From 1947 to 1949, Jackie Robinson lived at 5224 Tilden Avenue, near the Utica Avenue subway stop, which Councilman Juumane Williams wants to make a historic landmark.

Actually, that was Robinson's second Brooklyn home. According to the biography Jackie Robinson by Arnold Rampersad, he first lived at 526 MacDonough Street at the corner of Ralph Avenue, where “they found not the sylish building they had imagined but a tenement infested with roaches.” He also lived briefly with the assistant pastor of the Nazarene Congregational Church at 506 MacDonough.

Nonetheless, the Robinsons bonded with Brooklynites:

Both Jack and Rachel fell in love with Brooklyn. "The feeling in Brooklyn was very supportive, very rich, and we loved it,” she recalled. “Some places on the road I hated, their total intolerance; but Brooklyn was the opposite, and Jack loved it, too.” From the start he made it his business to be kind to fans, epecially at home. “He had his favorites, he especially loved to talk with the little old ladies; he would hug them and path them and chat with themvery patiently.”

Robinson made special efforts to connect with Brooklyn kids:

When a ten-year-old Brooklyn boy, Milton Goldman, was gravely ill in Brooklyn Jewish Hospital and his doctors asked for a Dodger or two to visit him, Jack was the first volunteer. He arrived at the hospital bearing toys and a baseball autographed by his teammates. “Jackie took the boy’s emaciated hand in his,” one report went. “The boy tried to squeeze it. For several minutes Jackie sat talking to the boy, then out of the clear sky the lad muttered, “Gee, Jackie Robinson, and he came here just to see me.’”

In April 1947, the Robinsons moved into the top floor of the two family house at 5224 Tilden, despite opposition from some of the white residents in the area. Rachel Robinson soon became close friends with the neighbors a few doors down, Arch and Sarah Satlow, the daughter of Russian immigrants.

One day, an alarmed neighbor had called out to Sarah to warn her that ablack family was moving into the neighborhood. “Oh, isn’t that nice!” Sara replied, without thinking. Her neighbor slammed the window shut. Then someone brought around a petition for Sarah to sign. “I said, ‘Are you mad? Are you crazy?’"

The Robinsons were unusual in the neighborhood in more ways than one.

“[The neighborhood in Flatbush] was unlike anything they had known before – a living, breathing Jewish community, complete with synagogues, yeshivas, kosher bakeries and butcher shops, delicatessens, and the like. Jack and Rachel liked this difference this sense of being educated about the world, about the multiple richness of American life. “In California,” Rachel said, “we know nothing about Jewish culture... We were innocent, or ignorant.” So ignorant, in fact, that one Christmas they stunned the Satlows by giving them a Christmas tree. “We didn’t know what to do,” Sarah said. “What would my parents think? Then we decided to put it up. The children liked it, and Jack and Rachel meant well.”

In 1949, he moved to a larger house in St. Alban, Queens. He is buried at the Cypress Hills Cemetery, which straddles Brooklyn and Queens.

UPDATE: The Brooklyn Eagle has a full rundown of Jackie Robinson sites in Brooklyn.


The Jackie Robinson House, 5224 Tilden, where he lived rookie year

The decision of Deron Williams to buy a place in Manhattan instead of Brooklyn is a lost opportunity. The Brooklyn Dodgers were beloved in part because they were neighbors.

Michael Shapiro of the Columbia Journalism School wrote:

The Dodgers were built around a familiar core – [Pee Wee] Reese, [Jackie] Robinson, [Roy] Campanella, [Clem] Labine, [Duke] Snider, [Carl] Erskine, [Gil] Hodges – most of whom lived not only in Brooklyn, but in one neighborhood, Bay Ridge, where there sons played in the local little league and their wives shopped at Rossi the butcher. The players carpooled to the ballpark. Kids rang their doorbell for autographs. They were great and they were neighbors.

For what it's worth; at least Deron Williams lives in NYC. Many of the Nets live in NJ.


Click for full-sized image.

Not even a month after Barclays Center, Brooklyn, and the Brooklyn Nets officially commemorated the Jackie Robinson Flagpole, it has disappeared.

The flagpole, which once stood in the grounds of former Brooklyn Dodgers home Ebbets Field, was commemorated at a Flagpole Dedication ceremony on December 10th, in an event attended by Brooklyn Nets shooting guard Jerry Stackhouse, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, Brooklyn Nets CEO Brett Yormark, Jackie Robinson's daughter Sharon Robinson, and Bruce Ratner. The monument stands at the corner of Atlantic & Flatbush Avenue in front of Barclays Center and is still in the ground, but is now surrounded by caution tape and traffic cones, and the flagpole itself is gone.

A spokesman for the Barclays Center said that the flagpole will be "returning soon" but declined comment on the reason for its disappearance.


Demolition of Ebbets Field


When you grow up in the Brooklyn I knew, which was pretty much the worst possible time – just missing the Dodgers and years before it got so cool – your memories of the place are almost always flat, dull and gray.

My Brooklyn, circa 1952 to 1974, (from birth to graduation from Brooklyn College) was a place you were supposed to leave, for college, Staten Island, Nassau County, Jersey or if you were exceedingly lucky and unusually ambitious, “the city.” And yet, years later, there was still a sense that it all could have been so much better. Brooklyn did not have to be the place where there never seemed much of anything to do except to talk about all the good things that waited to be done when you finally bade the place goodbye.

The Dodgers had a lot to do with that, especially if, like me, you’d never been to Ebbets Field and so could only imagine a time when the little ballpark was always crowded and the days always sunny and the Dodgers, the sainted Bums, always beloved. We who arrived too late had no splendid not sure of this word. Splendid? Ironic, but not quite sure….memories of hot dogs turning green as they boiled their way through the second game of an August doubleheader, or the acrid smell from the Ebbets Field bathrooms.

As it happens, some years ago, I set about trying to live those happy years vicariously by doing what writers do and recreating that time through other peoples’ stories. I learned, not surprisingly, the reality was not what we'd come to remember.

To begin, we have come to assume that the faithful adored always, despite all the many years when the team, the bums, the “daffiness boys” languished in the second division and attendance was limited to those without gainful employment. Actually, their departure was more painful because, while the Dodgers had spent much of their long history being quite bad, from 1946-1956 they were were surely the best team in the National League and the second best in baseball.  Yes, they lost to the Yankees four times in the World Series, but they had five trips to the series in ten years. And one, there-is-a-God world championship, in 1955.
... MORE →