When i Think Of Home: Fort Greene (Projects)


FORT GREENE, BROOKLYN

View of the monument in Fort Greene Park.

Fort Greene, Brooklyn:

We all have childhood memories that are both good and bad. We can remember playing basketball all night long, playing skelly, coco levio (I think that’s how you spell it) or jumping rope all night long. All of the fights and altercations you had growing up with the people who would eventually be some of your closest friends. We can remember our first loves whether that pertains to boys/girls, sports, rapping & etc.

I just get that nostalgic feeling when I think of the place I grew up @ Fort Greene, Brooklyn. I spent most of my childhood growing up in another section of Brooklyn which is also near and dear to my heart Brownsville, Brooklyn. Then the family was uprooted to a place I initially don’t want to come to. Fort Greene had this reputation for being gangsta! At least that’s what I would hear whenever it was referenced from someone.

I wasn’t happy with my mothers choice for our family’s relocation. Who knew I would fall in love with this neighborhood so fast. It did live up to its reputation. I can remember the first night in our new apt, there was so many gunshots I thought we were at war with Farragut houses. Everyone I would talk to would give this advice “don’t tell anyone from Farragut that you’re from Fort Greene, for your own safety” and vice versa words to live by.

However, things weren’t all bad I met alot of great people growing up there. A place where I would meet my My childhood sweetheart whom I would eventually marry. Who knew we would share so many common factors. We’re both from Brownsville, I went to school with her brother, yet I never met her until me moved to the Fort go figure.

The Fort:

Fort Greene summers were the absolute best. I remember all of the basketball tournaments that would take us on a tour of the whole neighborhood. From P.S 20 schoolyard to Tillary park and all sections in between. I know there are people out there who’s memories outreach mines. There are generations of families that were virtually here since its inception.

I can remember Fort Greene Day was and still is a prideful day for Fort Greene residents. All beef would be set aside (seemingly) not always but if was a family feel. Watching the groups of kids performing their dance Routines throughout the PJ’s to the summers hottest anthems. Every bldg had their own group of clicks. Even within the bldg itself, you had the group of guys who played ball, the hustlers, the rappers. Umm nostalga i can just picture it now. Standing in the bldg lobby banging on the walls freestyling, nothing like it in the world. Snapping, cutting ass or playing the dozens.

It was such an interesting dynamic because in the daytime the lobby was filled by the bldg tenant patrol. Which probably consists of your grandmother and father, Aunts & Uncles & nosey neighbors. However when the sun went doen and they folded their tables and chairs the kids took over the lobby especially in the winter months.

Now when I say Fort Greene in this blog it basically means the projects. No disrespect to all of the side blocks and adjoining neighborhoods such as Clinton Hill which many people consider to be an extension of the Fort Greene boundaries. However i would be remiss if i didn’t mention the overall history of the whole area.

In Walt Whitman Houses better known as Fort Greene Projects. If you live or lived here you probably never referenced it as Walt Whitman its “official name”. Is a very historic area of Brooklyn for many reasons. We have so much history within our boundaries, such as:

  • The Brooklyn Navy Yard– where the officers there made the warships that would eventually help win the war in world war II

    Brooklyn Navy Yard

     

  • Fort Greene Park– Is the first park established in Brooklyn. It is also the crown jewel of the neighborhood. Fort Greene park is also the resting place for a lot of Revolutionary war casulties who fought under the leadership of Gen. George Washington (our nations 1st president).
  • Williamsburg Savings Bank Tower– Better known as the the tallest building in Brooklyn

    Williamsburg Savings Bank Tower

  • Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM)-America’s Oldest performing Arts center since 1861

    BAM

     

  • Hanson Place Baptist Church– A stop on the trail of the Underground Railroad.

Fort Greene is and has been the home of many famous & Noteworthy people, such as:

  • Dana Dane– Hip Hop artist & pioneer.
  • Bernard King– NBA player who played for the Knicks in the mid 80’s
  • Spike Lee-Film Director and avid fan of the NY Knicks.
  • Rosie Perez-Hollywood Actress.
  • Chubb Rock– Hip Hop pioneer.
  • Michael Jordan-Born in Cumberland Hospital.
  • 50 Cent-The Original 50 cent.
  • Walt Whitman-Novelist Poet and editor.

