Brooklyn History Photo of the Week: Bay Ridge Mystery

Michael Bergen House Bay Ridge Shore Front, ca.1910, v1981.15.99; Ralph Irving Lloyd lantern slides; Brooklyn Historical Society.

From the desk of Cassie Mey, Project CHART intern: While scanning parts of BHS’s Photography Collection, I have come across images that are difficult to historically verify, and this one in particular remains an unsolved mystery. This image from the Ralph Irving Lloyd Lantern Slides shows a house roof that clearly reads, “Steins Hotel and Bathing Pavilion [sic].” Yet the handwritten information on the undated slide (ca. 1910) names this as the “Michael Bergen House,” on the “Bay Ridge Shore Front.”

While searching for the Stein Hotel, I found the name of a Bay Ridge hotel proprietor, John P. Stein, through his obituary on June 6, 1902 in The Brooklyn Daily Eagle online. Further searching for the “Steins Hotel and Bathing Pavilion” in the Eagle did not retrieve any results for that particular name, but did lead me to a hotel listed by the name: Brooklyn Beach Park Hotel and Bathing Pavilion [sic]. A June 18, 1899 ad credits, “John P. Stein, Proprietor, Foot of 58th street, on New York Bay, Brooklyn.”

As the “only summer resort on New York Bay,” this hotel promised such turn of the century decadences as, “1000 bath houses, 1000 feet sandy bathing beach, springboards, floats, showerbaths, alcohol, perfume, salt and oil rubbing, bathing at night by electric light; excursions in launches from Stein’s South Pier around the Bay in fast Naphtha Launches.”

I also found a Michael Bergen Estate lot map [1889?] in the Bay Ridge area, but this didn’t show specific evidence that Michael Bergen owned the shoreline house property between 58th street and 59th street. Adding these clues together, I can’t confirm the exact relationships between the Michael Bergen House in the lantern slide, the Steins Hotel and Bathing Pavilion [sic], and the Brooklyn Beach Park Hotel, but a connection seems to be there. Even though this historic mystery is not resolved, along the way it was fascinating to discover this turn of the century “New York Bay” summer resort in Bay Ridge.

About Cassie Mey

Cassie is a Brooklynite of 10 years, a Project CHART intern at BHS and a Pratt Institute Master of Library and Information Science student. Alongside her work in archives, Cassie is a modern dancer and choreographer, and she continues to perform with dance companies in the US and abroad.
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