So long Frank Llyod Wright …

His was a vision like no other before and nary a one after.

Each time I’d go visit my mom in the old neighborhood, I’d take a walk down to the docks, passing the huge white Bush factories. I loved to fantasize what the genius of Wright would have done with the old buildings. I’d imagine lofts and tiny shops skirting the shore, enormous windows facing the narrows, the views of Lady Liberty, the harbor, the waterway leading out to the sea.

I still love to daydream of what could have been … what was.

From the stories of Sunset Park:

The building, in the Sunset Park area of Brooklyn, was the last in a row of three houses, adjacent to the Greek Diner. These houses were cold flats where the current owners resisted installing radiators for heat or converting the old coal stoves to gas. The fronts of all three houses called “airy-ways,” were enclosed in ornate wrought iron fences. The windows looked out at a giant white factory across the street.

Across the trolley tracks, across the alley and reaching down three avenues, Bush Terminal Factory District spread like giant tentacles along the docks of downtown Brooklyn, creating jobs for thousands of blue-collar workers. The women sewing piecework in long lines on factory floors, heads bowed and backs bent. The men loading and unloading the countless ships from all over the globe arriving to the ports of New York, the longshoremen.

##########

The docks and the Bush buildings remained for decades, abandoned like unwanted children, only to become the center of controversy. The center of a zoning battle to restrict the number of stories the developers can built up. The original plans would have blocked the beautiful vistas from Sunset Park and Owl’s Head Park. The vista along the Narrows that stretches from downtown Brooklyn, adjacent to the Belt Parkway, under the Narrows Bridge and moving out to sea.

Progress wants more tall buildings to block the sun and ruin the landscape. Progresss hasn’t done enough damage. It wants to see how much more it can exact from the land before it implodes.

Ironic. We thought we grew up in a slum. Now progress has found the small row houses on 39th Street and the areas of Lower Sunset Park near the waterfront and wants to install fast food chains and factory outlets for cheap shopping.

Someone out there still believes we can shop our way out of economic crisis.

It was the Brooklyn Garment Center, the hub of activities, the inside of an intricate bee hive, alive and buzzing, producing sweet freedom for thousands of immigrants. It was for decades the gateway to middle-class. With its demise we would witness the end of an era.

The battle raged for years, and happy to say, the developers lost.

While some of the abandoned factories are being cordoned off as writer’s lofts, and others for games like paint ball fighting, the proposed sites for outlet shopping has been restricted.

The views for a change won out.

autumn-in-sunset-park

With all the assaults on our beautiful blue planet, nature endures. It cannot be conquered or completely eradicated by man and machine … and for that I am grateful.

Think about the town or city, hamlet or farmland where you grew up. How much of it still stands today? How much of your childhood remains should you be so inclined to revisit those good-old-days?

There are dozens of neighborhoods in Brooklyn that have changed so much that if I were dropped in by parachute, I would not know where I was … regentrified to the point of desiccation, the Brooklyn of my childhood has vanished.

Entire beach communities, my beloved Coney Island, and the areas above and below Sunset Park, are no longer as I remember. It reminds me daily that the man was spot-on … you can never go home again.

And what developers did not vanquish, Hurricane Sandy blew to dust in the wind.

sunsetpark1

Yet I can still walk to the circle by the flagpole, the highest point in Sunset Park and enjoy the sun setting into the bay. The vistas from my park and Owl’s Head Park remain … one small victory against the battle of time.

What part of your childhood has remained the same?

What part have you lost?

fOIS In The City

elections

Third Party Credit

Note: The photographs of Sunset Park and Brooklyn came to me years ago from a now defunct blog. Like the credit above, many photographs and cartoons, and a bag-full of Maxine come to me from the same “third party” sources. Thanks to all who continue to post her and dozens of others for our enjoyment.

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13 Comments

Filed under City Scapes

13 responses to “So long Frank Llyod Wright …

  1. The neighborhood where I spent the first ten years of my life really hasn’t changed much. My old house has a second story, otherwise the neighborhood looks pretty much the same. Where I spent the rest of my youth doesn’t look much different. I still live in the same small city of Alameda and that has changed quite a bit. We got our first Target a couple of years ago and now here come Cream and Chipotle and on and on. We don’t have any way to get in and out of the city if it’s not a bridge or a tube under the water and nothing new has been constructed so we have a lot of car congestion. It’s sad to see it get to the point where you can’t meander through the neighborhood without cars all around you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey, Patti … I’ve heard you talk about Alameda before. It sounds like it was a truly sleepy place to meander as you say. Sorry cars and congestion have changed the landscape and the “mood” of the town.