There are basically Four distinct parts to to Fort Greene Projects:

  • The Far Side- basically from Carlton Ave to N. Portland Av. (South is Myrtle Av. North is Park Av.).
  • The Middle Side– St. Edwards St To Navy St. (South is Myrtle Ave. North is Park Av.).
  • The Island- N. Portland Av. to St. Edwards St. (South is Myrtle Av, North is Ashburn Pl.).
  • The First Side- Prince St. to Navy st. (South is Myrtle Av. North is Park Av.).

Gentrification:

We all know that gentrification now plays a huge part in today’s society. It has in many Fort Greene residents eyes changed things far too much. It’s main purpose it to uplift and create a better living environment for the people of the community but really all it does is push out all the “unwanted residents, under performing, financially unbalanced & lower income people” who made this great community what it is now. There is no excaping the fact that things needed to change and be improved upon. However to strip a community of it’s core fiber in order to make it what the city feels a more appealing, more exclusive place to live is simply wrong.

Myrtle Ave, one of Fort Greene main thoroughfares has changed drastically no longer are there just simply broken down bodegas, chinese restaurants and dilapilated building encasing the streets. Now it looks so trendy, there are Bars,  Coffee shops, Banks, clothing outlets & etc. Yes there is a significant change happening, there are condos and co-ops popping up on every corner seemingly. Rent rates in the blocks surrounding the projects have soared. It seems that the projects are the only place in the neighborhood to live where you can afford to pay the rent.

I’m not as opposed to gentrification of the neighborhood as long it includes the current residents and not exclude them on the new brighter future of Fort Greene. If you grew up here you probably share the same sentiments. Whether you still live here, have lived here in the past or plan to live here in the future. We need to protect our history while encouraging and supporting our future. Stay strong neighbors and keep representing your hood, in this case  mines is Fort Greene (Projects).

#TellMeHowiLookNow.

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80 thoughts on “When i Think Of Home: Fort Greene (Projects)

    • Yeah Mike, brings back memories!! remember playing “run, catch and kiss” later it became, well you know…lol remember the name of the game is “crack top” atleast we played that on my side!! yeah i represent the “far side” didnt have sleds, so we rode milk crates down the steps of fort greene park! remember “dead man hill” being a 5% and having rallies in the park? the “Ave KIngs and Queens” “Lil Ave Kings”

  1. I am a product of one of the buildings in Fort Greene, “117”. Still have family and friends there. Departed the nest back in 1980 to become a soldier in the Army. Now in North Carolina still with the Army. One thing that is ture about Fort Greene; “You can take the boy out of Fort Greene, but the Fort Greene remains in the man”.

  2. My sister still lives there, the first time I saw Micheal Jordan play
    and since I always said that guy looks really familiar and now I know why.

    • Unfortunately it wasn’t Michael Jordan. Jordan’s parents lived in New York less than a year and a half. They moved back to North Carolina when he was a toddler. He grew up in Wilmington, North Carolina. However, Bernard and Albert King was from Fort Greene and you may have sen them play basketball.

  3. nice blog very good!! .. even though it was called the worst pjs. it was fun time and believe it or not it was some unity within also. and ur rite a beautiful legacy was founded within also… Davis-Riley clan ❤

  4. I grew up in Fort Greene from June 1943 until June 1952, when I went in the Navy. I lived at 88 St. Edwards St. Apt 3c. Went to PS 67 and Brooklyn Tech. During WWII, it was a great place to grow up. Fort Greene was the foundation for the rest of my life, which was modestly successful. Once a Brooklynite, always a Brooklynite. Sometimes I am sorry I did not go back to Brooklyn after my service in the Navy. Yea, Fort Greene!!!!!

    • I lived at 46 Saint Edwards St. from 1943 to 1950 when we move to Los Angeles. I went to PS 67 and then to Prospect Heights high school for one year. I remember with fondness the Walt Whitman library and just having a lot of fun as a kid with a bunch of other kids always in the street to play with.

