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The Many Places of Brooklyn

There were so many interesting building, stores, homes and institutions in the borough that have a story to tell.
Here are some of those stories and many photographs of Brooklyn in its heyday. Enjoy your visit down memory lane!



 
 

The Coney Island Notebook

The Coney Island that many of us have known and grew to love in our youth is, without a doubt, one of the world’s most famous seaside attractions. An island less than five miles long and half a mile wide, it has drawn millions upon millions of visitors seeking rest and relaxation for as long as anyone of us can remember.

Who can ever forget Steeplechase Park, the Cyclone roller coaster, the Wonder Wheel and the Parachute Jump? Of course, Coney Island did not start out this way ...
 

 

From the Lower East Side to Brownsville, Brooklyn

Late in the nineteenth century in New York City, a transformation had begun in earnest. No longer would the immigrant have to live in one of the many crowded, dilapidated tenements on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Advances in bridge building and improvements in the transportation system provided the immigrant with options not available to them before. What would occur over the next couple of decades would change the face of Jewish demographics, and at least for a short period of time, give the immigrant a chance to pay a lower rent and live in a more healthy and bucolic environment. Many moved eastward to Brooklyn, which at that time was not very developed. One of the first areas to receive an influx of new residents was what would be called Brownsville.

 

 

The Streets of East New York and Brownsville

These two sections of Brooklyn were the places where I was born or where my parents grew up, and/or in which I spent the first few years of my life, visiting till the age of thirteen. They were multiethnic areas that housed many businesses that those in the neighborhood and elsewhere went to shop and visit or simply take a casual stroll.

From the Loew's Pitkin movie theatre, to the pushcarts on Blake Avenue, to the stores under the "El" of Livonia Avenue, these streets were vital in the daily lives of the area's denizens. Here you will see various video slideshows of the establishments that lined these streets in 1940, and you will be able to imagine life back then, or reminisce about your attendance here in your youth.

 

 

The Brooklyn Theatre Houses

Here you will find old photographs of former movie theatre houses that once stood in Brooklyn. There were so many, much more than we would find today. Some were quite palatial, others were small in size. These edifices were remarkable for their time. Many had stage shows, vaudeville, some with an orchestra. Others had contests to draw people to the theatre. Some had a "dish night," where they would give out a dish to all attendees one night per week. Others had games where people could win money. And they had cartoons too! Back in the 1940s, admission to the theatre was less than one dollar. That was quite a time!

 

 

Yiddish Theatre Expands to Brooklyn

From Abraham Goldfaden and the open-air stages in gardens of Iasi, Romania, to the Lower East Side of New York City, the Yiddish theatre expanded throughout the world. At one point there were a great number of Yiddish theatres in New York City, but knowing that a part of the burgeoning Jewish population were moving away from the densely packed tenements of the Lower East Side, the theatre entrepreneurs, the impresarios, decided to reach out to other areas of the City, either uptown to The Bronx, or eastward to Kings County, subsequently the city of Brooklyn. The theatres there too were packed mostly with Jews, who were looking for some sort of entertainment after a hard day or week of work. Here we will explore a few of the theatres that presented Yiddish theatre productions, namely the Hopkinson, Parkway (formerly the Rolland), and the Liberty theatres ...

 

 

The Synagogues of East New York and Brownsville

Here you will find a listing of dozens of synagogues that once stood in Brooklyn, New York. For many years they were populated with many, many denizens of the neighborhood, most of whom walked alone, or with family members, to synagogue, or shul, for Shabbat, the many Jewish holidays, or even on a daily basis. Many Jews felt a strong sense of religion then, and regular attendance and worship was not unusual. Today, however, with changing demographics and sentiment, the number of synagogues in these areas have decreased severely, or been eliminated altogether. Even so, to see photographs of these many beautiful shuls, big or small, ornate or simple, they served the community well since the settlement of Jews in these sections of Brooklyn.

 

 

Brownsville: The Jewish Years

In her book with the aforementioned title, Brownsville native Sylvia Schildt z"l wrote a lovely book of reminisces of a neighborhood that she remembered so fondly.

It was a neighborhood full of immigrants, most of whom were Jewish, who were affected by both the good and bad during that time, whether it be the World Wars, the Cold War, the Brooklyn Dodgers, or the famed Loew's Pitkin movie house, which she writes about in detail in one of her chapters that she has permitted us to put online for all to enjoy. Another chapter deals with the Holocaust and the immigrants who lived in Brownsville, who survived.

 


 

First Night: Brooklyn Seders

Many of us remember those years where we had our family seders during Pesakh (Passover). Maybe it was only on the first night; maybe on the first two. Many of us had our extended family over for the seder and perhaps cousins or friends. Probably we didn't have such a large gathering the Pier family (see photograph) had in 1928, but during this time we all came together to celebrate the holiday . It is traditional for Jewish families to gather on the first night of Passover (first two nights in Orthodox and Conservative communities outside the land of Israel) for a special dinner called a seder. The table is set with the finest china and silverware to reflect the importance of this meal. During this meal, the story of the Exodus from Egypt is retold using a special text called the Haggadah ...

 

 

Holocaust Memorial Park

The Holocaust Memorial Park is located between Emmons Avenue and Shore Boulevard in the Sheepshead Bay section of Brooklyn. The park was created through the efforts of the Holocaust Memorial Committee with the support of Community leaders and legislators. The park overlooks Sheepshead Bay and provides the visitor with both a lovely view as well as an opportunity for learning and contemplation.

Thousands of names have already been inscribed on many granite markers that stand in tribute to all those individuals, families and communities that were so harshly affected during the Holocaust, those who dedicated themselves to aid those who suffered during this time.
 

 

Articles of Historical Interest

Taken from the historical archives of newspapers, these articles will give you a feel for, and greater insight into the history of Brooklyn and its many parts since the late 1800s.

Reading such articles takes one back in time, often giving the reader a greater perspective, a fuller understanding of the history of Brooklyn, a place where our family might have made their home when Brooklyn was in its heyday.

 

 

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