5. Studebaker Buildings
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 Studebaker Building is the converted 1000 Dean (where the Untapped New York office is now) and if you enter the main lobby and head towards the back entrance of Berg’n, you’ll see the remnants of a rotary car turntable that once operated.