Know more about Brooklyn, BHS

Visiting Brooklyn Historical Society (BHS) was a wonderful opportunity for me to know more about Brooklyn. BHS has rich collections from Brooklyn’s history including various maps and photographs. Looking at those maps and photographs, I could picture Brooklyn of century ago. The Atlas of New Utrecht, 1874 gave me some idea about the urbanization of Brooklyn. I could see some estates under the name of person and some estates under the name of development companies. As I understood, these development companies bought the farmer’s land and made it commercial by plotting the land and constructing buildings and apartments houses. After the map, I looked at a photograph of Coney Island Beach, which was taken in July 1958. Comparing today’s Coney Island with the photograph, I found a huge difference. I could see crowd of people enjoying at the beach, but there were no boardwalk and houses were just under construction. This means the Coney Island area was being prepared for commercialization.

Dropbox instructions

For Essay #1, you will submit both Part 1 and Part 2 via Dropbox. You should have received an invitation to join our shared folder already–please let me know if you have not, since you will not be able to submit your essay without accepting that invitation.

  • Go to
  • Create an account using your City Tech email address (I believe that an .edu email address gets you more storage space in your account!) or the email address you asked me to use
  • Log in
  • Look on the left-hand side for the word Sharing (it has a rainbow next to it) and click it
  • Accept the invitation to our shared folder
  • Now click on the name of our shared folder
  • To submit your essay, click on the upload icon–it looks like a sheet of paper with a blue arrow pointing up
  • Choose your file the same way you would attach a file to an email. You can select multiple files at a time by holding CTRL (or the open apple key on a Mac) and clicking all of the files you want to add
  • When you click Open in the file-selecting dialog box, your files will upload!
  • Double-check that they’re in our shared space by looking to see what folder they’re in now. Your finished essay and retelling should be in the folder called Essay #1. If it’s not there, you can drag it there, or right-click on your file to move it to the appropriate folder
  • Make I can identify your file by its title by including your name, the assignment number, and the part number if they aren’t both in the same file. That means that if I were submitting Part 1 and Part 2 separately, my files would be called “Jody Rosen Essay 1 Part 1.doc” and “Jody Rosen Essay 1 Part 2.doc”
  • I can accept the following file types for this assignment: .doc, .docx, .odt, .rtf
  • If your file isn’t one of those formats, open your file, choose Save As, and change the file type. Even if you’re not using Word or OpenOffice, you should still be able to save your file in Rich Text Format, or .rtf.

Brooklyn Historical Society Visit and “Only The Dead Know Brooklyn”.

I was surprised not to see Carroll gardens as a neighborhood on this map that shows in Brooklyn in the 1900’s  but it tells me it came later on. The maps I have seen had to do with Brooklyn neighborhoods that were all around and even some from Queens was included. Also, another map showed what transportations were used back then, which were cars. Another image I observed was a map of the pavement that all around Brooklyn. In “Only the Dead Know Brooklyn” the “big guy” believed that a map was all he needed to really understand Brooklyn. I believe to understand Brooklyn, you have to travel amongst all the neighborhoods, observe the diversity between neighborhoods, spend a day or two there, eat the food, take pictures but even that’s not enough. To understand Brooklyn, it would really took a lifetime. I believe that I have somewhat gotten to know Brooklyn, I have been to almost all the neighborhoods and spent time there. But I still don’t know the history behind it all.


Strenuous: adjective :vigorously active : energetic.

From ” Metamorphosis” by Franz Kafka, “what a strenuous career it is that I’ve chosen! Travelling day in and day out. Doing business like this takes much more effort than doing your own business at home.”

Now i understand that Gregor Samsas career requires him to be moving around alot. Also, it requires him to be exceptionally active.

Only The Dead Know Brooklyn VS. BHS

Our table was filled with details an images of the places mentioned in the story, We saw multiple pictures of people at different locations, a map and three miscellaneous ferry tickets. In the map at our table it shows the location of where the train station would later be built at the exact cross streets. Also at our table were pictures of the train station on 15th avenue and New Utrecht. There were two pictures at the light table. One picture was a photograph of an aerial view of people swimming in the ocean at coney island and the other was a father and son down the block from the beach, The other picture on the table was a picture of a boy playing on the Red Hook Pier. All of these places were mentioned in the story.

