Past Meets Present: Flatbush Storefront


THe effect of time on 33 Flatbush

The most obvious changes on Flatbush Avenue over the years have been in the storefronts. With rises and falls in the economic tide, some stores found success, while others faded in Brooklyn history.

The inset photo, taken of 33 Flatbush on September 8, 1936, shows an example of that change. Back then, a radio store was taking root in a building known as the Corn Exchange Bank. The property was bought by Al Attara in 1978, but mostly fell dormant after he learned that the city had marked the spot for urban renewal and could reclaim it at any time.

In 2006 the city’s urban renewal claim expired and companies began discussing a move into what is now known as the Metropolitan Exchange Bank. Today the building is used as a public exhibition space and a cooperative office for a mix of different creative companies

Mitchell Trinka is a multimedia journalist living in New York. During his summer internship at the New York Times Fort Greene/Clinton Hill Local, he spent some late nights in the public library, searching through old photos from Brooklyn’s past. He went out with the black and white images, took shots of the same spots, and melded them together to not only show what’s changed in the borough, but also to ask where it’s going. While we grumble about gentrification and development on a regular basis, it’s clear from these photos that the basic character of our neighborhoods and leafy sidewalks has been around for a long time and is here to stay.

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