South Midwood Residents Association

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Development and history of South Midwood

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 In 1892, Henry Meyer and his Germania Real Estate and Improvement Corporation planned  the first major suburban development in Flatbush. Perhaps, the proximity to the Flatbush water works which opened in 1881 was the motivating factor in purchasing 65 acres of Vanderveer farm immediately to its south. Despite the poor economic climate of the 1890's, Germania realized a profit from Vanderveer Park. Its success was followed by other developers, Dean Alvord and T. B. Ackerson in the northern sections of Flatbush. With the extension of mass transit service to the Brighton Line, real estate activity moved westward. Germania left Vanderveer Park incomplete and purchased 200 acres of land from Jon Lott. south of Avenue G to Coney Island Avenue. They named the area South Midwood. Eventually three contemporary developments were constructed: West Midwood; Midwood Park; and South Midwood. Prominent investors like Pomeroy Burton, Judge Alfred Steers, and Stephen Webster Dodge were attracted. Development proceeded quickly. In 1898 there was just one Queen Anne house south of Foster Avenue on East 25th Street (now Bedford Avenue). The 1907-08 fire insurance atlases reveal that most of the landed was developed on the streets Kenmore Pl; Elmore Pl; Delamere Pl; and Mansfield Pl. By 1916, the colonial revival row houses on Bedford were in place (built sometime between 1912-1916) with only a few empty lots at the southern end of Bedford Avenue near Glenwood Road (Ave.G). The Long Island railroad trench acted as a barrier to further southern expansion. South Midwood only expanded southward on Kenmore Place (E. 21 St) for half of a block. The land beyond remained empty for decades until the campus of Brooklyn College was built in the 1930's. Much of the construction was accomplished by the John R. Corbin Company. In addition to his own designs, plans were drawn by Benjamin Dreisler and Robert Schaeffer. Other architects and builders active in South Midwood were Slee and Bryson and Christian Baur.


South Midwood, like the other Flatbush developments represents an earlier version of American suburbia. Rather than based upon--or enslaved by-- automobile travel, these turn of the century communities grew along side the extension of mass transit lines. Residents can travel by foot to transit stations and then proceed to "the city." They can walk to visit friends or nearby stores. . Houses with open front porches sited to look upon each other through uniform set-backs encourage neighborly interaction. South Midwood is small town America in the mdst of a great city.

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