BHS & Only The Dead Know Brooklyn

Out of the photographs and other forms of illustrations at BHS, I was the most impressed by the maps of the train system.  I never fathomed how long the New York City Subway System has been in service and that its service map is so similar to the one today.  With the exception of a few added lines and new stations, the map is very similar to the one the MTA provides today.  Considering the advancements in in engineering technology in the last 40 years, its impressive to know the tracks have been around since the 20s.  I also took note of the pictures of Coney Island and other landmarks.  Just like the subway maps, majority of the environment has been preserved and remains to be used by the public (like the boardwalk and beach at Coney Island).  I think it adds a special kind of sentimental value that would not be preserved has the city been altered in its developmental structure.

in Only The Dead Know Brooklyn, “Big Guy” asked the narrator if he knew how to go to Brooklyn (in a thick Brooklynese accent).  Big Guy had the idea of discovering Brooklyn by traveling around “jus to see the place”, including wandering around the bars in Red Hook, which to most would not be a good idea.  I discovered Brooklyn in a similar way; going to new places with friends, wandering around unknown areas in search of something that we could eventually come back to.  If you can afford the train fare, you can see all of Brooklyn.

Visting BHS

Reading “Only The Dead Know Brooklyn,” was really challenging, personally, because I’m not from Brooklyn. I’m really into vintage and antique things. Seeing images and maps and ticket stubs from years before my parents were even born was pretty awesome. While looking at all of these objects, my group and I were comparing it to the story. It was kind of incredible looking at things that were in the story; it was almost like watching a stop motion, and going back in time. We got to see locations that Big Guy went to and love to explore. For example New Utrectch Ave, and there was a picture of the station in year 1962. As well as a photograph of a boy running at the Red Hook Pier. The map that we got to see was a map from 1914, and the station was not on it due to it not being built yet. I thought it was pretty awesome how we got to see before’s and after’s and we had that advantage to connect it to the story.

Brooklyn Historical Society + Only the Dead Know Brooklyn

During my visit in the Brooklyn Historical Society, i got the opportunity to view some old archival materials. These old photographs and maps had a piece of Brooklyn’s history. Right after i had gotten a glimpse of each, i remembered that some of these archives were in the story “Only the Dead Know Brooklyn”. The map that i saw was a basic map of Brooklyn’s railroad, i’m guessing the only ways of transportation back in the days. This map not only had railroads, but it also had street layouts and tunnels. Another archive that i was able to observe was three (3) New Jersey transportation ticket stubs. These stubs were for ferry rides from Brooklyn to Jersey City and back. When i saw the other 3 archives, they were photographs. One of those photographs was a photo of “New Urtrecht Ave-15th Ave Station(Sea Beach Line) taken in 1962 of June 18. The other two photographs were pictures of a place named “Hook Pier” (1978) and the famous “Coney Island”(1968). In the story of “Only the Dead Know Brooklyn”, These 3 photographs were mentioned in the story.

Brooklyn Historical Society

This picture called “View of North side of 65th st showed me how Brooklyn might have looked like in the story of, “only the dead know Brooklyn” give me a visual perception of the setting of the story where he might of gone to. the picture shows buildings and cars parked infront of the buildings. Perhaps those buildings are still there to this very day if we go visit that place may look virtually unchanged maybe different cars and more modern things but essentially the same thing.

This is the first time i have ever visited or even heard of the Brooklyn historical society. it was an interesting experience, i did not know what to expect. it sounded like a secret organization like the freemasons but it had interesting things and amazing architecture and interior design. it was like going back in time to the 1800’s or early 1900’s. also this is the first time i learn about more places in brooklyn ive never really explored brookyn like that ive never been other places other than coney island and until now downtown brooklyn when i first started in city tech


enquiringly: adverb – in an inquiring manner

From the story “Metamorphosis” by Franz Kafka. “Mr. and Mrs. Samsa sat upright there in their marriage bed and had to make an effort to get over the shock caused by the cleaner before they could grasp what she was saying. But then, each from his own side, they hurried out of bed. Mr. Samsa threw the blanket over his shoulders, Mrs. Samsa just came out in her nightdress; and that is how they went into Gregor’s room. On the way they opened the door to the living room where Grete had been sleeping since the three gentlemen had moved in; she was fully dressed as if she had never been asleep, and the paleness of her face seemed to confirm this. “Dead?”, asked Mrs. Samsa, looking at the charwoman enquiringly, even though she could have checked for herself and could have known it even without checking.” (Section III -counting backward paragraph 8).

Now I understand that Mrs.Samsa is asking Grete in a suspecting tone if Gregor is dead, although she can see he is.

BHS Observation

This is my first time visiting Brooklyn Historical Society. Before i visit BHS, I thought its like a museum with exhibitation and Im very surprised that they have library inside. Beside that, the glorious architecture design really catch my eye because what i know about museum should be old and nothing special with full of historical items inside the building. After we enter the museum, the staffs came to welcome us and they are so friendly then they lead us to the 2nd FL where the library is. This library is different than the public library although it looks the same, the books and other historical materials were protected and on shelf, its very neat and organized.
I was assigned to a group and work together on the materials provided. There was a map sponsor by SHELL in 1939 labeled “Booklyn and Queens,” and im very curious so i took some time to discover it, however, i failed because the text are so small, its so difficult to read nor understand. Prior to that, i was reading a story “Only Dead Know Brooklyn” and i totally agree the main character’s conclusion that it is impossible to know Brooklyn even for those born and grown up there. Yet, the big guy in the story think he can go through Brooklyn with the map on his hand, before I saw this map i will think the same way. The big guy mention a place called “Bensenhoist” but i still dont know where is it, he also mention “Red Hook.” I learn Red Hook from the picture that its a rough neighborhood and not safe, and nothing special about that place which i dont know why big guy went there. I have one conclusion for this big guy, he is either smart or has no sense of safety.


