BROOKLYN — In Brooklyn, there’s history everywhere.
Borough President Eric Adams declared April as “Brooklyn Landmarks Month” to honor its 21 historic districts, two interior landmarks and roughly 100 individual landmarks — from the Grand Army Plaza to the Williamsburg Savings Bank to Coney Island’s Wonder Wheel.
But neighborhoods often have their own pieces of history and community pride, so DNAinfo took the celebration a step further — collecting six unofficial community landmarks that you might not know so well!
Have we missed an important attraction in your community? Tell us in the comments or tweet @nkvenugopal.
The Sunset Park Rock
A giant boulder in Sunset Park turned into a local attraction.
More than a few locals have stopped to snap photos in front of the now-famous Sunset Park rock after local activism led to its current shrine-like setting within Green-Wood Cemetery’s gated property on Fifth Avenue between 35th and 36th streets.
Longtime resident Tony Giordano said its popularity was a bit of a “mystery” but believed it stemmed from Revolutionary War history and ancient folklore.
According to a plaque beside the boulder, it reminds locals of an old legend involving a fiddling contest between a man named Joost and the Devil. When Joost won the duel, the Devil stomped on the rock and left a hoof-print — and locals say a similar mark exists on the rock’s surface.
A similar-looking rock also served as a marker during the battle of Long Island, said Giordano, who advocated for the rock's Fifth Avenue real estate.
“It’s almost like our Blarney Stone or Mount Rushmore,” he said.
Toy Gorillas of South Williamsburg
Four toy gorillas, ranging from tiny to life-sized, lounged in the sun in a vacant fenced lot in South Williamsburg, at Bedford Avenue and North 1st Street.
One wore tinted shades and two had their heads covered with red bandanas. A third was dressed like a boxer and the littlest one sat unadorned on the largest gorilla’s lap on a recent Thursday as people stopped to take photographs and selfies in front of the simians.
The life-sized primate goes by the name of Coco, and is tended to by local artist Carmen Bonilla, who befriended the lot’s owner in 1992 and created the comical scene, according to the New York Times.
“I put this here for the kids, because the kids, they enjoy,” Bonilla told the newspaper last year.
Ol’ Dirty Bastard Mural
More than a decade after his death, a brick wall in Bed-Stuy holds a piece of rap history.
“People are always coming from all over the world,” said Hamdi Almudhari, owner of Organics Deli at 448 Franklin Ave., the building on which the mural was painted.
“We get people coming in from France, Germany, just to take a picture with the wall.”
The Flatbush Trees
These cartoonish, metal trees — with their huge concrete trunks and white racing stripes — have conspicuously marked the busy corner of Empire Boulevard and Flatbush and Ocean avenues since 1979, watching over shoppers, Q train commuters and visitors to the nearby Prospect Park and Brooklyn Botanic Garden as rust and weather took their toll.
But now, local artist David Eppley is trying to give the old Prospect-Lefferts Garden landmark an update; he’s taken it upon himself to fund and complete an art project that would refinish the trees in colorful, hexagonal vinyl shapes created by neighborhood school kids. The unveiling of the trees’ new look is coming sometime this spring.
Greenpoint's Former Theater and Roller Rink Rite Aid
From the street, 723 Manhattan Ave. appears to be a run-of-the-mill Rite Aid in Greenpoint but the space still holds unmistakable signs of the building’s history as a 1920s theater that once held 2,000 seats.
“The Meserole Theater was a vital part of life in Greenpoint for many years,” according to a report from Brownstoner.
Above the rows of greeting cards and toiletries, customers can still the former theater’s cavernous space, with high ceilings and ornate moldings.
A shiny disco ball still hangs from the center of the room from its days as a roller rink from late-1970s to mid-1980s.
770 Eastern Parkway
Known simply as “770” to many in the neighborhood, this modest brick building on Eastern Parkway has served as the spiritual and physical center of the Chabad-Lubavitch Jewish community for decades.
Once used as a workplace by the Grand Lubavitcher Rebbe, Menachem Schneerson, the synagogue is used for public prayer and as a study hub for yeshiva students. The building is so important to Lubavitchers, architectural replicas of 770 have popped up in many of the group’s international outposts, including Melbourne, Australia, Milan, Italy and Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Photos and reporting by Rachel Holliday Smith, Camille Bautista, Serena Dai and Nikhita Venugopal.