Brooklyn's Jewish Businessmen: Pre: 1925 Bricken-Brooke


BRICKEN, Abraham

One of the largest deals ever consummated in Brooklyn's real estate history was due to Abraham Bricken. It is the deal by which he purchased almost the whole block occupied by the Cowperthwait Furniture Company, William Wise and others. The tallest office building in the boro now being erected on Court and Remsen Streets is again the creation of his mind and the product of his brain and vision.

In the short space of less than a year Bricken single-handedly almost revolutionized Brooklyn's idea of big sized operations. By his brilliant daring his high courage and his remarkable foresight, Bricken has helped tremendously to awaken Brooklyn to an appreciation of its possibilities.

The operation on Flatbush Avenue will involve eight and a quarter million dollars. And the office building on Court Street will be the last word in up-to-date office facilities. And yet, both of these operations, come from a man who was almost unknown in Brooklyn's realty circles, although, of course, he is widely known in Manhattan.

No doubt that others, like I, often observed the little stocky man, with a face of very pronounced strong features, and with the eyes of a dreamer, who could be seen pacing nervously in the downtown section of Brooklyn, sizing things up. Usually with a pretty flower pinned to his lapel, in the manner of Otto H. Kahn, and with one hand stuck into his pocket, he would walk briskly to and fro, estimating the possibilities. Bricken has a mind that works with the speed of lightning. He grasps things so quickly that others are left breathless watching him. And he dares to do things on a gigantic scale, worthy of a genius.

Yet, this man Bricken, who over in Manhattan, has already established a reputation as a leading builder of imposing structures, this man was an East Side tailor not so many years ago. And this man, twenty years ago, landed in America as a young man with exactly a dollar and a half in his pocket, and not a single friend in a strange country.

Yes, Bricken was only a tailor, as many of those who used to buy clothes on the East Side will recall. However, he was in America only three months when he already went into business for himself, after having saved his first fifty dollars. And apparently he believes in being on top at all times, whether as tailor or builder. And so, even as a merchant tailor, he climbed to the position of the leading merchant tailor on the East Side, and when he retired from his tailoring business six years ago, he already was a millionaire at the age of thirty-seven.

However, he has always maintained a deep interest in real estate. Way back on May 1, 1910, he bought his first piece of property, which was No. 365 Grand Street, for $90,000. Then, later, he was buying real estate in Williamsburgh, but on a comparatively small scale.

It was only three years ago, in 1922, that he decided definitely to devote himself entirely to building, and he organized the Bricken Construction and Improvement Company. This company was capitalized at a million dollars, and in the course of only three years, its capitalization rose more than a thousand per cent.

Bricken's remarkable success is of course due to his own ability, his wonderful foresight, and his audacious generalship. Where others feared and hesitated, he plunged ahead, and proved he was right.

Abraham Bricken was born in Russia, in a city named Kieff, forty-three years ago. There he received his education, and learned the tailoring trade. He arrived here penniless, but he carried with him a possession that is often more precious than money, a large mind, a big vision, and lots of energy. And there he is now.

He is a married man, his wife an American born and American reared girl, he has three sons and a daughter, and lives at Manhattan Beach. He is a very generous contributor to various charities.

There is no telling what he may do in the future, but there can be little doubt but that he will surprise us more than once.

BROOKE, James J.

James J. Brooke, Vice a president of the National Title Guaranty Company, is one of the outstanding figures in the realty circles in Brooklyn.

As a builder of family dwellings for a number of years and owner of large parcels of property, Brooke has acquired in the course of his thirty years of residence in this borough a varied and intimate knowledge of Brooklyn's realty growth. When the National Title was founded a year ago in response to a pressing demand for an organization of its type his matured experience and keen perception were enlisted in the service of that company.

There is an unmistakable charm about the personality of this man, who looms so large on Brooklyn's realty horizon. Invariably courteous, patient and attentive, Brooke would win you over by those qualities alone. But those are not his only qualities. For the most conspicuous characteristic about Brooke is his remarkable tact and his suavity. Instinctively one would approach him if occasion arose to straighten out some difficulty, to unsnarl a tangled situation, or to allay a wrong.

Brooke was born in Koslow, Russia, on January 24, 1879. He came to America with his family as a boy of 13, and but a week later was already profitably employed. His ardor for education, on the one hand, and the necessity of making a living for himself, on the other, have made his youthful life anything but a rosy path. In fact, there were years of persevering work and of indefatigable effort before he completed his law course, which he took at New York University. More Years followed before he finally felt he might relax a bit. Then came his communal and philanthropic activities to which he applied himself with typical enthusiasm.

Although business naturally absorbs the greater bulk of his time, Brooke retains an interest in intellectual efforts, which were so markedly manifest in his youth.

Brooke is President of the Real Estate Club and director of the Federation of Jewish Charities, and of the Y.M.H.A., he is a member of the Unity Club, Brooklyn Club, Fresh Meadow Club, Prospect Lodge Free Masons, Temple Beth Emeth, Brooklyn Museum and the Chamber of Commerce.

He is married, has a son and a daughter, and lives with his family at 663 Argyle Road.


Website: The History
Article Name: Brooklyn's Jewish Businessmen: Pre: 1925 Bricken-Brooke
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina


BIBLIOGRAPHY: Building up Greater Brooklyn: with sketches of men instrumental in Brooklyn's amazing development, Brooklyn, N.Y. by Leon Wexelstein; Brooklyn Biographical Society 1925.
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