When the Dutch settled Long Island in the 17th century, there was a dense forest between the villages of Flatbush and Gravesend, which they called Midwout (middle woods). It remained mostly undeveloped until the 20th century.
In 1878, the Brooklyn Flatbush & Coney Island RR was built through the area, running from Prospect Park to the Brighton Beach Hotel, which was owned by the railroad company. It was a two-track surface steam engine line. The line was eventually taken over by the Brooklyn Rapid Transit (BRT), predecessor to the BMT.
From 1903 to 1907, the Brighton Line was reconstructed by the Brooklyn Grade Crossing Elimination Commission. An open cut was built from Church Ave to Newkirk Ave, and then ramped up to an earthen embankment, much of the dirt coming from the trench excavation. The tracks were at grade at Ave H.
In 1905, T.B. Ackerson bought a Flatbush estate called Fiske Terrace, with the idea to develop a planned suburb of Brooklyn. A real estate office was built next to the railroad, and within a year, there were no more homes to sell, and in 1907, the building became a transit station. In 2004, it was designated a NYC landmark.
At about the same time, Ditmas Park (NYC historic district since 1981) was developed by Lewis Pounds, and Midwood Park by John Corbin.
Besides the Brighton Line, which cuts off many of the streets to traffic, the area is further isolated by "the Cut," the LIRR ROW that runs south of Ave H. This is the ROW where Robert Moses proposed to build the Cross Brooklyn Expwy. In Midwood, the roadway would have been eight lanes wide.
Tour of the Cross Brooklyn Expwy route
Today, only Ditmas Park has landmark protection, and while the neighborhood associations are strong, there is development pressure on the edges.
Neighborhood at risk
Ave H is not a thru-street, so there is little retail.
View on Ave H toward Brooklyn College
and back toward the BMT
There is a passageway under the subway. The MTA takes good care of its infrastructure.
You take great photos. What kind of camera do you have?
It's not the camera.Originally Posted by Strattonport
Don't tell me this bagel shop is at E19th & Ave J...It can't still be there, can it?Originally Posted by ZippyTheChimp
That house is south of Foster Ave, I think on E18th.
The Bagel Hole is on E15th.
Nice photos... nice collection of architecture Gems. Need to visit. Thanks.
A secret the locals treasure
By S. Tia Brown
Special to amNewYork
July 13, 2006
The Belt Parkway isn't the only route to suburbia.
Next time you need a breath of fresh air try the B train.
It may seem unlikely but behind the hustle and bustle of Flatbush Avenue lies a utopian enclave visited by few -- and the locals love it that way.
In 1902 Lewis H. Pounds, a developer, and Arlington Isham, an architect, set out to create a community defined by class, not cultural background. The result was Ditmas Park.
The tree-lined neighborhood comrpises about 16 blocks, which contain 175 Victorian-styled homes, many of which look like mansions.
Over the years, the neighborhood has maintained its architectural integrity by declaring many of the homes landmarks.
More than 100 years later, Ditmas Park is still Flatbush's best kept secret.
Surrounded by Midwood and Kensington, it's rare to see a "for sale" sign in anyone's yard. Many of the homes have maintained original ownership and have been passed down from generation to generation.
More important, the neighborhood still holds close the ideals of its creators: a community inhabited by upwardly mobile professional families.
The core Ditmas Park area is bordered by East 16th Street and Ocean Avenue and Dorchester Road and Newkirk Avenue.
The locals are very excited about a new restaurant/bar opening called The Farm (1108 Cortelyou Rd.). This new ultra-chic facility is rumored to be the first city-like hotspot to pop up in this community.
-Schools: P.S. District 22 (P.S. 139, 217 and 249; I.S. 62 and 240), Erasmus Hall High School, High School for Science and Math
-Transportation: B and Q trains; 23 and 68 buses
-Post Office: 2273 Church Avenue
-Banks: Chase, 1 Newkirk Plaza
-Fire House: Engine 281, Ladder 147, 1210 Cortelyou Rd.
-Police: 67th Precinct: 2820 Snyder Ave., 718-287-3211
-Crime: In the 67th Precinct, which serves the Ditmas Park area and greater Flatbush, overall crime has decreased 32% since 2001. As of June, there were 217 robberies, 15 rapes and four murders. More than 85% of the crimes in the area involve theft.
This modernized mom-and-pop-styled eatery is a good pick for socializing and brunch. The shop's French country theme adds a family-friendly feel.
