Friday, September 04, 2009

Brooklyn's Historic Nature

The Brooklyn Public Library will be showcasing historic photographs of Brooklyn's nature from September 15th - November 5th.

Library Show Highlights Brooklyn’s Natural History
By Robert Voris for The Brooklyn Paper

Times have certainly changed since men wore watch chains and ladies improved their figures with whalebone girdles instead of yoga — but a new photography show at the Brooklyn Public Library shows that nature is eternal.

Prospect Park, which was brand new when George Bradford Brainerd made pictures with glass plate negatives, looks just as good in Richard Golden’s recent photographs.

“While ‘then and now’ images usually focus on the built environment, Richard Golden celebrates Brooklyn’s many green spaces and the people who first recorded them on film,” said Joy Holland, a curator at the library, which houses the prints of Brainerd and Daniel Berry Austin, a turn of the last century shooter, whose work is also featured.

The show, which runs from Sept. 15 through Nov. 5, was also curated by Golden, who said that the photos illustrate the foresight of past Brooklyn residents who set aside almost a third of the borough’s acreage for open land.

“The point here is that the sorts of things they [Brainerd and Daniel Berry Austin] were photographing 150 years ago were just there,” Golden explained. “Nowadays these places exist only because of acts of preservation.”

The old photographs showcase landscapes that seem foreign and yet familiar, as shown by a shot of the Bay Ridge shoreline looking from what is today the Shore Parkway towards Sea Gate and beyond — a vista still vaguely recognizable today.

“There are places in Brooklyn that equal the beauty you find in the Hamptons and the Adirondacks,” Golden said. “We should appreciate the fact that they’re right there, accessible by mass transit.”

“Nature Seen in Brooklyn,” at the Central Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library [in Grand Army Plaza at Flatbush Avenue and Eastern Parkway, (718) 230-2100]. Closed Sunday.

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