Friday, April 10, 2009

Fulton Mall Timeline

(some dates have images referenced in post below)

1883- Brooklyn Bridge opens.

1890- The Offerman Building on Fulton is built in latest Romanesque Revival Style and occupies the entire block between Bridge and Duffield Streets.

1892- The Jay Street Firehouse is built in the Romanesque Style. (see image)
Surface trolleys are replaced by electrified trolleys; many pedestrians are injured since the electrified cars are quieter than the older models.

1898- El tracks are connected to tracks of the Brooklyn Bridge-this allows for quicker commuting times, and renders cross river Ferry commuting obsolete. (see image)

1899- Loeser’s builds a new store on Fulton Street, taking up an entire square block at 484 Fulton Street between Elm and Bond Street. In total, Loeser’s will undergo 12 enlargements and its showrooms will eventually occupy 5 floors and 2 city blocks. Later this will be the 1978 site of McRory’s.

1908- Subway from Bowling Green, Manhattan to Joralemon Street is completed.

1911- Martin’s on Fulton Street is established (between Bridge and Duffield Streets) in the Offerman Building.

1914- Fulton Street is widened

1920- 8 movie houses exist on Fulton Street between Boerum and Flatbush avenue

1931- New York Telephone Company opens its Long Island headquarters at 101 Willoughby Street in a newly constructed Art Deco building.

1937- 3 new buildings are mentioned as under construction in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle on Fulton Street:
Russek’s on the Northwest corner of Fulton and Bridge Streets, Fulton Savings Bank at no. 375 and Woolworth’s on Gallatin Place.

1940- On May 31st, the last elevated train runs along the El tracks. The structure takes only a few weeks to disassemble.

1940- With the razing of the El tracks, a number of businesses make improvements to their facades over the next few years. Block and Hesse prepared 5 alternate designs for a new facade to be grafted onto the existing Schraffts restaurant (a chain store) at 386 Fulton Street.

1941- At 487 Fulton Street, William Wise & Sons, a jewelry business construct themselves a new and modern building.

1942- Wallachs’ was constructed at 16 Court Street by the architect Morris Ketchum, Jr (this was one of a series of shops designed by Ketchum for this chain).
1954- Design began on Civic Center in downtown Brooklyn. Design was meant to recall the “Rue de la Paix” in Paris, according to the Fulton Mall business directory, published by The Fulton Mall Improvement Association. This was a joint effort of Borough President John Cashmore, Mayor Robert Wagner, and private savings banks and businesses.
1960- The Civic Center is complete. Fulton, Adams and Tillary Streets are cleared and widened. On the west side of the street, 3 high rise apartment buildings are erected (Cadman Plaza), in addition to the Supreme Court, Domestic Relations, and a 14 story office building at the intersection of Fulton, Willoughby and Adams Street.
1962- The Brooklyn Paramount Theater (4,400 seats) closes and is taken over by Long Island University (LIU) at the southeast corner of Flatbush and DeKalb Avenue.

1966- The Brooklyn Fox Theater closes and was eventually torn down in 1970-71.

1967- Under the direction of Richard Rosan, the Downtown Brooklyn Development Association (DBDA) is formed.

According to Stern, the DBDA “received funding from city, state and federal government by way of urban renewal” and was actually “formed to take advantage of cities funds”.
It focused on upscaling existing retail shopping Streets and making area more attractive for eventual office construction. Merchants and institution were led by Dennis Durden, VP for Urban Affairs of Federated Dept Stores (A&S).

According to the Fulton Mall business directory, once the DBDA was formed, it planned only for retail areas in the proposed Fulton Mall area and in areas adjacent to it.
1968- Major parking lot construction effort in the area: the City builds a municipal parking lot on Livingston and Bond and A&S builds a lot above the Hoyt Street Annex.
--Inspired by Ghiradelli Square and the Embarcadero Center in San Francisco, Stephen and George Klein, owners of Barton’s candy company (which employed 700 workers east of the Fulton Street shopping district) wanted to expand manufacturing as well as 600,000 square feet of office and shopping space. They submitted a proposal by Katz, Waismal, Weber & Strauss for an office tower with raised plaza and a stepped podium. This was never constructed but spurred a more serious rethinking of Fulton Mall.

1969- Operation Breadbasket, lead by Rev. Jesse Jackson demanded information on minority hiring from Fulton Street storeowners and held demonstrations in front of stores to emphasize his demands. The groups that protested with Operation Breadbasket were Black Economic Survival, Fight Back, South Brooklyn Construction Workers, Free at Last.

1970- Kings Plaza shopping mall was constructed at Mill Basin. It threatened Fulton Street’s traditional appeal to the boroughs middle class, mall is closer to their home. Though, according to Stern “’brownstoners’ tended tot take buying power to Manhattan” (World Trade Center Plaza, 34th Street, 5th avenue) or, perhaps to the suburbs (Staten Island, Long Island).

Kings Plaza was the first true shopping mall in Brooklyn. Flatbush avenue was widened, from Utica Avenue to Avenue V, to accommodate the increased traffic flow.

