Concrete Brooklyn

November 12, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

 

 
Living in Brooklyn is like living in an amusement park. It is full of thrills and chills, but 
you kind of have to be choosy, because whether you like or not, it’s a big borough. So 
much has been made of the idea that Brooklyn is a borough of families and churches and 
neighborhoods. All that is quite true – but it’s also part of the City of New York- and 
New York, baby, is made up of a lot of stone and concrete. So in a way, the true spirit 
and life of Brooklyn is made up of living—on and in— spite of the concrete that 
surrounds you.
I’m not a born Brooklynite, but the borough pretty much has adopted me. It’s been a love 
affair, actually started by a love affair with my then girlfriend and now wife, Joan. When 
I attended NYU in the 1970’s, I met her—a Brooklyn girl—with flaming red hair down 
to her hips, and a fiery Italian and Irish temperament. I moved to Brooklyn to be near her, 
and married her a few years later. We’ve now have been living in Park Slope for over 30
years.
My photography was published when I was 17 and 21, so it’s not surprising that I carry 
cameras practically soldered to my hips. I always carry a camera.
In the next few pages, I will take you for a journey along Brooklyn, and specifically its 
“seas of concrete” brownstones and cityscapes.
 
Fantasia at Brooklyn Botanical Gardens ca 1990Fantasia at Brooklyn Botanical Gardens ca 1990
 

What a better place to start than the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. This shot is not a double exposure. It was shot from the Greenhouse to outside where the bird was perched. The spherical shape of the windows glass created the raggedness of the image. I like its Pre- Raphaelite-like look and its surreal qualities.

 

Grand Army Plaza Brooklyn ca. 1990 with WTC viewGrand Army Plaza Brooklyn ca. 1990 with WTC view

Not too far away is Grand Army Plaza. No, it is not an imitation of Washington Square arch. It’s dedicated to Civil War Veterans. If you look closely toward the center (at the bottom) of the photo you can see the World Trade Center. Yes, it’s sad, and I feel it too.

Construction BrooklynConstruction Brooklyn

One of my favorite shots in this photo-tour of Brooklyn is this one. It is taken through the newly constructed (at the time) Berkeley Carroll School building on Lincoln Place in the early 90’s. I love it because again it goes through the window out to the concrete city in the background. Also, it expresses “people working hard to make Brooklyn grow.”

 

Pretty WindowsPretty Windows

 

This building (probably in Montgomery Place) intrigued me for many reasons—the “squaring off” of the windows. The “boxiness” of the entire building. Park Slope apartments have cylindrical shapes and rounded shapes. This building seems way out of place. The pinkish hue of the bricks in contrast with the blue in the windows complements the green of the growing plants

 

Parking Condo and McFeelys late'80's Park SlopeParking Condo and McFeelys late'80's Park Slope

 

Oh McFeely’s! Oh, the great old days in Park Slope when McFeely’s was open. Those hamburgers! Those great bartenders! Oh, the camaraderie! Oh the Jack and Cokes! Great crowds were there and it was a true Park Slope watering hole. Right next to it was Park Slope’s first condo for cars garage.

 

Kids Bouncing Basketball (ca.1990)Kids Bouncing Basketball (ca.1990)

 

Concrete isn’t all that bad (as I’ve tried to show!) It’s good for making art on the sidewalk. It’s good for walking. But most of all it’s good for bouncing basketballs on! My son, on the left, and my nephew, are on the right. This photograph was taken at least 20 years ago on 1st Street in Park Slope.

 

 

Park Slope late '80'sPark Slope late '80's

 

As we leave the concrete laden streets of Brooklyn, let’s take a sentimental drive in our late 80’s car right near 8th Ave and & 7th Street in Park Slope, as the postman delivers today’s mail.

I’ve enjoyed the tour and hope to be back with more historical photographs sometime in the future.

 

You can catch more of David’s photography  @stockoppphoto on Instagram and Park Slope Stoop and Gothamist.


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