November 2, 2012, Friday, 306


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Park Slope: 3rd Street

Or for a more visual approach: 3rd Street in Images


I would like to do my research project on Third Street between Fourth and Fifth Avenues in Park Slope. I plan to focus on both sides of the street, because one is residential (with a few businesses) and one is public with a perhaps deeper history. I chose a block in Park Slope primarily because I grew up in the neighborhood, which inevitably makes the history of streets long part of my memory more interesting to me. This particular block figured into the Battle of Brooklyn in the Revolutionary War, which was my main motivation for selecting it. Even though our project does not require going all the way back to the Colonial Era, that period has always been particularly interesting to me. I know little about New York’s history during that time (beyond what I have read in The Restless City and New York Burning), so it would be interesting for me to explore a small section of Brooklyn’s colonial history. Additionally, the block has public spaces (such as a playground), residential buildings, and a couple of commercial buildings, so my research would bring together a number of different changes and inhabitants of the block: those who fought (and died) there, those who worked there, those who lived there, and even just those who visited and played there.

On the left hand side of Third Street (coming down from Fifth Avenue) is one of Park Slope’s great historical landmarks: the Old Stone House. This building is the main reason I chose the block, because I have been aware of its significance from a young age but never truly researched its meaning. Though the original house, built in 1699 has been replaced by this reconstruction, the site is still home to much important history, namely the Battle of Brooklyn. The house was originally a Dutch farmhouse owned by the Vechte family. In August 1776, the British army blocked an American retreat by taking the house, though the Americans eventually escaped, losing 256 soldiers on this very block. Since then the Old Stone House has undergone different identities, serving a variety of community needs that I will expand on in my paper. The reconstruction that stands there today was built in 1930. Researching the current buildings will be interesting because it is now the site of various community events and history classes. This side of the block also contains a small park/playground, the history of which I have yet to learn, and a handball court and dog run that were just opened within the last year. I think the block contains interesting diversity in terms of the physical aspects, because on the one hand there is an extremely old building of historical value and on the other, there are recreational areas that were recently created.

On the opposite side of the street, the block begins with a restaurant and pizza place, but the rest of the block is residential. The commercial buildings at the start of the block have obviously not always been home to the same businesses, so discovering the history of these buildings and who worked in them, as well as if they were always businesses and not residential, will be a focus of my research. The rest of the block is dominated mostly by large apartment buildings, different from most Park Slope brownstones. The buildings that stand there now were developed largely in recent years, as a lot of similar condominium buildings were being constructed in Park Slope, often to offer slightly cheaper housing alternatives. The building of condos has been controversial in Park Slope and probably brings in new crowds of people to take up residence. I do not have extensive knowledge about who lives in these buildings, but that research is part of what makes me interested in this block. I think that researching Third Street between Fourth and Fifth Avenues will reveal an intricate dialogue between the old and the new that continues even to the present day.


Nora Curry currently lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn, where she has lived all of her life, except for a few months spent in upstate New York. She attended elementary and middle school in Park Slope and graduated from Hunter College High School and is currently a student in the Macaulay Honors College at Brooklyn College. She is majoring in English and art. She currently works at a coffee shop and works on her writing and photography on the side. Her interests include literature, poetry, art, photography, film, music, theatre, coffee, and her puppy and kitten.