Shop Talk with Brooklyn Makers: Brooklyn Rehab

Welcome to Shop Talk, our regular series highlighting some of the fantastic Brooklyn-made products (and their makers) available in the BHS Gift Shop, open daily from 12pm to 5pm!

Brooklyn Rehab

Alyssa Zygmunt, the creator of Brooklyn Rehab, uses her daily observations of NYC culture to create inspired and unique products that make the perfect souvenirs for out-of-towners and seasoned New Yorkers alike. From key chains and salt and pepper shakers, to glass bottles with labels of local bodies of water, such as the Gowanus Canal (because that water must be tasty!), and 100% authentic New York City pigeon feathers sealed in test tubes, Alyssa gives new life to existing objects while still managing to keep a timeless feel (and give a nod to those who know NYC best).

Join us as we get to know Alyssa and some of the great ways she reworks items and creates new NYC-inspired products …

Tell us a little bit about yourself…

I’m one part designer and one part anthropologist. I studied Industrial Design at Carnegie Mellon University and have done all kinds of design, from fashion to medical tool design. More recently I wanted to get my hands dirty, so to speak, so I left my full-time job, where my designs were mass produced, and traded it in for a studio in Greenpoint, where my designs are created and assembled by hand.

What do you make?
I create modern souvenirs with a timeless feel, like the laser cut building, as well vintage-inspired ones, such as the water bottles featuring local bodies of water. I also apply my artwork as a decal to both glass and ceramics.

How long have you been at it?
It started as a side business while I was working as an in-house professional designer, but I started doing it full-time four years ago.

What is the story behind how you develop your product?
I observe the local culture and then design objects that celebrate it. In the past I created fake bed bug specimens to acknowledge and poke fun at the paranoia that took over the city a while back. My work is like an insider’s nod or wink, like how I label water bottles after the Gowanus Canal for the store By Brooklyn. Locals know you would never want to drink that polluted water!

Walk us through a typical day…
I ride my bike to my studio in Greenpoint, picking up my favorite coffee, Blue Bottle, as I go. I work with a wonderful view of both the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building and am surrounded by my collections of vintage souvenirs and endless supplies for making things.

What are you doing when you’re not working?
Exploring the city. Riding my bike.

Where do you live, and what do you love the most about your neighborhood?
I’ve lived in Williamsburg for the last 10 years, but I am now moving to Bedford-Stuyvesant. Williamsburg has lost its industrial roots and creative vibe so I am moving to a place where there is more breathing room and space for artists to create. It feels more authentic and it’s actually quite friendly in Bed-Stuy. Neighbors say hello to each other. There is a real sense of community that you lose when there are more tourists than residents, like what has happened in Williamsburg.

What type of art or design currently inspires you?
Scandinavian design. Natural materials and simple, yet bold designs.

What is your favorite NYC museum?
The City Reliquary. It’s an amazing space!

If not creating, what else would you be doing?
Traveling the world learning local handcrafts.

For more Brooklyn Rehab products, visit the BHS Gift Shop, open daily from 12pm to 5pm! You can also learn more on their website,

Posted in Brooklyn Past & Present, Retail | 2 Comments

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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