Architecture: Southern Brooklyn’s Brownstone Belt

We were recently on Avenue U near West 8th Street when we saw something that made us smile. Some great examples of turn of the 20th Century architecture – a few of which actually appeared well maintained – called out to our senses like some sort of oasis in the Fedders Desert.

From the tight joints of mortar between their bricks to the wonderful eye candy texture of their brick and stone facades – as well as the generous scale of their construction, these buildings are neighborhood gems that probably deserve landmark status.

If you’re looking for some nice pre-1920 buildings in Southern Brooklyn, a good rule of thumb is to stick close to subway lines. The blocks immediately surrounding train tracks serve as sort of miniature brownstone belts. Lots located near what were once excursion railroads to Coney Island were usually the first to be built-up in a particular area, as evidenced by these old beauties – which went up on Avenue U over a century ago near the Sea Beach Line, otherwise known as the N train.

Of the four buildings we shot on the north side of Ave U between West 8th & West 9th, this one appeared the most well maintained.
This old brick and limestone townhouse on the south side of Ave U sports some nice two-over-two windows. It is currently being used as a chiropractors office.
Unlike many neglected old buildings in Southern Brooklyn, it looks like this townhouse's gorgeous cornice has been proudly restored with new paint, including some nice detailing.
While the townhouse's next door neighbor - which possibly served as a carriage house - looks a little worse for wear, it sure beats a Fedders Special.
Another neighbor, this one on the north side of Ave U between West 8th and West 7th, shows off some Renniasance Revival belt courses. The 7-11 sign on the ground floor seems to add some kind of weird Art Deco effect.


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