Bay Ridge Home Reporter, Feb. 28, 1958 – Plan new library building

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A new building for the McKinley Park branch library is slated to begin going up in April, the Brooklyn Public Library announced last week. The library is currently housed in a store at 6912 Fort Hamilton Pkwy., and the announcement marked the end of a long campaign by the McKinley Park Council for new quarters.

The branch will be a one-story building, 6,000 sq. ft. on the first floor, and 1,000 sq. ft. in the basement. It will be located at 68th St. and Fort Hamilton Pkwy.

Ground was broken for the new building in May 1958.
Brooklyn Public Library, Center for Brooklyn History

All the public facilities – reading rooms for children, young adults and adults, and a meeting room large enough for 50 persons – will be on the first floor. It is expected to open by next fall, according to a library spokesman.  


(Special thanks to Brooklyn Public Library)

This undated photo shows the new library during its early days.
Brooklyn Public Library, Center for Brooklyn History

Home Talk-The Item, Feb. 27, 1929 – Narrows tube fate depends on Albany

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Construction of the Narrows tunnel, which is favored by municipal leaders from Mayor [Jimmy] Walker down, depends, it was said recently, on the creation of the Bridge and Tunnel Authority for Greater New York. A bill providing for this body, sponsored by the city administration, is before the Legislature.

According to prominent city officials, the bill is almost certain to become a law. The only contingency it has to be afraid of, it is claimed, is the hostility of the Republican majority in the Legislature, and its desire to place the administration in an embarrassing position for the election next November. It is known that Governor [Franklin] Roosevelt is in favor of the bill.

Governor-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt with Mayor Jimmy Walker at the Roosevelt home in Hyde Park on Dec. 27, 1928. Walker, who succeeded Mayor John F. Hylan, resigned in 1932 amid a corruption scandal. AP photo

Roosevelt is acquainted with the need of the city for interboro transit connections, especially for the Borough of Richmond, which is in a state of virtual isolation. It is for this reason that the Narrows tunnel has met with almost unanimous approval. The Governor also knows, officials say, that the city bonding debt limit has about been reached, and it has no way of providing for the construction of expensive though needed transit facilities.

One of the chief reasons for favoring a tunnel in connection with the money problem is the availability of the Hylan freight-and-passenger tunnel shafts, at the foot of 68th St., and on the other side at St. George. This will reduce the necessary expenditures by several millions of dollars.

Members of the Board of Estimate are all in favor of the Narrows tunnel, and behind the bill, it is believed, although they are wary of being quoted on any single improvement. They prefer they stand on their general program of transit construction.

Since the Board favors the project, and there is every prospect that the bill will pass the Legislature, Mayor Walker, who has said a number of times that he was for a Narrows tunnel, providing he knew where the money was to come from, is believed to be at work preparing some financing scheme for the improvement.

Tolls for bridges and tunnels will have to be collected, it was said by a high city official, whether or not the bill passes. If the bill does not pass, private companies may get the privilege of constructing the transit connections through city franchises. If the bill does pass, the city will probably use the toll method of financing anyway, he said. The bridge and tunnel bill provides for tolls.

John F. Hylan was mayor of New York City from 1918 to 1925. Library of Congress via Wikimedia Commons

“Even though the city should have a debt limit leeway of $400,000,000 between now and the first of March, 1930,” he said, “we still could not indulge in the building of bridges and tunnels. The subway takes up $100,000,000 a year, the schools $60,000,000, public improvements the Board of Estimate already is committed to another $100,000,000, more or less, and then comes the Delaware water-works project, which cannot be delayed and will cost between $800,000,000 and $400,000,000. There is also a point where the sale of city bonds reaches the saturation point, on the part of the public.”


(Special thanks to Brooklyn Public Library)

Brooklyn Daily Eagle-Home Talk, Feb. 24, 1933 – Moving speeded up so new court may open for business Monday

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Moving operations, transferring the 9th District Magistrate Court and the 5th District Municipal Court from their old quarters to the new courthouse at 4th Ave. and 43rd St., were carried on at full speed yesterday.