Repugnant : adjective, means incompatible, inconsistent, hostile, exciting distaste or aversion.

In “Metamorphosis” (page 22, 1st para)  “I declare here and now”, he said, raising his hand and glancing at Gregor’s mother and sister to gain their attention too, “that with regard to the repugnant conditions that prevail in this flat and with this family”- here he looked briefly but decisively at the floor – “I give immediate notice on my room. For the days that I have been living here I will, of course, pay nothing at all, on the contrary I will consider whether to proceed with some kind of action for damages from you, and believe me it would be very easy to set out the grounds for such an action.”

Large Pocket Doors (BHS)

On last class we visited the Brooklyn Historical Society. As far as first impressions go I was floored when we walked up to a gorgeous Red-stone building whose architecture spoke of a rich history that exemplifies what Brooklyn really is. As the enormous pocketed doors opened I got my first glance at a building so full of character that I swore it couldn’t get any better. I have never been so wrong before. We walked into the library archives and my jaw hit the floor. Imagine a library in the house of a lord where rich dark woods and soft lighting play of the binding of the thousands of books sitting nestled on the dark wooden shelves. As we got to work my definition of what Brooklyn is changed. For me Brooklyn today is just another place with buildings and homes just a regular part of New York.

I looked at a few different documents about Brooklyn’s history and I was floored. It’s been like this for so many years. I saw a picture of the BMT Train line looking onto the train line to the west from 16th avenue. Today this isthe line that the N Train runs on and has remained relatively unchanged. I can say that I went down this line several times and didn’t realize that it has been the same for so long. I also looked at a map of the train lines that were present in 1939 and there were a few lines that are still around and in use today. On this map I saw a picture of the Metropolitan Tower from 1939 and that has also remained relatively unchanged.

In thinking about the big guy from “Only the Dead Know Brooklyn” he tried to know Brooklyn by visiting as much of it as he could and experiencing it firsthand.  He had a map which showed basic directions and transportation routes similar to the ones we had. He chose to visit Bensonhurst which was easy enough to find on the map. I agree with the protagonist that Brooklyn is a place so enormous and vast in its diversity that it is not possible to know all of it.

I think I know Brooklyn a little bit better than I knew it before our visit to the Brooklyn Historical Society. I have come to appreciate some of the nuances that encompass the borough of Brooklyn.

The BHS Experience.

Our recent visit to the Brooklyn Historical society was very beneficial to my understanding of my hometown and also of our reading of “Only The Dead Know Brooklyn.” I had no knowledge of the Brooklyn Historical society prior to this class and once I heard about this trip I was looking forward to it. I can now say that I enjoyed the trip, not just because we got to leave the classroom but I found everything about the BHS so interesting and inspiring. I loved the architecture, and the mood of the building. It isn’t like a mundane public library. The resources are rare and precious and the BHS is very cautious about how their resources are shared with the public.

Being there was also constructive because we were able to have a hands-on experience with the materials. The group I worked with had a display of two maps of Brooklyn. One map was a railroad map and the other was a transit map. We also had folders that contained photographs of scenes in Brooklyn in much earlier times. I particularly studied a photo that showed the beach at Coney Island from the summer of 1958. I, along with one of the BHS hosts had noticed that many of these beach-goers were fully dressed in the summer time. I thought that this could be attributed to the different culture at the time and maybe people were more reserved in the way they dressed, even at the sunny beach.

Our study of the maps went along very well with our reading of “Only The Dead Know Brooklyn.” In the story “the big guy” claimed to use a map to find his way around Brooklyn. He found he’s way to Bensonhurst, Flatbush, and Red Hook. I found this interesting because these neighborhoods are not exactly very close to each other, and I mentally made a comparison to the time this story took place (it was published in 1935) and today and how maps are hardly used. Every now and then I’ll see a subway passenger squinting at a map, but technology has advanced and nowadays many people use GPS or search for directions online. One can make the argument that technology has made us lazy in this regard because reading a map successfully requires extra effort.

One thing I must point out, however, is that I could not locate Red Hook on the transit map I studied. I just could not find it, but I was indeed able to find “Bensenhoist.” Brooklyn is a very big and deep borough, and I agree that one may never able to to know Brooklyn through and through.