Block by Block, Brooklyn’s Past and Present

Issue 9 | August 1, 2013

Block by Block, Brooklyn’s Past and Present

On my weekly walk to get groceries, I pass a row of brownstones — some well-kempt and majestic, some fossil-like and crumbling — bookended by a gleaming, square-windowed silver tower. It’s an architectural contrast of a kind that’s commonplace throughout Brooklyn.

The borough’s a patchwork of the old and new, but traces of its history aren’t spread evenly. There are 320,000-odd buildings in Brooklyn, and I’ve plotted and shaded each of them according to its year of construction. The result is a snapshot of Brooklyn’s evolution, revealing how development has rippled across certain neighborhoods while leaving some pockets unchanged for decades, even centuries.

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Take a look

The NYC Department of City Planning recently released, for free, its PLUTO data set, from which the majority of this data is drawn. Some of the dates are estimates. In the case of several thousand buildings, data was missing from the PLUTO data but available via the City’s “NYCityMap.”

Thomas Rhiel is a founding editor of BKLYNR. His apartment building is as old as he is, it turns out.