When we started out researching Park Slope buildings, we relied on the Brooklyn Eagle's real estate listings, because that's all we knew about. We'd already photographed all the buildings in Park Slope, so we started matching building descriptions from the Eagle to the photos in our photo archive. But our Eagle research was just random, hit or miss.
Meanwhile our friend Darrin, an independent architectural historian, discovered our project, and announced that he had many original issues of the American Architect and Building News. Darrin systematically scanned through all his copies, culling out and carefully transcribing all the Park Slope "hits" and forwarding them to us. Darrin's work helped immeasurably to unearth the history of a great many Park Slope buildings.
Still later, Darrin told us about the Real Estate Record & Builders' Guide, and how it is considered the ultimate authority by architectural historians, since it carried basically everything filed at the Dept. of Buildings for both Manhattan and Brooklyn. We hunted around online for the RERBG, but never found more than a few issues here and there. It is available on microfilm at the New York Public Library, but since we are corporate wage slaves by day, the only time we have to work on this project is late at night.
Just a few days ago, however, we found what is apparently the entire run of the RERBG online, in the digital collections of the Columbia University Library! How cool is that?
At any rate we have already begun scanning for some of the gaps in Darrin's AABN listings. We'll post some of our new RERBG-based discoveries in a bit.
One of these days, we may go ahead and mount a complete scan of the entire RERBG. If anyone out there wants to collectivize this effort and help out in your spare time, let us know. Good vision, abundant time and patience, and careful attention to detail are essential!