Brooklyn Heights, History

Since I’m Not Working: Native American Edition

January 28, 2015

I’m currently job hunting, and while writing resumes that no one will read is really exciting, I’ve decided to also take this (hopefully brief) time to do the things I wouldn’t normally have time to do if I had a job. I don’t have a particular agenda, just wherever the mood takes me. Perhaps you and I both will benefit from this. (Just don’t bet the house on it.)

So here’s my first quest, inspired by a conversation I had with my friend, Liz—learn about the Native American trails that once served as the major arteries through Brooklyn. (I knew Broadway had first existed this way, but didn’t know about any in Brooklyn.) I went to the Brooklyn Historical Society, where a helpful librarian located this map, “Indian Villages, Paths, Ponds and Places in Kings County,” published in 1946 by then-Brooklyn Borough Historian James A. Kelly.

Since this is the Brooklyn Heights Blog, I wanted to concentrate on this neighborhood; however, I couldn’t help but notice the label “Indian burial ground” next to the tepee located in Boerum Hill. It raised a few interesting questions in my mind:

  • Does the tepee cover the exact place where the Indian burial ground exists? (If so, it is directly over Wyckoff Gardens.)


  • Do all the tepees represent Indian burial grounds, or just the one that’s labeled? (This map has no key; the librarian thought all the tepees were also burial grounds. I, however, think they just represent the settlements.)


  • If all the tepees are burial grounds, then that means there is one beneath my building in Brooklyn Heights. This would perhaps explain the plumbing issues.


Interesting to see some of the trails that exist today as major thoroughfares, like Fulton Street, Flatbush Avenue and part of Atlantic Avenue. I have yet to uncover any information on the Ihretonga, which is the tribe listed as living in Brooklyn Heights. I did, however, learn that the Werpos village of the Indian burial ground had a twin village located around today’s City Hall.

One other site I noticed was a park extending from Columbia Street to Smith Street, and from Atlantic Avenue to Kane Street (and labeled as “Sassians” on the map). I guessed it was park of today’s Van Voorhees park, and indeed has more information.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of Since I’m Not Working: Native American Edition, where I travel one of the Native American trails, and also try and get answers to the above questions. And now I’m off to the 8-4 for the police blotter. See you there.

Source: Brooklyn Heights Blog

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Arts and Entertainment

Brooklyn Heights Cinema Launches Indiegogo Campaign To Finance Digital Projection

February 26, 2014

Brooklyn Heights Cinema’s Kenn Lowy has set up an Indiegogo campaign to help save the theater. No, it’s not to buy the building, it’s to help the theater convert from 35mm film projection to digital. “If we don’t make the transition to digital,” Lowy warns, “we lose the opportunity to show some exciting films. In fact, every new film.” The upgrade in technology is juxtaposed against the Mom and Pop-ness of the cinema. “I’m at the theater almost every day, and if someone has a problem with the temperature … or maybe even the sound, all they have to do is come out and talk to me or a member of my staff, and we’ll have it fixed right away. Try that at your neighborhood multiplex.”

Lowy hopes to raise $30,000 by the end of March, and has perks/rewards set up for donations starting at $25. $150 gets you a date night package; and $1,000 gets you a private screening for you and 150 of your closest friends. But any amount is appreciated. “We hope you’ll donate whatever you can, so we can keep showing great films digitally.”

Source: Brooklyn Heights Blog

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Arts and Entertainment

NY Times Highlights Heights’ Fashion

January 7, 2014

When you think trendy vintage fashion, you think Brooklyn Heights. No? Well The New York Times‘ Intersection video series tried to change that by focusing on Brooklyn Heights as a place with a “Refined Vintage” look. The three people profiled are engaging enough—and they didn’t just stick to youngsters—but repeated shots of Tango and Housing Works made it feel like not a lot of new territory was unearthed. Still, it’s good to see the neighborhood profiled about something it’s not usually known for. Watch the video and let us know what you think. Now if only they’d covered the 5am look of those who come into Happy Days hungry for eggs after a night of debauchery—THAT’S a story.

Source: Brooklyn Heights Blog

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LIU Brooklyn and St. Francis College Both B-ball Winners

December 21, 2013

Sports guy Michael Randazzo is courtside with a report about college hoops.

This week Brooklyn hoops fans experienced heart attack inducing thrills on consecutive nights, as both LIU Brooklyn and St. Francis College had players hit for game-winning three pointers at the buzzer.

On Wednesday night at LIU’s Steinberg Wellness Center, Blackbird junior guard Gerrell Martin knocked down the winning basket with less then a second on the clock to beat Lamar by 82-79.

