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Streets from Another Time

Driving through Cobble Hill in Brooklyn today, I discovered streets I hadn't known. This beautiful neighborhood is overflowing with graceful brownstones.


Enticing stores beckon from the main avenues. What struck me the most, though, was the narrow streets, built in a time before cars. On the main roads, you can drive just fine. But on the densely-inhabited inner streets, cars line both sides and there is only room for one average-sized car to ride down the middle. I cannot imagine how a truck (moving, for instance) would maneuver these passageways. It was a striking indication of how we are living in history.

The houses were built and lives were lived in them well before cars were an everyday fact. It makes you wonder who lived in each of the dwellings, besides how they got around. As a lover of Jane Austen, my mind drifts to her tales of early 1800s social goings-on and calling cards left behind in elegant foyers. For those who don't know, such “calling cards” were the precursor to today's mandatory business card. They began in the 1800s and were exclusively used by the upper classes at first. They contained only the person’s name in the center of the card, indicating that person had called and would appreciate a return gesture. (My design business can make you a gorgeous unusual or sedate and tasteful business card.)

Seeing the reality of life still thriving in these lovely houses gives me a calming sense of continuity. I hope these homes live long into the future and imagine they will. If you think about it, they long outlive us. They are, among other things, a testament to the builders’ skills, still going strong many decades and even centuries after their origination. May we all leave such a useful and appealing piece of ourselves for the future to enjoy.

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