Our colleague recently left for a new gig in Staten Island. We here at the Collection wanted to give her something to remember us by. We settled on a photo of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle’s eagle, the one who sat perched over the main entrance to the Eagle Building in Downtown Brooklyn from 1892 until the building was demolished in 1955.
Brooklyn Daily Eagle Building, 192-?.
The eagle is special partly because the bulk of the Brooklyn Collection is comprised of holdings from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle newspaper, which folded shortly before the building came down. What’s more, the eagle is now perched atop the entrance to the Central Branch, so we see a lot of each other.
We had a few images to choose from, finally narrowing it down to the following two:
Dismantling of the Eagle, 1955.
Eagle Moved to Brooklyn Public Library, 1997.
The first image is a picture of him coming down from the Eagle building in 1955 and the second from his arrival here at Central in 1997. He was at the Brooklyn Historical Society for the better part of the interim years.
Hold the phone.
What’s up with the eagle’s beak? It’s open in one of the photos, tongue lolling out, and closed in the second.
And the feet? And the wings?
Naturally, our first thought was that we had a fake eagle. We’d be duped. Tears, outrage, etc.
I started digging through the Brooklyn Archival Files (BAF) held in the collection. We needed answers. The files contain clippings from local newspapers on all sorts of topics. I found four folders about the Brooklyn Daily Eagle and, within the hundred or so articles, one article that gave me the solace I was looking for.
“The cast zinc eagle was the biggest of the four that adorned the newspaper's eight story building at the corner of Johnson and Washington Sts. (now Cadman Plaza East). The whereabouts of the other three are unknown. Its dramatic 10 ft. wingspan has sagged a little since it was made by Hecla Iron Works of Williamsburg in 1892. Some repairs were needed on its beak and feet” (New York Daily News 2 June 1997).
This explanation eased my concerns. With that said, some of my colleagues remain unconvinced.
30 September 2015.
Regardless, we’re happy he’s here. Whoever he is.