Saturday, June 25, 2011

Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, New York

Prospect Heights is bounded to the south by Eastern Parkway, to the east by Washington Ave. or further to Bedford Ave., to the north by Atlantic Ave., and to the west by Flatbush Ave. It is best known for the iconic row of buildings, reminiscent of Manhattan's 5th Ave. "Museum Mile," including the immense Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Mount Prospect Park, the Brooklyn Public Library, and Grand Army Plaza on the south side of Olmsted and Vaux's Eastern Parkway, which in many ways forms the heart of Brooklyn.

The neighborhood is characterized by quiet tree-lined streets shading 1890s-vintage Italianate and neo-Grec brownstone row-houses. Blocks like Lincoln Pl. and St. John's Pl. include multi-unit apartment buildings (photo, with large Siberian Elm tree). Tom's Diner (photo), made famous by Suzanne Vega's song of the same name is at the corner of Washington Ave. and Sterling Pl.

Some of the more off-the-beaten-path features include an original Studebaker showroom (see logo on top of building) on Bedford Ave. and Sterling Pl., a gigantic 1892 armory between Pacific St., and Atlantic Ave. facing Bedford Ave., and grand chateau-like apartment buildings (The Imperial) between Pacific St. and Dean St.

An upscale, glass high-rise residential building designed by the architect Richard Meier and located off of Grand Army Plaza was completed in 2008. In the north, the Vanderbilt Railyards have become ground zero for the controversial (due to planned high rise buildings and other out-of-scale architecture) Atlantic Yards project, where arena construction has begun for the Brooklyn Nets basketball team. Grassroots efforts to block development included the formation in 2009 of the Landmarks Commission-approved Prospect Heights Historic District, which covers an area roughly bounded by Flatbush Ave., Sterling Pl., Washington Ave., and St. Marks Ave., though a section of the historic district extends as far north as Pacific Street. This district was earlier listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.

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