      • Hello How U doin? Where we resided ….I was just a Babe. I sometimes wonder about how my childhood would have been if we moved to California…How was it then ….fun? in the Sun? Wondering…but I had my share of fun living in FTG. We hold on to them with fond memories. I knew a Steve or Stephen ..we went to Tap dance school in Harlem.
        Q. To you and other FGPJ when and where is the next old timers get together?
        Holler Back!
        Thanks

      • Thanks for sharing. Old timers day is usually the Saturday before Fort Greene Day. I believe its scheduled to be Aug 22nd in City Park (Commodore Barry park) if this info changes I will post an update for you.

    • Lived in Fort Greene projects 1947-1959. It was extremely dangerous, gangs, murders, rapes, babies thrown down incinerators, neighbor selling his daughter , elevators used as bathrooms- went to P.S 67 and 117. All these fond memories are crazy. Always a Brooklynite is true.Lived on Navy Walk near the El they have torn down.

  5. Wow! What memories. I lived in 8 fleet walk apt 4D. Very nice blog. You’d have to live there to understand. I left Fort Greene in 1973, to go into the Army. That’s where my roots are.

  6. I was born in Cumberland Hospital in 1950. I started kindergarten in 1955 at PS 67, went to Rothschild JHS 294 and then to George Westinghouse VTHS, all in the neighborhood. I went away in 1969 and eventually settled in San Francisco. My mother still lived at 88 Monument Walk until her death a few years ago, so my roots were still deeply planted in Fort Greene projects. I attended this year’s (2012) Fort Greene Old Timers Day and saw many of my childhood friends. I will always be a Fort Greene projects kid!

    • Wow what a story. It’s real good to hear these sort of stories about people who have lived in the Projects that long ago and for that many years. Epic, God bless your mother and thank you for contributing to the blog and sharing your story.

  7. Loretta Braddy
    I was born in Ciumberland Hospital, went to PS 67, Sands JHS, the bussed out to Fort Hamilton HS. My mom lived in the same building until the day she died. I now live on Myrtle Ave and am amazed at the changes I see almost daily. I have so many great memories growing up there, even if it did have a bad reputation! This is a great story, thanks for sharing and bring back the memories.

  8. Fort Greene is still standing,,it look like its being depolulated from Fleet Wlk all thru the NEside of the housing complex.So many vacancies,whats going on many homeless individuals,and families exist in the inner city that can be living comfortably in those two,three bedrooms apt that are shutdown.WHATS GOING ON?

  9. I grew up in forte greene,117 was my building I used to live on the 2nd floor apartment 2a.Theres a lot of vacancies now its not the same but there are still a lot of familiar faces.wow the feeling of actually remembering where your from and memories that were forgotten.As tough as it might had been,I owe it to you forte greene for making me stronger.

  10. i remember fort greene when we would go to the greasy spoon on dekalb ave, across the street from juniors retaurant.also there was dodgers bar. no matter what time of the night it was, it was always open. and then it was back to the projects. fort greene was great in its day. i lived in fort greene at 125 navy walk. so many wonderful memories. good to remember. my name is anna colon.

  11. I was born and raised in lafayette gardens – is there anyone out there from the LG. I love going through all this, brings back so many sweet memories – living in Bed Stuy

  12. I lived in Forte Greene from 1947- 1959 PS 1 PS 20 JHS 117 All I can remember are the gangs, violence in the park, getting threatened or jumped, girls being attacked, not being allowed outside unless escorted, afraid to go to the basement laundry room, terrible stories about what was put in the incinerators, the next door neighbor selling his daughter to a line of drunk men trimming the staircase, defecation in the elevator , and on and on. Where are all these great memories coming from.

    • everyone has their own set of memories both good & bad i think most people choose to focus on the positive rather than the negative. we know how dangerous the projects are/were, all of the horror stories. However, if this is your story it is respected like everyone else’s, thanks for sharing.

