Phew! Francis Marrone needs to breath, which is something he did not do during his 30-minute whirlwind recap of the history of Brooklyn, our little introduction of background for where we’ll be stomping for the next week. Some fun facts about Brooklyn:
1. Originally, Brooklyn was an independent city of six Dutch towns, and then in 1683 was grouped together as Kings County by the British; these six areas were Bushwick, Flatbush, Flatlands, New Utrecht, Gravesend, and Brooklyn.
2. The only really populous place was the area near what is now DUMBO, Fulton Ferry, and Brooklyn Heights, which was then deemed Brooklyn Village.
3. Brooklyn was called “The Walled City” because of its many warehouses.
4. “Brooklyn coffee is responsible for America” –this is a direct quote, said in jest, but still, mostly true as all the Arbuckle brothers sent vacuum-packed coffee to California via the trans-continental railroad
5. Walt Whitman lived with his mother.
6. The Brownstone Belt is a sympbol of Brooklyn revival after a decadent postwar decline. Marrone pointed out that decline and revival are often simultaneous.
Now, since all this, and much much much more, came across in about 30 minutes, most of what I have stated as fact may, in fact, be not fact at all. The lecture was rich with images and history. It indeed told the story of a birth and blossoming of a burough.
And then we briefly discussed what a landmark is with Sherida Paulsen. As we read in the pre-readings, New York Landmark and Preservation laws predate other laws like it. Preservation and restoration tell a story, and help to shape a culture.
To begin making our own tales, we headed on down to watch the sunset on the Brooklyn Promenade a few blocks away. The heat of the day lingered. The water barely moved. The promenade was filled with people, sitting, standing, living. The sun glowed a red-orange, slowly descending behind the towers across the way.