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Author Talk: The History of Pizza, Wednesday, April 30th 7pm

Apr 29, 2014 3:06 PM | 0 comments

“The History of Pizza in New York” with Scott Wiener
Wednesday, April 30th 2014, 7:00pm
Brooklyn Collection, Second Floor, Central Library

Everyone loves pizza. Scott Wiener, however, loves pizza more than most people. In fact, he transitioned from a pizza enthusiast who dragged his friends on pizza adventures to a nationally-known “pizza expert.” He runs multiple highly-rated tours of pizzerias in NYC, writes a column for a pizza trade magazine, holds a Guinness World Record for the largest collection of pizza boxes, and even wrote a book titled Viva La Pizza! The art of the pizza box. You can learn more about his pizza-related experiences on his blog, Scott's Pizza Journal. To say the least, he’s a really interesting guy.

The Brooklyn Collection will be presenting Scott Wiener as he talks about the history of pizza in New York, and specifically Brooklyn. Bring something to take notes (a napkin, perhaps), as he’s sure to deliver some important practical information about eating in Brooklyn ... and rumor has it that there will be pizza!

A wine reception, as well as distribution of tickets, begins at 6:30 p.m. The Brooklyn Collection is located on the 2nd floor balcony of the Central Library at Grand Army Plaza. Seating is limited to 40.

Come see Doin' It In the Park

Apr 22, 2014 2:35 PM | 0 comments

Come to the Brooklyn Public Central Library on Thursday, April 24, 2014 to see Doin’ It In the Park! The movie will play at the Dweck Center (follow arrows to the basement level). Showtime is at 7pm.

Directed by Bobbito Garcia and Kevin Couliau, this independent documentary explores the history, culture, and social influence of New York City’s summer basketball scene. As we all know, pick-up baseball is a way of life in New York City – according to the filmmakers, there are 700+ outdoor courts and an estimated 500,000 players. And despite the summer heat, there’s always someone willing to play. "You can play high school or college for four years. You can play Pro for a decade. You can play pick-up … for life."

The directors visited 180 courts throughout the five boroughs, travelling to most locations on bike with their camera equipment and a ball in their backpacks. During their travels, they recorded the voices of both playground legends and people who simply love the game. Of course, Brooklyn is well represented.

One of the characters in the film is James ‘Fly’ Williams, who used to dominate the courts of Brownsville, Brooklyn.  At Austin Peay University in Tennessee, he started on the college team and led the nation in scoring. He played in the now-defunct ABA for a season, and now he runs a basketball program for kids in Brooklyn. 

Jack ‘Black Jack’ Ryan hails from East 5th Park in Brooklyn. He tried out for the New Jersey Nets at the age of 29, but he was cut from the team during the tryout's final cuts. In 2005, he won the ESPN City Slam National 3-Point Championship. Today, he still rules Manhattan's West 4th St. court.

Get excited to see what critics are calling “a triumph capturing a culture of champions without medallions.” And check out the trailer here: 

Kingsborough Golden Anniversary

Apr 14, 2014 10:02 AM | 0 comments

Brooklynology is happy to present a guest blogger this week, historian John Manbeck. After 32 years teaching English at Kingsborough Community College and eight years as Brooklyn Borough Historian, Manbeck continued to write a column for The Brooklyn Daily Eagle for another eight years. He has authored/edited nine books on Brooklyn history and is now writing fiction.

Back in 1967, I was looking for a job. I had just returned from a two year grant as a Fulbright professor at Helsinki University in Finland and applied for a professorial position at Kingsborough Community College in Manhattan Beach. Community colleges were the latest development in the educational market and City University of New York was experimenting. The opening date was 1964 at an abandoned public school in Sheepshead Bay. About 300 brave students enrolled.

The master plan was to open on 64 acres of a de-commissioned Merchant Marine base at the eastern tip of Manhattan Beach. Since 1945, the base had resisted Robert Moses (who had wanted the land for a parking lot) and had housed the Air Reserve, Coast Guard and veterans. The city purchased it from the federal government for $1.

The Merchant Marine base as it appeared during World War II.  Photo supplied by John Manbeck

When I walked through the gates, I felt I had walked onto a set for a Hollywood western. Sidewalks were wooden, buildings had been former barracks, and sand blew over the muddy roadways. Street signs heralded the names of naval heroes. The remains of the former Rainbow Bandshell, left from the Manhattan Beach Baths of the 1930—where big bands played, Danny Kaye got his start and Mayor LaGuardia held a war bond drive—wobbled as the wind blew through the superstructure.

Above, a brochure from the Manhattan Beach Baths, an earlier tenant of this plot of land.  Below, images of how the decommissioned Merchant Marine base looked in 1967. Photos supplied by John Manbeck.

