The Invention of Brownstone Brooklyn: Gentrification and the Search for Authenticity in Postwar New York

By Suleiman Osman | Go to book overview

2 Concord Village

On April 1, 1951, Concord Village officially opened its doors to the public. Steps away from the entrance to Brooklyn Bridge, the new apartment complex presented a striking contrast to Brownstone Brooklyn’s aging landscape. A clearing in a thicket of crowded tenements and aging townhouses, three gleaming fifteen-story rectangular towers with 478 light-filled apartments and ten professional suites stood amid manicured lawns, parking facilities, and a modern shopping complex. While the rest of Brownstone Brooklyn suffered from oppressive traffic and constant noise, Concord Village offered a new streetscape that sheltered residents from the bustle of city life. An enclosed park with green grass and paved walkways surrounded the three towers. In contrast to Brownstone Brooklyn’s small, congested city blocks, multilane streets bordered the development’s superblocks, allowing traffic to flow smoothly around the complex without violating the tranquility of the interior. Adjacent to downtown Brooklyn and a one-stop train ride to lower Manhattan, Concord Village targeted white-collar professionals seeking attractive housing close to work. The public responded enthusiastically, and by 1957 the complex expanded to seven buildings with almost a thousand families.1

Concord Village’s advertisements boasted of more than simply new apartments. In a blighted and chaotic urban jungle, the scientifically planned complex offered residents the liberating potential of modernity. Soaring away from the earth into the sky, the three towers covered only 18 percent of the grounds, bathing the apartments in light and air. Roof terraces offered unbroken views in every direction. Banks of “most modern” elevators gave residents the power to move quickly and effortlessly though space. “Streamlined” steel kitchens with Frigidaires, tile floors, and Micarta countertops were impervious to rust or decay. Twenty-four-hour doorman service and laundries kept the building fully functional no matter the time of day.

-52-

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The Invention of Brownstone Brooklyn: Gentrification and the Search for Authenticity in Postwar New York
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction 3
  • 1- Urban Wilderness 17
  • 2- Concord Village 52
  • 3- The Middle Cityscape of Brooklyn Heights 82
  • 4- The Two Machines in the Garden 119
  • 5- The Highway in the Garden and the Literature of Gentrification 164
  • 6- Inventing Brownstone Brooklyn 189
  • 7- The Neighborhood Movement 233
  • Conclusion- Brownstone Brooklyn Invented 270
  • Abbreviations 281
  • Notes 283
  • Index 327
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