Tuesday, November 13, 2012

What Was There Before Park Plaza Diner?

Photo: MK Metz
The Park Plaza Diner sits at the north-west corner of Cadman Plaza West and Pineapple Walk in Brooklyn Heights. We thought it would be fun to see what was in the same spot in the past.

The Park Plaza Diner was founded in 1981 by Peter Likourentzos. Old-timers remember when a Key Food stood where the diner now stands.

Further back in time:

Back in 1922 when Cadman Plaza West was still called Fulton Street (it was connected to the the Fulton Street of today in Downtown Brooklyn) an entirely different building stood on the spot, and the elevated ran in front. Pineapple Walk was Pineapple Street (see the street to the left, below). This building was constructed sometime after the great fire of 1848.

Photo: NYPL
 In 1880, Mr. Adolphe Ketchum engaged in the clothing business at the corner. According to The History Box,  Ketchum started with a small store and stock, and gradually made additions and improvements "until he gave employment to upward of one hundred hands."

Here's a description:  "Mr. Ketchum is one of the liberal employers, and does not believe in the theory of starving body and soul. Frequently during the year he gives picnics, excursions and other entertainments to his hard working employees. He owns the house in which he lives in Pearl street, together with other real estate, and is worth from $40,000 to $50,000. He is married, has an interesting family, belongs to Temple Israel and several charitable lodges."

Further back:

In 1863, the Father Matthew Total Abstinence Benefit Society occupied the building. According to the New York Times of Feb. 2, 1863:

"The new Hall of the Father Matthew Total Abstinence Benefit Society, located in Fulton-street, corner of Pineapple, was inaugurated yesterday with appropriate ceremonies . . . . It has recently been rearranged and fitted up for the above Association, and is now one of the finest and most capacious halls in the city. Societies Nos. 1 and 2 of Brooklyn, and No. 2 of New-York, assembled about 2 o'clock P.M., and, preceded by two bands of music, marched through Fulton street . . . The members all appeared in full regalia, and presented a very good appearance . . ."

The Father Matthew Society was a temperance (anti-alcohol) organization. According to the Temperance Handbook, "In the Stygian and pest-ridden Twelfth Ward of Brooklyn, not a solitary one of the 500 members of the Father Matthew Society resident therein has been attacked by cholera."

Much of the surrounding land was farmland owned by the Middagh's.

1854: Horse carts ran past this building.

1843: Different building, same lot: In 1843, the Universalist Church commenced the erection of a building on several lots they had purchased on that corner.. According to Universalist Churches, the lower part was used as stores; and the upper part, including a small building adjoining used for Sunday school purposes, was leased to the society for twenty-one years with renewals, at $600 per annum. This building was first opened and occupied June 22, 1843.

In the great fire of 1848, the building was burned; "and the society having disposed of their lots on favorable terms, purchased a lot and erected an elegant new edifice" on Monroe Place.

The fire had started in the store of George Drew at 122 Fulton Street. The houses on both sides of the street, from Poplar to Pineapple Street, from Henry to Washington (now called Cadman Plaza East) burned to the ground. Wonder why Cadman Plaza West is wider here? After the fire, the building line was set back on both sides in the devastated section, widening the street.

1830: Stage coaches ran along Fulton Street past this plot of land.

1818-1822: According to Long Island Genealogy, sign posts were erected along Fulton Street to the village limits in 1818. A gravel sidewalk was laid, curbstones were set up, and the houses were numbered in 1822.

Previous to 1817, Fulton Street was known as the Old Ferry Road. (Robert Fulton and William Cutting obtained a franchise for a ferry to begin to run in 1814 from Old Ferry landing.) The plot was almost certainly farmland.

1666: The Indian trail was widened to a road.

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sara said...

Interesting! Thanks

bj said...

Funny how different the buildings are but the street (Cadman /Fulton/Old Ferry) is the same.

Andrew Porter said...

The space where the diner is was a scene in TAXI DRIVER, where there's a political rally with DeNiero circling the gathering. Where Signature Smile is now was a "campaign office" in the film, with large campaign posters in the windows.

mcbrooklyn said...

Andrew, was the Key Food there at that time? I see Taxi Driver was made in '76.