Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Your guide to Fort Greene

By Meredith Deliso

Francis Morrone is slowly becoming a borough expert, neighborhood by neighborhood.

The historian has two neighborhood guides under his belt — for Park Slope and Fort Greene/Clinton Hill, both published through the Brooklyn Historical Society — and he is currently at work on guides for Cobble Hill and Brooklyn Heights at the behest of the respective neighborhood civic associations.

“Brooklyn has become over the years a specialty of mine,” said Morrone, a Chicago native who has lived in Park Slope for 30 years. “It’s inexhaustible.”

When he talks at Greenlight Bookstore in Fort Greene tonight, though, the focus will be on that corner of this amazing borough, home to Fort Greene Park, the Pratt Institute, the Brooklyn Academy of Music and Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church, and once home to Walt Whitman to Spike Lee.

The main focus of the book is the neighborhood’s social history. And here’s a little gem: Poet Marianne Moore famously left the neighborhood after 36 years in 1966 due to rising crime, leading the New York Times to announce the “twilight” of the neighborhood. At the same time, jazz musicians were moving in, and in one building — 245 Carlton Ave. — housed Wes Montgomery, Freddie Hubbard and Eric Dolphy (who even has a song called “245”).

“That’s like Beethoven, Mozart and Bach all sharing a house,” said Morrone. Some “twilight”!

Francis Morrone presents “The Fort Greene and Clinton Hill Neighborhood and Architectural History Guide” at Greenlight Bookstore [686 Fulton St. at S. Portland Avenue in Fort Greene, (718) 246-0200], Jan. 12 at 7:30 pm. Free. For info, visit  


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