BARBEY CURVE, Highland Park

by Kevin Walsh

In East New York for most of its length, Barbey Street, named for Andrew Barbey of the 19th Century Barbey and Sackman real estate developing firm (there is also a Sackman Street a mile to the west) behaves like any other north-south side street, running from roughly north to south.

However, between Sunnyside Avenue and Highland Boulevard it runs into one of Brooklyn’s steepest hills, the hill that separates the highlands of Highland Park from the lowlands north of Jamaica Bay. No avenue challenges the hill except Miller Avenue, which succeeds, and Barbey Street, which doesn’t.

Barbey Street gives it the old college try, making an S-curve as it negotiates up the hill. This must be quite the sledding spot for neighborhood kids, or used to be. However it never quite makes it and comes to a dead end. Pedestrians can reach Highland Boulevard with three flights of steps, making Barbey one of Brooklyn’s few “step streets.” Northern Manhattan and the Bronx have the lion’s share. Nearby is the soundalike Barberry Court, purely a coincidence.

Check out the ForgottenBook, take a look at the gift shop, and as always, “comment…as you see fit.”



Vince P. June 13, 2019 - 9:11 am

I gotta try this hill the next time I ride my bike to Highland Park.

Dr. Martin Abend June 13, 2019 - 12:52 pm

And here I thought it was named after Klaus Barbie, who reportedly took delight in pushing his prisoners down steep icy slopes. My mistake; many thanks for the clarification.

redstaterefugee June 14, 2019 - 10:26 am

Is this the same Dr. Martin Abend who appeared on the pre -_Fox channel 5 decades ago?

Dr. Martin Abend June 15, 2019 - 7:42 pm

Indeed, it’s me. I just celebrated my 114th birthday, & I still argue with Sidney Offit, even if only in my mind. Can’t believe it’s 1981 already – how time flies! I’m scheduled to interview John Lindsay tomorrow. Thanks for dropping me a line before I myself drop!

redstaterefugee June 17, 2019 - 10:12 am

You’re so not funny. Get a life & stop impersonating an obscure deceased individual who only those of us of a certain age only vaguely remember.

Pence2024! June 24, 2019 - 12:02 pm

Wow. What part of Park Slope are you from?

Edward June 13, 2019 - 6:40 pm

Barberry Court (one of Brooklyn’s last dirt roads) is actually no coincidence at all. The 1909 Bromley Atlas of Queens shows it as a part of Barbey Street, extending from Highland Boulevard to Crosby Avenue. (Highland Boulevard was the borough line at the time) By 1937 the border was relocated and the street was in Brooklyn and known as Barbey Place. A Brooklyn Eagle article from April 30, 1937 reported that Mayor LaGuardia signed resolutions changing the names of eleven Brooklyn streets, and Barbey Place became Barberry Court.

Bklyn'61 August 14, 2019 - 6:32 am

I grew up (1965 to 1987) in the house that in the main photo has a burgundy van parked outside. We were the last house on the left side of the street as you went up the hill. Being a dead end, we kind of had the place to ourselves, and several of the families on the block had kids all around the same age. However by the mid Seventies, the violence of New York City had pervaded all of the formerly best kept quiet areas of Brooklyn, and we moved to Long Island. The nearby Highland Park, and even our once-quiet dead end street, had become a hangout for gangs, and the associated violence, drug deals, and burning cars, etc.

Bklyn'61 August 15, 2019 - 8:17 am

The above should say 1965 to 1978. We moved out in 1978,

Bklyn'61 August 16, 2019 - 11:07 am

More… In the photo BarbeySteps1, the sidewalk on the left has a missing section that is blocked by a guardrail. By the time I was old enough to go out and explore the neighborhood (late 1960s) the sections of concrete sidewalk that had been there to form a continuous sidewalk had already fallen into the abyss below. Behind that guardrail is a very steep hill (almost vertical) that goes down to the backyards on the north side of Sunnyside Avenue. The 1 car garage you see in the photo is actually standing way up on steel pillars, suspended above the backyard of the house that is painted burgundy on the back wall. It is the garage to that house.


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