New Yorkers think they’re too cool to take a tour. They already know everything about where they live, so why pay somebody to show them the same old stuff? Well we proved that notion wrong on Friday night when all four Levys banded together to produce a Ditmas Park Tour, Trivia and Pub Crawl. Co-hosted by the Ditmas Park Blog, we had 40 New Yorkers join us to learn all about their city!
Not only did they learn about the architecture and pop cultural history of Victorian Flatbush, but we Levys’ were bursting at our seams as we talked history and walked about our native neighborhood! Mark bought his beautiful three-story Victorian house on Marlborough road in the 1980’s and raised us three boys there. It still stands as the office for LUNY.
The tour route did not include Mark’s house but did pass by dozens of gorgeous turn-of-the-century homes, most of which were designed by a single architect! John J. Petit used varying Victorian styles – from Japanese to Swiss Chalet to Chicago Horizontal to Neo-Classic Colonial. Most of these breathtaking houses stand on Buckingham Road, a street unlike any in Brooklyn. Our personal history intertwined nicely with the tour as Matt told the group about hanging out in the Italian Villa-Style mansion of 143 Buckingham with his high school buddy Scott Paris, who grew up there.
The tour got a caffeine jump at the intersection of Albermarle and Buckingham, when Mark pulled up with Irish coffee, served out of the back of his Honda CRV. Jonah began his section of the tour by telling stories about all the film and TV productions that have been shot in the neighborhood, but set elsewhere; Gossip Girl used Ditmas Park as the Hamptons, Law and Order used it as Nyack, NY and the Oscar nominated film The Savages used Mark Levy’s 106 year old house as a stand-in for Buffalo, NY!
Enough history and architecture – it was time for the bar crawl! Our first stop was the oldest watering hole in the neighborhood, 773 lounge on Coney Island Avenue. In operation for almost 80 years, it’s a perfect dive to answer trivia questions and scarf down tacos from our favorite Mexican place, Cinco de Mayo. We admit that some of the questions were pretty tough (Who was Jacque Cortelyou?) but when we concluded the trivia contest at the local whiskey bar / florist down the block, Sycamore, our proud winners took home their prize – a Levys’ Unique New York! t-shirt. Hooray for Ditmas Park!
Whats more, some wonderful tour-takers put together an awesome video of our tour. Enjoy!
By Jonah Levy