for one- and two-family homes ranged from $1.3 million to $2 million, and occasionally more. The Park Slope Historic District overlaps some blocks of this area and extends beyond it to the north and east.

The slope of Park Slope descends gradually from northeast to southwest, leading to the terminology North Slope (from Flatbush Avenue to Union Street), Center Slope (from the south side of Union Street to Fifth or Sixth Streets) and South Slope beyond that. Residents of the southeastern part of the slope, near Prospect Park Southwest, know it as Windsor Terrace.

"Originally, everything south of Ninth Street was just `South Brooklyn,' " said Billy Stephens, senior vice president in the Brooklyn office of the Corcoran Group. "In the mid-70's Park Slope went as far as 15th Street. As time went on, the whole South Slope became `Park Slope.' "

Prices for existing housing in Park Slope typically diminish farther down the slope and farther from the park. Most houses have at least one rental. Resales prices for two-families distant from the park in the South Slope, for example, would probably be in a range of $700,000 to $800,000, brokers say. A two-bedroom floor-through condominium in the Center Slope between Sixth Avenue and Seventh Avenue might sell in the range of $550,000 to $650,000.

Native Brooklynites would be surprised to hear any of the blocks below Fifth Avenue defined as Park Slope at all. But the name seemed justified to Jean Miele, a landscape photographer who grew up in Park Slope and now lives in the Park Slope Estates condominium on Second Street between Fourth and Fifth Avenues.

Mr. Miele and his wife, Carol Guasti, were living the Chelsea section of Manhattan when they decided to move. Now they and their daughter, Cally, 12, live in an 1,800-square-foot duplex. "We needed more space and we're close to a great middle school — M.S. 51," said Mr. Miele, who is president of his condominium's board.

The man whose development work has been primarily responsible for expanding the concept of Park Slope to reach Fourth Avenue is Isaac Katan, the developer of Park Slope Estates. Either on its own or in partnerships, Katan Developers has put into construction 260 apartments in the area, mainly on side streets in attached four-story elevator buildings with eight units each. And Katan is in the design phase for about 400 more.

"We cultivated the edge of the neighborhood at a time when nobody wanted to move there," Mr. Katan said. New projects now in construction or design on or near Fourth Avenue will have a sales value of about $350 million, he said, and will transform parts of Fourth Avenue into "the Park Avenue of Brooklyn."

Park Slope Estates, with 38 condominium apartments in six buildings, was the first project of its kind in the area. Mr. Katan's partners in the project were Boymelgreen Developers of Brooklyn, which did the construction, and the Fatato family, prior owners of the land. Bricolage Designs of Borough Park was the architect of record, and Ken Yesmont of Manhattan was the design architect.

Other projects in construction for occupancy next year are City View Gardens, 46 units in five buildings on Second and Third Streets, plus 75 rental apartments in a 12-story building bordering Fourth Avenue; Park Slope Terrace, with 38 condominiums in a five-story elevator building on Sackett Street; and Park Slope Gardens, 30 condominiums in three five-story elevator buildings on Second and Third Streets. Two unnamed projects - on Dean Street, between Fourth and Fifth Avenues, and on Bergen Street, between Third and Fourth Avenues - will have a total of 36 condominiums in three four- and five-story elevator buildings.

"We will have 225 condominiums to sell in the spring," Mr. Katan said.

The sales agent for this inventory is Aguayo & Huebener Realty Group. In 65 sales of new housing for the Katan group and other builders in the last two years, Ms. Aguayo said, 40 to 50 percent of the buyers have come from outside Park Slope.

"Most are couples with a child already or planning a family," she said. The local schools have a high reputation among buyers, she said.

Katan partnerships are designing 10 additional developments on or near Fourth Avenue, Mr. Katan said. They will produce close to 600 housing units. Six of them will have frontages on Fourth Avenue, with residential entrances on a side street, and some will have 100 apartments or more. As the new zoning provides, the typical Fourth Avenue building will rise in a street wall of 80 or 85 feet — eight floors — and then set back for a four-story element. It is too early to report the precise sites, Mr. Katan said.

