Borough Park

Architectural eye candy — and actual candy — in Borough Park

Eye On Real Estate

February 24, 2016 By Lore Croghan Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Welcome to Borough Park, which is a fascinating place for a walk, whatever the weather. Eagle photos by Lore Croghan

One of the world’s largest Orthodox Jewish populations outside of Israel is right here in B’KLYN.

We’re talking about Borough Park, the fascinating neighborhood south of Green-Wood Cemetery and east of Sunset Park.

According to “The Neighborhoods of Brooklyn,” the informative book edited by Kenneth Jackson and John Manbeck, waves of Hasidic immigration from Europe cemented Borough Park’s identity as an Orthodox Jewish enclave. First, during the Great Depression, new arrivals came principally from Poland. Second, after Soviet troops crushed the Hungarian revolution in 1956, more Hasidim found their way to Borough Park.

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And when the Brooklyn Queens Expressway was built in the 1950s, Hasidic Jews whose homes in Williamsburg and Crown Heights were torn down moved to Borough Park — or Boro Park, as it’s also spelled.

The other day, after Arctic weather blasted in and out of Brooklyn, a touch of cabin fever made us want to take a nice long walk to look at architectural eye candy — and find some nifty places to nosh.

We made a beeline for the D train, which delivered us to Borough Park in no time flat.

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There are nearly 300 synagogues in the neighborhood. You might think we’d head for Young Israel Beth El of Borough Park’s grand stone temple at 4802 15th Ave. It was built in the 1920s. It’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s beautiful.

Instead, we decided to spotlight a house of worship that gets a bit less attention from architecture lovers — Congregation Anshe Lubawitz of Boro Park’s yellow stucco synagogue at 4024 12th Ave.

There’s a quiet dignity to its design. Our snapshots don’t do it justice.

Another architecturally interesting building is nearby: The FDNY’s Engine Company 282/Hook & Ladder Company 148 firehouse at 4210 12th Ave.

Hoppin & Koen, which designed the century-old red-brick building, was a prominent architecture firm in its day.

In addition to designing Manhattan mansions and at least two other FDNY fire stations, Hoppin & Koen served as the architect of The Mount, famed novelist Edith Wharton’s country house in Lenox, Massachusetts.    

But we digress.

Back on the streets of Borough Park, we also went to see a building that’s laden with nostalgia for movie buffs — the former Loew’s 46th Street Theatre at 4515 New Utrecht Ave.

It opened in 1927 as a Universal Pictures movie house. Loew’s took it over soon after. Films were shown there until 1969.

The building stands along the elevated tracks of the D train near the Fort Hamilton Parkway station. Its façade is decorated with details like snarling stone beasts, heraldic shields and pairs of winged angels.

We never had a chance to go to the movies at this theatre, so we can’t offer an eye-witness description of its interior.  

Since 1996, the former picture palace has belonged to 4515 Utrecht Realty Corp., whose president is David Kahn, city Finance Department records indicate. He’s currently working on a project to convert the five-story property into a mixed-use residential and commercial building with 80 apartments, city Buildings Department record show.

The architect for the conversion is Jeffrey Kamen, whose office is on Bond Street in NoHo.

Another building flanking the D train tracks, 5602 New Utrecht Ave., houses the Glatt Diner.

The restaurant dates back to 1947. We wanted to try it out. But it’s closed, and there’s a “For Rent” sign on the front door.

Finance Department records show that the building that houses the shuttered diner and two residential units has belonged to Adam Miller since 1982. Prior to that, another member of the Miller family owned it.

According to online listings, the three-story building has been on the sale market for an asking price of $975,000, with Superior Realty handling the listing. We say “has been” because the property is in contract, Superior Realty’s website indicates.

With no chance of having a meal at the Glatt Diner, we headed to 13th Avenue, the neighborhood’s chief commercial corridor, to shop for food.

Everything in the stores is kosher, from rugelach to lox to vitamins. It snowed while we were there, but the avenue was far too interesting to abandon.

Before planning a visit of your own, remember that Borough Park retailers shut down from sundown Friday through at least sundown Saturday to observe Shabbos (the Sabbath).

* One of America’s largest kosher supermarkets, Gourmet Glatt Market, is at 1274 39th St. on the corner of 13th Avenue. When the 20,000-square-foot store held its grand opening in February 2012, then-Borough President Marty Markowitz, City Councilmember Brad Lander and state Assemblymember Dov Hikind took part in the ribbon-cutting.

* Korn’s, a kosher bakery at 4304 13th Ave., makes beautiful challah bread.

* The awning outside Candy Man at 4702 13th Ave. proclaims the shop “The Sweetest Place in the Kosher World.” The chocolates are terrific.

* The candy selection is also dazzling at Oh! Nuts at 4923 13th Ave. So is the array of dried fruit and (of course) nuts.

* Some 13th Avenue shops are on the ground floors of beautiful, old-fashioned rowhouses. The lively mix of retailers also sells Judaica, children’s clothing and wigs for women who keep their hair covered as a matter of modesty.

* Avenue Plaza Hotel at 4624 13th Ave. on the corner of 47th Street draws guests from Israel who are visiting family and friends.


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