    • All your memories are mine. It was a nightmare. Where are these great memories coming from ? I wish I knew who you were because for the exact time frame. Remember horror stories of the incinerators, girls waiting to jump me after school, never allowed out unless escorted by Billy ,an older boy who was in the military, defecation ALWAYS in the elevator , gangs everywhere, that scary laundry room that caused us to have endless loads piled up in the house out of fear and on and on. The girl next door to me was being pimped out by her father and I would hear her cry. I did not understand because of my age what was happening but there was a line of men to the apt. . IT WAS HORRID.

      • I understand, but most of us choose to remember the good times. We know that living in the projects is no walk in the park. Whatever your memories are we respect it either way. Thanks for sharing.

    • I was there during those years- All your memories are mine- Horror stories of what went down the incinerators, ALWAYS defecation in the elevator, girls waiting to beat me up after school, rapes where the cement playground was, stabbings, gangs fighting across the bridges, gang rapes in the park, too scared to wash laundry in that basement laundry- HAVE YOU LOST YOUR MIND- It was a nightmare- not a happy bunch of memories.

      • Like I said this can said about anywhere it’s all subjective if you had bad memories and others had good ones how can you say we’ve lost our minds. It’s like Trumps “Make America Great Again” slogan. When was America so great? We know the history of this country and we can point to any timeframe and point out all of the negative things. Especially if you’re a minority. Anyway again thanks for sharing.

  13. Our family moved to Navy Walk in ’56 and my building was full of anglos, italians, jewish and hispanics everyone was respectful and friendly. Like any neighborhood good or bad you have your memories of the place where you grew up. Brooklyn Academy where I had my H.S. graduation. Prospect Park where me and my best friend Janet went ice skating, McCarron Pool where her father would drive us for a dip in the big city pool. As I got older, horseback riding at Forest Hills. The Fort Greene park for shows, picnics, tennis and the swings. My Communion and Confirmation were at The St. James Cathedral on Jay Street as well as attending Sunday masses. Brooklyn Heights Promenade was for just hanging out and looking at the Sky Rise buildings across the Hudson River. The Brooklyn Public Library one in Cadmen Plaza and the other at St. Edward’s where I studied and researched looking through the catalogued cards. Yes, my memories are still a reminder of a time long ago. Thank you for those memories Fort Greene.

  14. I was born at 60 Fleet Walk Apt 2A, didn’t have a chance to make the hospital in time. I lived there until I was 13 but lived in the neighborhood until I was 35 years old. Always brings back great memories.

  15. Spent most of my formative years in Fort Greene. We moved there from Bed-Stuy; first to Navy Walk, then to Hudson Walk. To me, it was the best place in Brooklyn to live. All of the buses and trains were nearby, great shopping was walking distance away on Fulton Street, and we didn’t even need carfare to get to Manhattan! I moved away long ago, but I still have people there, so I’m back every once and awhile. The changes are mind – boggling…they are over-hauling Myrtle Avenue! Thanks for the blog and the memories. I’ll always be proud to be a Brooklynite and to this day, whenever I’m asked where I’m from, I say “Fort Greene”. You’d be surprised how many people all over the country have heard of us.

  16. Great story. Grew up on Carlton, just beyond Wiloughby in the mid 70’s; shadow of the projects. Writer parents moved in looking for cheap rents. It was a rough place to grow up in. Never went behind Myrtle, a block away; Just a place to get through fast, if you didn’t want to get messed up or killed. Gone since late 80’s. Looking back, suppose folks were fore runners of gentrification, but didn’t feel that way at the time. Descriptions from old friends, tell me it’s all changed now; gone crazy upscale like the heights or slope. But funny how those few blocks at that time were the world for me. Too many memories and stories to say, but still just a Brooklyn kid no matter where I go. Went back a few years ago for a wake. Realized how small it was. Old childhood friends still there and not moved on. Felt like a ghost and a fraud.