The following evening, after a long range three by Lafayette’s Bryce Scott knotted the score at 62, St. Francis senior guard Alex Isailovic returned the favor, hitting the game winner with .07 ticks remaining to send the crowd at the Generoso Pope Center into spasms of joy.

“Both teams with walk-off three’s on back-to-back nights? That might never happen again,” commented David Gansell, St. Francis Director of Sports Information.

In an equally unlikely occurrence, at the microphone for both games was David Freeman, who has called LIU home games since 2002 and just happened to be filling in on Thursday for Jaden Daly, St. Francis’s regular PA announcer.

According to Freeman, the probability of teams winning back-to-back games in such unlikely fashion is hard to comprehend.

“Never heard of such a thing,” explained Freeman, who has announced local sporting events for the past 13 years. “The thing I can say about it is that the two of them [games] were as completely opposite as you could expect—yet on the same token, they were both buzzer-beaters for the home team to win. That’s unexplainable.

Having watched Jason Brickman, LIU’s incomparable point guard, lead the Blackbirds to countless wins, Freeman was not surprised by Martin’s winning shot on Wednesday.

“With Brickman on the floor, you feel like they can score at anytime, because he’s going to find a way to get the ball to the right people,” said Freeman. “I was sitting directly behind Martin. The minute he got that ball and it left his hand, I knew it was good.“

From his courtside vantage point Thursday, Freeman expected the St. Francis game to end differently.

“They [the Terriers] had really struggled the whole game, so I was thinking they would play for the tie,” Freeman said. “When [Isailovic] put the ball up with seconds left it was ‘I hope there’s not enough time for the rebound to get picked up.’ And then you realize that the shot was good. It was really surprising to me.”

The Blackbirds and the Terriers face each other twice in 2014: on January 9th at the Pope Center, and on February 16th at Barclays Center, which will be the site for the annual Battle of Brooklyn matchup.

Given past exploits, there’s no telling what might happen when these two cardiac causing teams collide.

“Both those teams take this game very seriously,” said Freeman, who in his role as Barclays’ college basketball announcer will call February’s game. “I’m not aware that there are any two Division 1 schools in the country that can walk to each other’s campus from a few blocks away.”

“To think that two big rivals could have that [a buzzer-beating basket] happen to them is absolutely possible—[but] it’d be even more ridiculous if it could happen again.”

LIU’s Gerrell Martin goes up for the winning shot against Lamar on December 18.

Source: Brooklyn Heights Blog

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Arts and Entertainment, Events, Kids

Atlantic Avenue Children’s Story Reading Series

December 4, 2013

Winners of the Atlantic Avenue Children’s Literature Contest will read original stories along with selections from their favorite picture books. Judging panel includes Brooklyn-native Bruce Degan, illustrator of The Magic School Bus series. Kids will decide the Kids Choice Award by voting for their favorite story. Free hot chocolate provided by Sahadi’s along with bookmarks for all but space is limited. Please RSVP on to reserve a spot at one or more of the readings.

Saturday mornings December 7, December 14, and December 21 at the following locations:

December 7, 10am, Sahadi’s: Ruth Chan, “Where’s Bernie?”
December 7, 11am, Nest Egg Kids: Buzz Koenig “Cookie Store Wanted”
December 7, 12pm, Elite Optique: Stephanie Lane Elliott “Raccoons!”
Contest judge Tamson Weston ( published children’s book author and freelance kids book editor will attend the first two readings on the 7th.

December 14, 10am, Flor: Kevin Maertens “Quattro Formaggi”
December 14, 11am, Grumpy Bert: Dana A. Catherine “Jupi’s Journey” & Sarah Heller “Our Walk”
Contest judge and children’s book illustrator Nancy Doniger ( will attend the readings on December 14th.

December 21, 10am, The Herbe Shoppe: Graham Willner “Flight”
December 21, 11am, Table 87: Barbara DiLorenzo “Atlantic Avenue Dragon”
December 21, 12:30pm, Gumbo: Kristabelle Munson “Miles and the Garden”
Contest judge Melissa Guinon (, author and illustrator of “Baby Penguins Everywhere!” will attend readings on the 21st.

Prizes will be awarded at the readings with the top prize for the best story at $1,000! Second prize will be $300 and third prize is $100.

Other judges on the esteemed panel include Namrata Tripathi, Executive Editor at Atheneum Books for Young Readers and Rachel Orr, Literary Agent for Children’s Books at the Prospect Agency.

Source: Brooklyn Heights Blog

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Brooklyn Heights

Hidden Cemeteries of Brooklyn Heights and Downtown Brooklyn

October 31, 2013

Thomas Wolfe once wrote “Only the dead know Brooklyn.” I don’t know if he meant that in the literal sense, but given the large number of cemeteries here it’s fitting nonetheless.

