One of our supporters recently sent us two articles from archives of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle that vividly illustrate the excitement surrounding the development of the Prospect Heights Apartment House District in the early twentieth century.
The provocatively-titled “Landmarks Swept Away from Plaza by Apartments,” published on September 4, 1927, announces the development of the Turner Towers apartments at 135 Eastern Parkway, and highlights the juxtaposition of the new apartment buildings with the premier cultural institutions of Brooklyn:
The new educational and civic center of the boro in the vicinity of Prospect Park Plaza, or Grand Army Plaza, as the locality is now officially known, which includes such impressive buildings as the Brooklyn Museum, Columbus Council, K. of C. clubhouse, Union Temple, Girls Commercial High School and Girls Catholic High School, has been enhanced by a new apartment house, Turner Towers, 135 Eastern Parkway, the last word in multi-family house construction and equipment and combining all the elements of an ideal home.
The section of Eastern Parkway around the area of Prospect Park, which a few years ago was a long stretch of vacant land, is now almost solidly built up with imposing looking apartment buildings of attractive architecture and monumental appearance, appropriate neighbors to the beautiful Brooklyn Museum and Botanical Garden.
Old landmarks have been swept away to make room for these modern apartment homes and land values have soared beyond the dreams of pioneer builders, who less than two decades ago built only one-family houses along the fringe of the park.
Turner Towers, a 15-story building, represents in neat array an investment of $5,000,000. It reflects the faith of its builder in the future of the locality.
The article goes on to explain the benefits of the subway service along Eastern Parkway that was then only a few years old:
Two factors that enter into the success of the large new apartment houses in Eastern Parkway and in the streets around Grand Army Plaza, are the attractiveness of the locality as a residential section, with its atmosphere of elegance and culture and the adequate transit accommodations provided in the subway and the trolley lines. The amazing growth of the Prospect Park Plaza and Eastern Parkway area in the past five years may be credited in a large measure to the establishment of subway transit service. The district has passed rapidly from a locality of one and two-family houses to one of the most important apartment centers in the city, representing the highest skill in architecture and the construction industry.
“Boro Apartments Compare Favorably with Fifth Avenue Types; Trend Shown Toward Fine Construction; Prospect Park Area as Well as Ridge and E. Parkway Examples,” published on September 7, 1930, speaks to Brooklyn's pride in urban development that rivals that of Manhattan:
Many sections, of course, can be brought to light as evidence of the quality of apartment house construction in Brooklyn, but it is easiest to cite the Prospect Park district, the Ridge Boulevard and Shore section of Bay Ridge, and Eastern Parkway. It is easy to think of these territories in comparison with Park Ave. or 5th Ave., or Riverside Drive or other celebrated streets of Manhattan.
Exemplifying these newer high-class buildings is 135 Eastern Parkway, a 15-story and pent house structure facing the park, which incidentally is the third largest apartment house in the United States.
The excitement felt by Brooklynites about the changes at Grand Army Plaza and Eastern Parkway is palpable, and understandable given the new paradigm for urban living being introduced. Like the buildings of the Prospect Heights Apartment House District, this vision is also part of Brooklyn's history, and can be appropriately recognized as such by designating the district a New York City landmark.