Mr. Yesmont, the design architect for most of the low-rise projects, said he tried to fulfill the goal of transporting Park Slope charm to the area with the use of copper mansard roofs, limestone arches at the entrances, smaller arches at the parapet level where the roof starts, and curved railings on the outdoor terraces.

"The colors of brick reflect the colors of surrounding buildings," Mr. Yesmont said.

Bricolage Designs of Borough Park has been the architect of record for many of the current projects in Park Slope and elsewhere in Brooklyn. Henry Radusky, the principal in the firm, said that over the next 12 to 18 months the eight that are recently completed or in construction by developers other than Mr. Katan would bring 200 new housing units to the market.

Several of these projects are single buildings that are higher than would be allowed under the April rezoning. For example, there is a seven-story two-building project on the southeast corner of Fourth Avenue and President Street, nearing completion, that would be two stories too high in its President Street element, but conforming along Fourth Avenue if it had been designed under the new zoning rules. The builder is Zoriano Inc. of Brooklyn.

Another builder is the Goldmedal Group, in which Mendel Goldshmid is a principal. Goldmedal is in midconstruction on a five-story 30-unit condominium on 15th Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues, with occupancy expected next summer. There will be three entrances to three connected elevator buildings. It will have a landscaped backyard of 4,000 square feet.

At 101 Prospect Park Southwest, a new 15-unit six-story building shaped like the Flatiron Building in Manhattan, caused local controversy as a view blocker before construction. Nearing completion, the condominiums sold out at an average price of $400 a square foot, the developer, Manny Reiner, said.

NOT all has gone smoothly in the new construction. At Park Slope Estates on Second Street, Mr. Miele, the president of the condominium association, spoke of excessive delay in fixing roof leaks that have been persistent for more than a year. "It's been a struggle, and it's still not quite complete," he said.

The builders, meanwhile, are trying to attract buyers from Manhattan. Representative of these buyers in recent weeks were Lara Eshkenazi and James Matheson, a couple who were living in cramped space on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. They have gone into contract on a two-bedroom three-bath apartment with 1,500 square feet of space on Sackett Street, for occupancy early next year. Its price is $590,000.

"We couldn't get the same space for that money in Manhattan," said Ms. Eshkenazi, a lawyer who works downtown. "And we have friends who settled in the neighborhood. They love it."

How the Zoning Works


THE revised zoning adopted for Park Slope last April affects almost all the blocks from Warren Street south to 15th Street and from Third Avenue to Prospect Park, excluding only a manufacturing zone nearer the Gowanus Canal. It gives Brooklyn its largest contextual zoning district, comparable to others adopted in Manhattan over the years.

Its basic idea is to require new construction on built-up streets to reflect the characteristic bulk and height of existing buildings, but at the same time to encourage new larger-scale apartment construction where it is considered appropriate, which in Park Slope has meant Fourth Avenue.

Fourth Avenue is a long, mostly underdeveloped boulevard of great width — 120 feet — that is served by buses and subways. The R has three Park Slope stops on Fourth Avenue at all hours of the day: Union Street, Ninth Street and Prospect Avenue. The F train stops at all hours at Ninth Street. The W and M trains run along Fourth Avenue during rush hours only. There has been new commercial construction in recent years but little residential growth.

The rezoning effort began under the Giuliani administration and and led to the adoption in 1992 of contextual zoning on blocks in the North Slope near Grand Army Plaza, from Union Street north to Flatbush Avenue and west to Fourth Avenue, providing both height and bulk limits.

The extension of contextual zoning in Park Slope was treated as a priority by Amanda Burden, when she was named chairwoman of the City Planning Commission by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. It required a comprehensive downzoning (less square footage per zoning lot), an upzoning on Fourth Avenue and new height restrictions throughout the area. The changes will preserve the existing scale of buildings on 100 blocks of Park Slope, said Ms. Burden, and encourage apartment houses on 36 blockfronts of Fourth Avenue.

Before the rezonings, R-6 or occasionally R-7 was almost the blanket designation in Park Slope. In zoning language, R-6 allows a FAR, or floor-area ratio, of 3 (three square feet of building area for each square foot of the zoning lot) on wide streets and 2.43 square feet on side streets. Commercial streets use the letter C rather than R, but the densities are the same.

