Photo of the Week: Repeal Day!

[Portrait of men and women in prop automobile], 1937, v1986.283.46; Burton family papers and photographs, ARC.217; Brooklyn Historical Society.

[Portrait of men and women in prop automobile], 1937, v1986.283.46; Burton family papers and photographs, ARC.217; Brooklyn Historical Society.

Friday, December 5 marks the anniversary of the repeal of the 18th Amendment with the 21st Amendment in 1933.  The 21st Amendment made it legal once again for Americans to distill, distribute, and consume alcohol.  While this is a Federal law, more specific rules are set by each State regarding the sale, import, distribution, and possession of alcohol within its boundaries – for instance it may be legal for an individual under the age of 21 to drink alcohol with his/her parents.  Congress also passed the Federal Uniform Drinking Age Act in 1984 which set the drinking age to 21.  When states do not enforce this Act, the Federal government may withhold funding for highways in the noncompliant state.  These are just a couple of the rules regarding activities related to alcohol; more information can be found at the ATF: the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the law enforcement agency of the US Department of Justice.

I’ve written about the photograph above in a previous post.  Today, I am taking a different perspective by presuming the inhabitants of this car are enjoying the end of Prohibition.  The Museum of the American Cocktail says, “We celebrate Repeal Day® because December 5th marks a return to the rich traditions of craft fermentation and distillation, the legitimacy of the American bartender as a contributor to the culinary arts, and the responsible enjoyment of alcohol as a sacred social custom.”  It is fair to say that Brooklyn fully endorses the craft everything.  Therefore, many events may be found to imbibe with other like-minded people by looking here or hey, just stop by your local spot. I’m sure the bartender will receive you well.

For the past several years, we’ve acknowledged Repeal Day with other blog posts.  Do look back at the 2013, 2012, and 2010 posts.

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. photos@brooklynhistory.org

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Map of the Month–December 2014

NYC bike map 2014. Brooklyn Historical Society Map Collection

NYC bike map 2014. Brooklyn Historical Society Map Collection.

In celebration of the recent announcement of the expansion of the Citibike program in New York, I have selected the “NYC Bike Map 2014” for December’s map of the month.

This map is remarkable in the density of information it conveys. Although I have only shown the top portion of the full-page map, you can see in the corners no less than 20 insets showing details of various bridge approaches and crossings. The map itself conveys through color protected bike paths (green), bike lanes (red), and shared lanes (orange). The dotted lines indicate possible paths and lanes.

The verso shows two maps: a close up of Manhattan with the parts of Brooklyn and Queens along the East River (with insets) and Staten Island (with insets). There is also a directory of bike shops and graphics summarizing bike laws and safety tips. All on one sheet that will fold to 20 x 10inches!

We recently received a donation of NYC bicycle maps stretching back to 2001. A comparison of the lower Manhattan and Downtown Brooklyn section of the 2002 NYC map with the current map (both seen below) shows clearly the strides New York has taken on its path to becoming a bike-friendly city. While it was easy to circumnavigate lower Manhattan and travel to Brooklyn over the bridges as early as 2002, venturing into the boroughs on your bike meant riding on potential bike routes alongside regular traffic. In 2014, not only are there several north-south protected bike paths in Manhattan, but there are many bike lanes crisscrossing Manhattan and northern Brooklyn.

NYC cycling map, 2002. Brooklyn Historical Society Map Collection.

NYC cycling map, 2002. Brooklyn Historical Society Map Collection.

 

NYC Bike Map 2014. Brooklyn Historical Society Map Collection.

NYC Bike Map 2014. Brooklyn Historical Society Map Collection.

 

The web site NYC Bike Maps has archived online NYC.gov bike maps, including many specialized versions.

There are of course apps available to help plan a bike route in the city as well. Yet the appeal of the paper map is not diminished. Indeed, it may be a safeguard—what if something happens to your phone? With this map, you have the entire system of bike lanes, paths, and routes in your hands. Like an app, it will tell you well enough how to get from one place to another, but it will also urge you to something more like an adventure, for at a glance, you know where you could go given time and good weather. Could the appeal of the possible help account for the more than 375,000 free NYC Bike Maps distributed in 2014?

Interested in seeing more maps? You can view the BHS map collection anytime during the library’s open hours, Wed.-Sat., from 1-5 p.m. No appointment is necessary to view most maps.

This map was cataloged with funding provided by a Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) “Hidden Collections” grant.

 

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Photo of the Week: Parades

Bicycle Parade Passing Through Park Plaza Entrance, ca.1890, v1986.250.1.7; William Schroeder, Sr. scrapbook collection, ARC.121; Brooklyn Historical Society.

Bicycle Parade Passing Through Park Plaza Entrance, ca.1890, v1986.250.1.7; William Schroeder, Sr. scrapbook collection, ARC.121; Brooklyn Historical Society.

Brooklyn and New York City love parades.  I wasn’t able to locate a Thanksgiving parade photograph, but hopefully a bike parade is sufficient.  This particular parade shows the entrance to Prospect Park on the right, the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial arch on the left, the empty spot where the Brooklyn Public Library’s main branch now stands in the center, and a clear view of Eastern Parkway toward the water tower in the background.  Whether among the throngs in Manhattan or watching from your television at home, enjoy the sites and sounds of this year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and Happy Thanksgiving.

