Photo of the Week: Food vendors at Wallabout Market

Wallabout Market, Brooklyn, ca. 1895, v1973.5.994; Brooklyn photograph and illustration collection, ARC.202; Brooklyn Historical Society.

Wallabout Market, Brooklyn, ca. 1895, v1973.5.994; Brooklyn photograph and illustration collection, ARC.202; Brooklyn Historical Society.

This week Brooklyn Historical Society is hosting our annual fundraising party, Brooklyn Bounty!  Unlike last year, we will be holding this event at a new venue in the DUMBO neighborhood of Brooklyn.  There will be music, beverages, auctions, and food.  We expect it to be as bountiful as the Wallabout Market, pictured above.  Not too far from DUMBO, the Wallabout Market was the host for many of the farmers who supplied food to Brooklyn and beyond from the late 19th century until 1941.  We highlighted the market back in 2011 and thought this week’s festivities are a justifiable reason to mention it again.  See you all at Brooklyn Bounty!

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 Brooklyn Visual Heritage website here.  To search BHS’s entire collection of images, archives, maps, and special collections visit BHS’s Othmer Library Wed-Sat, 1:00-5:00 p.m.


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Brooklyn Bounty 2014 Taste Spotlight – Odd Fellows Ice Cream

In anticipation of Brooklyn Bounty, BHS’s premier fundraiser at 26 Bridge on October 22nd, we are profiling our participating restaurants and honorees of the Food & Heritage Awards. Below is a profile of OddFellows Ice Cream Company, one of the sweet and chilled participants in our evening’s tasting menu. Ice Cream is year-round!

(left to right) : The OddFellows Team – Mohan Kumar, Sam Mohan, & Holiday Kumar

Right on the corner of Kent Avenue and North 3rd Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn is a small ice cream parlor with big flavors. OddFellows Ice Cream Co. is passionate about their innovative and contemporary ice cream flavor combinations as well as their nods to classics. Mohan Kumar and Sam Mason are the co-founders of Odd fellows, churning out flavors of ice cream that you’ve only dreamed of for your next midnight snack. With over 130 flavors offered in only 16 months of being open, OddFellows will be able to satisfy any taste bud on your tongue.

bhsblog_bkbounty14_oddfellows2Not all beige ice creams are alike: meet Chorizo Caramel, Maple Bacon Pecan, Cornbread

 “She craved fried chicken or coconut water ice cream”


Where did this demand for new tastes come from? It all started with Mohan’s wife, Holiday. In 2011, Holiday Kumar was well into her pregnancy and having the most peculiar cravings: fried chicken on ice cream, coconut water, grilled cheese. Their good friend and well-known WD~50 pastry chef Sam Mason helped out by whipping up a pint of his pretzel ice cream, and ta da! The spark of an idea is born.

Sweet and salty, fruity and smoked, dinner for dessert. OddFellows has not made a fried chicken ice cream just yet, but they are proudly offering flavors like “Purple Rice,” “Edamame,” “Cornbread,” and “Prosciutto Melon.” Have you every had a scoop of “Foie Gras” ice cream? I had the pleasure of tasting the small batches that were featured for the day of my visit, and after finishing all 12 tasting spoons, Lemon Meringue Pie was my ultimate favorite. Side note: OddFellows also serves one “Odd Flavor” a day, a very small batch of the most unique flavor of the day. On the day of my visit, I got the chance to taste Caramelized Onion with Raisin Caramel and Fried Walnuts.

bhsblog_bkbounty14_oddfellows3No matter how many crazy flavors you make, you can’t forget sprinkles. – Inside the OddFellows kitchen.

 “I wanna eat ice cream with someone with a big beard”


When I spoke with Sam and Mohan, I asked them who would be the perfect person to sit down and share an Odd Fellows cone with. Mohan’s first thought was Joe Biden, because he appreciates his lighthearted personality and love of food culture, especially ice cream. “I think he’d be a really fun guy to have ice cream with.” Sam suggested Willie Nelson or Waylon Jennings, because wouldn’t anyone with a great beard would make for an interesting ice cream buddy?

