Back In Time In Midwood

Nothing is better than driving through a neighborhood I’ve never been to and stumbling on something like this:

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You can find this amazing art-moderne building at the corner of Beverley Rd and Bedford Ave, and when I say Bedford Ave, I don’t mean a stretch in Williamsburg/Greenpoint, or Bed-Stuy. Some of you might be surprised to learn (as I was) that Bedford Ave is the longest street that runs entirely in Brooklyn (thanks for the correction, Mike).

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While this building is certainly no secret to residents of Midwood, I have a feeling most of our readers don’t regularly take trips to 2359 Bedford Ave. I was late for my next appointment, which is the only reason I didn’t take more pictures.

According to Forgotten-NY, this beautiful Sears Roebuck was built in the early 1930’s, with identical stores in Union City and  Hackensack, NJ. Of course, the Union City store has been torn down, but the Hackensack and Midwood outlets somehow have managed to avoid the wrecking ball to this day (while the Hackensack is still a full-fledged department store, this one only houses a Sears Auto Center in the rear).

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It’s incredible how well-preserved this is, a testament to the level of quality and craftsmanship that used to go into something as unassuming as a department store. The windows are fantastic, and I love the classic lettering. I’m also curious if those lights lining the side still go on at night (which I imagine would look great).

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14 comments

  1. “Rivals”? Bedford is in fact quite a bit longer than Flatbush.

  2. yeah, that’s great. there’s also a similar art deco sears building still standing in L.A.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sears,_Roebuck_&_Company_Mail_Order_Building

  3. Amazing. Also amazing that it’s still standing. Is it vacant other than the auto store in the back?
    I love the forgotten-ny site. Kevin Walsh does an incredible job of documenting historic sites in all 5 boros. His book is great too.

  4. This is a full department store, too, actually. For whatever reason, the main entrances are closed, but once you go through the parking lot entrance you see that it is the same hustling/bustling multi-story Sears as it ever was.

  5. Beautiful. Both Minneapolis and Boston have Sears buildings from this era that have been repurposed while keeping the exterior the same. Boston’s building now has a multiplex and shopping center with several big-box-type stores. Minneapolis’ recently reopened with an international marketplace (food vendors, craft stalls, butcher, organic market) on the ground floor and mixed-income housing in the tower.

  6. As someone who grew up in Miami, this “Sears Tower” looks very familiar to me — because Miami has one too! Check it out:

    http://www.panoramio.com/photo/9502301

    The tower, which is very similar to the one in Brooklyn, is the only surviving portion of the 1929 Sears building in downtown Miami. It was recently incorporated into a large new performing arts center.

  7. The Union City building is still there, it just became a generic mall.

    Since Sears left over twenty years ago, it has been known as Kennedy Center Mall and has been host a whole bunch of different stores that can never seem to stay in business. Speaking of which, all of the stores that were currently housed there seemed to have all gone under at once a few weeks or so ago.

    Unfortunately, it hasn’t been very well maintained since Sears left and probably should be torn down. If I can find a picture of it online, I’ll try to link it.

  8. I cannot believe this magnificent building is practically in my backyard and I didn’t have a clue it existed. As a newspaper reporter and aviation enthusiast, I helped save a stunning, albeit abandoned, Streamline Moderne air terminal at the far end of one of the city’s two major airports.
    The City Aviation Dept. and the FAA were doing everything they could to raze the building for a parking lot, and being in a town that erases its own history as fast as it makes it, our chances were small. But now, 20 years later, I’m proud to report that the terminal is restored, and is a museum with landmark status and protection.
    However, I don’t know how to help in the New York. But I’m willing to learn.

  9. This is actually Flatbush, Midwood technically begins on the south side of the old LIRR Bay Ridge branch tracks. This Sears dates from the era when Flatbush was the most desirable neighborhood in Brooklyn and many retailers set up shop here to take advantage of the areas disposable income. Macy’s had a beautiful Art Deco edifice around the corner from here on Tilden Ave and Flatbush Ave. Sadly it shut down in the mid 1990s and was torn down the Staples chain which now occupies that spot.

  10. I don’t suppose it matters now, but my old comment below refers to an airport terminal in Houston that I used my influence as a newspaper reporter to help save. And it was Houston’s apparent enthusiasm to eradicate its own history I was referring to. Apparently, I forgot I was talking to Brooklynites, not Texans. Hence my remark that I am willing to learn how to join similar crusades here in the Center of the Universe.

  11. I can remember being in our old Dodge with my mother in the back parking lot of the Sears in Hackensack,and it wouldn’t start sometime in the mid-late 50’s. I was so scared we’d never leave the lot, it cemented that Sears in my mind forever. Great style.
    Just fall, Sept 2010, we drove by with both my parents. I was delighted to see it’s still there.

    The fabulous old Packard Bamberger building, near the RR tracks and Anderson Ave in Hacky, dating from the late 1800’s, with wide planked flooring, was replaced by a Target. That was one building that should have been designated a landmark. It was incredible – and vendor stalls sold all kind of things. It also had one of the old murals of NYC like you see in the Law & Order courtroom scenes.

  12. The Bedford Avenue Sears is still in business as a full-scale Sears store today. The entrance is in the parking lot, not from the old main entrances. It’s not the nicest Sears store on the inside, but I’ve bought plenty of merchandise there over the years.

  13. Laura Six-Pattay

    The flagship Brooklyn Sears & Roebuck is in Flatbush, not Midwood. (it’s not far from the Dutch Reformed Church, which gave Church Avenue it’s name, which is in Flatbush as well)

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