Moonstruck: Glenn Gissler Moves to Brooklyn Heights

Last month I moved from Manhattan to Brooklyn Heights and I’ve been having a fantastic time getting to know my beautiful new historic neighborhood. My apartment is very close to the Promenade with it’s awesome views of downtown Manhattan, the harbor, and Brooklyn Bridge—very Woody Allen, though of course the famous  image from Manhattan of Keaton and Allen sitting watching the sunrise while Gershwin swells on the soundtrack features the much less beautiful Queensboro Bridge and a view of Long Island City! But the Promenade and that fabulous downtown skyline get their own iconic movie moment in the romantic comedy Moonstruck, when Cher, returning at dawn from her night at the opera with Nicolas Cage, dreamily kicks a tin can down Cranberry Street, the city a breath-taking backdrop and Puccini a soaring musical accompaniment. In the movie, Cher and her family live at 19 Cranberry Street, a four-story Federal-style brownstone that’s very interesting for quite another reason, too: Until 2008, the 1829 house was owned for nearly 50 years by Edwards Rullman, an architect who was highly instrumental in persuading the city to declare Brooklyn Heights the first historic district in New York more than four decades ago. Here’s a fascinating story from the New York Times about Rullman and the struggle to win legal preservation status for the neighborhood.

In 1987′s Moonstruck, Cher kicks a can down Cranberry Street in Brooklyn Heights, with the Promenade and the Manhattan skyline as a backdrop, and the love duet from Puccini’s La Bohème flooding the soundtrack.

19 Cranberry Street, Brooklyn Heights, the house Cher lived in in Moostruck

In the movie, this classic four-story Federal-style brownstone at 19 Cranberry Street served as the house in which Cher and her family lived. (On the outside, anyway; interiors were shot in Toronto.) For five decades the house belonged to architect and preservationist Edwards Rullman, who was crucial in getting Brooklyn Heights declared New York City’s first historic district back in 1965. 

Nightime Manhattan skyline viewed from the Brooklyn Promenade

An awesome sight: Manhattan at night viewed from the Brooklyn Promenade.

Brooklyn Bridge as seen from the Brooklyn Promenade

The Promenade also offers amazing views of the Brooklyn Bridge.

2 & 3 Pierrepont Place, Brooklyn Heights

The AIA called these twin town houses at 2 & 3 Pierrepont Place, “the most elegant pair of brownstone mansions remaining in New York.”  Built in 1857, they were originally joined to a third mansion at 1 Pierrepont Place, which was torn down in 1946 to create the current children’s playground. This magnificent stone-and-brick edifice served as the house and garden of Mafia chieftain Don Corrado, played by William Hickey, in John Huston’s murderously funny 1985 satire Prizzi’s Honor.  Hit man Charley Partanna, played by Jack Nicholson, lived in the apartment building round the corner at 57 Montague Street, with an unrivaled view of the Brooklyn Bridge from his terrace. 

Renaissance Revival townhouse, c. 1860, at 212 Columbia Heights, Brooklyn Heights

The superb pair of white 1860 Renaissance Revival town houses at 214  (left) and 212 Columbia Heights backs onto the Promenade. In 2005, # 212 sold for $8.5 million, then the highest price ever for a town house in the Brooklyn. In February 2012 it was resold for $11 million, setting another neighborhood record (since broken, see below), but less than the initial asking price of $13.5 million.

70 Willow Street, Brooklyn Heights, the house where Truman-Capote once lived, sold for a record $12 million in March 2012

70 Willow Street, Brooklyn Heights, where Truman Capote lived between 1956 and 1966 (and where he wrote Breakfast at Tiffany’s), sold for a record $12.5 million in March 2012. (The new owner is Dan Houser, the English video game producer of Grand Theft Auto fame.) The primrose-yellow house had been on the market since May 2010, initially for a staggering $18 million. Capote, who rented the basement apartment from Broadway and movie-musical scenic designer Oliver Smith (Guys and Dolls, The Band Wagon, Oklahoma! West Side Story), held lavish, booze-fueled parties there—shades of Holly Golightly—when Smith was out of town.

1829 shingled Federal-style framehouse at 13 Pineapple Street in Brooklyn Heights

There are more than 600 pre-Civil War buildings in Brooklyn Heights. The oldest house in the neighborhood, at 24 Middagh Street, dates from 1824 and is a  perfect example of the Federal-style. Another fine example of the style, this gray shingled  frame house, c. 1829, is on Pineapple Street.

Converted 1880 carriage house on Pineapple Street in Brooklyn Heights

There are plenty of carriage houses in the Heights. This charming example on Pineapple Street was formerly a Brooklyn Fire Department stable, built in 1890. It was converted into a residence as long ago as 1920, 11 years after the first motorized fire apparatus was introduced in New York.