As a result, both courts will be able to hold sessions in the new building on Monday. Virtually all of the Municipal Court records have been moved from their old quarters at 53rd St. and 3rd Ave. and stowed away in the spacious storerooms of the new structure.

The courthouse, seen here in February 1933, was converted to non-court use in 1962. It was designated a New York City landmark in 2001 and is now used by the NYPD and Community Board 7. Brooklyn Daily Eagle photographs, Brooklyn Public Library, Center for Brooklyn History

Large moving vans yesterday completed the transfer of records of the Magistrate Court and all that remains to be removed from the ancient building on 23rd St. near 5th Ave. are a number of steel files destined for the new building.

Originally it was believed sessions could not be held in the new building until Tuesday, but acceleration of moving operations advanced the date one day.

All old equipment not to be used in the new court must be out of its old quarters before March 1 and will be taken to the Municipal Garage at the foot of 36th St., where it will be stored for future disposal.

Paul Cummings, chief clerk of the Magistrate Court, has completed his directions as to the arrangement of equipment in his section of the new building, which is located on the first floor with an entrance on 43rd St.

Formal ceremonies on the part of the Municipal Court are scheduled for Monday while those for the Magistrate Court will not be held until March 8.

A woman enters the Magistrate Court in June 1945. Brooklyn Daily Eagle photographs, Brooklyn Public Library, Center for Brooklyn History

The Municipal Court will be located on the second floor of the $500,000 building and has an entirely separate entrance on 42nd St.

Both courtrooms are of the latest design, well lighted and well ventilated, and are dignified in their simplicity of construction.

Spacious accommodations have been made in the complaint rooms of both courts for court attaches and persons seeking to file papers.

The interior of the Magistrate Court in February 1933. Image from Brooklyn Daily Eagle-Home Talk

On the Avenue: St. Pat’s Parade honorees party with supporters

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Let’s get the party started!

The Bay Ridge St. Patrick’s Day Parade is set to take place “on the avenue” at the end of March, but supporters came out in droves to party with this year’s slate of honorees on Feb. 18.

The annual parade dinner-dance at El Caribe Caterers, 5945 Strickland Ave., drew a tremendous crowd to enjoy an evening of fine dining and dancing in the name of Irish culture and pride.

Grand Marshal Hon. Matthew D’Emic and Deputy Marshals Scott Lloyd, Jimmy Nealon, Jimmy Young, Steven Fadel, Maureen McHugh, Maureen Stramka, Kelly Graham, Megin Reilly, Mary Ann Wood and Patrick D’Emic were officially recognized at the event, as were 2023 Honorary Irishman Robert “Cosmic” Puglia and members of the Moran family — the parade’s 2023 Irish family of the year!

All are currently preparing to march along Third Avenue on March 26, joined by members of the parade committee, led by President Richie O’Mara and Vice President John Bennett.

The parade starts at Marine Avenue and Third Avenue, then moves down to 67th Street. The Grandstand is located in front of Greenhouse Café, 7717 Third Ave.

Hundreds of schoolchildren will once again take part in the festivities, as will talented Irish step dancing students and representatives of other cultural groups. And don’t forget about the bagpipers!

Bagpipers make their way down Third Avenue during last year’s Bay Ridge St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Eagle Urban Media/file photo

“Parade goers can once again look forward to the unmistakable sound of bagpipes being played on the avenue for the Bay Ridge St. Patrick’s Day Parade, a sign that parade season has officially begun in Bay Ridge!” said longtime Third Avenue Festival Chairman Chip Cafiero, who serves as parade formation coordinator for all of Third Avenue’s marches.

The popular shopping thoroughfare also plays host to the annual 17th of May Norwegian Day Parade, the Brooklyn Memorial Day Parade and, of course, the Ragamuffin Parade.   

As for the upcoming celebration of all things Irish, if the energy and excitement felt at this year’s dinner-dance is any indication, this year’s St. Patrick’s Day parade is not to be missed!

