The Q at Parkside

(for those for whom the Parkside Q is their hometrain)

News and Nonsense from the Brooklyn neighborhood of Lefferts and environs, or more specifically a neighborhood once known as Melrose Park. Sometimes called Lefferts Gardens. Or Prospect-Lefferts Gardens. Or PLG. Or North Flatbush. Or Caledonia (west of Ocean). Or West Pigtown. Across From Park Slope. Under Crown Heights. Near Drummer's Grove. The Side of the Park With the McDonalds. Jackie Robinson Town. Home of Lefferts Manor. West Wingate. Near Kings County Hospital. Or if you're coming from the airport in taxi, maybe just Flatbush is best.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Q at Parkside - Is it really a neighborhood?

The day started blandly enough - giving blood and urine to the visiting nurse at 8AM so I can qualify for low-cost life insurance. She wants to know if there's a damn good chance I WON'T die in the next 20 years. That's their bet, and I'm hoping I lose. I guess you can say I'm taking out my own credit default swap - $250,000 worth. If I die before I turn 63, I'm worth about the cost of a one-bedroom apartment in Crown Heights. Sweeeeeeet!!!

This afternoon I volunteered for the Prospect Lefferts Gardens House Tour. What a swell place Matt and Roxanne have at 194 Rutland! And that block, between Bedford and Rogers, is a like Sesame Street fantasy come true. But after a day of hobnobbing with my brothers and sisters to the north in Lefferts Manor, I started to get homesick. Luckily, Pat, my cross the street neighbor, was volunteering with me, and we had a great time talking about Clarkson Avenue. And let me tell ya, Clarkson ain't no Lefferts Manor!

Let me try to be straight with you. I'm not that interested in talking about gentrification, amenities, house prices, etc. Sure that kinda conversational filler comes up all the time for those of us fortunate enough to call "The Q at Parkside" our home. And look, I don't need the U.S. Census to tell me what's going on around here. I see the recent college grads at the Q at Parkside every morning, noon and night. If you look close, you can see the liberal arts diplomas stickin' out of their khakis.

I'll go out on a limb here and say it: In NYC, you live where you can afford to live. It's really that simple. Want a bigger house? Move somewhere cheaper. And cheaper in NYC means that your aunt and uncle from Minnetonka ain't necessarily going to "get it." But presumably you didn't move to NYC to impress Bev and Gary anyhow. You came to be a part of the great human experiment they call the Big Apple.

Conversely, if it's important to you to be within a three-minute walk of the nearest Cotes du Rhone and $12 appetizer of wilted greens with warm bacon dressing, you're going to pay for the privilege. (This just in -- it doesn't cost MORE to get those wilted greens fresh. They're SUPPOSED to be wilted.)

That's enough on the subject. It makes me feel bitchy just thinking about neighborhood jingoism, race and foie gras. Sometimes I feel like everyone in Brooklyn is busy whining about each other. Maybe we should all drop the pose and start acting like we actually LIKE each other? Not if we can hide behind our blogs and kvetch!

I guess what I'm saying is this. Picture one below is from one of Lefferts Gardens most gorgeous blocks. Picture two is part of Clarkson's historic district. My neighborhood is The Q at Parkside, Parkside to those who live here, and P-Side to those with cred. And yes, I'm the one with the cred. At least round these here parts of the internets.

Cuz when you name your neighborhood, it's just like that. You in?


Anonymous said...

i didn't get this one.
what are you talking about?

Clarkson FlatBed a/k/a Tim said...

Anonymous: Despite the intentional rambling, I guess what I'm saying is that a neighborhood can be defined from without or within. The Prospect Lefferts Gardens moniker doesn't feel accurate for a lot of us who live in the SW portion of the neighborhood. Rather than feel like the "lesser" part of a fantastic area, I prefer to focus on the positives of the blocks surrounding the Q at Parkside and to hopefully take part in its efforts to address issues particular to it - from gangs and crime to trees and precincts and community boards and shops and traffic. There's something about this area that's calling out to me for a bit of distinction and definition. If you're not on board no biggie. I'll just keep posting random stuff and hoping it sticks!
warmly yours, clarkson

Anonymous said...

i still cant figure out which precinct clarkson flatbed falls under, 67th? 70th? 71st? i've been told different answers from different people. whats your take?

Clarkson FlatBed said...

North side of Clarkson: 71st. South side of Clarkson: 70th. Crazy, right? And if you go to And everything below Clarkson but East of Bedford is the 67th.

You COULD say that makes us EXTRA safe, right? I think it just adds to the sense that we're not fully defined as a 'hood. Check out the map at the link below:

diak said...

I live on the block in picture 1... so am I still allowed to read this blog?

Anonymous said...

Clarkson Flatbed, you section of our neighborhood IS fully defined as a hood and that hood is Prospect Lefferts Gardens! No way do you need to create a new name for your section of PLG as if it were a newly developed sub-division within an already-existing community.

This from one who lives on Ocean Avenue -- at the westernmost border of PLG and "on the wrong side of the (subway) tracks." For years, my neighbors and I have struggled against the feeling that our section of the nabe is not included in Prospect Lefferts Gardens either. But that feeling changes as our neighborhood grows and changes. Over time, there seems to be a greater general recognition, and acceptance, that the real boundaries of PLG extend all the way west to Ocean Ave and east as far as New York, as far north as Empire Bouievard and as far south as Clarkson.

