I already knew that brownstones are not necessarily brown. I had seen light ones and white ones and even a green one before. Today however I learned much more about brownstones.
My teacher was a walking tour called “A Land of Terra Cotta and Red Brick” in my Big Onion Guide to Brooklyn and it took me to Park Slope. As there are not so many landmarks in Park Slope and it does not have a notable history, the tour was mainly focused on architecture. When I had been walking through Park Slope earlier I did this mainly along the avenues. 5th and 7th Avenues are the commercial arteries of the neighborhood. I had walked into streets as well, in search of people like Paul Auster and Siri Hustved, but down in the numbered streets. Today’s walk took me to the northern part, where streets have names instead of numbers.
What now is Park Slope has been farmland until the late 19th century. Only some mansions existed there. Settlement began around 1850. The first row houses were red brick. Brownstones then were built as a kind of mass production along the streets sloping down from the new park – Prospect Park – that opened up in 1873. Beneath the brownstone – I learned – is still brick. So the brownstone is just a cover. Brownstones in general have a high basement and stairs leading up to the first floor. Italianate style is flush fronted and mostly has three stories. Neo-Grec style has bay windows. Early ones are two sided, later ones three-sided or even half round.
Some more individual buildings were constructed in Queen-Anne style, showing a variety of details.
I learned a lot about architectural styles today. On 5th Avenue I came across a whole row of (Italianate) brownstones in sky blue. But Park Slope has not only brownstones. The old mansions are still there, a lot of churches and a considerable number of old and new apartment buildings.
Created for the middle class today it is an upscale neighborhood. Buying property there has become very expensive. The neighborhood is attractive, offers a great variety of shops and restaurants, has the park and transfer is quite good.
My walk ended on Prospect Park West. I walked on down to 11th street and over to 8th Avenue, where a bookstore recently opened up and had been one of our stops on the Morley Walk on Sunday. “The Art of Travel” was waiting there for me. I had spotted the book on the walk on the staff recommendation table and it had not left my mind. That was a sign to buy it, wasn’t it?
From there I walked up 7th Avenue and had a yummy blueberry muffin at La Bagel Delight (where Siri Hustved goes for bagels). 7th Avenue is a good place for dinner, especially around 9th street. There are plenty of small restaurants of all kind.
I needed to shop some groceries and took home my first beef steak. It was among the supermarket’s weekly offers. With it I planned to have sweet potatoes and the rest of my arugula. At home I cut the sweat potato in pieces to simmer them in olive oil and butter. But when I set a pot onto the stove and turned the gas on nothing happened. I tried the next burner – nothing happened. None of the four burners was willing to work. So my steak and my sweet potatoes went into the fridge and I had a cheese and arugula sandwich instead. When Rachael came home later and I told her about the problem she turned the burners on and all of them worked without any problem. I have no idea what was going on. Did these burners not like sweet potatoes? Did they not like beef steak?
What I learned today:
All I need to know about brownstones.