Brooklyn Daily Eagle-Home Talk, Feb. 23, 1938 – Concert to aid Kallman Home

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The fortieth jubilee concert for the benefit of the Kallman Home for Children, Ridge Boulevard and 86th St., will be held on Saturday evening, Feb. 26, at the Baptist Temple, 3rd Ave. and Schermerhorn St. Extensive preparations are being made for this and it is expected that a large number of friends and supporters of the institution will be present.

Kids from the Kallman Home leave for a month’s vacation at Camp Joy and Camp Whitaker in Carmel, N.Y., in July 1950. Brooklyn Daily Eagle photographs, Brooklyn Public Library, Center for Brooklyn History
Kids from the Kallman Home leave for a month’s vacation at Camp Joy and Camp Whitaker in Carmel, N.Y., in July 1950.
Brooklyn Daily Eagle photographs, Brooklyn Public Library, Center for Brooklyn History

An exceptional program has been prepared for the occasion. Belle Vreta, Swedish soprano, of the Royal Opera of Stockholm, will offer several selections. The United Chorus of Brooklyn, with Charles W. Johnson and Elsie V. Engstrand as accompanists, and Birger E. Ambrose, director, will play. In addition there will be selections by Gertrude Engel, violinist, Mary Eidam, cellist, and Elaine Dahl, pianist. There will be selections also by the children of the Kallman Home.

High-ranking representatives of the Swedish government help Brooklyn’s Swedish colony celebrate the 55th anniversary of the Kallman Home in 1953. The home was founded in 1897 by a Swedish immigrant. Shown left to right are Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs Osten Unden; Clarence Sogren, dinner chairman; George P. Johansen, toastmaster; former New York City Police Commissioner Arthur W. Wallander; Ulla Lindstrom, Swedish delegate to the U.N.; Swedish Consul General Lennart Nylander, and Andrew G. Clausen, Jr., president of the Board of Education. Brooklyn Daily Eagle photographs, Brooklyn Public Library, Center for Brooklyn History
A mid-20th century photo shows the Kallman Home for Children on Ridge Boulevard and 86th Street. Adelphi Academy has occupied the site since 1965. Brooklyn Daily Eagle photographs, Brooklyn Public Library, Center for Brooklyn History

Dr. Paul W. Rood, president of Los Angeles Bible Institute and president of the World Fundamentalist Association, will make the address of the evening.

Brooklyn Daily Eagle-Home Talk, Feb. 22, 1935 -1,000 priests to witness consecration of Bishop Kearney at O.L.P.H. Monday

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By Claude A. Porter

What promises to be one of the most colorful and spectacular religious demonstrations held for many years in Brooklyn will be the formal consecration Monday of Auxiliary Bishop-elect Raymond A. Kearney, at the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, 5th Ave. and 58th St.

More than 1,000 priests, 100 monsignori and possibly 15 bishops from various parts of the United States will witness the ceremonies.

Because of the great number of clergymen attending and the lack of space, only those laymen possessing invitations will be admitted, this number of necessity being limited, it was announced yesterday at the chancery, 75 Greene Avenue.

Two hundred patrolmen have been detailed to the streets around the church.

The consecration ceremony will begin at 10:30 a.m. Immediately preceding this, however, there will be a procession of clergymen from the rectory to the church proper. The Auxiliary Bishop-elect and the other clergymen will be escorted by high officials of the Knights of Columbus in full dress and other Catholic orders.

Bishop Thomas E. Molloy of Brooklyn will be the consecrating prelate. Co-consecrators will include Bishop Moses Kiley, of Trenton, N.J., and Auxiliary Bishop Stephen Donohue of New York.

The sermon will be preached by Bishop James Ryan, rector of the Catholic University of America.

Cardinal Hayes will not be able to attend since he is out of town. Because of the throng anticipated, special amplifiers are being installed in the church edifice.

Bishop Kearney will celebrate his first pontifical high mass in the Church of the Nativity at 10:30 o’clock on Sunday, March 3.

