As Flatbush grew, it became home to many cultural icons important to the people of Brooklyn. Ebbets Field, home to the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1913 to 1957, was a popular get-together place for residents of Flatbush.[i] The original name of the Dodgers was the Trolley Dodgers, a sarcastic reference to the trolley lines that dangerously crisscrossed the streets of Flatbush.[ii] They were not only the team of Brooklyn; they were also the team of Flatbush.[iii]
Ebinger’s Bakery, a popular bakery chain that was first opened in Flatbush, was known for its legendary “blackout cake,” a pastry said to be so delicious that a person would walk to all four Ebinger’s to get a slice.[iv]
Flatbush Avenue was also prominent for its flourishing motion picture theaters. Among them was the 3,500-seat Loew’s Kings Theater, which was the grandest theater of them all.[v] In 1938, Loew’s opened its doors four thousand orphaned children for the annual Police Athletic League Christmas party. Performances were given by members of the Federal Theatre Project sponsored by the WPA, a part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. Loew’s Kings Theater closed in 1977, and after long efforts to restore its glory, reopened in February 2015.[vi]
Garfield’s Cafeteria was also quite popular among Flatbush residents. It was a bright cafeteria known to welcome strollers, moviegoers, window shoppers, and most importantly, high school students. In an interview in the book It Happened in Brooklyn, Gail Eiseman Bernstein recalls her teen experience at Garfield’s. “Friday afternoons we’d rush home from Erasmus [Erasmus Hall High School] to get ourselves ready for our Friday night pilgrimage to Garfield’s Cafeteria, on Church and Flatbush Avenues,” she recalled. Another student, Stewie Stone, said there was more to Garfield’s than its rice pudding delicacy–the social scene was what mattered most. He said, “Going from table to table on Friday night was like going from blanket to blanket on the beach.”[vii]
[i] Dave Anderson, “Echoes of Ebbets Field as It Turns 100,” New York Times, April 3, 2013. http://timesmachine.nytimes.com/browser.
[ii] Nedda C. Allbray, Flatbush: The Heart of Brooklyn (Charleston, SC: Arcadia Pub., 2004), 150.
[iii] Anderson, “Echoes of Ebbets Field as It Turns 100.”
[iv] “Before You Bake Brooklyn’s Legendary Cake, Heed A Warning,” accessed: March 27, 2014. http://www.npr.org/2014/03/27/293937447/before-you-bake-brooklyns-legendary-cake-heed-a-warning
[v] Allbray, Flatbush: The Heart of Brooklyn, 150.
[vi] “Diana Ross Christens Renovated Loew’s Kings Theatre in Brooklyn,” Wall Street Journal, February 4, 2015. http://www.wsj.com/
[vii] Allbray, Flatbush: The Heart of Brooklyn, 153.