Brooklyn in the 1940s: Journey Through the War Years and Beyond with Fascinating Photos

The 1940s for Brooklyn was a decade marked by global conflict, domestic change, and remarkable cultural milestones. Join us in retracing the steps of Brooklynites during this unparalleled era.

Brooklyn and the Second World War

The 1940s were dominated by the specter of World War II, and Brooklyn played a pivotal role on the home front. The Brooklyn Navy Yard served as America’s premier naval shipbuilding facility, with battleships, cruisers, and repairs being undertaken at a frenetic pace. Thousands flocked to the yard for employment, making Brooklyn a crucial hub in the nation’s war effort.

The Rise and Fall of the Brooklyn Dodgers

Ebbets Field continued to be a sanctuary for baseball enthusiasts as the Brooklyn Dodgers, affectionately known as “Dem Bums,” saw highs and lows. The 1940s marked their first World Series win in 1941, although they fell to the Yankees. But more than just sports, the Dodgers made a civil rights statement in 1947 when Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier, changing the game forever.

A Melting Pot of Culture

Post-war Brooklyn saw an influx of immigrants from Europe, adding to the already diverse mosaic of the borough. Neighborhoods flourished with Italian, Irish, Jewish, and Caribbean influences, each bringing their distinct traditions, foods, and festivals. This cultural amalgamation defined Brooklyn’s unique character, setting it apart even within the vast expanse of New York City.

The Construction Boom and Urban Shift

The post-war economic surge ignited a construction boom across Brooklyn. As families grew and sought more space, neighborhoods like Canarsie, Flatlands, and Marine Park expanded with new housing developments. Additionally, the onset of urban projects began to reshape the borough’s skyline and infrastructure, paving the way for future growth.

#1 Barton’s, business at 790 Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn, New York City, 1949

#2 When day is done in Brooklyn (boys in advertisement-covered subway car filled with passengers), New York City, 1949

#3 Safe clothes for women war workers. Estelle Hendel, twenty-eight, a guard at the Bendix Aviation Plant in Brooklyn, New York City, 1943

#4 Night baseball at Ebbets Field — Cincinnati Reds vs. Brooklyn Dodgers, New York City, 1940

#7 Brooklyn Public Library (Ingersoll Memorial), Prospect Park Plaza, 1941

#8 Brooklyn Public Library, Prospect Park Plaza, 1941

#9 Brooklyn Public Library, Prospect Park Plaza, 1941

#10 Launching of Battleship Arizona in June 1915, Later Sunk at Pearl Harbor, Brooklyn, 1941

#11 Skyline of Lower Manhattan with Brooklyn Bridge Across the East River, Brooklyn, 1940s

#12 Elevated View of Automobile Traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge, Brooklyn, 1940

#13 Brooklyn Dodgers Player Jumping Towards Home Plate at Ebbets Field, Brooklyn, 1940s

#14 Passersby Outside Joe’s Restaurant on Fulton Street, Brooklyn, 1940

#15 Group of Girls in Front of Milrod Candy Store, Brooklyn, 1940

#16 Elevated View of Apartment Buildings and a Vacant Lot From a Brooklyn Rooftop, 1940

#17 Male Pilot in Front of Lockheed Model 9 Orion Racing Plane at Floyd Bennett Field, Brooklyn, 1940s

#18 Interior of Brooklyn Headquarters at Bergen Street Police Station, Over 7,200 Documents Missing, 1940

#19 Exterior of Brooklyn Headquarters at Bergen Street Police Station, Thefts of Over 7,200 Documents, 1940

#20 East River Looking Toward Manhattan with the Brooklyn Bridge on the Left, 1940

#21 Police Investigating Two-Car Crash at Park Place and 6th Avenue, Brooklyn, 1941

#22 Crowd Watching Police Investigate a Two-Car Crash at Park Place and 6th Avenue, Brooklyn, 1941

#23 Fire at S.S. Panuco and Pier 27, Four Dead and 60 Injured, Brooklyn, August 1941

#24 Brooklyn Dodgers Fans Celebrating Victory at Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Arch, Grand Army Plaza, 1941

#25 Holtzman’s Butter Pretzels Building in Flames, Brooklyn, November 1941

#26 Police Gather Around Body of Abe “Kid Twist” Reles at Half Moon Hotel, Brooklyn, 1941

#27 Young Man Trained in Machine Shop Practice at National Youth Administration Work Center, Brooklyn, 1942

#28 Portrait of Three Young Women Sitting on Coney Island Beach, 1944

#29 Young Woman Leaning Against a Large Rock at Coney Island Beach, 1944

#30 Young Couple Relaxing on the Sand at Coney Island Beach, 1944

#31 Portrait of Adolf Schlussel Wearing Winter Coat and Hat on Brooklyn Street, 1944

#33 New Yorkers Relaxing in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, 1944

#34 Woman Leaning in to Examine Items in a Store Window, Brooklyn, 1945

#35 Man Reading Newspaper on Building Steps, Brooklyn, 1945

#36 View Down Flatbush Avenue with Paramount and Fox Theatres, Brooklyn, 1945

#37 Sunset Over Downtown New York City Skyline with Brooklyn Bridge, 1950s

#38 Firefighters Tackling Timber Yard Fire on Rockaway Avenue, Brooklyn, 1945

#39 Borough Hall Intersection at Willoughby and Fulton Streets, Brooklyn, 1945

#40 Exterior of the Supreme Court of the State of New York Building, Brooklyn, 1945

#41 Pedestrians on Lafayette Avenue Sidewalk, Brooklyn, 1945

#43 Shoppers at Brownsville Greengrocer’s Stall, Brooklyn, 1945.

