Tag Archives: DUMBO


    July 26, 2016

    Jane’s Carousel, a relatively recent addition to Empire-Fulton Ferry State Park, was purchased at auction by David and Jane Walentas in 1984 (the family has been the main real estate developer in DUMBO for over 30 years) and thereafter worked to rehabilitate it, replacing and repainting several decorative elements such as scenery panels, beveled mirrors […]

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    June 26, 2015

    Over the winter [2015] I worked in DUMBO for several weeks. One of my favorite buildings in the neighborhood is the Thomson Meter Building at Jay and York Streets; its ornate, rococo exterior is quite out of context for the neighborhood, which is dominated by stolid brick and concrete buildings originally used for manufacturing, many […]

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  • FIREBOAT STATION, Fulton Ferry

    March 27, 2015

    Now the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, this building, opened in 1926, was formerly used to berth fireboats and dry out lengthy firehoses, hence the tower. For years I was under the impression that this building was the Fulton Ferry waiting room, but the ferry ceased operations in 1924, a full two years before this building […]

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    March 9, 2015

    The Hanan Company was among the first to stamp its firm’s name on every shoe, a daring idea at a time when most people still sought shoes handmade by the dealer.  The firm was successful and in 1888 Hanan began opening retail stores to sell the factory’s product directly to consumers. This factory at Jay […]

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    March 5, 2015

    This painted ad on Anchorage Place and Water Street, right next to the Manhattan Bridge, was shot from a pedestrian underpass that was closed for decades until rapid development in DUMBO called for more public space. L&H Stern was founded by German immigrant brothers Ludwig and Hugo Stern in 1911, and moved to this location at […]

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  • ROBERT GAIR, DUMBO, Brooklyn

    February 21, 2015

    Since I’m working for a few weeks in one of the many buildings constructed in DUMBO (or Down Under the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridge Overpasses) by industrialist Robert Gair’s company, (he invented the corrugated cardboard box), here’s something about him, according to NYC Landmarks: Robert Gair became the dominant industrial presence in DUMBO in the […]

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    February 4, 2014

    The E.W. Bliss Machine Works building occupies the whole block between Plymouth, John, Adams and Pearl in DUMBO, Brooklyn. Between 1879 and c. 1900, Eliphalet W. Bliss erected three buildings for the manufacture of a vast array of machinery, cans, and other metal products. After service in the Civil War, entrepreneur Bliss (1836-1903) settled in […]

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    December 14, 2013

    One of Brooklyn’s more impressive cast-iron building facades is the Long Island Safe Deposit Company building, at #1 Front Street at Old Fulton Street in DUMBO (one of my favorite parts of town), which dates to 1868 and was designed by William Mundell. The construction of the Brooklyn Bridge made life difficult for businesses on […]

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    November 21, 2013

    ForgottenFans gather at the Eagle Warehouse in what was one of the better attended tours the past couple of years. This handsome warehouse on Old Fulton Street across from Front, now converted to condominiums, comes packed with the history of one of Brooklyn’s literary lions, Walt Whitman. Best known for “Leaves of Grass”, the revolutionary […]

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    November 21, 2013

    For those who appreciate solidly built brick buildings — your webmaster raises his hand — DUMBO is a mecca. I wish the area still put thousands to work as in the good old days; it is now home to artists, trust funders, richies and other Eloi. However, the classic brick buildings have been spiffed up […]

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  • DUMBO’S BELGIAN BLOCKS under siege

    August 6, 2013

    Long before DUMBO became home to yuppies and became Eloi-ized, with its carousels and gourmet chocolate shoppe purveyors, it was one of Brooklyn’s hardest-working neighborhoods, with coffee and grocery importers, warehousing, cold storage, and corrugated box factories, for block after block. Many of the businesses were linked by the Jay Street Connecting Railroad, whose tracks […]

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  • DIXON PLACE, Vinegar Hill

    July 10, 2013

    Long before DUMBO (“Down under the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridge Overpasses”) had a name, it was an industrial grid with manufacturing and warehousing. Its extreme eastern flank remained residential and has long been known as Vinegar Hill. Before 1950 or so, both DUMBO and Vinegar Hill had an outsize number of short alleys, as is […]

