Fort Greene

Ruth Goldstein

In the 70s, Ruth Goldstein’s job as a social worker brought her back to the Fort Greene block where her family had lived for three generations. 

She always believed the neighborhood had everything it needed within. It did not need pioneering people or programs, neighbors needed to organize. She began with voter registration. Then in response to rampant demolition, she began to advocate to landmark Fort Greene. 

This effort became a de facto civic association that many groups grew out of. They got together for block cleanups, and put on historic house tours. Young moms organized sit-ins at bars to keep the neighborhood safe. They created Fowler Square. They re-lit the Prison Ship Martyrs’ monument, and brought the bronze eagles back to the park. During the Bicentennial of Brooklyn, they had the monument crypt opened so people (including the King of Spain) could visit. 

They also organized a garden club that became the Fort Greene Park Conservancy when someone suggested “the garden club should be gardening in the park” so more people could join. 

Ruth chaired the FGPC for about seven years. She says “If you love it, let it go. Every group needs succession. You need to bring others along and give up leadership in order for it to flourish and grow.”

Portrait by

Julie Hassett Sutton

Julie Hassett Sutton is a Brooklyn-based photographer and avid park goer. Her family has spent many hours in Fort Greene Park, first when their daughter was small and now everyday with their dog. The park is an integral place in their lives.

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