However, most of us who head to Borough Hall every day, or run across Cadman Plaza to catch the bus, or head home on Hicks Street don’t realize just how dead Brooklyn is—we’re often stepping on long paved-over graves the date back to when the borough was covered with windmills. And these are just the ones historians know about.

RELATED: Homer Fink’s Hidden Brooklyn Heights Walking Tour – Get Tickets Now!

Many were family plots that were often forgotten about after the families moved away—or deliberately forgotten about. After all, moving is tough enough without having to figure out who’s taking great-grandpa’s femur. Others were a consequence of gentrification, a buzzword that’s popular today, though gentrification has been taking place as long as the city’s been around. I could cite a few instances where this occurred outside of Brooklyn: Washington Square Park began as potter’s field (a cemetery for the indigent) until the wealthy began to move uptown, then the bodies were disinterred (though not all, just whatever they could grab) and moved to what became Madison Square Park, until the wealthy moved there, and so those bodies were disinterred and moved to Bryant Park … and so on. Don’t believe me? Ask a ConEd employee, the dead have a way of showing up during utility digs.

At any rate, this being the Brooklyn Heights Blog, I’ll highlight some the local sites.

Clover Hill Burial Ground – Hicks and Orange Streets
Clover Hill was the original name of Brooklyn Heights, and this burial spot, which began roughly at Hicks and Orange was used by the British while they occupied Brooklyn during the Revolutionary War. After the Hicks family took possession of the land at the end of the war, they leveled the graveyard, though kept the bodies where they lay. Now it’s next to Plymouth Church.

Sands Street Churchyard – Sands and Adams Streets
The Sands Street Methodist Episcopal Church was established in 1794 and was the first Methodist Church in Brooklyn. Its churchyard was used by all Methodists until 1806, when dwindling real estate meant only active church members were allowed. The Church was sold to developers in 1888, and some but not all of the 300+ bodies were moved to the Cemetery of the Evergreens in Bushwick.

St James Churchyard – Jay and Chapel Streets
In 1822, St James Cathedral became the first Catholic Church in Brooklyn, and its surrounding grounds therefore became the first Catholic Cemetery. Roughly 7,000 people were said to have been buried there until 1849, when burials in that part of Brooklyn were outlawed. A decline in groundskeeping meant that by 1914 all of the markers and many of the headstones were gone; many graves remain in the the churchyard though cut off from the rest of Brooklyn by a giant wall. (Also, my great-great grandparents, Antonio Faggiani and Mary Fagan were married here in 1880. Though they’re buried in Staten Island.)

Brooklyn Village Cemetery – Boerum and Livingston Streets
This community cemetery was on land bought by the Schenck family. During construction in the mid 19th century, workers unearthed a gravestone marked “Peter Tyler 183-.” The Brooklyn Historical Society has the transcript of inscriptions from the burial ground here.

First Reformed Dutch Churchyard of Brooklyn
And last but not least: This Gap sits on the site of one of the first graveyards attached to a church—before this, most people were buried on their farms. Because I have to get this in before Halloween ends, I will quote largely from this October 1875 article out of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, chronicling “Brooklyn’s early history”:

One of these old burial grounds stood where the lecture room of the First Presbyterian
Church now stands near the beginning of Clinton street. In many cases the occupants of these
scattered graves were removed by those who afterward used the ground for building purposes,
but it is probable that in some cases the original use of the ground was forgotten and the
occupants of the neglected graves still sleep under our very streets or houses. There have
been instances of human remains being found in digging for the foundations of houses.

Of the cemeteries that have been formerly located within our city limits, the oldest one
was that which formerly belonged to the First Reformed Dutch Church. This was located on the
south side of Fulton street, east of Gallatin place, and was 120 by 200 feet in size. It was
then said to be on the Brooklyn and Jamaica Turnpike road, and directly in front of it, in the
middle of the road, stood the original building of the Reformed Dutch Church.

In 1666 the church building referred to as standing in the middle of the road was erected.
It stood just a hundred years, and was torn down and another was built on the same site. This
stood until 1807 when the church moved to their present site on Joralemon street in the rear of
the city hall. The old burial ground was, however, still retained, and the records of the church
show that from time to time interments were made there, and appropriations were made and
committees were appointed to keep it in order. It was used for a burial ground until April 23,
1849, when a city ordinance was passed prohibiting further burials within the city limits and in
accordance with this ordinance the interments in this cemetery, as in the others in the city,
ceased perforce.

So this concludes the Brooklyn Heights/Downtown Brooklyn tour of cemeteries that are no longer. Stay tuned for others, and watch your step.

The St James Cathedral image and much of the research came from the New York Cemetery Project and also the book Graveyard Shift.