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. photos@brooklynhistory.org

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Photo of the Week: The building of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge

[Verrazano Narrows], 1963, v1984.1.137; Brooklyn slide collection, v1984.001; Brooklyn Historical Society.

[Verrazano Narrows], 1963, v1984.1.137; Brooklyn slide collection, v1984.001; Brooklyn Historical Society.

This year is the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.  The construction of the bridge began in 1959, the upper deck was finished and opened in November of 1964, and the lower deck was completed five years later in 1969.  It was named after the Italian explorer Giovanni de Verrazano and the body of water over which it spans, the Narrows.

The MTA website describes several interesting facts about the bridge, namely:
Its monumental 693 foot high towers are 1 5/8 inches farther apart at their tops than at their bases because the 4,260 foot distance between them made it necessary to compensate for the earth’s curvature.

The bridge was the longest suspension bridge in the world when it opened and continues to be the prettiest drive in and out of Brooklyn in my opinion. The picture above is not the typical iconic photograph we are accustomed to seeing – if you look closely, you’ll see five (is that a sixth three rows down?) construction workers doing the dangerous work of this huge public works project overseen by Robert Moses.  The Brian Lehrer Show hosted Gay Talese this week to discuss his new book, The Bridge: The Building of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and took calls from men who worked on it – fascinating listen.

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. photos@brooklynhistory.org

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November Staff Pick from the BHS Gift Shop: A Tale of Two Cities: Disco Era Bushwick by Meryl Meisler

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 fascinating books on the history and culture of New York City and our favorite borough. Once a month we feature a staff member and their favorite book 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 Lindsay Palmer Vint, BHS’s Visitor Services and Retail Manager, whose favorite book in the BHS Gift Shop is A Tale of Two Cities: Disco Era Bushwick by Meryl Meisler. Lindsay recommends this book to anyone who is interested in the history and culture of Brooklyn.

Lindsay_DiscoEraBushwick

November Staff Pick!

Even more so than today, New York City in the late 1970s and early 80s was a place of extremes. While partiers danced the night away at Studio 54 and other disco-era clubs, an entire neighborhood crumbled under the strains of poverty, arson, and civic neglect. A Tale of Two Cities: Disco Era Bushwick captures this drastic division in stunning detail. Photographer Meryl Meisler had inside access to both worlds: after rubbing elbows with (and snapping pictures of) some of the most high-profile revelers of the era, she shifted her focus to a teaching position in the devastated neighborhood of Bushwick, taking her camera and her passion for photography with her.

This captivating book juxtaposes Meisler’s photos of these two strikingly different worlds, images that captured a New York of the past in all its grit and bacchanalian glory. The images are accompanied by writings from authors who experienced the devastation of Bushwick first hand, along with Bushwick historians and educators, disco divas, and more. Their writings provide a glimpse into life beyond the moments captured in Meisler’s photos and remind us that although times have changed in NYC, some of the same issues remain today.

Village People

The Village People Stepping Out, The Grand Ballroom, NY, NY, June 1978, By Meryl Meisler (merylmeisler.com)

Three Amigos

Three Amigos
Bushwick, Brooklyn, NY, 1983
By Meryl Meisler (merylmeisler.com)


Lindsay Palmer Vint/ Visitor Services and Retail Manager/ Lefferts Gardens/ Train Reader

“If you live in or are from Bushwick, this is a must have coffee table book! It is a great record of another era and an important piece of Brooklyn’s history. The photos tell a thousand tales.” – Lindsay

What is the last book you read? Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. I think this book is more about what it feels like to be trapped in the modern mind as it wrestles with obsession, addiction and recovery, pleasure, pain, family relationships and cultural inheritance.  It also makes fun of the commercialization of every aspect of modern life, and in tone it is both wildly funny and terribly depressing.

Any favorite hobbies? Making art, design, photography, walking my dog in Prospect Park, yoga, thinking, and reading.

Why A Tale of Two Cities: Disco Era Bushwick? I used to live in Bushwick and I walked these same streets thousands of times with my dog.  Although I encountered Bushwick over thirty years later, I still experienced the incredible culture of the neighborhood: families and friends gathered on stoops at night, great food, street life, graffiti, “railroad” style housing, and many of the same store fronts and empty lots still exist today. The neighborhood hit hard times in the 1970’s, but Bushwick is in the throes of gentrification now and things are changing quickly.  Rents skyrocketed and so my husband and I, like many residents, had to move. It is hard to imagine that the same neighborhood could become so attractive to outsiders, and it is interesting to remember that in the 1970’s people and industry were rapidly retreating from Bushwick.  But beyond shedding light on the history of this great Brooklyn neighborhood, this book documents the people and landscape of Bushwick in the 1970’s, a time of great change.  I enjoyed comparing the photos to my own experience in the neighborhood.

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Pick up your copy of A Tale of Two Cities: Disco Era Bushwick ($40+tax) at the Brooklyn Historical Society Gift Shop. We’re open Monday through Sunday from 12pm to 5pm!

Gift Shop Photo

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