ILFA swung by The Daily Press on Franklin just north of Fulton this weekend, a new coffeehouse specializing in French Press coffee and espresso (they've also got bagels for your morning commute). Located at the heart of the original village of Bedford - founded in 1663 by the Dutch West Indies Company, and still preserved in the name of the local school and library branch, as well as the crooked paths of Fulton and Bedford, two of Brooklyn's pre-grid colonial roads - they're looking to bring a little of that history into the shop with a Bed-Stuy-through-the-ages slideshow, and they've put out a call to residents, archivists, and local historians to donate photos and other media. Given their killer location, this place likely has a long, bright future ahead of it.
It's no secret that Franklin Avenue in Bed-Stuy is undergoing many of the same changes as Franklin Avenue in Crown Heights. The area around Pratt (just south of Lafayette Gardens) has been on the rise for years, with (relatively) new additions Dough and Bedford Hill drawing even more traffic to a three-block strip that already included Nice Pizza and Sweet Revenge (for an interesting look at how Yelpers navigate the gentrification issue, read the comments on Dough's page). Now, the little commercial zone that runs just north of Fulton, home to the venerable Tip Top Bar & Grill, seems to be experiencing something similar, with the Daily Press entering the fray, and the Lovell's Deli on the corner of Putnam and Franklin has become the Gourmet Deli, and has switched its marketing from "the coldest beer in town" to "organic produce." (See photos 3 and 4, above - I took #3 over two years ago, #4 a month or two ago). In a nod to continuity, they've kept the ODB mural (he was born and raised in the area).
Unsurprisingly, these three commercial areas currently cluster around subway stops. As neighborhood change continues, however, will the three become one long stretch of businesses? It seems unlikely from Putnam north to Lexington, as many of the houses along that stretch are beautifully-restored brownstones that probably won't be retooled as storefronts, but Franklin was once a commercial strip from Crown Street to Putnam, and the way things are moving, it may be again soon.