The new zoning refines these terms. On streets where apartment houses are the main building type, there are now R-6A and R-7A zones. The FAR is unchanged, but there are now height restrictions: 60 feet at the street, then stepping back for an element 10 feet high, typically used for penthouse units with a terrace.

The vast majority of Park Slope blocks — the east-west side streets running to Prospect Park — were rezoned R-6B. The predominant housing type on these streets is attached three- or four-story buildings. In the R-6B blocks the allowable FAR has been cut to 2 from 2.43, and a height limit of 50 feet imposed. This leads to four-story buildings, perhaps with space above for duplexed apartments, and yard space at the rear.

Avenues, too, now have height limits. Where existing development is low-rise residential, as along Sixth Avenue, the B designation has been imposed to cut the FAR to 2. But most commercial blockfronts will retain the FAR of the former zoning.

The big change that encourages development is on Fourth Avenue, going back on side streets either 100 or 150 feet. A total of 36 blockfronts have been rezoned R-8A. This gives 6.02 square feet of building for each square foot of land, or 6.5 square feet if a community facility, like a doctor's office, is provided.

It also requires a street wall of 80 or 85 feet. After that there can be additional floors up to a maximum of 120 feet. Four parking spaces must be provided on site for every 10 apartments. To maximize the allowable floor area, builders are likely to produce 12-story buildings with an eight-story base and a four-story element above.

"Fourth Avenue is an area where new apartment-house construction totally makes sense," said Regina Myer, director of the Brooklyn office of the Department of City Planning.

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

Park Slope
With its stunning, landmark Victorian-era architecture, tree-lined streets and family-friendly vibe, Park Slope—set on a sloping hill leading up to beautiful Prospect Park—is a suburb in a city. Built in the late 1800s as a tony residential neighborhood, Park Slope fell on hard times during the 1950s and '60s only to come roaring back. Now, it's a thriving community with beautifully restored homes.

"Park Slope feels like a real neighborhood, and I don't feel that in Manhattan anymore," says Catherine Longstreth, who has lived beside the park for three years.

With a diverse population, a large percentage of the residents are young families. For many, Park Slope is the transition between Manhattan and the suburbs. The "North Slope" is the more expensive area, but parts of South Slope are also lovely.


Neighborhood Details
  • Housing Costs
    The neighborhood features breathtaking brownstone and limestone townhouses; many larger, more traditional pre-war apartment buildings exist as well.

    Prices vary widely. A two-bedroom, 1,500-square-foot apartment generally ranges from $300,000 to $450,000. A three- or four-story brownstone runs from $750,000 to upwards of $2 million.

    Rents for one-bedrooms range from $1,500 to $2,400; two bedrooms $1,800 to $3,000.
  • Diversions
    Gorgeous, 526-acre Prospect Park was designed by Central Park architects Olmstead & Vaux and features a lake, baseball fields, a zoo, a carousel, five playgrounds and a forest, plus two weekly farmers markets.

    Bustling 7th Avenue offers many stores and restaurants; up-and-coming 5th Avenue features many bars and antique shops. The main branch of the Brooklyn Public Library is nearby. The world-class Brooklyn Museum and Botanic Gardens are one subway stop away.
  • Transportation
    Park Slope is served by five subway lines and downtown Manhattan is approximately four miles and 15 minutes away. Midtown is approximately six miles and 20 to 25 minutes away. Car service to Manhattan will cost $15-$20, as will a nighttime taxi from Manhattan.
  • Schools
    Public School 321, which draws students from much of the North Slope, is one of the best public schools in the City; 39 and 282 are good; but the local high school, John Jay, suffers from a terrible reputation.

    Berkeley-Carroll, pre-school through high school, is one of the area's best private schools; Brooklyn Friends and St. Ann's are also very good.—Jem Aswad
  • Local Links
    Berkeley Carroll School
    Brooklyn Friends School
    Brooklyn Museum of Art
    Brooklyn Botanical Garden
    Park Slope Home Page
    St. Ann's School