Heretofore ceremonies of this character have been held in St. James Pro-Cathedral, and it was because of the size and accommodations offered by the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Help that the decision was made to have the consecration here.

Not since the consecration of Bishop Molloy has so much interest been taken in Catholic circles throughout the borough in a religious ceremony.

A dinner for the new Auxiliary Bishop will be given by the Long Island Council, Knights of Columbus, on Monday, March 4.

The Auxiliary-Bishop elect is 32 years of age and is said to be the youngest person elevated to this post in the United States and perhaps the world.

The new bishop is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph P. Kearney. As a boy he attended the Church of the Nativity. Following a complete classical course in Brooklyn Preparatory School and at Holy Cross College, he went to Rome where he studied theology for four years at the North American College.

He was ordained a priest in Rome and returned to Brooklyn in 1927, and shortly after was appointed to the parish of Queen of All Saints. Eight weeks later he received a call instructing him to proceed immediately to Washington and begin a course in Canon Law.

In 1929, at the age of 26, he published a canonical dissertation, “The Principles of Delegation,” considered one of the best works on the subject.

He served later at the Church of the Holy Innocents in Flatbush and the Church of St. Brigid in Ridgewood. He was made a monsignor four years ago.

Bay Ridge Home Reporter, Feb. 21, 1956 – Army set to O.K. Narrows Bridge thru Ft. Hamilton

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Negotiations between the Army and the Port of New York and Triborough Bridge Authorities are “nearly completed at the local level,” Robert Moses said this week in reporting on the status of the proposed Narrows Bridge which he wants to build over military property at Fort Hamilton.

The agreements, which will presumably involve shuffling of some structures and facilities at Fort Hamilton to accommodate the needs of the bridge, will then be forwarded to Washington.

Robert Moses was one of the most influential urban planners of the 20th century. Brooklyn Daily Eagle photographs, Brooklyn Public Library, Center for Brooklyn History

Mr. Moses pointed out that “granting of a permit by the Army for construction of the bridge approaches on its properties is a prerequisite” to building of the bridge.

After the setback suffered by the bridge people when the voters rejected a $750 million bond issue in November, Mr. Moses reported new reason to hope that Congress will provide the needed funds so that the work can begin.

In a slap at critics of his efforts, Mr. Moses declared in his annual Triborough Authority report that “the prosperity of our people will be seriously affected” if “destructive do-nothingness” takes the place of “indispensable road-building.”

The Home Reporter’s front page for Feb. 21, 1956. Eagle Urban Media image

Bay Ridge Home Reporter, Feb. 17, 1961 – ‘Big Mouth’ caught cheers and jeers from New Yorkers

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By Dan O’Connell

The year 1961 begins a nationwide centenary observance of the War Between the States, and Bay Ridge has its reminder in “Old Big Mouth,” a 20-inch cannon that still stands menacingly outside the walls of Fort Hamilton.

Once considered the most destructive weapon of its day, the monster cannon now serves as a plaything for neighborhood children.

Before being covered by a protective plate, the 20-inch bore of Old Big Mouth was a place to crawl into, but also a place from which once thundered a half-ton iron ball propelled by one hundred pounds of powder. Its back is now worn smooth by the trouser pants of generations of Bay Ridge boys.

It has been fired only a few times and a report to the War Department by ordnance officers after firing trials in 1867 said that the results were inconclusive. And Old Big Mouth was stilled thereafter.

Construction of the cannon is credited to Brig. Gen. Thomas Jefferson Rodman of the Ordnance Dept. In 1844 he began a series of tests on the metal of cannon and developed a theory of casting a gun with a hollow case and cooling it with a stream of water or cold air passed through it.

Then a lieutenant, Rodman supervised construction of the weapon in 1864 at Fort Pitt, Pittsburgh, where it was hailed as the biggest gun in the world. Up to that time, a 15-inch gun was considered supreme. Old Big Mouth was mounted soon after its construction at Fort Hamilton to protect New York harbor.

