History of Brooklyn Heights As Told by Russell Kurzen

by DNCall 2 Replies latest jw friends

  • DNCall

    Russ Kurzen was the very unofficial historian/racanteur of Bethel.

    One of his memorable stories was the naming of Columbia Heights.

    It dates back to the pre-revolutionary war period before the name "America" was settled upon. Another candidate was "Columbia" (America from Amerigo Vespucci, Columbia from that other explorer, Columbus). The Founding Fathers were considering the Brooklyn Heights area as the seat of their nascent government. The proximity to shipping lanes was a big advantage, however the vulnerability to attack from the British was a big concern. What became Washington, D.C. had the advantage of access to shipping lanes and protection by the geography of Chesapeake Bay.

    Just as "District of Columbia" came out of this period, so did the street name, "Columbia Heights."

    Russ's story may or may not have been true, however it is entertaining.

    I'll save his stories comparing Charles Taze Russell with D.W. Griffith and how Jehovah provided choice properties in Brooklyn Heights for another time.

    Here's to word-of-mouth history, Watchtower-style.


  • Band on the Run
    Band on the Run

    The Watchtower and Brooklyn Heights are oil and vinegar. To say Brooklyn Heights is affluent and nice doesn't begin to tell the story. I'd say it is even nicer than the western back streets of Greenwich Village in Manhattan. I'm drunk with Manhattan glory. Working in the neighborhood for Social Security, I would wander over on lunch breaks. It is exquisitely beautiful with browntstones. There is an air of authenticity completing lacking in most of Manhattan. It attracts a crowd similar to the Village. Very affluent people who are progressives. The arts are worshipped. Community involvement is prob. highest in Greenwich Village and Brooklyn Heights.

    They care passionately about gardens being maintained, streets not being littered. The homes are pristine. I call it a European ambience. An apt costs millions. One night I went with some school friends to a play in Brooklyn Heights. Coming back to the subway, we passed Bethel. No one knew I had been a member growing up. Someone remarked how the community implored Bethel not to use fake flowers in their windows. Fake flowers are worse than no flowers at all. I get fresh flowers today for $10/week. Bethel would not do it for the sake of community relations.

    Hundreds of zombies, instantly recognizable as they walk in the neighborhood or take the subway, mingle with sophisticated world travelers with very urban views. It is comical and telling. If only I had creative writing skills, it would have made a great sit com.

  • Broken Promises
    Broken Promises

    An interesting piece of history. I like learning how towns and cities, indeed countries, came to be so.


    Whenever I see this name, I read it as "cheap skate". I know there's a technical term for it, but I don't know what it is.

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