Place in History

Dumbo Development Boxes

Year: 1999
Project: Installation of ten viewing boxes at Brooklyn's Empire-Fulton Ferry State Park as part of the Intervistas/Between the Bridges exhibit, sponsored by the Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition. Each box housed images exploring the planning, development, and redevelopment of Fulton Ferry/DUMBO/Vinegar Hill area since its emergence as Brooklyn's chief port in the mid-1600s. Place in History kicked off the project by drawing up a timeline history of DUMBO, and by organizing a community workshop, at which local residents, activists, urbanists, artists, historians and developers met to discuss neighborhood history and current development plans.
  • Dumbo Community Workshop

    June 10, 1999 - Smack Mellon Studios Brooklyn, NY

    The Development Box Project was an interdisciplinary initiative focused on the history and development of the Fulton Ferry / DUMBO / Vinegar Hill area, Brooklyn's first port neighborhood. As a first step towards examining this history, Place in History organized a workshop with community members, historians, urbanists and artists to discuss the social, physical and economic history of the area. In the aftermath of the workshop, Place in History drew on participants' comments and our own research to develop a series of slides, evoking the neighborhood's landscape and history. These slides were then displayed in ten viewing boxes which Place in History mounted in Empire-Fulton Ferry State Park, at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge.

    Click here to read excerpts from the workshop transcript.

  • Dumbo Development Boxes

    July 31 to September 6, 1999 - Fulton Ferry State Park New Dock Street & East River, Brooklyn, NY

    The DUMBO Development Boxes Project was an interdisciplinary initiative focused on the history and development of the Fulton Ferry / DUMBO / Vinegar Hill area, Brooklyn's first port neighborhood.

    As a first step towards examining this history, Place in History organized a workshop with community members, historians, urbanists and artists to discuss the social, physical and economic history of the area.

    Combining ideas and materials from a Place in History-organized community workshop with our own research, Place in History developed a series of slides for display within our ten viewing boxes. The slides evoke the neighborhood's ever-changing landscape (from pastoral village to manufacturing center to upscale residential enclave), its allure as the subject of grand development schemes, and its strong and sometimes strained relationship to Lower Manhattan, its sister neighborhood across the river.

    Sponsors

    Brooklyn Borough President's Office
    Independence Community Foundation
    New York Council for the Humanities

    Partners

    Marcia Hillis
    Marcia Reiss
    Marianna Koval
    Gary Vanderputten
    Louanne Smith
    Robert Winkler
    Arlene Winkler
    Christopher Drago
    Lorraine Walsh
    Berit Fischer
    Monique Denoncin
    Anne Howland
    Michele Convery
    Jonas Kyle
    Orin Brown
    Adam Levinson
    Carol Clark
    Susan De Vreis
    Smack Mellon Studios
    Brooklyn Historical Society
    Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition
    Brooklyn Public Library
    New York Public Library
    New York City Municipal Archives

  • Historical Chronology, 1642 - 2000


  Page 2: Industrial Boom Years  

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Industrial Boom Years

1836: Bulkhead line along the East River Shore is established under the recommendation of General Swift.

1839: The New York and Fulton Ferry Company is organized, uniting the South Ferry with Fulton Ferry.

1844: The Brooklyn Union Ferry Company is formed by Henry E. Pierrepont.

1850: The Third Landfill: The area between the old Plymouth Street and the shore (present site of the park has been created by landfill at some point between 1834 and 1850. Warehouses occupy the site.

1853: Brooklyn City Railroad Company is incorporated. Twelve lines, which converge on Fulton Ferry, extend out to the towns and village of: Greenpoint, Green-wood, East New York, Fort Hamilton, Hamilton Ferry, Powers Street, and to Fulton Myrtle, Gates, Flushing, Flatbush, and Graham Avenues.

1854: The Fulton, South, Main, and Hamilton Avenue Ferries merge to form the Union Ferry Company of Brooklyn.

1854: By this date, the site has grown into an industrial and manufacturing area. The brick Empire Stores (perhaps the first) occupy about half a block west of Main Street between Water Street and the shore. Adjacent to them on their immediate west is Litchfield's storage and a couple of other stores. To the west further (starting at about the line of Dock Street) is a line of small framed dwellings along Water Street. Behind these dwellings is the Marston and Powers Complex which includes a wood yard, marble yard, and huge coal yard. Birbeck's Iron Foundry complex is located across Water Street from Marston and Powers.

DUMBO Industry List

Ajax Iron and Wire Co.
American Tea Co.
Arbuckle Coffee Mill/Sugar Refinery
E.W. Bliss Machine Works/Foundry Boorum & Pease Co.
Boss Manufacturing Co.
Brillo
Brooklyn White Lead Co.
E. Burt Shoe Co.
Campbell & Thayer Linseed Oil Factory
W.B. Conrad & Co.
Dan W. Feitel Bag Co.
Electrose Manufacturing Co.
General Typewriter Exchange
Howard & Fuller Brewing Co.
Hubbard & Carpenter Steam Pumps
Improved Mailing Case Co.
Ketchum & McDougall
Kirkman & Son Soap Co.
Lightfoot-Schulty Co.
Matchless Brass Co.
Mercereau Tin Box Manufacturing Co.
Miller & Van Winkle
National Licorice Co.
Phillips-Doup & Co.
Louis B. Prahar
S. Rawister & Co.
Roy Watch Case Co.
S. Sternau Co.
Union Lead & Oil Co.
A. Zaracas Sons Macaroni

1855: James Nesmith begins to acquire the major portion of the land on which the Empire Stores stand.

1869: By this date, the Empire Stores occupy the entire block between Main and Dock Streets on the north side of Water Street. The area between Dock Street and Fulton Landing is occupied by the Fulton Stores and a coal yard.

1869-70: Nesmith begins construction of the four four-story warehouses (the eastern section toward Dock Street).

1869: Construction of the Brooklyn tower of Roebling's great bridge begins.

1870: By this date, the two five-story and one one-story Tobacco Warehouses have been built. The warehouses seem perilously close to the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge.

1883: On 24 May, the Brooklyn Bridge is formally opened with great festivity.

1885: James Nesmith's son, Henry Nesmith, commissions Brooklyn architect Thomas Stone to design and build the 5-story section of the Empire Stores (toward Main Street).

1886: By this date, the Empire Stores occupies the entire block between Main and Dock Streets and Water and Plymouth Streets. West of Dock is the five-story Brooklyn Tobacco Inspection Warehouse and north of that is the huge one-story tobacco inspection warehouse. Adjacent to the five-story warehouse is a curious little office building and the long, thin, wood framed coal shed belonging to Marston and Powers.

1889: On April 20, the entire block between Dock Street and Main and Water and Plymouth Streets is transferred from James Nesmith and George Baxter to James Nesmith and his son, Henry (1828-1901).

1895: James and Henry Nesmith sell their property to the Brooklyn Wharf & Warehouse Company.

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