On Oct. 26, 1864, at its first firing trial, an excursion steamer, the “Bronx,” sailed from the Battery to Fort Hamilton with more than 1,000 persons aboard. They cheered – and jeered. 

The great gun’s first discharge was a blank cartridge propelled by 100 pounds of powder. The gun boomed, recoiled two feet, and disappointed watchers, who had expected a bigger noise.

An hour later – the time it took to reload – Big Mouth was crammed with 50 pounds of powder and a solid iron ball weighing 1,800 lbs. The gun was aimed straight at Staten Island and touched off.

The shot traveled one-quarter of a mile, bounced a few times on the water, and sank. The crowd aboard the “Bronx” was unimpressed.

For the next trial, the cannon was stuffed with 100 pounds of powder and a ball weighing 1,080 lbs. Its barrel was elevated 25 degrees, and once again the gun boomed, this time with astounding force.

Listeners clapped their hands to their ears. The shot traveled about four miles, and landed 27 seconds later in the lower bay. The gun recoiled four and one-half feet.

These were the only times Old Big Mouth was fired during the Civil War, mainly due to difficulty in finding targets which would stand up enough after being hit to be inspected. In March 1867, it was fired four times, reaching a maximum range of 8,000 yards, but the ordnance condemned Big Mouth as a weapon of war.

Old Big Mouth was fired, for the last time, on the arrival of the Statue of Liberty in the hold of the French ship “Isere.” It was then moved into the park, where it now stands, overlooking construction of the new Narrows Bridge.

As a defensive weapon, Old Big Mouth may have been a flop, but to the kids of Bay Ridge it is still the “biggest gun in the whole world.”

On the Avenue: Embrace Winter Festival brings the opera to Third Avenue

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They’re singing for your supper — literally!

Talented members of Regina Opera Company will be making a special appearance “on the avenue” to kick off the annual Embrace Winter Festival — sponsored by Bay Ridge Arts & Cultural Alliance (BRACA) in partnership with the Merchants of Third Avenue Civic Improvement Association, Inc. — on Sunday, Feb 26.

As part of this annual celebration of the arts, Regina Opera soloists including mezzo-soprano Lara Tillotson and baritone Nigel Smith will perform a free one-hour concert for patrons at Vesuvio Restaurant, 7305 Third Ave. beginning at noon. The soloists will be accompanied by flutist Richard Paratley and pianist Catherine Miller.

Baritone Nigel Smith (left) and mezzo-soprano Lara Tillotson will perform at Vesuvio Restaurant on Feb. 26. Photos courtesy of Regina Opera Company

Reservations are not required, but it’s best to come early to make sure you’re seated up close to the action. Opera selections make the perfect accompaniment to a meal at the popular Italian eatery.

The concert marks the beginning of an avenue-wide celebration of art and culture designed to draw shoppers to Third Avenue and promote small business, according to organizer Victoria Hofmo.

“The purpose of the festival is to provide an event during a time of year when there is a lull in activities, to build relationships between the businesses and arts/cultural organizations and individuals, to promote commerce and to give the community something to enjoy during the cold weather,” she said. “By using storefronts and sidewalks, there is no need to close streets or redirect traffic.”

Following the Feb. 26 performance, a variety of performances and activities will be held on Saturday, March 4 inside and in front of participating businesses. In addition, from Feb. 25 through March 19, a number of local artists will have their work displayed along Third Avenue from Bay Ridge Avenue to 90th Street.

On March 18 at noon, Hofmo will lead the festival’s annual Art Walk, during which artists will speak about their displayed work. There is a $20 cost and reservations are strongly encouraged.

Business owners who are interested in sponsoring an exhibit can contact Hofmo directly at 347-860-1932.

As plans are finalized for this year’s festival, they will be posted online via the BRACA and Merchants of Third Avenue social media channels, Hofmo said.

As mild as it might be (so far), let’s all make sure to “Embrace Winter” and support our great artists and businesses in Bay Ridge!

Patrons enjoy musical accompaniment during their lunch at Vesuvio Restaurant as part of a recent Embrace Winter Festival event. Eagle Urban Media/File photo