Family History in the Boroughs


I recently learned that the NYC Department of Records had put their tax photos from 1940 online.

I thought I’d look up some of my family’s old pre-war residences and see what we could find. I found the site of my great-great-great grandmother’s shop in Williamsburg(h) and the house my grandfather dwelt in in 1940.

John Meyer and Meta Meyer / Harms / née Kastens

This is the corner of South 3rd Street in Williamsburg(h), Brooklyn, number 94.

John Meyer and my great-great-grandmother, Meta Kastens dwelled here around the turn of the century until the 1920’s. Now this picture dates from 1940, but Meta died in the early 1922, John in 1927.

In 1940 it’s become a luncheonette. I’m guessing that the fixtures that made it possible to sell groceries (refrigeration, etc.) made it a good site for running a luncheonette. Horton’s Ice Cream was quite a thing in the day. If you zoom in you’ll see ads for Coca-Cola and Dutch Masters. The German enclave of NYC had long been associated with cigar production and consumption. No surpises there. In fact, my great-grandfather n the first census that lists his occupation (as a teen) was as a cigar-box maker (before he apprenticed in plumbing).

Harms Household, 1940

According to the 1940 Census, this is where my grandfather, his sister Ruth and her husband Fred; his parents; and his other sister Grace lived. The family always dwelled, after moving from Williamsburg near the Brooklyn and Queens Eastern border. This final house was located across Eldert Avenue (and thus was in Queens).