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.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

When Henry Met Stuart

On Woodruff, tween Flatbush and Ocean, lies very likely the least understood of Caledonian byways. In fact, East 21st Street begins at Woodruff, and blasts a mean trail all the way to Sheepsead Bay's world renowned Randazzo's Clam Bar along the water. That's right, you could walk the distance of the street and be feasting on their world famous mollusks with secret sauce (a family secret) in, oh, probably an hour and a half walk. But it would be a straight line, always the shortest distance between two points of interest. Here's E21 looking north from Caton:

Okay, I'll admit there's no reason to alert the media just yet. Still, tens of thousands of people call East 21st Street home. There's even a notorious drug gang who named themselves after the street - the East 21st Street Crew. If you've got the time, check out the link to the crazy story of how they've managed to sue the City for mistreatment and win EVEN while being targetted by the drug squad. Now THAT'S Cojones!

But the thing that really caught my eye was building number 141. It's a massive structure, (and the one-time home to the not-terribly famous Murderer of 141. Just get a load of this massive stone entrance:

My obsession with the term "Caledonian" for our neighborhood refers to the once thriving neighborhood hospital that provided a sense of place for many long-time residents. But the word takes on new meaning when you consider the following historical curiosity. Check out the coat of arms on the joint:
That's right, it says "TUDOR STUART." I'm sure Montrose Morris of Brownstoner could help here, but at the moment she's busy clogging up a storm in a vintage prairie dress over at the Brooklyn Flea.*

So I'll fill in the details based on a highly caffeinated hunch: there must have been lots of Scots in this part of Brooklyn at one point - why else the "Caledonian Club" that built the hospital? While the House of Tudor and its famous Henries get a lot of play, it was the House of Stuart that brought Scotland literally out of the dark ages. The Stuarts were Scots, and they managed to hold an England/Ireland/Scotland throne for a short time starting with James, the son of Mary Queen of Scots.

Anyhoo, the building is incredibly bizarre and schizophrenic, and is worth a trip down the ol' 21 just to get a gander.

*this is an absurd statement that bears no resemblence to reality.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Clarkson Flatbed, I love your blog and your quirky, sometimes perplexing, sometimes revelatory, occasionally fawning, from time to time kvetchy, and always entertaining take on our hood. Keep up the good work, neighbor.