Photo of the Week: McKenney Street

East side of McKenney Street, v1974.16.176; Edna Huntington papers and photographs, ARC.044; Brooklyn Historical Society.

East side of McKenney Street, v1974.16.176; Edna Huntington papers and photographs, ARC.044; Brooklyn Historical Society.

Many of you may have spent some time on the Brooklyn Queens Expressway, also referred to lovingly as the BQE, at some point in your life.  The traffic between Downtown Brooklyn and the Long Island Expressway is often befuddling and enraging – enough to consider a row boat as a faster alternative.  At other times the cabs, trucks, and personal vehicles seem to zing from one end of the borough to the other at an effortless 95mph.

The construction of the BQE transformed neighborhoods across Brooklyn and Queens.  Residents of Brooklyn Heights vocally protested Robert Moses’ initial proposal, in which the expressway would have cut through Brooklyn Heights, destroying many blocks of Brownstones. Eventually, organizations like the Brooklyn Heights Association convinced Moses to change the plans so that the BQE would skirt the coastline.  Still, some streets were destroyed in the construction of the expressway.  All but a small portion of McKenney Street was one of the casualties. If you look at this map from a 1929 fire insurance atlas, you’ll see that McKenney Street was a two-block street east of Columbia Heights that connected Doughty Street to Poplar Street. Portions of Doughty, Poplar, and Vine Streets were also altered but not destroyed during the construction of the BQE.  I believe parts of what were once McKenny Street are now named “Hicks Street.”

Desk Atlas Borough of Brooklyn, City of New York, Vol. 1, E. Belcher Hyde, 1929; Brooklyn Historical Society.

Desk Atlas Borough of Brooklyn, City of New York, Vol. 1, E. Belcher Hyde, 1929; Brooklyn Historical Society.

Interested in seeing more photos from BHS’s collection? Visit our online image gallery, which includes a selection of our images. Interested in seeing even more historic Brooklyn images? Visit our new website here.  To search BHS’s entire collection of images, archives, maps, and special collections visit BHS’s Othmer Library Wed-Fri, 1:00-5:00 p.m.

About Julie May

I am the Head of Collection Management at Brooklyn Historical Society.
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