AROUND GREEN-WOOD CEMETERY Part 3

part3
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Continued from Page 2

Home stretch

Green-Wood Cemetery zigs another zag at the “trintersection” of McDonald Avenue, 10th Avenue and 20th Street (above left). The architecture here begins to be more interesting as older Park Slope housing stock begins to make itself seen. There are a couple of interesting items a block over at 10th Avenue and 19th Street, so I detoured there…

I was drawn to the single point perspective demonstrated by the half-circular covered 10th Avenue walkway over the Prospect Expressway (which was bruited through Windsor Terrace by Robert Moses in the mid-1950s to connect the BQE and Ocean Parkway). The design was meant to prevent miscreants from tossing objects onto traffic.Can you imagine Ocean Parkway becoming Ocean Expressway? If Moses’ plans were completed, it would have been:

Plans to extend the Prospect Expressway were revived in the 1960′s. In 1963, New York City Arterial Coordinator Robert Moses proposed a $10.5 million conversion of the existing Ocean Parkway into an expressway. The 4.2-mile-long project, would have provided a six-lane expressway with flanking service roads between Prospect Park and Coney Island. Future connections were to be provided with the east-west Cross Brooklyn Expressway. [NYC Roads]

The Prospect Expressway today extends to Church Avenue, with Ocean Parkway as its service road that far south.

The Martyr

I had been unaware that Bishop Ford High School, on 19th Street between 10th Avenue and Prospect Park West on the Park Slope-Windsor Terrace border, boasts a distinctive Asian cast in its architecture and signage….

There’s a reason for that:

Born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1892 [Francis Xavier] Ford became the first student to apply to the seminary of the recently established Catholic Foreign Mission Society, also known as Maryknoll. Ordained in 1918, he was one of the first four Maryknoll missioners to leave for China. In 1925 he was appointed head of the newly created mission territory of Kaying, or Meihsien (Meizhou), in the northeastern corner of Kwangtung (Guangdong) Province…. In December 1950 he was arrested by the Communists for alleged spying activities. Four months later, he was pronounced guilty and sentenced to the provincial prison in Canton. He died in jail of exhaustion and illness in February 1952. [BDCC Online]

The Chinese mission of Francis X. Ford is strikingly reflected in the beautiful design of the school. The cross which surmounts the pagoda on our roof is a landmark visible for miles. Red and black, the colors symbolic of the Chinese artistic tradition and the Maryknoll Fathers, permeate our school. These colors in the chapel, the main lobby, the auditorium, throughout the classrooms, are constant reminders of Bishop Ford and his contributions and good works.

Our building, located in the Park Slope area at 500 19th Street, occupies the site of the old Brooklyn trolley barns, on which, during the Civil War, stood a Federal prison. [Bishop Ford High School]

Green-Wood Cemetery’s third gate is here at Prospect Park West and 20th Street, and again the question is asked…are the gatehouses Upjohns?

Another question: why in the world is 9th Avenue called Prospect Park West? After all, the roadway in question is forsaken by the park’s contours at Bartel-Pritchard Square, 5 blocks and an expressway away. the answer probably lies in the fact that a Prospect Park West address carries more cachet that plain old 9th Avenue, never mind the small detail that there’s no park here.

Note the dopey DOT signage, and the smart DOT signage. In some cases, the rule that the first line has to be bigger than the second line is followed “out the window” with comical results.

Speaking of signage, the lampposts at 7th Avenue and 20th Street are encrusted with signage for locales that are nowhere near Green-Wood Cemetery. For example, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and Brooklyn Museum are way over on Eastern Parkway east of Grand Army Plaza, a couple of miles from here….

…while the Jewish Children’s Museum, at Eastern Parkway and Kingston Avenue in Crown Heights, is a couple of miles east of the Museum! At least Methodist Hospital, at lucky 7th Avenue and 7th Street, is only 13 blocks away.

A quintessential 2008 Brooklyn scene on the west side of 7th Avenue at 20th Street: several old veterans, an auto glass place, and a nouveau Fedders. There’s a symmetry to the building heights too.

