Where in the World is Dennett (Dennet?) Place?

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Brooklyn’s Dennett Place is just one block long, and the treeless street                     is not much more than an alley.

 

One of the major ongoing controversies that embroil Brooklyn is the battle over how to spell Dennett, the name of one of the borough’s most fascinating streets, Dennet Place. Okay, maybe the controversy isn’t so major, but there is a question there. But, the first question to be answered is, where in the world is Dennett Place? This one-block long, treeless street lies near the southern end of Carroll Gardens, running from Luquer Street to Nelson Street between Court and Smith Streets.

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The houses on Dennett Place are all approximately 18 feet wide x 28 feet deep.

Not much more than an alley, Dennet Place is lined with tiny two-family homes with tiny garden-level apartment doors that almost any adult would have to bend over to go through. The houses are all about 18 x 28 feet with a rear yard of another 17 feet or so. That’s small enough to qualify as quaint, we think.

These homes date to the mid-to-late nineteenth century, possibly to the 1850s. The general feeling is they might have been built to house workers who were building the nearby St. Mary Star of the Sea R.C. Church, which opened around 1855. Then, you could rent a Dennett Place house for $9.00 per month. Today, you can buy one for between $1.5 and $2 million.

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So, which is it? Current signs use the two-t spelling.

On most maps, this street is called Dennett Place, but some call it Dennet Place (which is why we alternated our spelling above). Complicating things more, some nineteenth century maps exist that refer to it as Bennett Place. A 2012 article in the New York Times spells it with a single “t,” and in our memory there was a street sign on a corner building there that read Dennet Place. Go to there today and the street signs say Dennett Place, which, right or wrong, is good enough for us to use that spelling. There is no record of where the name came from, so there’s no place to get a confirmation.

The other quirky aspect of Dennett Place is the series of small doors on the street-facing side of the stoops. The lane is narrow, as we’ve said, and the sidewalks are, too. The homes consist of a lower-level garden apartment and an upper-level duplex, reached from the street by a stoop. That’s typical of Brownstone Brooklyn, but usually, the stoops are built to rise straight in from the street, and the garden-level apartment is accessed by a door under the stoop. On Dennett Place, however, because the sidewalks are so narrow, the stoops were built to rise across the face of each property rather than straight in from the street, and the doors to the lower apartments go straight in from the street under the stoops. Because the height of the stoops here is less than on other blocks, the under-stoop entrances had to be built to fit, which is pretty small. We’ve never had the opportunity to see into an open stoop door, but we assume there are steps leading down to the garden-level apartment.

The block is very well kept, the buildings mostly spotlessly clean and recently painted. In one of the most popular and posh neighborhoods in the borough, even many residents are unaware of Dennett Place. It is truly one of a kind in a borough filled with off-the-beaten-path gems. Should you come to Brooklyn to see them, Dennett Place must be near the top of your list.

 

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Dennett Place’s most interesting feature is the series of tiny, under-the-stoop doors that provide access to the garden-level apartments. They’re only about four and one-half feet high.

 


 

Nitehawk Park Slope is OPEN!

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The Nitehawk Park Slope is now open!

 

A few months ago, we wrote about the conversion of the old Sanders Theater on Bartel-Pritchard Square to a second venue for the owners of Williamsburg’s Nitehawk Theater. Just before Christmas, while you were busy Christmas Shopping and might have missed the news, the new Nitehawk Park Slope theater opened. The movies are back on Prospect Park West!

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At the bar in the first-floor lobby, you can buy tickets and drinks.

And not just movies. The Nitehawk complex has six theaters and first-floor lobby and second-floor bars where you can grab something to take into the theater with you. Above the second-floor bar is a mezzanine with tables to sit and chill before, during, or after any showing. The first-floor bar is where you can buy tickets for any show, though many were sold out when we went. We’d bought our tickets earlier, online, at https://nitehawkcinema.com/prospectpark/. At the theater, we stepped up to one of the ticket kiosks where you can print out the tickets you’ve pre-ordered. You can punch in your order number or use the Q4 code reader and the tickets print in an instant.

