What Brooklyn looked like in summer 1820

I love these old paintings. If only I had a time machine, Brooklyn was quite a beautiful land way back then.

Ephemeral New York

Landscape artist Francis Guy painted “Summer View of Brooklyn” in 1820 from the vantage point of 11 Front Street in today’s DUMBO.

That means this collection of tidy barns and houses would be located under the Brooklyn Bridge. That even looks like a nascent Manhattan skyline, with steeples, in the distance.

Francisguysummerscene

Things have changed a lot in 195 years. A summer view of today’s Brooklyn from Front Street would look more like this, with crowds sweltering on line at Grimaldi’s pizza.

Frontstreetbrooklyn

Guy painted the same scene from Front Street in winter 1820 as well. The winter scene is more detailed, with various residents working and going about their day.

Who were the hardy Brooklynites he depicted? This key from the Brooklyn Museum decodes their names and which house belonged to who.

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Glowing beauty of the Brooklyn Bridge at night

I love paintings like this! It would be a beautiful print to have on the wall.

Ephemeral New York

Now this is enchantment: the globes of light from the bridge deck, the boat lights illuminating the East River, the twinkling skyline of lower Manhattan.

Brooklynbridgenightpostcard

“This view shows the well known Brooklyn Bridge in the foreground, and the most prominent of New York’s skyscrapers in the distance,” reads the back of this postcard.

“This scene is probably more familiar than any other to the multitude of people living in Greater New York.”

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More cute creative old Business postcards courtesy of the Brooklyn Public Library.

Ephemeral New York

The Brooklyn Public Library has a wonderful digitized collection of late 19th century business cards from hundreds of shops and companies located in the teeming city of Brooklyn.

JVDubernellcard

They’re whimsical and imaginative—and some honor the cold weather while advertising their goods, like J.V. Dubernell, tailor.

His shop was at 331 and 333 Fulton Avenue, and his suits sound kind of expensive for the era.

Bostonstorebusinesscard

That’s some sled illustrated in this card, for this clothing store, which comes off like the L.L. Bean of the time. Check out these prices for trendy wool cloaks!

Amespaintdealercard

This sweet scene advertises the business of a paint dealer. Sumpter Street is in today’s Bedford-Stuyvesant, quite a bit away from the other businesses, which are located closer to downtown Brooklyn in what was the fashionable shopping area of the time.

Perhaps a paint store was not welcome on refined Fulton Street?

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