November 2, 2012, Friday, 306


From The Peopling of New York City

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From Dassa, the editor of this page

The Little Box About Dassa
Education Brooklyn College, Macaulay Honors College
Fields of Interest words, biking, stars, and people
Cool Factoids I am a copy editor for the Brooklyn College newspaper, the Excelsior. I also have a fun Macaulay blog.
One Line About College The grounds are lovely, the library is beautiful, and the Starbucks there has great tea.

My Project Page is Here

Friends Forever

The Research Story

It began years ago, when I first wandered off Ocean Parkway while pushing a stroller with one sleepy little baby in it. It was a hot summer day, and I was dreaming of a shady spot. And then I discovered...FRIENDS FIELD. (I know, that is too dramatic.)

It's a little park at the corner of Avenue L and East Fourth Street. It abuts Washington Cemetery, which provides an ironic counterpoint to its own noisy liveliness. As I wandered the grassy field, listening to cars whoosh by and kids shriek as they trampled through the baseball diamond, I loved Midwood for the first time. It was my own little Central Park, an idyllic little world of happy greenery, a New York City park in the heart of Brooklyn.

Friends Field became my summer haven, an escape from the humid streets of Midwood. I never thought much about the name of the field and its origins, at least not until sometime late in high school. During the course of my research for my eleventh grade history class, I discovered that the field was bought from a Quaker school, and that's why it was called Friends Field.

The fact may seems incidental, uninteresting, but it was a tiny historical gem that excited me. I loved Friends Field all the more for knowing a bit about its history.

Skip ahead two years. It is CHC2, and I have to learn the "secret" of a street. Where do I go? Friends Field, naturally. I began with the Park Department's website. It listed a bit about the history of the field, the inspections, and the various projects to improve their field, along with the respective costs.

Next I search for information about the Quaker school that owned the field, and for whom it is named. The school is called Brooklyn Friends School, and they have a website. Joy!

I explore the site, and quickly discover that it is almost disappointingly thorough. Disappointing, because the joy of true discovery is taken from me. But I recover quickly.

The site provides historical detail, and also gives names and dates, and even cites some articles. They provide me with the more "stuff" to research. Next I did a bit of Googling, coming up with sites that mentioned Friends Field. As one point I tried the wonderful New York Times archive database, but I gave up quickly. My search terms had yielded nothing: I was disappointed again.

I used the Brooklyn Eagle database, Google, and the Brooklyn Friends School (BFS) website. I discovered more about BFS; some of it was really funny. For example, I found that there was a minor scandal in 1902 when the principal, a Ms. Something or Other, was fired. A little flurry of letters was sent to the estimable Brooklyn Eagle about it. It was entertaining, but unfortunately, not relevant.

I began to panic; I had a paper due soon and not enough information. I decided to visit the trusty library of the Brooklyn Historical Society. I was in geeky heaven there, perusing old maps, and I planned to write my paper on it.

I was beginning to craft my paper when I decided to try the New York Times archives again, just to see if there is anything there. I use different search terms -- voila! Four articles on Friends Field. I felt like I've hit the jackpot, and I rewrote my paper to use all the information I had just discovered.

Big mistake, as it turns out. So here I am, my plan changed. You can see the results here.