RENTAL AD, Brooklyn Heights

by Kevin Walsh

I was bemused by an article in the NY Times by columnist Lindsay Crouse, about how her life was changed by being unable to run outdoors during the covid pandemic. My immediate thought was, what was stopping her?

Other than a two-month period in April and May 2020 in which I restricted myself to Little Neck and Douglaston, I have continued my Forgotten NY explorations on a fairly normal basis. I have ridden the buses, subways and trains. I have walked for miles, though not as much as I’d like when the wind is harsh. I keep a mask on when there’s people around, but that’s been my only concession. I’ve been “lucky” in that I do not have a lot of public contact.

I am aware that a lot of people have a running obsession. Risking sounding like Fran Lebowitz, I never run unless something is chasing me. I tried to run a bit when I was much younger, but I’d get winded after a couple of blocks, so I stopped. But not leaving the house? What planet is this?

Here’s one of Brooklyn’s more prominent and enduring remaining painted ads, on Middagh Street, this one advertising a long-gone real estate office on Fulton Street and Nostrand Avenue. The old-fashioned “To Let Flats” today means “Apartments For Rent.” The ad appears above the Engine 205/Hook & Ladder 118 firehouse. A famed photograph taken on 9/11/01 shows H&L 118 making its way across the Brooklyn Bridge to the burning towers, where the company lost six firefighters. The firehouse also battled raging wildfires in the Hamptons on eastern Long Island and the devastating St. George Hotel fire in August 1995.

Why place a prominent ads like this on modest Middagh Street? Until 1940 the Fulton Street El roared past on what is now Cadman Plaza West, and it was easily seen from a passing train.

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



Peter March 8, 2021 - 2:15 pm

“To let” and “flats” are both British terms. I’m not sure if they were once in more common use in the US or if this was an early example of fancy-sounding advertising speech, like the way some restaurants today have re-branded take out as the Anglophilic “take away.”
As for Lovely Lindsay, as a 35-year-old female marathoner her chances of kicking the bucket from This Disease Thing are about equivalent to getting struck by lightning while on the way to cash in the winning Powerball ticket.

lee March 9, 2021 - 2:10 am

I’ve gone about my life as normal as much as possible this entire time, and through both luck and basic common sense (including always wearing a mask indoors and outside in crowds), I’ve come this far unscathed. God willing, I’ll make it through the end. What has struck me most about people’s behavior is the extreme ways people have reacted. They either scream about their civil liberties and refuse to wear a mask ever (usually the types of people who complain about gay people holding hands etc., which leads me to question their civil liberties bona fides) or they shut themselves up indoors completely never leaving their homes and sanitizing every square inch of their home while screeching about people (like me) who take walks without any mask and (gasp) ride the subway with two. The extreme rule breakers will be cursed with either bad cases of COVID or the sense that they were right all along. I was recently in Philadelphia where my vaccination was regularly mocked and I was told to enjoy my new microchip implant from Bill Gates since “clearly this whole thing is a hoax”. This was the overwhelming majority of opinion among the people I happen to know. I fear for storm after the current calm given the laxity of concern for our nation’s current position in the pandemic. As for the other extreme group, they will leave this period not only with unnecessary gaps in their lives spent squirrelled away from society but also with a profound resentment for those of us who lived normally and (hopefully, by the grace of God) continue to live as this period fades into memory.

The older I get, the more I feel that the only real enemy of humanity and impediment to happiness is an extreme adherence to extremism of any sort.

CF March 9, 2021 - 10:34 am

As a young kid in the ’60’s, I always thought it was funny that people would put up signs for toilets.

Alex March 14, 2021 - 1:47 pm

Be careful, Lee, you might strain your muscles with all that patting yourself on the back.


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.