Nearby were the remains of a freighter built on sand where recruits had trained; on Jamaica Bay waterfront hung lifeboat davits. The former officers’ club, with a substantial oak bar, had been a dance hall before World War II interrupted the party. By the gate was a gun used on Liberty Ships and a brig, used as an art studio by the school. A flagpole donated to the Manhattan Beach Baths had been at the 1939-40 New York World’s Fair was still flying the flag over Brooklyn’s most recent college.


Because of lack of space while new classrooms were being created, Kingsborough had two additional campuses: West End on Manhattan Beach’s West End Avenue, and Mid-Brooklyn in the Masonic Temple in Fort Greene. The college also had an amenity no other New York City college could claim: a private beach on the campus where life guard chairs and barbecue stoves were soon erected. Until the college, and the community college concept, gained wider recognition, classes were small: not more than 20 to a room where merchant mariners had studied.

A typical Manhattan Beach scene from the 1960s. 

Initially the academic structure was designed around six divisions consisting of departments: Division 1 for Liberal Arts contained English, Languages, Art and Music, for instance. Students who attended were experimenting with higher education, had difficulty passing CUNY’s admission tests, or used the community college to build their academic grades so they could transfer to a top senior college.

Within the next five years, the campus began to take shape with the temporary buildings—former barracks—replaced by new construction with a library, theater, gymnasium with pool and marine center. The ancillary campuses closed—the Fort Greene site became home for the new Medgar Evers College—sending the Kingsborough students to Manhattan Beach and enrolling in the new academic programs now available, including the college’s own FM radio station, the first in New York City in 40 years.

Rendering of the Kingsborough Community College campus plan. Image supplied by John Manbeck.

Today, after six presidents, Kingsborough occupies an important role in City University and a trailblazing position among the nation’s community colleges. After 50 years of education, Brooklyn is proud of its only community college, Kingsborough.

The Eagle has Landed!

Apr 10, 2014 12:00 PM | 0 comments

Yes, the long wait is over!  The Brooklyn Daily Eagle newspaper is available in its entirety (or as near as we can hope to get to its entirety) as a free, searchable database online.  Those who have used our Brooklyn Daily Eagle Online database, which offered the Eagle from 1841 to 1902, will be pleased to learn that the second half of the Eagle, 1903 to 1955, is finally open for research online.  You can search the database, browse specific dates of the paper, print or save articles, and share them through the social media outlet of your choice through our new historic newspaper portal, Brooklyn Newsstand

Above, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle building in downtown Brooklyn in the 1920s.  Below, the same eagle that brooded over its entrance arrives at Brooklyn Public Library fifty years later. 


Brooklyn Newsstand is a newspaper digitization initiative between the Brooklyn Collection and This partnership gives the public free access to the full run of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle newspaper, which was published from 1841 to 1955.  Thanks to a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences, Brooklyn Public Library was able to digitize a microfilmed copy of the Eagle from 1841 to 1902 and make those years searchable in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle Online database in 2003. With the second phase of digitization completed by, using microfilm master negatives from the Library of Congress, the full breadth of the Eagle, and the history it documented, is now available for general research. You can learn more about the history of this influential Brooklyn newspaper here. We will continue to digitize more historic Brooklyn periodicals in the near future, so check back often to see what new resources are on offer.

Founded in 1841 by Isaac Van Anden and Henry Cruse Murphy, The Brooklyn Daily Eagle was published as a daily newspaper for 114 consecutive years without missing a single edition. At one point the Eagle actually became the nation's most widely read afternoon newspaper. Unusual among major metropolitan daily newspapers of that time period, the Eagle chronicled national and international affairs as well as local news and daily life in Brooklyn. As a result The Brooklyn Daily Eagle provides a window into Brooklyn's past, as well as documentation of national and international events that shaped history. The rise and fall of the Eagle coincided with economic development in Brooklyn. The paper folded in 1955 after a prolonged strike called by the New York Newspaper Guild. At the time it closed it employed 681 people and did an annual business in the sum of approximately $6 million.

Brooklyn Eagle workers striking in front of the factory on Third Avenue between Pacific and Dean Streets, 1955.

The extensive clippings and photograph files of the Brooklyn Eagle were donated to Brooklyn Public Library by its last publisher, Frank D. Schroth, in 1957.  The staff of the Brooklyn Collection has for years worked to make these materials available to the public, through digitization of newspapers and images and through one-on-one reference service.  With the launch of the Brooklyn Newsstand website, we are now able to hand the reigns over to you, the researcher.  Do know, however, that we are still here to help with in-depth research, photograph requests, and all the other question marks that pop up as you delve into Brooklyn's history.

