Archive for the tag 'postcard'

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I bet those folks back in 1938 would’ve expected a lot of change to happen over the course of 76 years. I can just envision them, chomping on their cigars, flipping their derby hats in their hands, and saying, “Boy, oh, boy, in that there 2014, this here Sheepshead Bay Road will just blow your wig. Make no brodies about it, pally, there’ll be big ol’ skyscrapers everywhere, and clocks as grand as the sultan’s suds. I bet all the walls will have talkies showin’ all these tomatoes, and all the boys will be dizzy with dames on this here stretch.”

Well, they were wrong. This 1938 photo, taken from the elevated platform of what is today the Sheepshead Bay subway station, pretty much shows what a bunch of twits my imagined 1930s neighbors were. This road looks almost exactly the same now as it did then. Who would’ve thought it?!

Of course, there are some obvious differences. The building in the distance was torn down to make way for a bank (now Popular Community Bank), but that’s the only architectural change; all the other buildings still stand.

A real notable difference between the storefronts? They’re occupied in the photo. Also, the streets are clean and there aren’t 1,000 livery cabs threatening to bring a crushing end to your miserable life.

Anyway, just a side note: I found this photo up for auction on eBay. It lacks any description indicating the photographer or copyright holder. I wouldn’t normally do this, but old photos like this have a way of coming and going, and never being seen again – so I wanted to have it saved somewhere (thus the purpose of our Postcard series). If you’re the copyright holder, it’s not our intent to infringe, and you can contact me here.


When moderators of “The History of Fort Tilden, Floyd Bennett Field, and Marine Park” Facebook page posted this photo a few weeks ago, it set me off on a long search of old newspaper archives and other databases for what they called the “Sea Monster of Gerritsen Beach.”

Nothing turned up, but Facebook readers did share photos of a Nessie lookalike that hung around the channel for a bit in 2007:

Source: Kevin Sr./Flickr

The story behind that one was a bit of an easier find than whatever was depicted in the undated postcard. According to

Artist Cameron Gainer has staged a 12 1/2-foot replica of the mythical monster in the salt marsh off Marine Park.

… Nessie is one of 40 temporary art installation in “Art in the Parks” – the 40th anniversary celebration of the parks’ public arts programs.

Word is that this installation alarmed a bus driver on Avenue U so much so that he nearly flipped his bus.

But I’m still left wondering about the original postcard, and if there’s an older local legend I’m not aware of. Or maybe that’s just how Gerritsen Beach attracted tourism back in the day? Hey, it beats the whole “Come visit us on Halloween so we can throw hammers at you” shtick.

This old photo depicts Sheepshead Bay – supposedly in the 1960s – revealing some of the good ways in which the Bay has been cleaned up over the years.

On its eBay listing, the photo is captioned “Sheepshead Bay- Brooklyn- Vintage 1960s New York,” and shows the rocky bay, with dirt and junk scattered over the ground. Old-fashioned brick buildings with flat rooftops and row boats laying against their walls can be seen in the background. The small, outdated sailboat in the center of the image looks as though it would crack if one were to enter into it.

We can’t confirm if the photo was taken in the 1960s, as the listing claims, but it certainly is intriguing, especially as we try to figure out what part of the Bay looked like that only 50 years ago. Off to the top left, behind the sailboat, looks like what may be the backside of Stella Maris and a portion of its pier, from which the Lauro brothers built and rented rowboats.

But that’s just our guess, and your guess is as good as ours, so let’s hear it!

Unlike those who enjoy their days off at the local beach today, in the 1890s, Brighton Beach visitors played in the sand and swam in the ocean fully clothed and covered up.

This set of stereoscopic cards, entitled “Lot of 2 Brighton Beach Scenes from the Gay 1890s,” was published by Liberty Brand, a company from the same era. A stereoscopic image, like modern day 3D pictures, tricks the eyes into identifying depth in a truly flat image. It’s surprising to think that “3D imaging” has existed for more than a century.

The upper view of the card depicts young children, in their hats, button down shirts, rolled up shorts, and bare feet, playing in the sand. It seems at though they are searching for something. Perhaps they are collecting seashells or sand crabs.

The lower view shows the bathers enjoying their day in the ocean. They are dressed in just as much clothing as the youngsters on the sand. Behind the swimmers, it look s like the resorts of Manhattan Beach can be seen in the background.