Kings Plaza shopping mall is located in the Flatlands section of Brooklyn, which previously known as being a very white district. However, this changed in the 1970’s, when African Americans (Haitians and other Caribbean’s in particular) began moving in the Northern areas of the Flatlands, closest to Flatbush avenue. The Southern section of the Flatlands still remained mostly Irish, Italian and Jewish (in Begen Beach, Old and New Mill Basin and Marine Park) (Brooklyn, The Way It Was, Brian Merlis).

1971- Mayor’s Office of Downtown Brooklyn Development (ODBD) is established, thus paving the way to make Fulton Mall a reality
1976- Application made to Federal government for an Urban Mass Transportation Administration Capital Improvement Grant which would fund 80% of proposed Fulton Mall project

1976- RKO Albee Theater at 1 DeKalb ave at Albee Square demolished to make room for the Albee square mall.
1977- request approved
Fulton Street Redevelopment in detail:
Redevelopment plan for Fulton Street shopping district announced during Mayor Lindsay’s reelection campaign (Mayor of New York City from 1966-1973). This was only one small part of Lindsay’s reelection campaign; his plan actually called for the revitalization of the whole of downtown Brooklyn. The original plan varied vastly from the realized plan. The original plan called for a revitalization of all of downtown Brooklyn: 5,000 units of housing and it envisioned, within 25 years, 25,000 new office jobs and a like number of new students for the area. Lindsay’s “vision of renewal shrunk to the creation of only 6,000 construction jobs and 12,000 permanent jobs.”

Additionally, Lindsay claimed he would bring theaters, shops, restaurants and pedestrian malls, thousands of square feet of industrial space and a three block-long ''galleria'' on 45 acres, to the area. What ended up being realized is what we know now of Fulton Street Pedestrian Mall:
A combination of new design criteria for storefront design, bus shelters, signs, canopies, benches and lights, and a modified pedestrian mall along Fulton Street’s 17 shopping blocks bounded by Boerum Place, Myrtle avenue, Ashland Place, Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues, permitting limited traffic, particularly buses.

This plan took 15 years to realize and was a 500 million dollar development plan. According to a NYTimes article (MALL STANDS ALONE IN BROOKLYN 'RENAISSANCE', 4/9/82). Ground floor prices increased from $50 to $60 from $20 or less. Employees had hoped for upscale shoppers ''We were supposed to get lots of Bloomingdale's customers,'' another employee said. ''All we got was their shoplifters.''
1977- Formed Fulton Mall Improvement Association (local shopkeepers and banking institutions)—an early BID, established by the State Legislature - seven-day-a-week Street cleaning by a crew of five equipped with a mechanical sweeper and all-night security by two guards, one of them armed, who patrol by car. (NY Times MERCHANTS TAXING THEMSELVES TO OFFER MORE SERVICES IN SPECIAL DISTRICTS, October 11, 1983)
Oct 25, 1978- Phase I of construction begins
The first phase of the Fulton Street Mall redevelopment, from Albee Square to Gallatin Place, cost about $25 million. The second phase, which began in August and was
completed in 1984, cost $15 million.

1979- Fulton Mall business stats upon opening after Phase I of redevelopment very closely resembles business model today of chain store with multiple locations within the pedestrian mall (within a few blocks of each other):
2 Chemical Banks
2 Goodwin’s
2 Pathmark Drug Stores
3 Coral Franks
5 Different Wig Stores (1 “Collection Wigs”, 1 “Wig Discount Center”, 2 “Wigs”, 1 “Bags and Wigs”)
2 Benhill Shops
4 Parking Lots
3 Thom McAn’s

Department Stores:
A+S (see images)
Albee Square Mall (to open in 1980) (see images)
Goodwin’s (2)
The New Lynn’s
JW Mays
McCrory’s (old site of Loeser’s)

Fall of 1980- Albee Square Mall opens-Stores will occupy 155,000 sq ft of net leasable
space. As of July 10, leases have been signed on 70% of total. Mall is to open in fall
of 1980. Developer is Rentar Development Co. Architect is Abbott Harle of Gruen
Associates. (see images)

1990- Forest City purchases Albee Square Mall. Plans to bring ''upscale retail''
operators into it. ''We have more than 80 tenants,'' said Arthur Ratner, developer of the Albee Mall, ''almost half of them businesses that had never been located in New
York before. We are getting people who never shopped Fulton Street as well as people
who drifted away and are now coming back.


New York 1960, Stern, Mellis and Fishman


NEW YORK TIMES, Merchants Taxing Themselves to Offer More Services in Special Districts, October 11, 1983, By Sam Roberts.

NEW YORK TIMES, July 18, 1979, Section 2; Page 8, Column 1, BY ALAN S OSER

NEW YORK TIMES, January 14, 1990, PERSPECTIVES- Downtown Brooklyn; Creating a Critical Mass at Metrotech

NEW YORK TIMES, January 14, 1990, Mass at Metrotech, By ALAN S. OSER

Fulton Mall business directory - with history, walking tour, and maps of downtown Brooklyn. Fulton Mall Improvement Association. ; Brooklyn, N.Y. : Prisma Graphics : Fulton Mall Improvement Association, 1979.

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