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On the mezzanine above the second-floor bar is a seating area for eating, drinking, or just chilling.

The theaters are scattered across four or five levels. You can make the hike up, and there is an Elevator for the upper floors if you prefer to ride. Once in the theater, you’ll immediately notice that there is a small table between each double seat

and a menu on the table. You can order food and drinks to enjoy during the movie presentation, and as you’d expect, the menu is flush with healthy and even vegan options along with burgers and popcorn. Try a Mary Poppins Lamplighter’s Lunch (Pork beef and currant meatloaf), or the Aquaman Surface vs. Sea (Duo Slider, beef and shrimp). There’s lighter fare, as well, including cheese plates, hummus, queso, homemade jerky, and classic popcorn. On weekends, a brunch menu and a kid’s menu are included. Drinks are water, soda, beer, wine, Nitehawk signature cocktails with names like Barry Lindon, Fire Walk with Me, and Goonies Never Say Die, and a full lineup of whiskeys, scotches, rum, gin, and liqueurs. There’s something for everybody. We had the kale salad, and it was excellent.

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The small tables between seat pairs holds a menu and paper to write your order.

If you’re not ready for the bar, there’s plenty to watch in the theaters before the feature starts, with screenings showing the conversion of the theater, old footage of TV shows and commercials, and a great admonishment reel featuring John Waters telling us we’re not allowed to smoke in the theater while encouraging us to do exactly that.

Having a drink and food during your show is a great addition to the movie-going experience, and when you order your ticket online, you can click the Dine and Dash option and everything you order, including the tip, will be charged to the card you purchased the ticket with, so you don’t have to wait around to settle up with your server when the show’s over. Just get up and go. That’s a sweet service.

Yes, the Nitehawk is open and the movies are back in Park Slope, and like never before! We encourage you to go.

 

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                            The newly renovated Nitehawk Theater on Bartel-Pritchard Square,                           15th Street and Prospect Park West.

 


 

Red Hook Sales Listings Available – For the Moment!

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The open living space at 156 Conover Street.

 

Still-rustic Red Hook is one of our favorite neighborhoods in Brooklyn. The area retains much of the look and feel of its historical industrial past, with rows of brick warehouses along the waterfront, a number of cobblestone streets to rattle your teeth as you drive through, and a quaint housing stock of small brick row houses and shopping districts lined with Mom and Pop stores and restaurants.

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The living space and private yard at 156 Conover St., #2.

We currently have two sales listings in this gem of a neighborhood, a condo at 156 Conover Street and a two-family house at 106 Pioneer Street. The Conover Street condo is described as an “expansive, loft style, pre-war condo in the heart of Red Hook” with “high ceilings, original wide-plank wood floors, exposed brick and outdoor space…. this triple-exposure, sun drenched apartment has an airy, flexible and open floor plan allowing you to create a unique space that is all your own.” It comes with a deeded private yard.

If you have an attraction to loft-style living, this Conover Street condo could be of strong interest to you. It is open end to end, with windows on three sides. The bedroom is huge at 12′9ʺ and just more than 23′ long. Its current industrial-looking exposed brick walls are in keeping with the neighborhood’s historical past. Running perpendicular to the living area, the bed can be placed well out of sight while keeping the entire space open to the natural light flooding in from the four windows in the bedroom. The wide-open combined living/kitchen/dining room is more than 35′ long and 15′+ wide. All in all, this is a terrific apartment at an aggressive price point.

Virginia Dobles is the listing agent for this unit. Call her at 718-208-9502 for more information.

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The floor plan of 156 Conover St., #2. Both rooms are extraordinarily large.

The listing for 106 Pioneer Street is just as attractive: This is a “Prime Red Hook two-family townhouse with a private garage. Tucked along the vibrant Red Hook waterfront and community, this multi-family townhouse puts you at the heart of this wonderful neighborhood. It sits on a 16.67′ x 100′ lot, with plenty of room for adding height or depth, for those with time, money, and a vision.

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106 Pioneer Street is a lovely townhouse with a lot of potential.

