Spotted At India Street & Manhattan Avenue: An Accidental Time Capsule
Filed under: 11222, BAD ASS, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic, Stuff That Makes Miss Heather Happy
TO PREFACE: As you have undoubtedly noticed, gentle readers, the bloggage has been incredibly light of late. There are a number of reasons for this. Without further ado, here they are:
- I have been sick.
- I have been working on my new digs (which I have given the incredibly UNimaginative moniker of Chez Shitty 2.0. NOTE: Chez Shitty 2.0 is not the least but shitty. It’s actually very nice.)
- I have company (the inlaws “Heather” arrived on the 27th).
- Quite frankly I have enjoyed a break— and a break I plan to continue having until January 2nd.
However, when something as fucking awesome as the above-depicted catches my eye (as it did today), well, that’s when “break time” stops and my inner nerd kicks in. I mean, how can yours truly resist anything which involves:
- the enforcement of our fine city’s laws— even if seemingly arbitrarily enforced? (I have grown to accept that the latter is the north Brooklyn way.)
- a cache of seriously old and curious stuff? (I like weird old things. The fact I married the Mister bears testament to this.*)
- an excuse to go down the rabbit hole of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle archives and find all manner and variety of fun stuff?
- (yet another) opportunity to make fun of my district’s Democratic Party Male Leader?
The previous may not be everyone’s idea of a good time. But as any reader of this site for any significant period of time can attest: I am not everyone. I am colossal geek. The previous having been written/established let’s have some fun, shall we?
Those of you who live in north ‘Point might have noticed the bodega at the southwestern corner of India Street (right above the Church Avenue bound entrance to the Crosstown Local) has been divested of its billboard. I was told by the proprietors of this establishment that the sign was in fact illegal and the city fined the owner of the building for it. Given that sign has been at said location at least as long as I have resided in the Garden Spot (13 years) I found this rather fascinating. Better late than never, I suppose.
I explained to the chap behind the counter that I found the contents of the window that had been concealed by this most egregious piece of illegal signage absolutely wonderful. He told me the signs were from the 1970’s. Perhaps they are, perhaps they are not. The following most certainly is NOT.
While not in the best of condition (Hey, if you were brought into this world 98 years ago you would not look so shiny and new either!) some details can be ascertained. If not outright, by powers of deduction and consulting a calendar for 1914:
- An association whose benefactor’s surname was Connolly had an event featuring the musical stylings of “Ragtime King Dan McDonald”.
- This event came to pass Sunday, December 20, 1914 at the New (!) Eckford Hall located at Calyer and Eckford Street.
- Tickets cost 25 cents for the gents (which includes “wardrobe”)
- “Lady’s tickets” cost 15 cents and included souvenirs. This sounds like my kind of party! But I digress.
Naturally my curiosity was piqued. Knowing all too well the Brooklyn Daily Eagle online archives only go up to 1902 (and there was NO WAY IN HELL I was going to the main branch of the Brooklyn Public Library in this weather. Sorry folks. That will have to wait for a fair weather day.), I asked myself the following:
If there was a “new” Eckford Hall in 1914, surely there was an “old” Eckford Hall— and what exactly what came to pass there?
Sure enough, I did a search and there was an Eckford Hall 1.0. By all appearances it was a class establishment.
A number of social clubs (the above two being a mere sample) whose monikers I found charming had receptions there.
The Shipwrights’ Mutual Protection and Benevolent Association held its second annual concert and ball there on February 22, 1882.
In 1891 an evening of Christmas entertainment courtesy of the Beethoven Liederkrantz came to pass.
On a slightly more provocative note, the Seventeenth Ward Liquor Dealers’ Protective Association (which I would presume to be the 19th Century precursor to BABAR) convened on April 4th, 1890 to discuss business.
And last, but hardly least, some honest-to-god shit went down at the “Old’ Eckford Hall. How did this shit happen, you ask? Very simple: the Rabbi who was officiating over the 25th wedding anniversary celebration for Mr. and Mrs. Henschel (and I quote):
…took the opportunity to expatiate upon the blessings of domestic harmony…
The result? A full on melee with a broken arm, someone’s mother being “assaulted” and the “disturber (being) unmercifully hammered” and yet getting away. You can’t make this stuff up folks.
Think this was bad? Hold onto your seats, Greenpointers it gets worse.
As many of my friends in the 50th Assembly District are undoubtedly aware, Lincoln Restler lost his re-election bid by 19 votes. This just goes to show every vote does indeed count. The victor is a fellow named Christopher Olechowski. Suffice it to say (for the purposes of this post) I have mentioned this individual on this site on a number of occasions. Rather, what yours truly (and a number of other people for that matter) found interesting was Mr. Olechowski’s post-race wrap-up “speech”. I have elected to place the word “speech” in quotations because it is an online diatribe. One which employed the worst aspects of Academy Award acceptance speeches with a dash of Caesar thrown in for good measure. CASE IN POINT:
...And always, in the back of my mind, there was the eagerness to galvanize a new Polish voting block that could establish a foothold in the community and open the doors to a new leadership that would finally begin to challenge some of the post-communist operatives that over many years have infiltrated and inhibited any organizational progress achieved in prior years among members of the Polish émigré community…
Exactly constitutes a “post-communist operative”?
This is a question the Mister and I have been bandying about for sometime. We have yet to come up with a satisfactory answer. However, today I learned that on September 25, 1886 the “old” Eckford Hall was host to some honest-to-god(less) Pre-Communist Operatives! Yes, I am talking about Socialists. Follows is a teaser:
Those who care to do so can (and should) read this tome in its entirety by clicking here.
In closing, do take a moment to check out the photos I took of this accidental (but most wonderful and strangely touching) slice of Greenpoint life in larger format. You can also knock around a collection of news stories about Eckford Hall I found while whiling away this dreary Saturday by clicking here. Enjoy!
Photo Credits/Disambiguation: The fellow depicted in the Bolshevik flyer is not Christopher Olechowski. The poster in question (which graces Chez Shitty 2.0) was issued by Scot Paper in the 1930’s.
*Just kidding. I wrote this to see if the Mister is paying attention. Shh!