Fort Greene

From the (1939) WPA Guide to New York City:

The Fort Greene Park District, the area around Myrtle Avenue and Cumberland Street, was a silk stocking district in the 1890's. Clinton Avenue was then a fashionable address. Most of the old residences are still standing, but have been converted in recent years into rooming houses and furnished apartments. At the southern end of the neighborhood are several apartment hotels, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and the Long Island Railroad station. Close at hand along Atlantic Avenue are several central freight depots and large reshipping warehouses.

The Prison Ship Martyrs' Monument in Fort Greene Park, Myrtle Avenue and Cumberland Street, designed by Stanford White and dedicated in 1908, rises high above the surrounding plateau and is reached from the street level by a 100-foot-wide stone stairway broken into three flights. The 145-foot fluted granite shaft, supporting a large bronze urn, commemorates the 11,000 patriots who died aboard British prison ships in Wallabout Bay on the site of the Navy Yard during the Revolutionary War. The maltreatment of these prisoners on such infamous hulks as the Jersey and the Whitby, commanded by the notorious Provost Marshal Cunningham, is recognized as a black mark in British colonial history. Prisoners died from starvation and disease, flogging and other forms of violence, and were buried, usually by their fellow prisoners, in the sands of the bay. Remains of these bodies, found from time to time, were placed in the monument's crypt.

During the Revolution the park site was occupied by Fort Putnam, one of the chain of forts used by Washington in the Battle of Long Island A garrison was stationed there from 1812 to 1815 and the fort renamed for General Greene. The name was changed to Washington Park in 1847 and some time later to Fort Greene Park.

The City Prison (Raymond Street Jail), Ashland Place and Willoughby Street, on the edge of Fort Greene Park, is Brooklyn's "Tombs." (Raymond Street was the former name of Ashland Place.) The dark-gray building, medieval in design, with castellated turrets, comprises a four-story central wing and a six-story annex. Obsolete, inadequate, and unsanitary, it has been repeatedly condemned by investigating Grand Juries. Prisoners are held here pending trial.

The original jail on this site, built in 1839, was replaced by the present building in 1880; the addition was made in 1914. When the main building was completed it was discovered that it had no front entrance; this singular defect was attributed both to the architect, William A. Mundell, and to the Board of Supervisors.

The Brooklyn Academy of Music, Lafayette Avenue and Ashland Place, is the borough's equivalent of Carnegie Hall. Concerts, recitals, operas, and other musical programs are presented here by the most eminent artists; and lectures are given by noted authors and other personages.

The building was completed in 1908 from plans by Herts and Tallant. Facilities include an opera house seating 2,200, a music hall seating 1,400, a lecture hall with a capacity of 500, and a ballroom accommodating 1,000. Large arched windows in the main facade admirably illuminate the great lounge on the second story.

The Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences, in the Brooklyn Academy of Music building, Lafayette Avenue and Ashland Place, has been the leading cultural organization in Brooklyn for generations. It founded and maintains the Brooklyn Museum, the Brooklyn Children's Museum, and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. In the Academy building, the institute presents daily from October to May more than two hundred lectures, concerts, recitals, debates, discussions, dramatic performances, travelogues, and forums. It also provides motion-picture programs, field trips, and children's plays. Another department, the Extension School, offers sixty-two courses, in the manner of a university extension school. These services are available to the public at varying fees.

The institute, founded in 1823 as the Apprentices' Library, started with 724 volumes and 150 pamphlets, contributed by citizens who carted them in wheelbarrows to the reading room at 143 Fulton Street. Soon a site was obtained for a new building at Cranberry and Henry Streets, and on July 4, 1825, the cornerstone was laid by General Lafayette, on his last visit to America. In 1843, the library, then in a building on Washington Street, was reorganized as the Brooklyn Institute for the purpose of "enlarging the knowledge in literature, science, and art." It received a large endowment from Augustus Graham, wealthy Brooklyn distiller who had broached the idea for the original library.

After it was reorganized by its director, Franklin W. Hooper, and merged with other societies, the institute was incorporated in 1890 under its present name. In 1895 construction was as begun on the Brooklyn Museum. Support of the institute is derived chiefly from private gifts and endowment, although the city contributes to the maintenance of the museums.

The Williamsburgh Savings Bank Building, 1 Hanson Place opposite the Long Island Railroad station, is the tallest structure Brooklyn, 512 feet in height, surmounted by a slim gold-domed tower which is illuminated at night. The tower clock with its four faces each twenty-seven feet in diameter, is a familiar skymark. The building each completed m 1929 from plans by Halsey, McCormick, and Helmer. The banking room is about sixty-three feet high.

The Long Island Railroad Station, Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues, is used by more than twenty million passengers annually. An average of 133 trains daily enter the station, a low red-brick building which also provides commuters with direct access to the Atlantic Avenue stations of the BMT and IRT subways. The Long Island Railroad, begun in 1834 when it took over the Brooklyn and Jamaica Railroad (1832), is a subsidiary of the Pennsylvania Railroad.

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