“Every ice cream parlor is judged by their vanilla”


If you don’t have a good vanilla, people won’t be as interested. Even though OddFellows is known for their odd flavors, Mohan taught me that having a solid vanilla is key to a successful ice cream parlor. Sam and the team have perfected theirs by using a combination of Madagascar and Tahitian vanilla beans. All of the bases for their ice cream are waffle conepasteurized in-house. This allows OddFellows to serve high quality and fresh ice cream that is truly homemade. The additional remixing that Sam does to create depth complements the base of the ice cream so well, allowing for nuggets of surprising textures and tastes without losing the integrity of a confident scoop of ice cream. The waffle cones are also made fresh daily, and Sam Mason just added his homemade sodas to the menu, in case you want some fizz in your ice cream.

Don't worry Sorbet lovers, we didn't forget you. -Blood Orange Cinnamon Sorbet -

Don’t worry Sorbet lovers, we didn’t forget you.   -Blood Orange Cinnamon Sorbet -

OddFellows is a hybrid carnival dressing room and ice cream parlor. As you enjoy your scoops in the shop, you can look around and discover shelves with many different oddities and unique trinkets that play into the identity of OddFellows. Clyde is their unofficial mascot, a special musical monkey who has been passed down in Sam Mason’s family for many years. “Ice Cream Jesus” is a crowd favorite. The two masks on the very top shelf are ceremonial objects from the original Odd Fellows, a fraternal organization focused on giving back to the community. OddFellows ice cream is not at all affiliated with this organization, but they admired their mission of looking out for members of the community and sticking together any way that they can.

Thai Iced CreamTwo scoops of Thai Tea Ice Cream – you can wipe the drool off your computer screen now -

OddFellows Ice Cream Co. is re-shaping the culinary landscape of Brooklyn every time they open up shop at noon. It’s the attention to detail that I really admire about OddFellows. Precision, play, and passion in the recipes and overall environment that Mohan, Sam, and Holiday welcome into the parlor is what makes OddFellows such a bright and interesting place for dessert.  It balances timeless comfort food and a contemporary commentary on dessert.  It is innovative without being snobby or too trendy. Mohan, Sam, Loretta the ice cream maker, and Patsy the pasteurizer are able to create flavors that might usually be served at a high-end restaurant in an “elevated, deconstructed” way. These flavors are respected just as much as a notable chef’s signature dish, but are packed within a simple scoop of ice cream accessible to everyone.

We are feeling like a kid on their tip-toes peeking through the glass ice cream freezer in anticipation for OddFellows’ feature in this year’s Brooklyn Bounty 2014.  They will be scooping a special seasonal flavor for this event, we can’t wait to find out which one they will serve!

- – – Psst, tickets for Brooklyn Bounty are Still Available! - – -


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Photo of the Week: Highland Park

Sunday afternoon at Highland Park, Brooklyn, N.Y., ca. 1900, V1973.4.1021; Postcard collection, v1973.004; Brooklyn Historical Society.

Sunday afternoon at Highland Park, Brooklyn, N.Y., ca. 1900, V1973.4.1021; Postcard collection, v1973.004; Brooklyn Historical Society.

For whatever random reason, I thought about posting a picture about music this week.  I came across several pavilions dotting Brooklyn’s amusement areas, parks, and waterfronts.  Highland Park’s Music Pavilion was among them, but so was the confusion about in what neighborhood it’s located.  Some of our records indicate it’s located in East New York; others Bushwick; a few Cypress Hills; and a couple more just say Brooklyn as in the one above. Allow me to clarify with the help of the NYC Parks Department who declare, rightly I believe, that Highland Park is located on the border of Brooklyn and Queens and whose borders are Jackie Robinson Parkway, Vermont Avenue, and Highland Boulevard (of course) between Bulwer Place and Cypress Hills Street.  The park is surrounded by cemeteries with Bushwick to the West, Cypress Hills to the South, and Ridgewood to the North.  As you may recall from an earlier post, Ridgewood was once part of Brooklyn and in 1977 jumped ship to join Queens.  This park grew over time, gaining sections one by one, justifying another reason for its dual-borough adoption.

