8. Barack Obama lived in one of Park Slope’s historic townhouses

The Park Slope brownstone Barack Obama lived in during the mid 1980s
The brownstone of former U.S. President Barack Obama, who lived there during the mid 1980s.

Before moving to Chicago — the city which would help launch his political career — former U.S. President Barack Obama resided in the heart of Park Slope. From December 1984 to March 1985, Obama lived in a townhouse located at 640 Second Street. Built sometime between 1901 and 1903, the townhouse is a classic three-story brownstone, beautifully adorned with bowed windows. After quitting his first job at the Business International Corporation in December 1984 following his graduation from Columbia University, Obama moved into the townhouse with his then Australian girlfriend Genevieve Cook — who was renting the top floor apartment from a colleague. Having met him at a Christmas party in the East Village in 1983, Cook spent her days teaching second and third graders at the Brooklyn Friends School. During his time living with Cook, Obama began working for the non-profit New York Public Interest Group, giving him his first taste of large-scale community organizing.

Though he meant to stay temporarily in the townhouse, he remained until Cook decided to move by herself to another apartment on Warren Street in March 1985 (with Obama renting his own separate place in Hell’s Kitchen). As explained by David Maraniss in his book Barack Obama: The Story, “Their time living together did not go well,” and the two would break up in May 1985. A few months later, Obama would move to Chicago, beginning a new job with the Developing Communities Project. In 1994, the townhouse would undergo major renovations and would be converted into a single-family residence. Some of what remains the same in the brownstone includes an original china cabinet, stained glass windows in the double parlor, carved wood wainscoting, and a little inglenook on the third floor. Popular as ever, the asking price for the historic home in 2017 was $4.295 million.