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BrooklynBornThis blog started in my head when I listened in the 90's to friends who feared Brooklyn and newcomers who blogged about BK as if it barely existed before they arrived. Brooklyn as Tabula Rasa. My blog satisfies my need to hear and air feelings of B'klyn from the people whose life experience was born here. Also I hope to provide balance to some of the revisionist historical musings I've seen how Brooklyn and her residents used to be, we're still here. If we can all live as best possible while appreciating the past and neighbors we've inherited that would be great too.

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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

PhotoWedns: 8/6/08 "Where Am I?" Quiz 01 (Answered)

So after much delay and little fanfare I present to you the answer to last week's "Where am I?" question.

It's the "Plaza"! which was the name of the theater that used to be center in this photo. The Plaza movie theater became the Plaza (XXX) theater, which became non porn Plaza Twin, which became the Flatbush Pavilion which somehow became an American Apparel store standing at the intersection of Park Slope and Prospect Heights, Brooklyn.

I've seen a lot of good history here.

Besides the Plaza/Flatbush Pavilion and it's triple X days, There is another neighborhood mainstay Antonio's Pizza (which I promised myself to make a feature of this blog) where I remember being able to get a slice of pizza and a cup of soda for 75¢. The pizza was the same size as the slices that go for $1.75 today. Out of view of this picture is the latin restaurant on the corner of Park and Carlton which until the mid 80's was a hamburger/hotdog joint called "A La King" where all the high school aged kids hung out, boom boxes in tow, breakdancing and playing pinball games which (when I was a kid) transformed magically into arcade games.

One block north on Flatbush between Park and Prospect stands a silver clad condo, with a WaMu bank below. That structure was built about a year ago, before it was the Brooklyn Tabernacle, a church who's choir scored several grammys and before that, in the 70's it was the Carlton Theater a movie house and performance space. I just remember my aunt or dad wanting to see some soul acts perform there.

When my dad and uncle were kids they'd see action films and later blaxsploitation films at the Plaza. My earliest recollections of the Plaza theater was in it's 1970's porn house incarnation, which is ironic considering that being taken over by American Apparel for the last three years I'm sure some would say the same flesh is being peddled now as before. But not me I got's little problem with porn-chic!

Looking up the history of the theater building which stands above the 7th Avenue Q & B subway stop I found many entries that suggest it dates back to the turn of the century. Several writings imply that it may have been called the Bunny Theater in honor of John Bunny a silent era movie star big in 1915, (who almost immediately vanished into obscurity) but while there is a Bunny Theater in Washington Heights that has Bunny accents and the word "Bunny" written on it, there is no similar detail on the old Plaza theater.

The fact that the two buildings looks similar and power of confusion that emanates from the internet, make me doubt that the plaza and bunny theaters have much in common besides being smallish theaters of the same era.

For those keeping score, the street location is Flatbush avenue at the point where Carlton Avenue sprouts headed down into Prospect Heights and Fort Green (although currently it has been unfortunately divided by attempts to build the Atlantic Yards monster which has reduced ease of travel through these neighborhoods). Park Place bisects Flatbush directly in front of the old theater going from Park Slope on one side of the intersection and entering Prospect Heights on the other, as Flatbush is the boarder between the two neighborhoods.

I thought this location was a great place to start the "Where am I?" series because of how dynamic it is. If you look at the photo it seems plausible that once upon a time the entire building top and bottom was part of the theater. Considering the age of the building, it could have housed early nickelodeons, if the whole structure was once one.

And in keeping with the secondary point of informing the subway rider to be, this station is between Atlantic Avenue (headed to Manhattan, or "uptown" as the we locals say) and Prospect Park (headed to Brighton Beach and Coney Island or "downtown")

Tonight after 9pm I will reveal the next "Where am I?" image. Same bat-channel!