NY State Route 27 seems to be mismarked here –it is actually on the Prospect Expressway and, after meandering around some streets in Caton Park and Kensington, winds up on Linden Boulevard and the Belt Parkway on its way out to eastern Long Island. (Although the “to” sign means that 20th Street is a conduit to Route 27).

7th Avenue…

is the only Brooklyn numbered avenue that borders Green-Wood Cemetery in two separate locales. We’ve already seen the one-block stretch between 36th and 37th Streets, and here in The Slope, 7th enjoys a cemetery view between 20th and 23rd Streets.

The relentless parade of Cabbagehead fenceposts is well in evidence here. This is the ‘slopiest’ part of Park Slope and the Cemetery rises on a steep hill behind the fence.

Hey Julio, your momma’s calling.

Abby Road

It’s a matter of taste, I suppose. Developers have taken a pair of regulation 3-story walkups on 21st Street off 7th and made them 4- stories, renaming them Abby Court. Brownstoner has a look at the interior. Elsewhere on 21st Street, new Brooklyn is meeting old, and old wins.

Here’s the view of the Cemetery that 21st Streeters have. This stretch of the block is illuminated by a classic GE M400 mercury vapor lamp, which provides dim greenish-white light.

7th Avenue and 22nd Street provides a fine view of the Green-Wood Cemetery Soldiers’ Monument, erected in 1869, 4 years after the Civil War was won; it commemorates the 148,000 soldiers from New York who fought it.

It’s one of the first Civil War monuments erected in the NYC area: many of them came during the Beaux-Arts era, with two of the largest on Riverside Drive, Grant’s Tomb and the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument on West 89th Street.

Four life-size sculptures of soldiers appear at the base representing 4 branches of army service. They are fashioned from bronze taken from captured Confederate cannons. The monument was restored in 2002.

Not to be outdone, Queens’ Calvary Cemetery also boasts a Civil War monument, also featuring 4 soldiers standing at a granite obelisk.

Getting late. Been at it for over 3 hours (I walk slowly). We’re almost back at the starting line.

23rd Street between 6th and 7th. I’m may be getting soft, but I’m finding new construction around here that doesn’t completely bum me out. Sure, this place pleases Barbara Corcoran with a concrete front yard, but there aren’t any visible Fedders or gas or electric meters. Is that a Smart Car parked in front? Could I fit in one? Would I live if a truck smashed into it? I’m 5’9, 185. After the Smart Car left the scene, I noted the tiny bungalow-like structure next door. The owner was going in as I happened by, but I didn’t want to bother him with suspicious questions.

House of Blues. I loved this place so much, I snagged it twice. Normally I’m not much for siding, but this is a modernist work of genius, especially the royal blue shades and awning. The bicycle is color coordinated! And, they left the original wrought iron handrail.

A fresh Fedders, right across 23rd Street at 6th Avenue from a Con Ed plant. Snap, crackle, bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzt

6th Avenue (the only numbered Brooklyn avenue interrupted by both Green-Wood Cemetery and Sunset Park) has only one block, between 23-24 Streets, facing the Cemetery, and no one enjoys it except the Con Ed workers. Around the corner, on 24th Street, is one of Brooklyn’s Easter eggs…

…as down the street toward the harbor we find both the multi-steepled Our Lady Of Czestochowa Church and a certain Lady of the harbor shining a lamp through the haze.

A look at the Cemetery’s one and only brownstone fencepost at 5th Avenue and 24th Street, and we’re back at the McGovern-Weir Florist greenhouse, where we started back in the Carter administration.

I couldn’t finish without noting that the old Diet Rite Cola sign at 5th and 23rd is considerably worse for wear than it was in November 2003, when I first snapped it.

Had enough? Yeah, well, I have too. Though you may want to explore Greenwood Heights or perhaps take a walk down 5th Avenue to Flatbush Ave. I’m catching the mugger mover home though.





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