The Social Life of Brooklyn

By Almet F. Latson
 
 
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Before the days of consolidation Brooklyn was known far and wide as the City of Homes and the designation is as apt now as it was then, although borough must be substituted for the more dignified and important title of earlier years.

And it is significant of life in this quarter of the Greater New York that the home spirit has extended beyond the limits of the family circle and found expression in a bewildering variety of organizations of men and women representative of every station and calling.

There are exclusive clubs and groups of limited membership, and there are societies so democratic in their tendencies that the roster knows no limit, but the distinctive note in each of these extremes, as well as in the numberless organizations between, is the spirit of neighborly interest, the helpful, stimulating atmosphere that has been passed on from the home circle.

One of the features of the social life of this great borough is the neighborhood club, which conforms exactly to its name. The members live on the same block, or within a radius of three or four blocks, and they share in practically every interest or activity that appeals to the individual residents. While this delightful neighborly spirit is most in evidence in the suburban sections it is by no means confined to them and even in the oldest residential quarters such clubs abound. The sewing bee flourishes as buoyantly in Brooklyn as it does in any old new England or Southern town and the neighborhood music and card clubs are countless. Church affiliations have resulted in the formation of some of the most influential and important social organizations of Brooklyn and the same is true with reference to various callings, teachers, lawyers, engineers, physicians and ministers being conspicuous examples.

At the head of the list are the great social clubs, that have years of life behind them and which compare in their houses, comforts, luxuries and appointments with any elsewhere. There is the Brooklyn, oldest of all, the Hamilton, and closely following is the Crescent, with its fancy for healthful outdoor sports, the Union League, the Montauk, the Hanover, University, and Lincoln. These are the clubs that have served as the models for those that have come after, universal in their character in that they draw their memberships not from neighborhoods but from the entire borough.

The fraternal life is particularly strong, big national organizations being represented and many of them maintaining spacious club houses or headquarters.

The home spirit has found expression in the somewhat limited development of the civic beauty idea in relation to this borough, and in the congested sections no less than in the exclusive residential localities we have had for years spots of beauty that have truly deserved the name "Block Beautiful." The neighborly rivalry was conducted in perfect friendliness and the beautiful areas have become social centers of distinction.

Another and a very effective manifestation of the neighborhood feeling in the social life here is the celebration of national holidays, particularly the Fourth of July, with special programmes and appropriate exercises in different localities. The neighbors band together and subscribe to a common fund and there is a very satisfactory observance of the occasion with illuminations, music, speechmaking and fireworks as the essentials of the programme.

The young people's organizations constitute a distinctive group and their number and scope are so extensive that every youthful inclination and fancy receives recognition. Then there are the family clubs to which father and mother, sister and brother, son and daughter, uncle and aunt, all offer allegiance and from which they derive an immense amount of pleasure and profit.

To sum up, there is a homey quality about every phase of social activity in Brooklyn that is very pleasing and this characteristic is looked upon as a note of distinction by every true and loyal Brooklynite.

 

 

Website: The History Box.com
Article Name: The Social Life of Brooklyn by Almet F. Latson
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina

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BIBLIOGRAPHY: Brooklyn, the home borough of New York City: its family life, educational advantages, civic virtues; physical attractions and varied industries. Brooklyn: unknown, 1912.
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