#44 Marquee of Brooklyn Paramount Theater Advertises ‘The Stork Club’, 1945.

#45 Pedestrians in Borough Hall District, Brooklyn, 1945.

#46 Rows of Residential Properties in Manhattan Beach, Brooklyn, 1945.

#49 Men Sit Near Henry Ward Beecher Monument in Borough Hall Park, Brooklyn, 1945.

#50 Pedestrian Passes Plymouth Church in Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn, 1945.

#51 Sunbathing at Steeplechase Park on Coney Island, Brooklyn, 1940s.

#52 Flags and Streamers Decorate West Third Street, Brooklyn, 1945.

#53 USS Franklin D. Roosevelt Prepares to Pass Under Brooklyn Bridge, 1945.

#58 Witness Testifies in Nicholas Trinchillo Trial, Brooklyn, 1946.

#59 Beachgoers Enjoy Sun at Coney Island, Brooklyn, 1946.

#60 Crowded Riegelmann Boardwalk at Coney Island, Brooklyn, 1946.

#61 Beach Views from Ocean Rolling Chair at Coney Island, Brooklyn, June 1946.

#62 Customers Queue at Fort Greene Retail Meat Market, Brooklyn, 1946.

#63 Homes at Colonial Road & 67th Street in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, 1946.

#64 Children Listen to Storytime near Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn, 1947.

#66 Diaper Delivery at Crib Diaper Service, Brooklyn, 1947.

#68 Brooklyn Dodgers vs. Boston Braves at Ebbets Field, Brooklyn, April 15, 1947.

#69 Bank Strike Demonstration at Brooklyn Trust Company, July 17, 1947.

#70 Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs Counter, Coney Island, Brooklyn, July 1947.

#72 Five Million Dollar Fire at Pier 57, Brooklyn, 1947.

#73 Subway Series: Yankees vs. Brooklyn Dodgers, 1947.

#74 New Yorkers Queue Outside Brooklyn Traffic Court, 1947.

#75 Snow-Covered Street with Passing Streetcars, Brooklyn, 1947

#76 View of Manhattan Bridge Looking East Towards Brooklyn, 1948

#78 Little Boys in Uniforms Marching in Brooklyn Parade, 1948

#79 Oak Tree Branches Fanning in Front of Brooklyn Apartment Building, 1948

#80 Refrigerator Truck Collecting Infant Formula in Brooklyn, 1948

#81 Girl Salvages Coal from Overturned Truck, Brooklyn, No Year

#82 Brooklyn Dodgers vs. Philadelphia Phillies at Ebbets Field, Brooklyn, 1948

#83 U.S. Coast Guard Air Station with Aircrafts, Floyd Bennett Field, Brooklyn, 1948

#85 Intersection of Fulton Street and Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn, 1949

#86 Crew on Brooklyn Bridge During Filming of ‘On The Town,’ 1949

#87 Actors Dressed as Sailors on Brooklyn Bridge for ‘On The Town,’ 1949

#88 Fans Lined Up for World Series Tickets at Ebbets Field, Brooklyn, 1949

#89 Brooklyn Public Library at Prospect Park Plaza, 1941

#90 Family Outing at Coney Island Boardwalk, Brooklyn, 1948

#91 Dorothy McGuire in “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn,” 1945

#92 Managers and Commissioner at Ebbets Field, Brooklyn, 1941

#93 Brooklyn Public Library at Prospect Park Plaza, 1941

#96 “Goldwyn Girls” in Anti-Slacks Protest for “The Kid from Brooklyn,” 1945

#98 Boy and Dog at Iron Pier, Coney Island, circa 1880-1885

#99 Brooklyn Skyline and Bridge View from Brooklyn, 1940s

#100 View of Brooklyn Skyscrapers from the Sea, 1940s

#101 East River and Financial District View from Brooklyn, 1940s

#103 Manhattan Skyline Seen Through Cables of Brooklyn Bridge, 1940s

#104 Launching Battleship Arizona at Brooklyn Navy Yards, 1940

#105 Children’s Room at Brooklyn Public Library, 1941

#106 Brooklyn Public Library, Prospect Park Plaza, 1941

#107 Brooklyn Public Library, Prospect Park Plaza, 1941

#108 Army Transport Joseph V. Connolly at Brooklyn Army Base, 1947

#113 Street Scene at Surf and Stillwell Avenues, Coney Island, 1944

#115 Young Boy Holding Pole on Subway, Brooklyn, 1949

#116 View of Lower Manhattan from Docked Ship in Brooklyn, 1940s

#117 Dodger Fans at Main Entrance of Ebbets Field, 1947

#118 Dodger Fans Entering Brooklyn’s Ebbets Field, 1947

#119 Night Lights at Steeplechase Park, Coney Island, 1940s

#120 Brooklyn Dodgers’ Pete Reiser in Infield Action, 1940

#123 Scene from Film “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn”, 1945

#124 Brooklyn Public Library (Ingersoll Memorial), Prospect Park Plaza, 1941

Brooklyn Public Library (Ingersoll Memorial), Prospect Park Plaza, 1941

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Written by Frederick Victor

I've been a history writer for a while. I love to explore historical sites because they connect us to our past. They make us feel like we are part of something much bigger.

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