Or, use as is and immediately begin enjoying incredible views and sunsets by the waterfront, amazing shops, eatery’s, artisan coffee roasters, and wine maker, all within a short distance. This is an opportunity to own a Townhouse on what is considered one of the most charming streets in Red Hook. This Multi-Family consists of owners’ duplex with a lower garden rental.

In Red Hook, there is so much to do, to eat, and to drink if you’re so inclined, and the eclectic mix of shops, including of course IKEA, makes this enclave seem less cut off from the rest of Brooklyn than perhaps a destination for the rest of Brooklyn and New York City.

If you don’t yet know Red Hook, you should. If you do, you’ve got two opportunities for you to become a part of this fantastic community. But don’t wait long to check them out. We think they won’t be available for long.

For more information or to schedule a showing of 106 Pioneer Street, call the listing agent Gail Donnarumma at 718-290-7548.

Historic Fort Greene Park

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The Prison Ship Martyrs Monument at Fort Greene Park, Brooklyn.

 

New York City, and Brooklyn with it, is a land of macadam, concrete, and steel. But with all its hard surfaces and hard edges, it is a city that loves its natural green spaces. Besides the well-known major parks, like Central Park, Washington Square, and the Battery in Manhattan and Prospect Park, McCarren Park, and Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn, there are hundreds of small squares and triangles full of trees and shrubs and benches for weary pedestrians and area residents to sit in and enjoy.

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The visitors center at Fort Greene Park.

Brooklyn’s oldest official park remains today a bastion of activity and history. The land now known as Fort Greene Park has twice been the site of an actual fort. The first, Fort Putnum, was built at the start of the Revolutionary War by troops commanded by Nathaniel Greene. It was quickly taken by the British during the Battle of Brooklyn and held by them until the end of the conflict. It was re-outfitted and renamed Fort Greene

at the start of the War of 1812. After that war, it was decommissioned and was a draw for locals as a place to hang out and mingle. Washington Park, the park’s original name, was commissioned by the city in 1845 and promoted heavily by the poet Walt Whitman, who worked as an editor at the Brooklyn Eagle at the time. Washington Park opened in 1850.

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Washington Park. The street along the Eastern boundary of Fort Greene Park maintains the park’s original name.

The site is also a hallowed ground. During the revolution, the British anchored several decommissioned ships and barges in Wallabout Bay, just north of Fort Greene Park and the long-time site of the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Upwards of 11,000 men died aboard those vessels and were simply tossed overboard or buried in shallow mud at the edge of the bay. By the turn of the nineteenth century, their bones and other remnants were becoming exposed by tidal drifting of the muck. In 1808 the remains of these unfortunates were dredged up and buried on drier land near the navy yard.

Following the Civil War, a remodeling of the park conducted by Vaux and Olmstead, the designers of Central and Prospect Parks, included a final resting place for those “prison ship martyrs,” and the remains were moved again to this vault. In 1897, the park was renamed for General Greene. Interestingly, the street along the park’s eastern boundary is still named Washington Park.

Crypt Entrance

This door in the grand staircases that lead to the monument could be the entrance to the Prison Ship Martyrs’ crypt.

In 1905, the architectural firm McKim, Mead, and White was commissioned to design a memorial to those buried under the park, the tall column that rises above the park today. The tomb holds the largest number of bodies of any Revolutionary War graveyard.

On a less somber note, the park is a magnet for many residents of the eponymously named neighborhood, Fort Greene. There are tennis courts, a dog-friendly area at DeKalb Avenue and Washington Park, playgrounds for the youngsters, and plenty of spots perfect for sunbathing and lounging. There are plenty of great stores and restaurants nearby on DeKalb and Lafayette Avenues to grab something to picnic on while you’re there. History buffs should add a visit to this park to their bucket lists.

 


 

 

 

If It’s December, It’s Dyker Time!

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The stunning light displays in Dyker Heights will be up until the end of the holiday season. It’s well worth a trip!

Dyker Heights has been an attractive neighborhood since its initial development in the late nineteenth century as a bedroom community for Manhattan’s business elite. Today, it’s a mix of modest yet comfortable semidetached homes and shockingly huge mansions, but it’s never more attractive than during the December holiday season, when the entire neighborhood lights up with a massive communal display of Christmas lights and decorations. If you’ve never taken a walk or ride during the holidays through Dyker, as it’s called locally (or Dyker Lights at this time of year), you must put it on your bucket list and get it crossed off soon, perhaps this season.