IOW, my advice to all of us who live outside (or inside) the Lefferts Manor HD is to not internalize the mistaken labels of some realtors and bloggers in their limited definition of who and what is PLG. Clarkson is no more a "lesser" part of a fantastic area than is the Manor a "lesser" part (geographically speaking, of a fantastic area!

BTW, most oldtimers of the nabe have never adopted PLG as the name of their community. If you ask them where they live, they will tell you it's Flatbush. So, if they haven't taken on Prospect Lefferts Gardens in all these years, I doubt they will now welcome a move to "Parkside."

Just my 2 cents. Whatever name you choose, I welcome your blog as one that has the potential to bring much-needed "voice" and "visibility" to your neck of our woods. Post on!


Clarkson FlatBed said...

Well said Ceelledee! Keep them comments comin'!

Btw, I saw on one of the Precinct Maps that they referred to the area east of the Parade Grounds (around the old Caledonian Hospital) as "Caton Park." Guess that one never caught on either.


Clarkson FlatBed said...

Perhaps my tone needs work. I love your block, and I'm pretty sure I love you too. I generally try to post with tongue buried in cheek.
Best, Tim

Anonymous said...

When I first moved here 8 years ago the area as I knew it was just Lefferts Gardens which was also the name given on the maps and I found it a bit funny that Prospect was added on as if we needed to associate with the area north (Prospect Heights) that was already far along in terms of gentrification. This is NY, things are always, fluxuating, changing, evolving, so it is not something I'm concerned with or mull over. I just consider myself fortunate to have lucked into this place and I've never considered moving. On a side note, in regards to the Coffee shops here - go up north a bit to Crown Heights and you'll find a great place called the Glass Shop. For those of you entertaining thoughts of your own business, this place might inspire you.

Anonymous said...


The word "Prospect" is not a late add on to the name of "Lefferts Gardens." It's always been there. In fact, when this gateway neighborhood of Flatbush initially took its own name back in the late 1960's (courtesy of the Prospect Lefferts Gardens Neighborhood Association or PLGNA) -- it was named Prospect (for the Park); Lefferts (after the Lefferts estate) and Gardens (for the BBG). Over the years, folk have shortened the rather lengthy name to the more popular forms of either Lefferts Gardens or just PLG. In other words, the shorter name came later, not first.


diak said...

Whew. Glad I'm still valued as a reader... I admit I'm probably cred-deficient... (and I knew you had tongue in cheek. Me too.)

As far as naming the neighborhood, I wish you all the luck. No matter what name I use for us I usually get a blank stare. "Prospect Lefferts Gardens." Blank. "A little area between Crown Heights and Flatbush..." Same (non)reaction. "The opposite side of the park from Park Slope..."

"Oh, OK so its like near Cobble Hill... I think our new intern lives there. "

Anonymous said...


I stand corrected. Anywho, I love it here and would probably extend the borders of what I consider my stomping grounds much further than say Clarkson and Empire.


E-PROPS said...

Tim.....I like your blog. It's amusing. However you are doing exactly what gentrifiers do which is re-name Blacc neighborhoods. Bed-Stuy becomes Stuvesant GArdens. Parkside. the BLOCC has enough of a reputation particularly between Flabush and Beeford. to be referred to on its is the very least, the BEGINNING BORDER. Here's the bottom line. Those who aspire to white standards of class and wealth label teh neighborhoos PROSPECT LEFFERTS GARDEN. Those who identify with teh long-time residents CULTURALLY. CAll it FLATBUSH. TIm seems to be trying to reconcile the two.....good job. HOWEVER....PArkside mi say....EPROPS 33 YEARS at 217 Ocean Ave.

Anonymous said...

I've lived on woodruff avenue for almost 30 years- a most amazing neighborhood. I just learned about this it..

Anonymous said...

I grew up on Parkside Avenue,corner Flatbush (1950s-70s). I always thought I lived in Flatbush - what's with Prospect Lefferts Gardens? I think the name's been changed to create some kind of snob appeal. It was a terrific place to be a kid; I know it's had some hard times, but I'm hoping for a revival.

babs said...

The name Prospect Lefferts Gardens was invented during the 1970s, corresponding to the landmarking of much of the area from the north side of Fenimore to Sterling St., encompassing and going beyond Lefferts Manor, along with the foundation of the Prospect Lefferts Gardens Neighborhood Association (PLGNA), whose original certificate of incorporation specifies the neighborhood's boundaries as Empire Blvd. on the north, Parkside Ave on the south, Ocean Ave on the west, and New York Avenue on the east. This was amended in the 1987 bylaws to go as far south as Clarkson Ave. (the present-day boundary). PLG was, and remains, a part of Flatbush, as are Ditmas Park, Beverley Square East and West, Prospect Park South, etc.

The name commemorates Prospect Park, the Lefferts homestead, and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, as well as the neighborhood's individual gardens.

I'd say it's kind of the opposite of snob appeal in its original creation, considering that one of PLGNA's original (and current) stated goals is housing justice for all citizens of the area - PLGNA was instrumental in a major racial steering case in the 1970s and continues an active housing and tenants' rights program.

In terms of a revival, I'd say houses in Lefferts Manor selling pretty regularly for $1.5 million or so is pretty much there.