Underhill’s Colonnade

Full-Screen-enlargeView of Brooklyn Heights, with Underhill’s Colonnade Buildings, from the River

The Colonnade Row on Columbia Heights between Cranberry and Middagh streets was Brooklyn’s early attempt at an architectural concept then gaining traction in New York called the “monumental blockfront.”

Most row houses built prior to the 1830s were all of different designs and styles, resulting in an eclectic and not always appealing mix.  Le Roy Place on Bleecker Street was in 1827 the first instance of identically-designed, Federal-style houses that ran the entire length of a block, along with a continuous fence.  The Greek Revival Colonnade Row on Manhattan’s Lafayette Place was another in 1833, a portion of which improbably remains to this day.

General James Underhill sought to copy this idea in Brooklyn Heights by designing his Colonnade Row with eight stylish four-story houses joined with a veranda and Corinthian columns, making it appear from the river below like a Grecian temple.  It was greatly admired for years until a massive fire in December of 1853 destroyed the buildings. This image is somewhat tragically ironic, therefore, created as it was not to document such an event after the fact but as a promotion for the Brooklyn Fire Insurance Company in 1838.

The BQE and the Harry Chapin Playground were built on the site after World War II.

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Image Details:

Brian Merlis Collection


As Printed




The Heights