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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Brooklyn: City of Rubber Plants

Katia over at Pardon Me for Asking, published the above photo of the Williamsburg Savings Bank, the caption of which notes that Brooklyn was "long known as 'the city of homes, churches, and rubber plants.'" 

Rubber plants?

Turns out to be true. Rubber trees were a favorite of city dwellers who lacked the available light for growing flowering plants. In 1907, the New York Times noted a scourge that was hitting the borough's rubber trees (which the story referred to repeatedly as "family pets"). At the end, the short article noted:

Nowhere in the world are there so many rubber plants in captivity as in Brooklyn, and nowhere is so much affection and care lavished on these docile and harmless household pets as in the borough at the drowsy end of the bridge.

Anyone have experience with Brooklyn's famous "family pets"?

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Lidian said...

I will ask my father about this one, as he grew up in Flatbush in the 30s. The Sinatra song "High Hopes"(1959) makes it sound like rubber tree plants were well-known and popular in NYC.

Lidian (who also blogs about old NYC at

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