We hope you take some time to peruse the site and try out its new features.  A quick guide to the various search and save functionalities can be found through the "About" link.  You can also create a free account with to clip and save articles on the site; those who do so should take a moment to set up their account and communication settings to their liking. 

For those in the New York City area, we are also offering workshops on using and navigating the new site.  Join us on Friday, April 18th in the InfoCommons (first floor of the Central Library) from 10am to 11:30am for an introduction to Brooklyn Newsstand -- users will get an overview of the sites features and functionality and will be given laptops to try hands-on researching themselves.  A second workshop will be offered in the InfoCommons on Tuesday, May 6th from 7pm to 8:30pm. 

20 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Brooklyn

Apr 7, 2014 12:00 PM | 0 comments

We've become a monoculture of list readers. With the advent of Buzzfeed and the like, we've grown accustomed to sifting though these monotonous lists to identify if we saw that movie or had that toy as a child. Admit it, you totally read these articles. Did you see the one about the 58 worst things that happen on social media? Or the 19 questions people with moustaches are tired of hearing? And don't get me started on all the quizzes. 

Recently, while scrolling through my newsfeed, I came across a Buzzfeed article about the 60 things you probably didn't know about New York City. I figured since we're all accustomed to list-reading, why not copy the idea and share some things you probably didn't know about Brooklyn (with pictures!)          

1. 12-year-old Clarence D. McKenzie was Brooklyn's first casualty in the Civil War. He was killed in friendly fire when a member of his regiment fired his gun while cleaning it. 


Clarence D. McKenzie, July 1861

2. Shortly after the Brooklyn Bridge was completed, there was a panic on the bridge when a woman's heel got caught in the wooden planks.  She screamed and those around her thought the bridge was collapsing, causing a rush off the bridge. 12 people died in the stampede.

 Panic on the bridge. May 30, 1883

3. Steeplechase Park held an annual "Most Beautiful Grandmother Contest", beginning in 1932.

4. Brooklyn had its very own ice hockey team named the Brooklyn Americans (although they weren't very good).

5. Borough President John Cashmore wrote Dodgers star Jackie Robinson a heartwarming letter in 1949 after reading a story about him in the Brooklyn Eagle.

 Letter to Jackie Robinson from John Cashmore.  August 15, 1949.

6. The Brooklyn Public Library offered classes for women entering or re-entering the workforce including, "Make-up and Hair Design for the Working Woman" and "Capsule Dressing" in 1983.


7. To demonstrate against unfair sanitation practices, residents of Bedford-Stuyvesant organized a "cleansweep" of their streets, bringing all the uncollected garbage to the steps of Brooklyn Borough Hall on September 15, 1962.


"Bernard Hall Telling It Like It Is"

8. FDR visited Ebbets Field while campaigning for his 4th term as president.

9. Erasmus Hall High School was established in 1787.

10. Brooklyn Borough Hall had WPA murals which depicted the history of Brooklyn from 1609 to 1898.  The project took two years to complete and covered 900 square feet.  


"GI of '18--These are soldiers of the last war, as represented on the wall at Borough Hall." Brooklyn Eagle, July 26, 1945

11. And in 1946, they were torn down.

12. In 1942, the Brooklyn Navy Yard made a call for women to apply for work as mechanics, painters and welders for the first time in their 141-year history.  20,000 women applied.

 Women on their first day of work at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. September 14, 1942.

13. The Howard Colored Orphan Asylum was located on Troy and Dean Avenues.

Howard Colored Orphan Asylum, ca 1910

14. Dreamland Park in Coney Island had a "midget" fire department.     


15. A portion of Long Island University is housed in the former Paramount Theatre.

 Paramount Theatre, January 17, 1955

16.  Mickey Rooney was born in Brooklyn on September 23, 1920.  He began his acting career in his parents' vaudeville act at 17 months old.  He died yesterday (April 6, 2014) at the ripe old age of 93.

            Mickey Rooney and Sally Forrest at Loew's Metropolitan Theatre, October 13, 1951 

17. Before talkies, Midwood was a center of movie making and home to the Vitagraph Studio.

  Vitagraph Studio's dressing rooms under construction, 1926.

18. Parking was a problem even in 1954!

 Brooklyn Eagle, May 27, 1954

19. In 1914, the Brooklyn Public Library opened the first library in the world devoted exclusively to children in Brownsville.  It is now the Stone Avenue branch

 Brownsville Interior, 1914

20. 1 in every 7 people can trace their roots back to Brooklyn. (Well, this is a "fact" that we've all heard before, or perhaps you heard a better ratio like 1:4 or 1:5. Recently the Urban Omnibus did their due diligence to debunk said statistic.)

Want to know more about Brooklyn?  Leave a comment.  Maybe we'll write another list.