Source: Brooklyn Heights Blog

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Police Blotter

84th Precinct Police Blotter – 10/31/13

October 31, 2013

Welcome to macabre tales of such blood-curdling terror that you’ll all be sleeping with your deadbolts on. It’s a special Halloween police blotter.

I tried my best to dig up stories of werewolves and vampires in the police reports, but they must only be in the 76. Here’s what I do have:

Be on the lookout for a gray 2007 Jeep Liberty, NY lic#EML5583. It was stolen while idling on Smith St. between Dean and Pacific after the driver left her keys in the ignition.

Two cabbies were robbed within hours of each other last Saturday. The first incident took place around 6:45 pm on Smith and Schermerhorn, after two fares turned on their driver, who handed over his cash. The second was on Henry and Joralemon at 11:20 pm, when two men–one wearing a gas mask–threatened a cabbie and made off with $100. (Now THAT’S creepy.) If I may, I will put on my Columbo jacket for Halloween and say that these two cases are related, though police have no leads yet.

A man and woman must have been planning an elaborate hairy costume, as they stole $1,317 worth of hair tubes from Indique salon on Bond St.

A week earlier, two women got into an altercation after one used the other’s hair gel. Both were arrested.

Last Wednesday, a 43-year-old man was cuffed for trying to steal Body Elements Moisturizing Gel Gloves. (Now THAT’S creepy too.)

Finally, around 4 am last Friday, a man playing the role of Good Samaritan confronted a thief whom he saw lifting an iPhone from the pocket of a sleeping straphanger. “That ain’t right,” he told him. The perp must have agreed—or the Samaritan was a big guy—because he handed over the phone to the Atlantic Ave booth clerk. The unwitting victim was awoken at Stillwell Ave and reunited with her phone. And that’s this week’s blotter. Enjoy your Reese’s Pieces!

Source: Brooklyn Heights Blog

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Arts and Entertainment

The Heights Players Take on Horton Foote’s Dividing the Estate

September 6, 2013

Gerald Newman

Horton Foote’s Dividing the Estate has its Brooklyn Premiere with The Heights Players tonight; the run lasts through September 22nd.

As with many of Foote’s plays, Dividing the Estate is set in the fictional town of Harrison, Texas in 1987. This prize-winning play focuses on the Gordon clan, led by octogenarian Stella Gordon. In the late 1980s, the country is facing a shifting economy. The Gordon family must confront their past as they prepare for an uncertain future while facing plunging real estate values and unexpected tax bills. As their fortune begins to diminish, various members of the family – particularly Stella’s greedy children – prepare to divide her estate … while she is still alive!

The Heights Players takes on a new production each month. Visit their site for the schedule.

Dividing the Estate
September 6-22, 2013
Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m.
Sundays at 2:00 p.m.
Tickets: $20 ($18 for seniors and those under 18)
Reservations: 718-237-2752 or
Location: 26 Willow Place (between State and Joralemon Streets), Brooklyn Heights, NY 11201

Source: Brooklyn Heights Blog

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Brooklyn Heights, News

Cousteau’s Grandson Trains in Brooklyn Heights for Underwater Living

August 22, 2013

Ramsay de Give for The Wall Street Journal

Jacques Cousteau was as much a part of my childhood as Marlin Perkins and Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. So I was heartened to hear Cousteau’s grandson, Fabien, is carrying on the family’s oceanographic tradition. Namely, he will try and beat his grandfather’s record of living underwater for several consecutive days—with part of his training regimen taking place walking the streets of Brooklyn Heights and inside his State St apartment.

Just living in this city is the best preparation to exist in a very small space with strangers for a long period of time,” said Mr. Cousteau, 45 years old. “It gives you a sense of spatial awareness. It gives you a sense of constant danger. If I was living in a suburb or the country right now, the idea of living in an enclosed space would freak me out.

Aside from just living cheek-by-jowl with other Brooklynites, Cousteau also holds his breath for several minutes underwater in his bathtub (the Local Hero training) and swims laps in the YMCA pool on Atlantic.

The actual underwater stunt will not take place in the East River, but instead eight miles off the Florida Keys, about 50-60 feet underwater. According to the article in the WSJ, “The younger Mr. Cousteau’s team will consist of six aquanauts who will explore the effects of underwater living, as well as the impact of climate change in the Atlantic Ocean.”

The underwater living starts November 12th.

Source: Brooklyn Heights Blog

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Around Brooklyn

See-Through Shower Has Residents In Hot Water

August 16, 2013


It’s Cobble Hill’s equivalent of the Standard Hotel; a local couple have renovated their townhouse to include a glass shower, which is visible to neighbors who aren’t even being nosy. And today they’ve gained further notoriety by becoming Gothamist’s Talk of the Block. Congrats! And keep it clean.

Source: Cobble Hill Blog

From the Web