Bridge 3: Process Documentation

1. neighborhood

Brooklyn Heights


2. research question

What’s the historical context of the architectural style in Brooklyn Heights?


3. source material

  • 2 Primary Sources:

Voice recording from an ethnographic walk in Brooklyn Heights:


I got off at High street, and I’m headed to the park right across the street. A lot of noises, very urban, a lot of cars, a lot of motions. But I also see a lot of greens at the park. It’s very peaceful unlike the roads and cars right next to the park. Stepping on the leaves. [Crushing leaves] I see old constructions and tall buildings. I’m standing in front of this really tall apartment complex. It looks pretty old, and it has a lot of small windows. [Honks] I’m walking towards Brooklyn Bridge. I see the bridge. One of the constructions I saw was part of the bridge on the ground part. I see a group of kids wearing blue shirts and dark blue shorts. I think they’re on a field trip. I’m walking under the bridge right now. I’m walking on Prospect street. More tall buildings—very square, rectangular. The streets are very clean. I see a few clean coffeeshops and there’s a big mall and furniture store. All the buildings are very new, renovated. Now I’m going onto Pearl street to keep headed to Brooklyn Bridge. It’s really hot today. It’s 2:16 pm right now. I’m in front of New York City College of Technology. CUNY. On Nausau and High streets. I see a small cathedral at the corner of Jay street and Chapel street. It’s really pretty, old-school brownstone building. I realized I was in Downtown Brooklyn area. So, now I’m heading back to Brooklyn Heights, on Tillary street, that intersects with Jay street. So I’m walking up the hill. There are really wide roads over here. I’m walking on the sidewalk. It’s just a block away. So I’m in the transitioning area between Brooklyn Heights and Downtown Brooklyn. And I realized all of these tall buildings are actually part of Downtown Brooklyn—not all of them, but some of them. I’m in front of Korean War Veterans’ Plaza on Tillary street and Cadaman Plaza. It’s across the street from this huge, huge building that looks like City Hall or something. Correction: perpendicularly, the Korean War Veterans’ Plaza is facing US Bankruptcy Court East District of NY, and across the street from that is the United States District Court. And the huge building I mentioned is the Court. I’m walking around Brooklyn War Memorial Park on Cadaman Plaza east by Tillary. It looks a little different over here. I changed my direction and I’m walking to the different side now on Clinton Street. There’s a lot of construction going on over here. Going onto Pierrpoint street, to the right, to go further into Brooklyn Heights. I see a lot of historical buildings. I turned left on Henry street, and I’m looking for food. I see malls and a lot of restaurants, and real estate office. Cosmetic product shop. I see Starbucks too, and Bookstore, gift stores…

Images of historic buildings:

Taller, wider, bigger brownstone townhouses.

  • 4 Supplementary Sources:

Lancaster, Clay. “Old Brooklyn Heights: New York’s First Suburb: Including Detailed Analyses of 619 Century-old Houses.” 1979.

The architecture of Brooklyn Heights was considered a phenomenon in New York City. It was during the half century after the mechanization of the Fulton Street Ferry in 1814 that most of buildings in Brooklyn Heights were built. The early-nineteenth-century features of the architecture is one of Brooklyn Heights’ charms. The young professionals, such as writers, architects, lawyers, and teachers who inhibited in Brooklyn Heights worked for the formal preservation of its amenities. Such regional memory suggests the importance of Brooklyn Heights both as a “cultural monument” and “historic district.”

  • Gregor, Alison. “The Historic Charm of Brooklyn Heights.” Jul. 22, 2016.

In addition to its proximity to Manhattan, Brooklyn Heights attracts people with its abundance in historical buildings. Brownstone townhouse predominates the architecture of Brooklyn Heights, but there’s a greater variety than in other neighborhoods in Brooklyn, “from wood-frame houses to Federal brick homes to carriage houses.” Most houses are five-stories, which is taller than most buildings in other neighborhoods in Brooklyn.

  • Van Zanten, Virginia. “An Insider’s Guide to the Stunning, Historic Neighborhood of Brooklyn Heights.” Aug. 4, 2017.

Before Brooklyn became “hip and new” and therefore expensive, it was considered a whole different, unattractive continent with cheap rent than Manhattan. Brooklyn Heights was the first suburbia of America, and home for Truman Capote, W.E.B. Du Bois, Norman Mailer, Arthur Miller, and Walt Whitman. Two of the historically significant and beautiful spots are the library of the Brooklyn Historical Society and Brooklyn Bridge. The library has various historical memories such as General George Washington’s retreat during the the Battle of Long Island during the Revolutionary War. Brooklyn Heights Promenade is facing downtown Manhattan across the East River, Governors Island and the Statue of Liberty to the left, the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges to the right. Brooklyn Bridge’s architectural structure is iconic.

  • Meagan. “The Five Oldest Houses in Brooklyn Heights (Updated).” Nov. 23, 2016.

The oldest houses in Brooklyn Heights were built in the 1820s, which is when “wood and brick Federal-style homes” started to show up. The oldest houses are located on Willow, Hicks, and Middagh streets. Two of them are listed in the 1822 directory. In 1824, three more houses that still reside in Brooklyn Heights were built.

Later doorway of 84 Willow Street. Photo by Susan De Vries

Detail of doorway at 68 Hicks Street. Photo by Susan De Vries

The stepped gable roofline of 43 Willow Street. Photo by Susan De Vries


4. process

I picked 6 elements of my box to be representative of 6 primary characteristics of historical buildings in Brooklyn Heights. Such architectural features include red-ish brown brick, three-dimensional surface of the front wall, ornate stair rails, doorway decoration, long rectangular window, and pointy roof. I made 6 individual digital images first on Illustrator and Photoshop, based on the visual information I’d found online and in person.


5. finished work

I put together the 6 images on a canvas with dark brown colors. I glued the upper parts of the images so the audience can flip through the images.

Leave a reply

Skip to toolbar