Robert Gair, cardboard box inventor

Robert Gair, a Scottish-born immigrant, invented the folding carton in 1890 in Brooklyn. He was a printer and paper bag maker in the 1870s. He invented the paperboard folding carton by accident: a metal ruler normally used to crease bags shifted in position and cut the bag. Gair found that by cutting and creasing paperboard in one operation, he could make prefabricated cartons. He ultimately got into the corrugated fiberboard shipping container business in the 1900s.   Before cardboard, he served in the Civil War and returned to NYC to open a paper factory on Reade Street in Manhattan. He moved to Brooklyn after his cardboard became popular and he needed… Read More

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Arbuckle Brothers, coffee entrepreneurs

Brothers John and Charlie (died 1891) Arbuckle moved to Brooklyn in 1881 to become the greatest coffee roasters of their generation in the 1860s. By the early years of the 20th century, their operation in Dumbo received, stored, roasted and packaged more coffee than any other company in America. Arbuckle invented a machine that efficiently roasted, ground, and packaged coffee into small bags for mass distribution throughout the country. Prior to this innovation, coffee beans had to be sold unroasted from barrels and were easily spoiled. These beans burnt easily as they were roasted at home. Their first national brand… Read More

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Rooftop Park in DUMBO

In DUMBO, a trendy neighborhood in Brooklyn, there’s a new place from where to see great views of the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges: The Rooftop Park of the Empire Stores building. In the 1850s, it was storage space and by the 1950s it was in ruins. It’s now a shopping center where the Brooklyn Historical Society recently opened a new gallery space. Take the lift/elevator to the fifth floor and you’ll see both bridges and the Lower Manhattan skyline. Access is free! Want to see the views from the rooftop park and explore this up and coming Brooklyn neighborhood? We… Read More

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