280 Engine and 132 Truck
Photo by LARRY WOODCOCK
One of the prettiest streets in New York City is here in Brooklyn. It is a tree lined street, that if you were blindfolded, a Brooklyn-ite, dropped off here, and had the blindfold removed; you would know where you are.
This is Eastern Parkway and the neighborhood is Crown Heights. The first settlement of Crown Heights goes as far back as 1662.
It wasn’t until the early 1900’s that it became a sought-after residential neighborhood for Manhattan’s working class. Development of parks, brownstones, and upper class residences peaked in the 1920’s.
Today, it’s population is over 150,000. The Eye of the Storm, resides here: 280-Engine and 132-Truck, located at 489 Saint Johns Place.
The neighborhood today is known for its large contingent of West Indies and Jamaicans, and well known for the annual West Indian Carnival. The parade is held every summer featuring the native country’s colorful costumes and island food along Eastern Parkway.
One iconic building in their first due area is the Brooklyn Central Library located on the round about at Park Plaza. Completed and opened in January of 1941, it is regarded by many as one of America’s greatest art deco buildings.
It was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1997. Occupying over 350,000 square feet and employing 300 plus, it features a 189-seat auditorium that is used for lectures, readings, and musical performances.
The Brooklyn Museum at 200 Eastern Parkway holds New York City’s second largest art collection. Built in 1895, it is a city landmark and made the National Register of Historic Places in 1977. The museum contains over one million works within its 560,000 square feet and specifically noted for its collection of Egyptian antiquities that span over 3,000 years.
Also housed here are vast collections of American, European, and African art. The museum, like numerous other city institutions, is part of the cultural institutions group, who derive part of their yearly funding from the city and also rely on federal and private donations to sustain it.
Crown Heights is home to the Brooklyn Museum for Kids at 145 Brooklyn Avenue and was founded in 1899. It was the first museum in the United States dedicated solely to children.
Notable residents from Crown Heights include Music Industry Executive Clive Davis, Opera Singer Beverly Sills, and Brooklyn’s Borough President Marty Markowitz.
When standing inside the 52 acre Botanical Garden on Washington Avenue, one would think you are in another country, until you hear the honking of horns or the sirens from police cars or fire trucks.
Established in 1910, the garden is home to more then 10,000 plants and sees an annual visitation of over one million visitors. The facility is home to more then 200 cherry trees along an esplanade. The first Japanese pond garden was created here on American soil. It opened to the public in 1915 at a cost of $13,000.
My favorite is the Cranford Rose Garden, which opened in June of 1928 and includes many of the original plants as well as over 1,000 different types of roses. There is also an indoor plant conservatory containing some of the oldest plants in the country and a diverse scientific research program is here.
And if you are planning a wedding, the Palm House can accommodate up to 300 guests in a magnificent settling.
This firehouse was built in 1913. Engine-280 and Ladder-132 moved in soon after being organized, 280 on March 20, 1913 and 132 on November 27, 1913.
Both companies turn one hundred years old this year and have been a staple to this neighborhood for the last century.
9/11 had a deep impact on this house as four members of the truck were killed that day and like many firehouses across the city, many years of experience was gone in an instant.
There have been several unit citations and individual medals of merit awarded to both companies and combined there have been six line of duty deaths.
Happy anniversary to 280 and 132 and thankfully you have a reputation that is known throughout Brooklyn. You will be there in the Eye of the Storm.