      Some changes turn out well and others not so much. But I think you are tied to that town and no matter how much it changes, it will remain your home of choice 🙂

      Like

  2. christicorbett

    I grew up in a small town, Marysville, Washington. It started as a bedroom community for Seattle commuters, and has kept going. It’s odd to go back and see the changes from woods to strip malls.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I live in a big town. My grandmother and grandfather moved here after they married. He worked on some of the *skyscrapers* then. Now, only one remains. It’s a real classy one turned into a hotel. Some of the small houses behind mine are being leveled or adapted into new big ones that take up the lot. I don’t mind. Those homes are where families live and will stay in our neighborhood. Before, newlyweds moved in, had a kid, and moved on. Not so good.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Vicki … I loved the big town life I had when I lived in NYC. It sounds like you and your family love it also and intend to stay as most of my family did.

      And unlike some of our NY neighborhoods, it also sounds like the changes made were for the better. That’s nice:)

      Like

  4. annerallen

    I had no idea if things were the same in my childhood home. but now I know thanks to the magic of Google maps!

    I just Googled my childhood address: 114 Bedford Ave, Hamden CT. I haven’t been there in over 40 years. But it’s just the same! The 1920s Dutch colonial house is painted a lovely green now. It used to be white with dark green trim, but everything else is the same: the narrow driveway going back to a garage only big enough for a Model T, the huge maple tree out in front. The manicured green lawns. The cars are modern and the kids on bikes have helmets now, but otherwise the neighborhood looks the same as it did in the 1950s. Wow. A little time-traveling on a Wednesday morning!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Anne … I am of the belief that Google World is one of the best things since peanut butter. I use it to research locations and selected two houses used in my stories.

      What is truly nice is that you found a piece of your past that was in tact and that’s a miracle in this modern age. I think of your switch from the east coast to the west coast … then I get all jealous of where you are now and the incredible vistas … especially the sunsets 🙂

      Like

  5. Isn’t it interesting, no matter how many years we’ve been gone, some things never change and others come full circle.
    I can still drive down the ranch road where I grew up (60 miles from nowhere) and recall the wonderful afternoons of hiding in the barn hayloft reading, having the collie dog along with a jug of homemade lemonaide and some of mom’s cookies I’d stolen from the freezer. The ranch road is the same, you go over the same 1 lane bridges and wonder how they hold up the 18 wheel cattle trucks. The closest neighbor is still a long way away and it’s not practicle to borrow a cup of sugar.
    There’s a certain pilgrimage I always take when I return to Kansas. Now that Dad is gone, I don’t go as frequently as I used to. I always loved making the trips to ancesteral lands where grandparents had staked their homesteads when Kansas was opened up for citizenship and on and on. Life there might as well be at warp speed. So much has change, yet so much has remained the same.
    I’m currently reading ‘The Owl and Moon Cafe’ by JoAnn Mapson and she’s takng me home to my favorite place, Monterey, CA. JoAnn knows Monterey and it’s as if we were having lunch at any of the places I used to frequent when I lived there.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah, Sheri … what a treasure it must have been to make those trips back to your “ancesteral” lands 🙂 Life was so much easier and did not travel at warp speed. I hold the image of you with a jug of lemonaide and mom’s cookies.

      I wonder if the opening to the Wizzard of Oz gives you a tickle??

      As for Monterey … it is one of those places I have always wanted to see but may never. A place where mountains and ocean meet … John Steinbeck country … magic and mystery in one place 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • It’s hard to be in a hurry when the ranch roads are gravel and about 1 1/2 vehicle wide or now with modernization, feed trucks delivering to the rances take up the entire road and you do your best to get out of their way. I hope to make at least one more trip back to Kansas before my time on earth is over.
        Returning to Montery for a time has always been on my list and I refuse to mark it off. This past week was one of the toughest so far and sometimes looking back seems easier than looking forward and then I remember your fortitude and I march forward.
        I know you are going to think this is impossible, but I have never seen the Wizzard of Oz!

        Like

  6. I live in the same Southwest Florida town I moved to when I was eight. Pretty much the same, just a lot more people & buildings! Another great post 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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