Not only was there music on Sundays, but it was a lively park at the turn of the last century with ice skating, football fields, and opportunities to meander.  It continues to be well traversed today by residents of both Brooklyn and Queens.  It’s also home to the now closed Ridgewood Reservoir that formerly provided water to both boroughs.  So in the name of inter-borough comraderie, this week’s photo of the week celebrates our interconnected geography and love of more obscure places.  If you haven’t been, hop on your bicycle and head over there before it gets too cold.  If you can’t make it, Forgotten New York gives a nice preview here.

On another note, this is from our Postcard collection and representative of one of our photographic postcards as opposed to an illustrative postcards.  There is nothing written on the back of the postcard according to our catalog record so it was probably collected for the image rather than sent to someone through the post.  Several deltiologists have donated their objects of obsession to us as our Postcard collection numbers in the thousands.  Read more about this practice at the Institute of American Deltiology and come visit our archives to see some in person.

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 Brooklyn Visual Heritage website here.  To search BHS’s entire collection of images, archives, maps, and special collections visit BHS’s Othmer Library Wed-Sat, 1:00-5:00 p.m.


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October Staff Pick from the BHS Gift Shop – Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem

Welcome to the latest installment of Brooklyn Historical Society STAFF PICKS, a fun way to explore our awesome gift shop! The BHS Gift Shop features many items crafted right here in Brooklyn, as well as an array of books on Brooklyn and New York City suitable for the whole family. Once a month we feature a staff member and their favorite item from our gift shop because, let’s face it, who better than our Brooklyn-lovin’ staff to give great gift ideas?

This month we chat with BHS Processing Archivist John Zarrillo, whose favorite book is Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem. He recommends this book to anyone who enjoys detective fiction, quirky characters and/or 1980’s/90s Brooklyn.

John Zarillo

John Zarrillo/ Processing Archivist/ Windsor Terrace/ Train & Prospect Park Reader

“I would say that if you’re into classic detective or crime movies of the 1930s and 40s, this is a book you’ll enjoy. Also, the main character suffers from Tourette’s syndrome, so it’s a nice change of pace for the protagonist of the story to struggle with his disability, all while trying to solve the case.” – John

 What is the last book you read? Running with the Buffaloes by Chris Lear, which is about an elite college cross country program.

Any favorite hobbies? Running and cooking.

Why Motherless Brooklyn? I’m a fan of the author’s work.


Motherless Brooklyn is a detective novel with a twist. It follows the life of Lionel Essrog, an orphan with Tourette’s syndrome who gets adopted, along with three other boys, by Frank Minna, a part-time business man and mobster who treats Lionel and the boys like sons of his own. Things take a drastic turn when Frank is suddenly stabbed to death and one of Lionel’s foster brothers lands in jail. Without Frank, Lionel is left to figure out who killed his adoptive father and what will happen to his future. This charismatic novel is packed with emotions, drama, and history, and will surely keep you turning the pages. The recipient of the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction in 1999, Motherless Brooklyn is a contemporary classic in the world of Brooklyn literature.

Don’t forget to give Motherless Brooklyn ($16+tax) a home by purchasing a copy at the Brooklyn Historical Society Gift Shop. We’re open Monday through Sunday from 12pm to 5pm!

Gift Shop Photo

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Education at BHS: CASA/Young Curators at PS 32

The Young Curators is an after-school program led by Brooklyn Historical Society educators guiding students through a themed investigation of their school’s neighborhood using primary sources from BHS’s collection and other resources. Based upon their given theme (i.e. Colonial Brooklyn or the Evolution of East New York), students create a three-panel exhibit that is eventually displayed at their school. Students write the text, recreate images through drawings, and choose images like maps and portraits to be included. They even work with a graphic designer for the colors, fonts, and design of each panel. This post is by BHS educator Charlotte Martin.

