The Unprotected


p1020229BROOKLYN HAS ITS SHARE of silly neighborhood acronyms. The best is DUMBO for “Down under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass;” the worst is BOCOCA for Boerum Hill/Cobble Hill/Carroll Gardens, which I’ve never heard anyone say out loud.

Now there’s a new one, and you heard it here first: BECOSMI, “Between Court and Smith.”

What’s not so amusing is the fact that a dozen or so BECOSMI blocks south of State Street — encompassing parts of Boerum Hill and Carroll Gardens but not included in the official Historic Districts of either neighborhood — are vulnerable to demolition, development, or inappropriate renovation.

From Bergen down to Butler, “it’s wall-to-wall historic,” says Sophia Truslow, a real estate attorney involved in trying to gain some form of landmark protection for these orphaned blocks.p1020223

The blocks between State and Bergen are a “gerrymandered creature,” Truslow says, meaning that buildings of historic importance there are scattered.  Still, she says, there are a fair number of “sweet buildings that deserve protection.”

p1020217Truslow and other local activists are working simultaneously on several fronts, including the New York State Office of Historic Preservation, the non-profit Historic Districts Council, and the city’s overworked Landmarks Preservation Commission.

It’s an arduous process, sure to drag on for years.

The photos in this post give the merest glimpse of what they’re trying to protect. Worth the trouble, wouldn’t you say?


11 thoughts on “The Unprotected

  1. I LOVE this section of Old Metropolitan Brooklyn. It would be a shame to lose these structures to those horrid condo skyscrapers that are popping up. John Pitkins of Brooklyn be damned.

  2. I don’t think there’s any danger of skyscrapers in the Becosmi area – it’s not a historic district, but I’m pretty sure it’s not zoned for buildings taller than a few stories. But there sure are some ugly new SHORT buildings in the area. Who is John Pitkins and what did he do?

  3. Cara,
    Where is this beautiful, beautiful house with all the ironwork? I know I’ve seen it, but can’t remember exactly where. By the way, there is a little enclave of these houses in Jersey City, clustered around a small park. Like something out of Edith Warton. If you haven’t seen it, it’s well worth the ride.
    Your blog continues to be excellent.

  4. The house with the gorgeous ironwork is actually one of THREE in a row just like that – on Sackett Street between Court and Smith.
    Jersey City: good idea! I’ll get there – thanks for the suggestion, Ellen, and for your kind words!

  5. John Pitkin was a Connecticut business man who bought land in the area of Brooklyn called East New York, with the intention that it become a great city to rival New York City. It didn’t happen, obviously, but over the past 10-15 years, it’s been feeling like Brooklyn is aspiring to Manhattan status – architecture, vibe, cost of living, etc – and Brooklyn’s history is being chiseled away.

    Jersey City has a nice collection of brownstones and row houses.

  6. Thanks, Melissa, now we know why there’s a Pitkin Avenue. I’m not in favor of the Manhattanization of Brooklyn either. I know what you mean about ‘vibe.’ I was in a Smith Street hair salon recently (Salon de Quartier) and it felt very ‘Manhattan,’ i.e. too chic. They did a good job on my color though.

  7. I agree with Cara re the Manhattanization of Brooklyn. >:-(

    In regards to those buildings, they are rare throughout all of brooklyn (except maybe Bed-Stuy) and they should be protected.

  8. I think the left house in the last picture should be required to restore the sign that used to hang in their window saying “Die Fascist Landlord”. Becosmi is so silly, thanks for the giggle.

  9. Great post — my first home in NY was in one of the pictured buildings, and I was stunned when I realized that block was not part of the Cobble Hill HD.
    In response to your 9:12, most of the area in question is zoned R-6, which means (to oversimplify) residential no more than 6 stories tall (with commercial overlays for the blocks facing Smith, Court, and Boerum).

    Click to access map16c.pdf

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