Untapped Cities founder Michelle Young and CEO Augustin Pasquet (who moonlights as a photographer when called) are the authors of the guide book Secret Brooklyn: An Unusual Guide. The second edition of the book has just been released officially today, and now following launch events at the Montauk Club and Kingsland Wildflowers, they’re sharing five of their favorite new locations.
Read on for an excerpt of each of these secret, hidden, or lesser-known locations! You can get an autographed copy directly from Untapped Cities (shipped to you or picked up from our Brooklyn office) or a non-autographed copy on Amazon.
1. Knickerbocker Field Club
Originally, Michelle and Augustin were interested in doing an entry on the “punny” street name, “Tennis Court” in Flatbush. This led them to discover that at the end of Tennis Court is a genuine, hidden tennis club!
Nothing celebratory denotes the existence of the Knickerbocker Field Club, a historic tennis club along the street, beyond a small green sign atop a roll-down gate entrance. But walk through the parking lot and make a left, and you’ll discover five original clay courts in pristine condition that date to the founding of the club in 1889. The Knickerbocker Field Club was part of a land lease from Ronald Ficken, a developer who pioneered the real-estate development in the Flatbush area in the mid-1880s. The secret tennis club is the only remnant of the Tennis Court development, which originally spanned several square blocks.
The club was wildly successful from its inception, attracting prominent Brooklyn families as members with many women from the beginning. Today, there are 170 members with over 100 people on the waitlist. According to the club officers, it takes up to ten years to get a membership, at $900 per season. Although most members are from the surrounding Brooklyn area, there are members from Manhattan and Queens (and Staten Island in the past).
On a visit, when asked why people come from a distance to play here, one of the members impromptu called out “Because it’s the best!” Another member, Beth Moorsmith, says, “It’s partly the history, because this place has been around for so long. And it’s partly that it’s so New York.” Her husband Reid adds, “There are no fancy pretensions. People like to play tennis. Despite the fact that it’s surrounded by brick buildings and a subway, it feels like an oasis.”