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From angels to reindeer to toy soldiers and candy canes, everything’s lit up in Dyker in December.

Anyone who enjoys the festive atmosphere surrounding the holidays, and especially the lights, will have their cravings sated in Dyker. People come from all over the world to see the Manhattan window displays in the department stores, and people come from everywhere to marvel at the lawn and house displays in Dyker Heights.

To get there, you could take one of the tour buses that come from Manhattan, or drive, but we recommend the D train to 79th Street and a leisurely walk west along 83rd or 84th Street to 10th Avenue and back. There are spectacular displays throughout the neighborhood, but the most eye-popping are on 84th Street between 10th and 12th Avenues. If you find enchantment in Christmas décor and lights, you must get out to Dyker Heights and see the show.

But enough said. There’s no marvel in talking about it. This entry is about the lights, so the lights take over the page from here. We took a tour of this year’s displays, and our photos follow. We don’t claim to be professional photographers, but they should whet your appetite to see the show in person.

 

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Not everything is bright and festive. This home has a definite flair for the dramatic.

 

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Historic Green-wood Cemetery

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Some of the many hundreds of ornamented gravestones in Green-wood Cemetery.

One of Brooklyn’s most spectacular, naturally beautiful, and historically important spots and a big attraction for thousands of visitors annually is Green-wood Cemetery. (We won’t say it: people are dying to go there. Oops, we said it.) More famous people sleep at Green-wood than ever slept, lived, and/or died at the Hotel Chelsea; Green-wood is also forty-five years older than that Manhattan landmark.

As the mid-nineteenth century came into view, New York and Brooklyn were growing and becoming more urban. Green spaces were shrinking, and church yard cemeteries had graves reaching to the edges of their lots. The disposal of the departed began to become problematic. A new cemetery, Green-wood, was proposed by Brooklyn socialite Henry Pierrepont and laid out (no pun intended) after the then-current English style of cemetery having an informal park-like setting.

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Minerva, the Roman Goddess of wisdom, is the main feature of the monument honoring the Revolutionary War dead.

Soon after Green-wood opened in 1838, it became a destination spot for Brooklynites and for many Manhattanites, later becoming a final destination for some of those visitors. Green-wood now holds the rich and famous from days long gone and days just gone by. A short list of celebs buried there includes:

The Famous
Leonard Bernstein, Composer, West Side Story, many others
Jean-Michel Basquiat, Artist
Henry Ward Beecher, Abolitionist
Kate Claxton, Actress
Horace Greeley, Newspaperman, Politician
Nathaniel Currier and James Merritt Ives, Engravers
Frederick Ebb, Lyricist
Frank Morgan, Actor, who portrayed the Wizard of Oz
Samuel B. Morse, inventor of Morse code

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Statues of soldiers of all ranks grace the base of the Civil War memorial on Battle Hill in Green-wood Cemetery.

The Notable
Stanley Bosworth, Founder, St, Ann’s School, Brooklyn Heights
George Catlin, Painter
Henry Chadwick, Baseball Hall of Famer and inventor of the box score
DeWitt Clinton, Governor of and Senator from New York
Peter Cooper, founder of Cooper Union
Charles Ebbets, Owner, Brooklyn Dodgers
Mary Ellis Peltz, Theatre Critic
Eli Siegel, Philosopher
Emma Stebbins, Sculptor of Bethesda Fountain in Central Park
Henry and William Steinway, father/son, Piano Makers

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“Our Drummer Boy” commemorates the life and death of twelve-year-old Clarence McKenzie, the first Brooklynite killed in the Civil War.

The Infamous
Albert Anastasia, noted mobster
William “Boss” Tweed, Politician

and many other artists, athletes, industrialists, murderers and the murdered, military men and women, politicians, socialites, and more.