  17. Forth Green, was a great place to grow up as a teenager everyone was like family, always there when u needed them. We hung out on the benches in front of the buildings we had no cell phones, computers, I pads but we had fun just hanging out. I lived in 30 fleet walk, would love to hear from some of the people that lived there. Marilyn, Betty, Florence, Faith, Tina,

  18. Lived in Fort Greene from 1974-1985. Attended P.S. 20 (Class of 77), Rothchild (Class of 80), train to John Dewey, Class of 83, and back to City Tech 1983-1987. Never really left the neighborhood as my mother still owns the house at 192 Adelphi St. Still tell people I’m from Brooklyn.

  19. November 16, 2014
    Lived in Fort Greene on Elliot Walk from 1942 to early 1950’s. Around the corner was P.S 67 where my two brothers and I went to school. Cumberland Hospital was also around the corner as well as a public library where I could walk to by myself.
    I had a great childhood there. So many kids to play with and on rainy days we used to trade comic books running up and down the stairs in the six story buildings where I lived. People who lived there were hard-working folks and different nationalities where everyone got along with each other. The best — and wonderful memories. (Thanks for having this blog).

  20. I will always be Fort Greene until I die. Now living out of New York my heart will always be there. No matter where I go I always meet someone from the Fort. Whether it’s North, South, East, or West. A community built on LOVE !!!!!!

  21. I am from Farragut projects. 177 Sands St. to be exact. I spent most of my time in Ft. Greene as my childhood sweetheart, Emma Rosario, grew up in 8 Fleet Walk. We called that the good side because the 84th pct was close by. Attended St. James Catholic School until they closed and then we went to Queen of All Saints, which became Ft. Greene Catholic School – Vanderbilt. The other was Sacred Heart, which became Ft. Greene Catholic – Adelphi. Since then Sacred Heart has been closed. Ft. Greene Catholic School – Vanderbilt is back to being Queen of All Saints. The changes that are taking place are inevitable but we still get together every August for Farragut and Ft. Greene Old Timers Day in City park. This post was a good memory.

  22. we were the firs family to move into 81 n portland ave apt.13A wed go up on the roof too see ships at the navy yard. there was a race riot once, one time a bunch of prisoner escapted from Ramond St. jail Went to PS7 graduated 1948

  23. my family was the first family to move into 81 n portland ave. apt.13A. i went to PS 67. then to Erasmus Hall,then Metropolitian Vocational HS. then out of the projects to Babylon H.S. Then The USAF/ lots of old war time stories

  24. A great childhood lived in 68 Cumberland walk moved to 157 North Elliott walk went P.S 46 and P.S 67 had a wonderful UP bringing if they had another billiard like FT Greene when we were coming up it would be a better place I ran for Deneca track Team my name is Mamie and I loved growing up In The Projects

  25. I was born and raise in 48 monument walk in 1954 left the projects in 1972. Watch the Mytle ave l train come down, and a lot of friends die from drugs and aids. I am one of the few white people Born there. Have no regrets. Street education is the best. I learned how to survive in a world that wants to keep us down. Shoe shinning riding the back of buses, boy club even free gifts from may on Fulton street. Majestic movie on Sunday, and everybody dressed up on Easter Sunday WOW. If I was born again I wouldn’t hesitate to Live there again.

  26. I found this so interesting to read. I lived at 75 Cumberland Walk in Apt 11G from age 3 until leaving in 1967. I went to PS 12, PS 67, Sands Junior High and then on to Prospect Heights. My memories are a combination of the good ones stated above as well as some of the nightmares described above. The BESTEST part was that our floor was our family and what a diverst family we were. Black, Puerto Rican, Chinese and us the only white family on the floor. But it didn’t matter what color you were we were truly family and looked after each other. If one family needed something you KNEW you could count on your neighbors because we all shared the little we had. There was definitely no color line between us. these are the memories I choose to keep.

  27. I came to this website accidentally. I am so happy I did. I lived on the third floor of 5 fleet walk. My sister was born when we lived there. We had great times. We used to go to the automat on Fulton street on Saturday morning. It was fun putting the coins in the machine for the food, turning the knob to get it. We went to the ballgames at ebbets field. I have. O bad memories of the projects. Shopping on myrtle avenue in rands grocery store and the drug store on myrtle closer to Flatbush Ave. I can go on and on but really have no time now. I will be back to continue more of my srories

    V

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