1310 Cortelyou Rd. • 718-282-6661
Whether you're craving an in-house or take-out experience, the restaurant is known for its authentic Mexican meals.
5 Newkirk Plaza
John's Bakery & Pastry Shop
The bakery serves up an array of fresh products ranging from flavored coffees to bagels to cookies.
1322 Cortelyou Rd.
To see & do
The park is the epicenter of family-oriented neighborhood entertainment and outings. They host everything from tours to haunted walks on Halloween to fireworks on New Year's Eve.
95 Prospect Park West
The Corner Stone
This bar and billiards joint features pool tables, arcades, and gatherings on game nights. They also draw big crowds on jazz nights, when they feature live bands.
1502 Cortelyou Rd.
Every Saturday morning at P.S. 139 School Yard, vendors of produce, wares and clothing gather. There is often entertainment, such as drummers, for the children while the parents shop.
Get out there and see the neighborhood's majestic Victorians. If you'd like to hoof it with a guide, here are some possibilities:
Victorian House and Garden Tour
The Flatbush Development Corporation has an annual tour.
The Bountiful Brooklyn Tour
Tours of Ditmas Park and other scenic areas of the borough.
www.zerve.com (Ask for SwingStreets tours.)
One of the grandest homes in the neighborhood is located on 1305 Albemarle Rd. -- a phenomenal mansion.
Q&A with Gilbert Flores, owner of Belle & Maxie's
After Gilbert Flores, an artist by trade, left the West Coast, he lived all over the five boroughs and even ventured across the Hudson River. But after several years of soul-searching he landed in Ditmas Park.
Why did you want to live here?
Three years ago my family was looking for a larger place. We fell in love with the apartment. It was a place that we could afford with more space and a wonderful community.
What's the best part about the neighborhood?
It's the most diverse neighborhood in the country. My wife and I have two children and it's great for them to get that exposure. There's also the Flatbush Family Network -- a Yahoo! group for neighbors. We set up housewarmings, play dates and other stuff. It's great. There's no place in New York that I feel more at home than here.
What made you decide to open up a business here?
We've been open for about 3 months. The shop is named after my children. We love the community. I felt like bringing business here was the right thing to do. The community has been very supportive.
What types of activities go on in the neighborhood?
There are annual fairs on Cortelyou. ... There are a lot of family-oriented events. There are also several neighborhood groups that organize things, like the Cortelyou Neighborhood Association and The Flatbush Development Association.
Local real estate prices are indicative of the national trend with one additional component: the family factor. Two-parent yuppy households looking to give their children a pseudo suburban experience are flocking to the neighborhood in droves. Since there are so few Victorian homes are on the market, they are willing to pay top dollar for the co-ops and condos which border area.
-1-bedroom at 1171 Ocean Ave.: $209,000
-2-bedroom co-op at 570 Westminster Rd.: $389,000
-775 East 19th Street Price: $965,000
-1402 Beverley Road Price: $999,499
-1 bedroom, large living room, foyer Selling Price: $188,000. Maintenance $450 per month.
-2 bedroom, 1 bath, 869 square feet, 1171 Ocean Ave.: $329,000
-2 bedroom, 1 bath, 1818 Newkirk Ave.: $309,000
-3 bedroom, 2 bath, 1,488 square feet, 326 East 26th Street: $ 475,000
-A one-family house at 814 East 15th Street: $1,195,000
-1 bedroom: $1100
-2 bedrooms: $1,500-2,100
-3 bedrooms: $2500
Sources: Tulia.com and Brooklyn Hearth Realtors, Mary Gallagher Real Estate, Trulia.com
Bell & Maxie
If you're a fan of couture kids' clothes, look no further. The shop various kids lines for infants and toddlers. Its child-friendly atmosphere will also make shopping less of a bore for the tykes.
1209 Cortelyou Rd.
Flatbush Food Co-op
The co-op is a dream come true for those who loathe the supermarket. It has a wide range of fresh produce items, seasonings and beverages.
1318 Cortelyou Rd.
Ever wished you could find a dresser like Aunt Betsy's? Or a comfy chair like Uncle Jesse's? CV's the spot for you. The furniture store stocks refurbished wooden and vintage items dating back to the early 1900's.
1118 Cortelyou Rd.
This small boutique showcases an array of unique baubles, lamps and other decorative items. The owners also plan to incorporate a sit-in coffee shop in the near future.
1211 Cortelyou Rd.
Copyright 2006 Newsday Inc.