The grounds are the site of some of the fiercest fighting that took place during the Battle of Brooklyn, the first major battle of the Revolutionary War. The highest point in Brooklyn, Battle Hill, is in the cemetery, and is graced with a monument to the battle in the form of a statue of Minerva, the Roman goddess of wisdom, and one to the New Yorkers who died in the Civil War. Elsewhere on the grounds is a monument remembering twelve-year-old Clarence McKenzie, the first soldier from Brooklyn killed in the Civil War. Ironically, it was not in battle, but in camp that the youngster, in his tent, was hit by a stray bullet from other Union soldiers drilling nearby. His monument, entitled “Our Drummer Boy,” stands on what’s known as the Hill of Graves, surrounded by other soldiers who were killed or fought in the Civil War.

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Crypts and monuments line this road and dot the entire grounds in Green-wood.

There are hundreds of mausoleums, obelisks, statues, and thousands and thousands of standard gravestones and markers of well-known and ordinary citizens across the cemetery’s 478 acres. Near the main entrance on Fifth Avenue is the monument to those lost in the Brooklyn Theatre Fire, atop a mound under which lie more than one hundred bodies of men, women, and children buried in a mass grave, the unidentifiable remains of victims of that historic, horrific conflagration. Far from being an historical relic, however, the cemetery is alive and vibrant, and continues to accept new residents. There’s room for many more.

Green-wood also continues its long history as a recreational destination, offering a slate of annual, monthly, and one-off events in every season. Many have to do with discussions and/or examinations of death. November includes a Day of the Dead Family Program; Making an Exit: From the Magnificent to the Macabre; Border Crossings: This and Other Worlds (about death, not politics). 

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A fall day at Green-wood Cemetery.

There are Twilight Tours, birding tours (including a search for the famous Green-wood parrots), Trolley Tours (perfect for the less mobile of us), and others with eclectic subjects, focusing on topics such as mushrooms, stained glass, and seances. One long-time annual event is the ISO Symphonic Band and Orchestra concert every Memorial Day. In addition, there are Revolutionary War reenactments, Green-wood at Night tours, and so many more all year round.

Green-wood Cemetery is a true treasure, and any Brooklynite who hasn’t been there should make a resolution to go in 2019. No matter what time of year, its beauty and its interest can’t be beat. Get to Green-wood Cemetery, while you can still walk out when you’re done.

 


 

Brooklyn Flea and Smorgasburg

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The shaded seating area at Smorgasburg Prospect Park, with vendor tents behind.

 

Who doesn’t like a good flea market? Gently used clothes, dishes, home furnishings, jewelry, art, antiques, and chatchkas offered by dozens of sellers at bargain prices. Who doesn’t like a fantastic food fest? Food to eat right now, with offerings from over one hundred vendors, all surrounding a large cluster of picnic tables. We all do, and Brooklyn is, as with so many things, a leader in both areas.

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From baseball gloves to African masks, vintage steel beer cans, and lettering, some of the many varied items for sale at the Brooklyn Flea.

Two great markets, Brooklyn Flea and Smorgasburg, are provided by the Brooklyn Flea, a ten-year-old company that began with markets in Fort Greene and Williamsburg and has moved on to locations at Industry City, DUMBO, and Prospect Park, and is rated by numerous travel magazines and Web sites as one of the best open-air markets in the country and even the world.

We can remember the flea at both original locations, and we thought it was great then. We miss it still in Fort Greene, but have enjoyed the spiffy new surroundings at Industry City and the old architectural ingenuity evident under and around the Manhattan Bridge in DUMBO, long one of our favorite nabes.

The other big, regular event run by the Brooklyn Flea is the weekly Smorgasburg, a massive food event in the original East River State Park location in Williamsburg (Saturdays) and in Prospect Park (Sunday) on Well House Drive at Breeze Hill. For those who are just now checking out Brooklyn or those who somehow don’t know about this already, Smorgasburg is a monster food fair, with vendors selling an international mix of prepared dishes running the full gamut from poutine to vegan treats. A recent visit to the Prospect Park locale had us tasting delicious offerings from Jamaica, Mexico, Brazil, Italy, and ogling meats, sweets, and other delectables from many other vendors we noted down for next time. Everything is good, and it all tastes better sitting outside. But note that time is running out. Summer’s over, and Smorgasburg runs only through the end of this month. Miss it now and you’ll have to wait until April next year! (Dates below.)

