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Crown Heights-Mansions-Brooklyn-NYC-2One of the mansions along Brooklyn Avenue in Crown Heights. Corner of Dean Street.

Crown Heights, Brooklyn has long been on the list of up and coming neighborhoods and as the pace of new construction and renovation attests, this reputation is not going away any time soon. The traditionally West Indian and Jewish neighborhood has been seeing an influx of urban up and comers, seeking neighborhood authenticity and affordable prices.

Located northeast of Prospect Park, Crown Heights is roughly bounded by Atlantic Avenue on the north, Washington Avenue on the west, Empire Boulevard on the south, and East New York Avenue on the east. Eastern Parkway serves as a divider between north and south Crown Heights.

As historian Francis Morrone writes in his book An Architectural Guide to Brooklynthe origin of the name “Crown Heights” is a little murky “but we are certain it had nothing to do with English royalty.” Nevertheless its brownstone lined streets and stately standalone mansions make its architectural legacy in league with the other “heights” of New York City, Brooklyn Heights and Clinton Hill, as an “elevated abode for the affluent,” continues Morrone. But in many ways, Crown Heights has even more to offer with its eclectic history and urban fabric.

Historical Sites

The Cheese Tunnels Below Former Nassau Brewery

One of the beer tunnels, kept in close to original condition for events

Just next door to the popular beer hall Berg’n in Crown Heights, cheese is aging dozens of feet underground inside 1850s-era lagering tunnels under the former Nassau Brewery. Opened in 2014, Crown Finish Caves is a licensed New York State dairy plant aging cheeses from places near and far. There are cheeses from the Hudson Valley, Vermont, Maine, Wisconsin, even Italy. Crown Finish Caves ages the cheeses using the process of affinage.

See photographs of the cheese aging in action here, inside of the retrofitted beer tunnels.

Studebaker Building and Automobile Row

Studebaker Factory-Crown Heights-Bedford Avenue-Apartments-Brooklyn-NYC-001

By the early 1900s, Brooklyn was bustling and its wealthy residents were participating with equal fervor in the automobile craze as their Manhattan counterparts. Much of the automobile industry was clustered in Crown Heights. Although there remains a clustering of auto repair shops in Crown Heights, it is far from how Brooklyn’s Automobile Row felt in its heyday, when the major automobile brands – Ford, Chrysler, Buick, General Motors, Pontiac – were sold in dealerships and showrooms along Bedford Avenue, with service centers and garages rounding out the auto-related offerings.

Notable spots south of Eastern Parkway include the Firestone service station on Empire Boulevard, with a fantastic Art Deco-era overhang, and the Simons Motor Sales Co. repair shop at 1590 Bedford Avenue across from the Bedford-Union Armory. But the Studebaker Building on Bedford and Sterling is the gem of Automobile Row. The landmarked building was built in a neo-Gothic style out of concrete and brick, with a white terra cotta facade. Along the parapets at the top of the building you can still find the wheel logo of the Studebaker company. The front facade, which once had large windows to showcase cars, has been altered significantly and the building was converted into apartments for low-income, disabled and homeless families.

Another fun historical jaunt is to trace the remnants of Ebbets Field, the Dodgers stadium that once stood in south Crown Heights.

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