Marketing prewar before it was fashionable

<i>Columbia University unveils collection of past Brooklyn real estate brochures</i>

A brochure for 35 Prospect Park West (click image for larger version)
When a 3,500-square-foot penthouse duplex at 35 Prospect Park West came on the market in the summer of 2007, the Corcoran Group trumpeted it as “amazing, like no other.” The five-bedroom Park Slope co-op, with its “glorious terrace” and “most beautiful sunsets,” sold for $5.1 million the following August. But back when the 1929-era building was still open to renters, grandiosity didn’t quite fit. An early advertisement for the Emery Roth-designed building lured prospective residents with prices “below those you might expect to find in such a fine structure and pleasing environment.” The ad, from a new Columbia University collection of more than 9,200 real estate brochures dating from the 1930s to the 1970s, echoes a familiar refrain in Brooklyn real estate in the eras before the borough was trendy.

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At Hamilton House at 45-55 Pineapple Street in Brooklyn Heights, apartments were “designed to give maximum comfort and eficiency, at minimum rentals,” one ad modestly boasted. Completed in 1939, Hamilton House has since gone co-op; sales in the building over the past year ranged from $260,000 to $750,000. The Columbia collection, donated to the university and housed in the Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, offers a rare view into New York real estate history. The library is in the process of digitizing thousands of pages, acquired from the printing presses that produced them. It unveiled the ?rst phase of the project — Brooklyn– in August. The ads are available on the library’s Web site. The Manhattan collection, by far the largest of the five boroughs’, is expected this spring.