CASA/Young Curators at PS 32, Spring 2014On the last day of Young Curators at PS 32, after students finished editing their exhibit panel text and writing captions for their panel images, I asked the young curators—fourth and fifth graders, some on the autism spectrum—what they are most proud of from their time in the program. I realized that I wanted to know not just what they enjoyed about the program or what information they learned. I wanted to know what made them stick with the program and what positive impact would stick with them, if any.

Almost all of the students mentioned something about being proud of learning about the history of their own neighborhood—the area around the Gowanus Canal. I saw this, too, in an anecdote one student shared with me earlier that session, about how he and his mom had noticed for the very first time an old church while walking nearby. It was the first thing he told me that day, and he shared how they talked about why it was made of brick and why there are so many other buildings nearby from the late 1800s that are also made of brick. I was thrilled to see this student so excited about exploring his neighborhood in the context of its history and change over time.

A few of the students also expressed pride in the process: that they “did research” or that they “made more than one thing.” They seemed to feel a sense of accomplishment in their work and their creation. Going into the program, I did not know specifically what aspect of Gowanus’ history we would focus on or even what artifacts I would show them beyond the first couple of introductory sessions on change over time (using the transformation of the Gowanus Creek into the Gowanus Canal, visible in maps and other primary sources). Rather, I used their questions and ideas to determine what primary sources I would find and bring in for them to investigate; in this way, the students were in control of the direction of the research. For example, our field trip to the Hall of the Gowanus by Proteus Gowanus (housed in the former National Packing Box Factory) sparked their interest in manufactured gas plants, which I had not thought to focus on beforehand, but which would become one of the three main panel topics.

CASA/Young Curators PS 32 Winter/Spring 2014It was also up to the students to interpret the sources, and I experimented with a variety of approaches and configurations—individual, paired, and group work—to try to accommodate the curators’ diverse learning styles. I employed multiple modes of object inquiry, in the hopes of reaching students who learn best when discussing in pairs or writing ideas or drawing or imagining, while pushing the others to try a new approach. When wrapping up our study of the Coignet Building—an unusual historic site on 3rd Avenue and 3rd Street, surrounded by Whole Foods—I laid out our pieces of evidence and the students worked through the mystery of how and why the building went from famous showpiece of one of the earliest examples of concrete to seemingly abandoned and forgotten building. Students conjured their own visions for the future of the building, agreeing that making it into some sort of museum would be ideal.

On a trip to Brooklyn Historical Society, the young curators sat in the library and observed real historic images (I could bring only copies to their school), and one student who has difficulty with focus and some verbal communication leaped at the chance to decipher the handwriting on a postcard from 1917. The writer’s note about her trouble sleeping led the students to imagine what could have prompted this trouble (was it the canal’s stench?), and to consider more deeply how life and work near the canal might have been in that time period. Putting this postcard in the context of the waterway’s changing shape and life around it inspired the panel topic of Canal Life. Why, the students wondered, would anyone, much less immigrants from around the world, choose to work and live near a body of water so renowned for its stench?

The comment on the last day that struck me most, though, went something like this: “A lot of times, we have projects and our parents always want to help and say ‘I’ll do this; I’ll help with this,’ but I’m proud that we did this on our own.” Other students nodded along. My main goal as an educator is to empower learners of all ages and abilities to recognize and act upon opportunities for learning in all aspects of their lives. I had struggled with this ideal throughout the planning and teaching process for Young Curators, but all of my approaches (even the less successful ones, like writing as a whole group) were geared toward this goal. I am so pleased that these young curators are already extending their learning outside the program and are confident in their autonomy as learners and their abilities to complete complex projects.

I cannot wait to check in with them and see what more they uncover without me!

Charlotte Martin, Educator

PS 32 Young Curators
Winter/Spring 2014

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