We’ve got a Park Slope history lesson today, courtesy of Brownstoner’s Building of the Day series. 21 Garfield Place (a “rather nondescript, modernized version of an earlier reno job”) was highlighted last week for its former occupant, a young Al Capone:
The Capones came to Brooklyn from Naples, one of the millions of Italian immigrant families seeking a new life and better fortune in America. Al Capone was born in 1899 at 95 Navy Street, in a run-down tenement that would one day be torn down for access to the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges. Mr. Capone was a barber and his wife was a seamstress. By 1907, the Capones were doing much better, and moved to Garfield Place, between 4th and 5th avenues, where they lived in at least three different houses over the next few years. The first apartment was at 38 Garfield, and they also lived at 46 and 21 Garfield Place.
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The building itself has gone through some transformations since the little gangster lived there. Brownstoner estimates the renovations happened in the ’50s or ’60s, at which point “thousands of houses were radically changed…and covered with tin and vinyl siding, asbestos tile, or brick facing.” Originally, it was one of many wood frame houses.
The eventual mob king started causing trouble early on, getting kicked out of PS 133 at 14 years old for hitting a teacher in the face, and hanging out with local gangster Johnny Torrio. He eventually left New York after marrying in 1918, and headed to Chicago. The rest, as they say, is history.
Photo of 21 Garfield via Brownstoner