Ever wondered what the name of that grocery store was on Avenue U? Or tried to figure out the point of the “stairway to nowhere” at the Neck Road station? Maybe you want to see what Kings Highway looked like when the area was mostly farmland?
Those are stories K C van Sandt hoped to unearth when he founded Southern Brooklyn Scrapbook last year. The Facebook group celebrated its first birthday Tuesday. The page seems to have ben embraced by the community — more than 6,600 enthusiasts of southern Brooklyn’s history have signed up to follow the group.
“I never thought it would grow to this size,” van Sandt explained. “It’s really taken on a life of its own.”
Van Sandt said the page was created so that people could post old photos from their neighborhoods — meaning before 1990 — and create a forum for discussions about the area’s history.
“This is the type of stuff that doesn’t make it into the history books. But I think it still needs to be documented because when the people who possess this history pass away, it’s gone,” he said. “Facebook is great for collecting that information.”
Van Sandt, who grew up on Bedford Avenue, between Avenue S and T, got his start in community Facebook groups as an administer for 11229, a page focused on the zip code for northern Sheepshead Bay and Gerritsen Beach. But he said he wanted to create a page that appealed to a greater part of Brooklyn, and was also focused more on pictures and history. His new venture, Southern Brooklyn Scrapbook, has now outpaced its predecessor in number of followers.
K C Van Sandt is also not his real name, He said he created it by combining his birth name (he is adopted) with his current name (Chris). The word van is the Dutch for for “of,” a tribute to New York’s Dutch-colonial roots, and his last name refers to the avenues he grew up near. He said he left Brooklyn in 1995 and currently lives in New Jersey, where he plays guitar for a “marginally famous glam-rock band.”
Van Sandt said Southern Brooklyn Scrapbook has already had several exciting moments in its first year. In one instance, a woman recognized her mother in an old photo posted my another member. Van Sandt said he also reunited with girl he asked out 32 years ago, after he posted a photo of the Haagen-dazs on Kings Highway where she used to work.
The date never happened, so the woman told van Sandt he was “32 years overdue.”
The group will continue to dig up old photos and sort through the history of southern Brooklyn, van Sandt said. But mostly, it’s about creating a sense of community for like-minded people.
“I love discussing the past of the neighborhood I grew up in,” he said. “Especially creating a bond with people who are from the same place and same time.”