People talk a lot about Brooklyn changing, but to understand what the change is, one must understand what it’s changing from. To that end, the Brooklyn Public Library has undertaken over the past year an oral history project called Our Streets, Our Stories, whose audio files are shared on a Tumblr and on SoundCloud.
The participants in Our Streets, Our Stories are senior Brooklynites who share their memories of what their neighborhood was like growing up, or when they moved here, or how it’s changed over the years.
It’s neat that the BPL is melding the old and new: telling stories from back in the day with media applications that are very 2016. The Tumblr contains short snippets of each history, but if you want to dive into a full half hour of listening, the SoundCloud is the way to go.
Here are a few great snippets of the project:
- “The best memory I have about coming to Brooklyn was, I came over and — oh gosh, what’s his name — there was this song that came out, it was like a big summer thing […] Doug E. Fresh, came out with ‘The Show,’ and, you’re walking down the street, and everybody had the big boomboxes, but the weirdest thing was that, I really thought I was like in a TV show or something, like Fame or something because, soon as that came on, everybody would stop what they were doing and they started dancing.”
- “I was born in Brooklyn Jewish Hospital, and I lived in the Marcy Projects. Originally it was part of Williamsburg and then they re-zoned it. It’s now part of Bedford-Stuyvesant, and across the street from the projects was Pfizer, it’s a pharmaceutical company, and one thing I remember about Pfizer is that they had a whistle that they would blow in the mornings about 8 a.m. and I always used to go by that whistle because that’s the time I should have been leaving the house to catch the bus to go to school.”
3. Alice Walsh
- “I was born in 1943 and in 1960, plans were drawn for the building of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, so it was at that point that because of eminent domain the government took our house and bought all the houses that were going to be part of the construction of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and the approaching highways.”