At Cherry Blossom Time, Prospect Heights and Crown Heights shine: Part One
Eye On Real Estate: Brooklyn Botanic Garden's blooms bring visitors to nearby neighborhoods
It’s Cherry Blossom Time — which shines a spotlight on the neighborhoods near Brooklyn Botanic Garden.
Sakura Matsuri, the weekend horticultural — and cultural — extravaganza that draws as many as 70,000-plus visitors each year, took place on April 25 and 26. They come from Japan, Philadelphia, Connecticut and all over the city for this Cherry Blossom Festival, which is the largest event that takes place in a U.S. public garden.
Also, over the next couple weeks, crowds will keep pouring into BBG — and nearby blocks of Prospect Heights and Crown Heights — as the cherry trees of the garden’s famed Esplanade flower forth with big, fat blooms that have “selfie backdrop” written all over them.
There’s always a multitude at BBG for Mother’s Day, which is on May 10 this year.
For folks who crave an additional walk after they’ve enjoyed BBG’s visual delights, Sterling Place and Park Place blocks in Prospect Heights are good spots to start a stroll. They are filled with especially lovely historic homes — and flowering trees aplenty.
On the Crown Heights side of the area, St. Francis Place and St. Charles Place, two block-long streets that run between St. Johns Place and Lincoln Place, are especially lovable.
Here are some of the terrific buildings that visitors should see.
Check out Public School 9 Annex and other beautiful buildings
Forest City Ratner brought a superb old school building back to life a quarter-century ago.
We’re talking about the Public School 9 Annex in Prospect Heights. The city Landmarks Preservation Commission used the address 251 Sterling Place when designating the building a city landmark in 1978. Current residents refer to it as 279 Sterling Place.
The late Romanesque Revival building with Classical elements, which was built in 1895, was designed by James Naughton, the prestigious school architect who was the Superintendent of Buildings for the Board of Education for the City of Brooklyn.
The developer restored the stunning red-brick, sandstone and terra cotta property, which had been vacant and vandalized, as a residential building for artists displaced by its construction of MetroTech in Downtown Brooklyn. The apartments that weren’t claimed by the artists were sold to the general public as co-ops.
* It looks like a castle — but it’s a crime fighters’ fortress.
Crown Heights’ former 80th Precinct police station at 645 Grand Ave. on the corner of Park Place has a tall turret and an air of majesty.
As people who know police department history will tell you, the 80th Precinct no longer exists. The 1890s-vintage Romanesque Revival building designed by architect George Ingram is now an NYPD administrative facility, according to Brownstoner.com‘s Suzanne Spellen, who writes about architectural history under the pen name Montrose Morris.
* Bells Are Ringing.
(Remember that Dean Martin-Judy Holliday movie?)
St. Teresa of Avila Church at 563 Sterling Place in Crown Heights has the prettiest twin towers we’ve seen on a house of worship in quite some time.
This Catholic church on the corner of Classon Avenue is so nice to look at that it doesn’t matter that part of its façade is obscured by a sidewalk shed.
According to the website for the NYC Organ Project List, which keeps track of the musical instruments in city churches, one of St. Teresa’s towers has 10 bells in it. Each bell has the name of an Irish saint inscribed on it. Éirinn go Brách!
*Brooklyn’s bygone Automobile Row lives on at 1469 Bedford Ave. in Crown Heights.
The stunning Studebaker Building, which is a city landmark, was a showroom constructed in 1920 for that now-defunct car company. Back in the day, this stretch of Bedford Avenue was a hotbed of car dealerships, service stations, garages and such.
The neo-Gothic style building, clad in white glazed terra cotta tile, gracefully curves around the corner of Sterling Place. Fifteen years ago, it was turned into affordable housing for the formerly homeless and people with special needs.
* Imagine Dragons.
Of course that’s the name of a rock band. We’re saying it to make a pun about the fanciful stone decorations — yes, they’re dragons — on the former Loehmann’s building at 1476 Bedford Ave.
It, too, is located on a corner of Bedford Avenue and Sterling Place in Crown Heights.
These days, the New Life Tabernacle owns the property. But it was where Frieda Loehmann began her business of selling heavily discounted designer clothing back in the 1920s, according to Suzanne Spellen, who writes for Brownstoner.com as Montrose Morris.