Eastern Parkway- Grand Army Plaza,
(Notice the horse and buggy on the bottom right.)
By: Ed Gruber
In 1905 my maternal grandparents, Fannie Schwager and Edward Wolff, were married in the then famous red room of the Willoughby Mansion at 667 Willoughby Avenue, Brooklyn. That same year they moved from Hall Street into a newly purchased brown-stone house at 347 Eastern Parkway, near Franklin Avenue.
Eastern Parkway, before it was broken up to make way for the IRT subway, was undoubtedly the loveliest street in Brooklyn. Tall stately trees formed a great natural arch over the Parkway. Benches instead of being securely cemented down, were portable so that one might move them into the shade. Drinking fountains were located every few blocks so that bike riders could refresh themselves.
Both side roads of the Parkway were used for horse drawn delivery wagons, while the center drive was reserved for carriages. Sundays brought the horse drawn pleasure carriages and occasional automobiles out in force. A favorite stopping-off spot on the trip to Prospect Park or Grand Army Plaza was the Bedford Rest, a large wooden roadstand at the corner of Bedford Avenue and Eastern Parkway, where beer and soft drinks were enjoyed at outdoor tables.
An outdoor movie was located just next to the Rest, where silent motion pictures could be observed in a large tent.
On warm evenings one could sit on the stoop and enjoy cool ocean breezes from Coney Island as crickets chattered. There were no apartment houses to be seen at the time and from the stoop on the north side of Eastern Parkway, on a clear evening one had an uninterrupted view of the revolving light at Sandy Hook, NJ.
Squatters populated the hilly area south of the Parkway and their goats would occasionally wander up and nibble at the hedges and wild daises. At a dairy farm located at the corner of Washington Avenue and Eastern Parkway, water was pumped from a well for the chickens and cows.
As the years passed, the subway was installed. Ebbets Field and the Brooklyn Museum were built. Electric street cars and then busses traveled across the Parkway at Franklin Avenue, and elsewhere. United Cigar stores, news stands, and all sorts of shops were built along Franklin Avenue. Union Temple was constructed near Grand Army Plaza and P.S. 241 was built two blocks south on President Street.
During my occasional visits back to the neighborhood, I think of Eastern Parkway of almost a century ago.