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  • U.S. BLUES, Vinegar Hill

    July 3, 2013

    Brooklyn has its share of patriotic-sounding street names, such as State Street downtown, as well as Union and President in Cobble Hill, Park Slope and Crown Heights, but there actually was a street called United States Street or, as it was commonly represented on maps, U.S. Street, in tiny Vinegar Hill. It was a dead […]

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    October 28, 2012

    Davit lampposts, which are a single curved mast instead of a shaft with a mast attached, are becoming the new black in New York City lampposts. A flock were installed along Columbia Street in Brooklyn’s Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens, they dominate the streets surrounding Barclays Center, and they took over Houston Street in Manhattan […]

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    September 19, 2012

    Sunday, September 9th, 2012 turned out what you might expect, weather-wise, from that date: sunny and 78 degrees. So far in 2012 not a drop of rain has fallen on a ForgottenTour, though admittedly two tours had to be postponed because of 95-degree temperatures. This was the best-attended of any tour thus far this year, […]

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    October 11, 2011

    Many visitors to the DUMBO, Brooklyn area mistake the numerous tracks found in the Belgian-blocked streets for old trolley tracks. However, since until a few years ago DUMBO was almost entirely given over to warehousing and manufacturing (except for the small Vinegar Hill neighborhood on the eastern end) trolley lines never troubled it north of […]

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    October 11, 2011

    While shuffling past a grand old brick factory building on Bridge and Front Streets in DUMBO, Brooklyn, I noticed scaffolding protecting the sidewalk, a sure sign of renovation. I noted with dismay that the pair of hand-lettered signs on the corner saying STAR FASTENER DELIVERY etc. that had been there for decades had been blasted […]

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  • ‘Places’ Matter – Alleys in DUMBO and downtown Brooklyn

    June 6, 2010

    Sometimes, I’d rather be in Philadelphia. Or Boston. Or even Albany, Newark or Jersey City. I’ll explain. Manhattan, once you get north of 14th Street, just doesn’t have the sheer number of dead-ends or one-block alleys block by block that other northeast cities have. Philadelphia has a main network grid of streets — numbered north and […]

  • NAVY SECRETS. Classics of the Brooklyn Navy Yard

    January 28, 2008

    Even though the Brooklyn Navy Yard in Fort Greene has not served the U.S. military for decades (it was a naval shipbuilding enclave from 1801 to 1966), it remains a zealously guarded private enclave featuring industrial businesses and movie studios. The Navy Yard reached peak production just before and during World War II: On the eve of […]

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  • FULTON STREET, BROOKLYN at the waterfront

    November 10, 2004

    BROOKLYN starts with Fulton Street, and almost ends with it, as well. Brooklyn began as a small Dutch settlement along the East River, with easy passage to Manhattan by ferry. In the early 1700s, an Indian trail was officially named Kings Highway and extended south and east. At one time, every vehicle and conveyance traveling to or […]

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  • Forgotten Tour 14, Brooklyn Between The Bridges

    October 25, 2003

    On October 25, 2003, 56 Forgotten fans…our largest turnout to date…roamed through what used to be called Downtown Brooklyn, an industrial region blessed with spectacular views of two of the most spectacular bridges in the world. Follow us as we explore DUMBO, Vinegar Hill and Fulton Ferry. After two previous low-rated weather Forgotten Tours, we had […]

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  • Brooklyn, DUMBO

    December 28, 2002

    The Brooklyn Bridge as seen from Fulton Ferry Empire State Park In Disneyland, Dumbo* means a flying elephant, but in Brooklyn, a new acronym was coined in the 1980s to refer to the mostly industrial area located beneath the Manhattan Bridge: “Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass.” It’s rather awkward but gets the job done. Recently, […]

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  • I COVER THE WATERFRONT. Brooklyn’s waterfront railroads

    May 5, 2001

    BROOKLYN’S HARBORSIDE RAILROADS Years ago, the bustling Brooklyn waterfront,notably in Williamsburg, under the Manhattan Bridge, and Sunset Park, was home to a number of railroads that served busy shipping and freight interests. The past couple of decades, however, have seen active railroads dwindle down to only two. We’ll have a look at a pair of […]

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