The Revolutionary Promenade

The Brooklyn Promenade, also known to locals as the ‘Esplanade,’ opened in 1954 and provided Brooklynites and tourists with 8 blocks of spectacular views of the lower Manhattan Skyline and East River. In stacked levels underneath this walkway is the super-charged BQE (Brooklyn-Queens Expressway). The Promenade is a gorgeous stretch of paved stones that hearkens back to the 19th century. In warm weather the area is filled with baby strollers, bikers, joggers, gawkers, roller skaters, (Or Roller bladers) people selling day-glow toys, and even film productions make use of the open space. Ten years ago a friend and I walked past actor Harvey Keitel filming something or other.

I personally enjoy walking onto the promenade and relaxing on the benches with a cup of coffee or ice cream from the delicious ‘Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory’ (even better than coffee!) I like to just read and mediate on life. The Promenade is the perfect place to end your stroll through beautiful Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO (Which is an acronym for Down Under the Manhattan–Brooklyn Overpass, not the Disney elephant.) And it is the icing on the cake after walking the illustrious Brooklyn Bridge.

The Promenade in the 21st Century

The promenade was once the location of the ‘Four Chimney House’, which has long since been torn down. It was a mansion owned by the Pierrepont family. (For which Pierrepont Street a few short blocks away is named.) The area was mostly a thoroughfare for the wealthy of the time. Hezekiah Pierrepont had ideas for a promenade as early as 1824, but it did not become a reality until over a century later.

In late August of 1776, British forces under General William Howe defeated Patriot forces under General George Washington at the Battle of Brooklyn. (AKA-The Battle of Long Island.) Washington’s army suffered over 2500 casualties. Washington used the roof of the Pierrepont mansion to oversee a strategic retreat. The night was stormy and foggy.

Washington and 9,000 soldiers were able to sneak across the river and prepare for a new battle the following morning. The escape took the entire night and George Washington was the last man to cross the river. However, the British eventually retained victory over the Patriots and overtook New York. It was the first Victory for the British during the Revolutionary War and it was recorded as General Washington’s first daring escape.


Witty Ads #2: Healing Londonderry water

Being a child of the 80’s, I foolishly assumed that bottled water was ‘invented’ and sold beginning in that particular decade. Silly me. Just look at a bottle of Poland Springs and you will see it was established in 1845!

Before the 80’s and 90’s,  you never saw so many people chugging down bottle after bottle of water. The old companies must have made their money off the giant jugs for office water cooler consumption. But In the last 30 years spring water in a personal sized bottle has boomed into a mega billion dollar industry. When we can just as easily drink tap, filtered or unfiltered for free, many of us may spend upward to $4.00 a bottle for ‘pure’ water.

During one of my Brooklyn Daily Eagle searches I came across some advertisements for ‘Londonderry Lithia Spring Water’ from as early as 1901 and I posted them below.

I discovered the charming Londonderry Lithia Springs Website. The natural springs were discovered in New Hampshire in 1882 and the company profited from their special water into the early 20th Century across North America. The website keeps a historical tone and they even sell matted prints of the original advertisements. These ads claimed that Lithia water successfully reduced symptoms from maladies common in the 19th century-Rheumatism, gout, Dispepsia, Gavel, Bright’s disease, et al.

These days scientists and doctors know better than to make such claims for simple water. While water has indeed been proven beneficial to the body in many ways, it is not a miracle cure. The 19th century was full of people hoping and searching for a cure-all and many would believe any charlatan or advertiser that made such claims.