Much has changed in the neighborhood over the past 120 years. And, sure, when we say that we could be talking about the old buildings, or the modern complexes that have sprung up on our shores. But, no, really we’re talking about the ample amount of clothing that swimmers wore a century ago. We’re more likely to catch a big blubbery hairball squeezed into a speedo these days.

Still, Brighton Beach is essentially the same place it was in the 1890s. It is an area where families and friends can enjoy a pleasurable, sunny day, playing in the sand and swimming in the ocean.

This stereocard was spotted on eBay.

The Postcard series is a collection of old photos from Southern Brooklyn posted elsewhere on the internet, or submitted by our readers. If you’ve got an old photo of the area in your attic, scan it in and send it to nberke [at] sheepsheadbites [dot] com.

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I can’t believe it’s been more than a year since the last entry in our Postcard series! Not much has found its way to us since then, but, yesterday, this awesome engraving was brought to our attention via eBay.

Titled “The New Iron Pier at West Brighton Beach, Coney Island,” the image was created by Charles Graham and published in Harper’s Weekly in 1879. It shows the New Iron Pier – not to be confused with the Old Iron Pier – erected in 1881 near what today is Surf Avenue and West 5th Street.

New York Times reported in April 1881 of the structure’s designs just a week after the contracts were awarded, writing:

The pier will … be built in the Swiss style of architecture. It will be 1,200 feet long, extending 200 feet further into the ocean than the present pier. The ends of the pier in shore and off shore will be 150 feet square, and the centre 60 feet wide. There will be a tower at each end 50 feet square at the base, and rising to a height of 100 feet above the water-line. Three balconies for sight-seeers will be connected with the towers. The entire pier will be roofed and there will be a ball-room, restaurants and spacious promenades. It will be lighted at night by electric lights, and the Ninth Regimental brass band and Arbuckle have been engaged to furnish music for the season.

Keep reading for more history on the pier, and lots more photos!

It’s been a while since we’ve had an entry in our Postcard series, so we dug up this guy. This 1905 postcard was recently up for grabs on eBay, showing an old-world photo of Manhattan Beach. Anyone know what the pilings were for? (Hint: I don’t.)

Wandering NYC dug up this awesome 1924 real estate advertisement, marketing “The New Flatbush,” a.k.a, “Sheepshead Bay-Harkness Estate,” a.k.a. Nostrand Avenue and Avenue U.

I personally like how the sea shell the mermaid is holding went into land into built homes. Believe it or not, but a number of streets (including Shell Road) in the area were originally paved with sea shells, and a couple of readers have told us that during construction of their homes they’ve found these underneath the surface.

Also pretty nifty is the evolution of the property they’re selling, as depicted in the three images on top. It shows horses racing along the racetrack – which once occupied that territory – then a photo of the fields after it was razed. One year later, an entire neighborhood is built. That’s right, one year. Meanwhile, this piece o’ fugly has been under construction for a huge chunk of the last decade.

Go check out Wandering NYC’s post, which has a couple of other ads and info from the area, and some musings on “Old Brooklyn” versus “New Brooklyn.”


For those who didn’t know the M train made an appearance on our train tracks, this picture proves it.

Info from the eBay seller says that this train is southbound from Kings Highway on October 23, 2004, which is not that long ago. When looking at this picture, it seems like this train was from decades ago.

If this picture is from 2004, was this vintage looking M train on our track simply a MTA glitch or was there a reason for this?

Brighton Beach in 1901, when people were wearing too much. That’s the direct opposite of what you see today on the beach, where people are wearing too little.

And did you know that the beach once included a sign that read, “Neither indecent bathing suits nor immodest deportment will be tolerated.” (You can see this sign better when clicking the link and then clicking on ‘view hi-def image.’)

Imagine if that sign still stood today?

We got this photo of the Rainbow Bandshell, circa 1930, from Michael Goldstein, the director of Alumni Relations at Kingsborough Community College.

Don’t know what the Rainbow Bandshell was? Neither did I. But many of the area’s older residents remember hearing stories about the fabled shows at the world famous venue.

“The shell was designed by a famous designer (don’t remember name) to provide the best sound possible out to the audience,” Goldstein wrote to us. “The shell would light up in different colors along the different rims at night – hence the ‘Rainbow Bandshell.’ Thousands would dance under the stars to music every week.”

Rainbow Bandshell was part of a private bath club founded by Joseph P. Day, which was called the “World’s Largest Privately Owned Playground.” Day is responsible for much of the residential development in Manhattan Beach after the hotel era ended.

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