One of the nerdy highlights of hanging out in the Brooklyn Collection stacks is going through the archive materials. I don’t do it too often; much of the time, I’ll have enough information from books to put together a coherent post. The amount of information in those file folders can be intimidating, too (like seeing “Brighton Beach I” through “Brighton Beach V”).
But the information I had found on Prospect-Lefferts Gardens wasn’t giving me the one thing I wanted: why that name? I knew that the neighborhood was named for its neighborhood association – not the other way around, a highly unorthodox move – but why? So I took to the cabinets to find more on the beginnings of the Prospect-Lefferts Gardens Neighborhood Association.
The Association was registered with the Brooklyn Collection’s forerunner, the History Division, with a postcard postmarked December 8, 1969. According to the card, its purpose was “to build a one world neighborhood that solves problems (housing, jobs, planning, identity etc) in the area bounded by Flatbush, Empire, N Y Ave & Winthrop St.” Bob Thomason, the founder, is still listed as a board member today.
PLGNA appears to have rethought its borders, which is good, because the strip between Flatbush and Ocean Avenues (including the open-cut BMT Brighton Line) must have been lonely. An early logo adds that area and two blocks south from Winthrop Street, with one of those faux 19th-century lamps as its centerpiece.
Here’s a slick design for selling a neighborhood. Gotta love the block font and the eye-catching lines, and the two appearances of the same tree.
And finally, how to introduce a neighborhood. (Unfortunately, this copy looks like it was used as a kid’s placemat as a diner.)
Perhaps most interesting to me here is the use of two hyphens. Compare that with the zero hyphens in the logos above, and with the one hyphen on the postcard (which is what I’m using here, although it appears most sources go hyphen-less).
So why “Prospect-Lefferts Gardens”? I was blessed with an answer thanks to the inaugural edition of PLGNA’s newsletter, The Good News, in October 1971 (emphasis original): “The name of your association comes from our being near PROSPECT Park; part of the historical LEFFERTS Homestead; and bordering Botanic GARDENS.”
Ok, so not very exciting, and a mouthful. But there it was, by way of a display of artifacts from the early 1970s.