InstaBlog: Flatbush Malls

Author's note: Warning—this is a blog-style post based on a social media post. Beware typos and poorly elucidated thoughts. For more polish, perhaps try an article!

The Flatbush Malls of Victorian, well... Flatbush, a circa 1900-1910 real estate development.

Historically, these divided streets were designed in the very early 20th Century by Scottish landscape architect John Aiken, and were based roughly on Commonwealth Avenue (& the rest of Olmstead's Emerald Necklace) in Boston, albeit on a much smaller scale. Combined with ornate Victorian architecture & quite large houses, the region was designed to entice the middle class out to what was then the suburbs, newly accessible by fast transit.

I had no idea these existed until planning one of my walks, and seeing them on the map. Even walking down Coney Island Avenue, they are relatively hidden: you wouldn't notice them unless you were looking for them. Walking through them, I couldn't help but be reminded of Cleveland Heights, of all places. They are beautiful in the Romantic sense, and quite bucolic—early suburban Romanticism *without* curvilinear streets. The malls themselves are tiny and not really "useful", but do make the streets very small and friendly for walkers and bikers. Giant 100+ year old trees shade the streets and perfectly frame what is some very pleasing architecture.

What is interesting, to me, is how the neighborhood has been allowed to densify *without* changing its fundamental characteristics. The majority of these large homes are no longer single family, but are now divided into multiple units. The result is a pleasantly busy space (for what was meant to be a suburban street), which ends on all sides with higher, denser shopping & apartment streets. All in all, not a bad compromise on how to add density without fundamentally changing the character of a neighborhood.

Also, a weirdly named apartment building... channeling Blade Runner, or are they just letting me name buildings again!?

Sorry for being slow with these (as the weather in the pictures shows, I'm way behind!) Will try and catch up!

Based on an Instagram post.
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