Why this Blog Exists

To make the case for expanding the Park Slope Historic District

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Brooklyn, "City of Homes"

The "lower Slope" holds a wealth of treasures for the casual explorer. One turns a corner off present-day Sixth or Fifth avenues, and finds oneself transported into the last decades of the Nineteenth Century. Indeed, most blocks have changed very little, or not at all, in the decades since they were first built up.

These blocks may not hold the tall, wide mansions of the "upper Slope". These blocks hold rows upon rows of dwellings built to house the working man and woman, the clerks and tradespeople of the late 19th c. A casual reading of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle proves that such housing was enormously popular; builders could hardly erect these houses quickly enough to meet demand.

Such is the case for the fine row of fifteen houses built in 1885-86 by Thomas Butler in Fifth Street, south side, west of Sixth Avenue:

Fifth Street - west toward Fifth Avenue - unprotected

The row is of brick, two stories over high basement, one family, richly ornamented with terra cotta:

390 Fifth Street - unprotected

The year of completion, "1886", is stamped in the terra cotta panel between the two parlor windows:

The Brooklyn Eagle of January 12, 1886 observes that "the multiplication of such houses is the best guarantee that Brooklyn is to be in the future, as it has been in the past, a city of homes."

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, January 12, 1886, p. 1 ("Brisk Building")

Remarkably, every one of this entire row of fifteen houses still stands, unchanged since original construction! Generations come and go, but this "fine row" of houses continues to shelter Park Slope families today, just as it has done since 1886.

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