Why this Blog Exists

To make the case for expanding the Park Slope Historic District

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Blizzard of 1888

In 1888 Brooklyn was hit by a blizzard of historic proportions.

The photograph below, from the Brooklyn Public Library's Brooklyn Collection, documents conditions on the street, in a scene that looks familiar to winter-weary borough residents today:

Blizzard of 1888 - Breading G. Way, photographer
Brooklyn Public Library Brooklyn Collection

What particularly caught our eye in this photograph, however, was the row of two-story wood frame houses behind the mounds of snow. With intact cornices, stoops, entrance hoods, window frames, and clapboard siding, these houses can be really charming. (Some brokers have even detected a "cult" of wood-frame lovers!)

Park Slope still has stretches of these wood-frame houses, mostly in the South Slope, mostly heavily modified. Many of these are actually among the older houses in Park Slope, predating as they do the "fire limits" that mandated brick construction. Many of these wood-frame rows also appear on the 1880 Bromley Brooklyn Atlas, further certifying their antiquity:

15th Street, 6th to 7th Avenues - north side

A few owners have lavished restorative attention on these wood-frame houses, returning them to an approximation of their original appearance:

313 15th Street

We suspect that the Landmarks Preservation Commission would have a hard time designating most of these wood-frame rows today. But we'd be willing to bet that over time, more and more of these wood-frame rows will see sympathetic restorations and will more closely resemble their original appearance.

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