Spring comes to brownstone Brooklyn in 1949

Ephemeral New York

This is Brooklyn just four years after the end of World War II.

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In 1949, when Brooklyn on the north side of Prospect Park was still a collection of working-class and middle-income neighborhoods and urban decay had yet to take hold, a Life photographer went out and took some photos.

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In a Life spread titled “Spring Comes to Brooklyn,” Ralph Morse captured street life in the neighborhoods located in the shadow of the Williamsburgh Bank Tower.

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The images look like simple snapshots. Backyard gardens are planted. Kids play in the (strangely car-free) streets. Teenagers hang around corner candy stores and newsstands.

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Women clean off stoops while minding babies and toddlers. Neighbors stop to chat at the front door. Laundry hangs between buildings.

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It’s almost the 1950s, and the modern era has begun. But what’s interesting is how unguarded residents seem. It’s as if there’s no element of danger to worry…

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