Monday, September 16, 2013

the dangerous classes

Library of Congress

Imagine this, the Civil War is about to explode and President Lincoln issues a call for a volunteer militia. It’s 1861.

Gilded Age families on the UES---wealthy even back then---immediately respond with a four acre brick armory along Park at 66th Street. The Park Avenue Armory opened in 1880, 6 years before our ClockTower. 

Our Bronx “militia in the hood” opened in 1917, and is chronicled here:

But this one is out in Bed Stuy, Brooklyn. 
And it is huge, almost an entire city block.


The armories were modeled on castles and after the Civil War they continued in keeping the peace. 

The 13th Regiment was central to maintaining Brooklyn civility and so by 1890, the question was 

"Where should we house the National Guard?"

This building with 200 foot round towers was the answer. 

Initially budgeted at $300,000, it was finally finished in 1894 at over $700 thousand dollars.

That’s over $19 million bucks in 2013.

Militias were the police presence of their day.

The buildings were constructed with gunslots.

In 1886, (our ClockTower year), 
the Dictionary of New York said this of the National Guard:

That would be us, too, in Mott Haven. I guess.

The 1894 13th Regiment Brooklyn Armory, 
in Bedford Stuyvesant. With gun slots. 

Now behave yourself.

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