The NYC Department of records has an extensive photo gallery of images starting from the cusp of the wild roaring twenties down till the present day. Okay, it’s not ‘old’ Brooklyn, but it’s still classic imagery nearly a hundred years old. I was just thinking the other night how the twenties seemed so far behind us now.
The website displays the finer prints and you can purchase them. (Too bad it’s not original Brooklyn prices!) You can check them out here:
Images of Brooklyn
Also of note: You can research vital records from all the boroughs and purchase copies that date back to before 1910. Now we’re talking old!
NYC Archives and Records
If you really want to start digging, try the Municipal Archives Collection – With records dating back to the earliest days of European colonial settlement in the seventeenth century, up to the present mayoral administration, the Municipal Archives houses 150,000 cubic feet of historical government records, including manuscripts, official correspondence, vital records, ledgers, several thousand feet of moving images, over one million photographs, sound recordings, maps, and architectural plans.
My mother’s side of the family is pure Brooklyn and they date way back to the 1880’s. They were immigrants from England (Though interestingly the ‘English’ side of the family was born in Kildare, Ireland.) I found proof of this many years ago on a whim when I visited the awesome Brooklyn Historical Society. They had a ledger/family tree book filled with names, dates of birth, and dates of death filled in by my great-grandfather. The book stopped after my grandmother’s third child was born. The Brooklyn Historical Society has since been remodeled and I eventually have to secure an appointment to see those old records again. At the time I copied them by hand as best I could. I was still just a kid, a nerdy early nineties kid with a burgeoning fascination for Old Brooklyn. I need to dig in the bowels of the basement to find those files. I would like to go again, re-copy and then remake that family tree on the computer and add the additional names. See, my grandmother didn’t stop at a 3rd child, she had 16!