Other important Smorgasburg notes: Pets are welcome, and at Prospect Park there’s a large area for parking bikes. We assume there’s bike parking at or near East River State Park.

Whether your passion is food or found treasures, weekends in Brooklyn can feed your individual frenzy for either or both. Visit the Flea and/or the Smorgasburg and satisfy your yearnings. You’ll have a great time doing it.

Brooklyn Flea
Saturdays, 10:00 – 5:00, Industry City, 241 37th St., Sunset Park
Sundays, 10:00 – 5:00, Manhattan Bridge Arch, 80 Pearl St., DUMBO

Smorgasburg
Saturdays, 11:00 – 6:00, April – October ONLY (Last event October 27 this year (2018)),                                             East River State Park, Williamsburg, Kent Avenue at N. 7th Street.
Sundays, 11:00 – 6:00, April – October ONLY (Last event October 21 this year (2018)),                                               Prospect Park Breeze Hill, off East Drive near Lincoln Road.

 

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Views from the Prospect Park Smorgasburg.

 


 

The Brooklyn Children’s Museum

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The exhibits at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum cover international arts, local natural sciences, and world cultures.

 

Young minds are curious. From babyhood, the blank slate that is our new-born brain begins absorbing all that we see, examining our hands, and feet, and the faces, the touch, and smell of our parents and everything else that we sense. If we’re lucky, as we grow, as we age, that curiosity stays with us. One way to maintain that level of absorption of our surroundings is to continue to explore new things. Here in Brooklyn we’re very fortunate to have an institution that is dedicated to nurturing the developing minds of our youngest.

The Brooklyn Children’s Museum, in Crown Heights, is the oldest and one of the largest institutions in the country and perhaps the world dedicated to feeding and developing the curiosity and creativity of children. From its beginning in 1899, the museum has presented science, the arts, and the natural sciences with the notion of learning by experience, providing interactive, hands-on exhibits that encourage visitors to take an active part in each. 

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Some of the 30,000 objects in the collection of the Brooklyn Children’s Museum. At the rear is the entrance to one of the museum’s many workshop classrooms, the Color Lab.

Six permanent exhibits offer interactive experiences in nature, art, sensory play, cultural diversity, and more. The Neighborhood Nature exhibit includes dioramas of local plants and animals found here in Brooklyn. The Our favorite is World Brooklyn where kids can learn hands on what it’s like to work as a shopkeeper, baker, grocer, builder, and other vocations.

Many of the temporary exhibits introduce young people to other cultures, other eras, and other ways of viewing and interacting with the objects and materials around us. The museum offers many weekend workshops for kids, and educators and organizations can rent a Museum on the Go case for classroom presentations and activities. In addition, the museum offers after-school programs in the arts, culture, and science, and teen programs geared toward community interaction.

The Brooklyn Children’s Museum was founded in 1899 by the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences (now the Brooklyn Museum), with the idea that children learn best by doing. Creating a place that offers children a chance to touch, operate, and become immersed in the offered exhibits was a revolutionary concept at the time.

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The world culture area offers a strip of “shops” displaying items specific to various places around the world.

The original building was an old mansion on or near the site of the present building in Brower Park, designed by the architect Raphael Vinoly and completed in 2008 with more than 100,000 sq. ft. inside and a large roof deck and garden. It is the only LEED-certified green museum in the city. Today, the museum boasts a collection of over 30,000 natural science and cultural objects that are either on display or used in the various programs and exhibitions. There’s something of interest for kids of all ages. We suggest you grab your kids and go see for yourself. (Note: Thursdays from 2:00-6:00, admission is free!)

 

https://www.brooklynkids.org/

 The Children’s Museum
145 Brooklyn Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11213, corner of St. Marks Avenue

Hours: Tue, Wed, Fri., 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Thu., 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Sat., Sun., 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Admission: $11 except Thursday, 2:00 – 6:00, free/pay what you wish