Over 40 Greeters happily gathered at One Centre Street for a speech by Ron Schweiger, Brooklyn Borough Historian.
Ron knows more about Brooklyn than anyone else on the planet. He was born, raised and lives in Brooklyn; he’s been their official historian for 13 years; and it’s rumored his home is a miniature Brooklyn Museum.
Ron peppered his talk with juicy historical tidbits. He spoke about Jenny Jerome, a Jewish girl from Brooklyn. A noted beauty with a wealthy financier father, Jenny married Lord Randolph Churchill. Her son, Winston Churchill, had a Jewish mother from Brooklyn. Who knew?
Ron recommended taking visitors to Victorian Flatbush (the most popular area), Coney Island, Sheepshead Bay and Manhattan Bridge among others. In Victorian Flatbush, the homes represent a great variety of architectural styles: Tudor, Federal, Queen Anne, Greek revival, Japanese Cottage and Colonial. Because many of these homes are still in their original state, Victorian Flatbush has been designated a New York City historic district. (You can visit some of these areas using our Neighborhood Information Profiles.)
We learned how ethnically diverse Brooklyn neighborhoods are. In Brighton Beach, there’s a large community of Russian-speaking immigrants. In Flatbush, there are residents from the Middle East and Bangladesh, while Orthodox Jews live along Avenue H.
Ron waxed eloquent about The Promenade in Brooklyn Heights. Famous for being in movies like Annie Hall and Moonstruck, it is one of Brooklyn’s most romantic spots, home to thousands of first dates and wedding proposals. The Promenade has a spectacular view of the Statue of Liberty, the Manhattan skyline and the majestic Brooklyn Bridge.
More Brooklyn morsels: Truman Capote wrote Breakfast at Tiffany’s from his Brooklyn Heights apartment on Willow Street. Nathan’s in Coney Island was started by Nathan Handwerker, a Polish Jew who learned the hot dog business from his boss, Charles Feltman.
Two of Nathan’s friends convinced him to start his own business. He undercut Feltman’s prices and Nathan’s Famous is still a roaring success today. The two friends, by the way, were Jimmy Durante and Eddie Cantor. They had been singing waiters at Carey Walsh’s Coney Island saloon and they went on to become world famous song-and-dance men!