What’s Newly Old in Park Slope?

Here in Park Slope (Brooklyn) residents cherish their brownstones. They love the atmosphere of voguish antiquity that lends a unique beguilement to each moldering brick and creaky facade enduring along each fusty street. In this once-upon-a-time and now steampunkish neighborhood, well-heeled residents can bask in the afterglow of Victorian Age detachment while the rest of the city either rises in high-tech hyperbole or goes to hell in a mismanaged hand-basket.

When it comes to Victorian Age basking, what better way to bask but beneath the light of glittering gas lamps? For over twenty years, realtors have been successfully fobbing off these lamps as authentic. Prospective buyers often jumping at the chance to reside in brownstone bliss along with all the trimmings. Unfortunately, these lamps aren’t circa late 19th century…they’re more like circa mid 20th century.

“They’re not historic and they’re certainly not historically accurate,” said John Casson, a member of Park Slope Civic Council’s Landmarks Committee, who opposed the request for the new lamp. “A, They’re not authentic, B, they don’t give much light, and C, they waste energy. They just look silly.”

Casson called the lamps a “cheesy Disneyfication.”

He noted that most Park Slope brownstones were built around 1883, a period when the streetscape was nearly entirely empty of decoration, he said. Most brownstones were surrounded by nothing but “boring bluestone,” he said.

The present-day gas lamps were in fact installed in 1960 by the Brooklyn Union gas company. By that time, Park Slope (along with surrounding neighborhoods) was becoming a dismal, impoverished land; in short, a slum. Brooklyn Union purchased and renovated a number of brownstones as a last ditch effort to stem the tide of suburban-bound residents. It didn’t work, but the gas lamp legend would reemerge in the 1980s with gentrification: a marvelous restorative drive that brought about today’s urban-bound tide.

Within the confines of our own ancient brownstone, locked within the embrace of olde world charms and new age realities, my wife and I contemplate the current economy. But what the hell! We have our nearby streetlamp to keep us warm. So what if it’s only a paper moon?
Source: DNA Info