Photos © James and Karla Murray
The new exhibition at the Brooklyn Historical Society, “The Business of Brooklyn,” celebrates the 100th anniversary of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce and tells the fascinating story of the borough’s 100 years of business, detailing its industrial past, large companies, as well as its preponderance of mom-and-pop shops. It also showcases many objects and artifacts, which have their origins in Brooklyn, demonstrating the significant “role that Brooklyn has played in American consumer culture.” The exhibition is on view at the Brooklyn Historical Society’s landmark building in Brooklyn Heights located at 128 Pierrepont Street until Winter 2019. From those iconic yellow pencils to Brillo pads to Cracker Jack, you may be surprised to see what has been made in Brooklyn.
The history of 10 famous products made in Brooklyn
For anyone who thinks computers have entirely taken over, they might want to visit Gramercy Typewriter Company. Founded in 1932 by Abraham Schweitzer, this 84-year-old family business is busier than ever repairing customers’ typewriters, as well as refurbishing and selling machines of all shapes, sizes, and even colors. Whereas many typewriter service companies went out of business with the rise of computers, Abraham’s son and grandson, Paul and Jay, remained passionate about them and are now two of the only individuals in the city with the skills to work on these machines.
For Jay and Paul, the demand for their expertise is a testament to the staying power of typewriters in the 21st century. They continue to be a necessity in fields such as law and accounting, where certain forms are more compatible with the typewriter than the computer. Outside of offices, there are tried-and-true typewriter users who type on them daily. In many cases, the Schweitzers’ have customers who are discovering a love of these wonderful machines for the very first time. 6sqft stopped by Gramercy Typewriter Company and spoke with Jay about the business and to get a glimpse of history on the company’s shelves.
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