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The Stately Homes of Park Slope

At the dawn of the twentieth century, servants were a must-have in any respectable Brooklyn brownstone. Perhaps little has changed.

In Brooklyn Eagle classifieds from the early 1900s (even examining several months), the majority of the homes wanting maids, cooks, and "girls" carry a Park Slope or Prospect Heights address ... Bergen, Prospect, Sterling, Lincoln, Dean, etc ... and there are dozens of 'em every day.

Turning to the ads of today, it looks as if little has changed. In current Park Slope real estate listings, remnants of days-gone-by servitude are still used as inducements for potential buyers. A recent Corcoran listing touts a pre-war "two bedroom plus maid's room." Orrichio-Anderson pontificates that a "formal dining room and maid's room represents the ultimate in gracious urban living."

One only has to glance at (but never quote) the Park Slope Parents group, fire up a search engine, or visit ISawYourNanny to bear witness to the large number of domestics working in Park Slope mini-manses nowadays, carrying on the traditions of their Edwardian predecessors.

The working class needs jobs, the gentry needs doing for, and that is all perfectly okey-doke; but let's not fool ourselves into thinking there isn't a gentry - it is just differently defined. No, the class system is not dead in South Brooklyn, and Mrs. Astor's 400 has become the Park Slope 100.

Although an entire neighborhood cannot be defined by a sweeping generalization, perhaps some of our leafy, liberal brownstone blocks do not fully realize that the glory days of rich-folks-with-household-staff are in current revival.

8th ave brownstones courtesy of wallyg's photostream at flickr.com
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Born and bred in Park Slope (the old Slope). Above 7th Ave was always the "lace curtains Irish."