The Brooklyn Eagle's Washington, D.C. bureau office, street view from 1916.
|Owner(s)||Frank D. Schroth|
|Editor-in-chief||Thomas N. Schroth|
|Founded||October 26, 1841, as 'The Brooklyn Eagle and Kings County Democrat.|
|January 29, 1955|
(Archived issues maintained by the Brooklyn Public Library)
The Brooklyn Eagle, originally The Brooklyn Eagle, and Kings County Democrat, was a daily newspaper published in the city and later borough of Brooklyn, in New York City, for 114 years from 1841 to 1955. At one point, it was the afternoon paper with the largest daily circulation in the United States. Walt Whitman, the 19th-century poet, was its editor for two years. Other notable editors of the Eagle included Thomas Kinsella, St. Clair McKelway, Cleveland Rogers, Frank D. Schroth, and Charles Montgomery Skinner.
The paper, added "Daily" to its name as The Brooklyn Daily Eagle and Kings County Democrat on June 1, 1846. The banner name was shortened on May 14, 1849 to The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, but the lower masthead retained the political name  until June 8. On September 5, 1938, the name was further shortened, to Brooklyn Eagle, with The Brooklyn Daily Eagle continuing to appear below the masthead of the editorial page, through the end of its original run in 1955. The paper ceased publication in 1955 due to a prolonged strike. It was briefly revived from the bankrupt estate between 1960 and 1963.
A new version of the Brooklyn Eagle as a revival of the old newspaper's traditions began publishing in 1996. It has no business relation to the original Eagle (the name having lost trademark protection). The new paper publishes a daily historical/nostalgia feature called "On This Day in History", made up of much material from the pages of the old original Eagle.
The Brooklyn Public Library maintained an online archive of the original Brooklyn Daily Eagle issues encompassing the years 1841 through 1955, a virtual encyclopedic survey of the history of the city and the later borough of Brooklyn for more than a century. The archive was purchased by Ancestry.com for their newspapers.com website. A provision of their contract with BPL requires the material to be provided to site visitors without a subscription, unlike most newspapers.com content.
The Brooklyn Daily Eagle was first published on October 26, 1841. Its address at this time, and for many years afterwards, was at 28 Old Fulton Street, Brooklyn (today the site of a landmark building known as the "Eagle Warehouse"). A few days after it started, the paper suspended publication for a month due to a printing press fire. From 1846 to 1848, the newspaper's editor was the poet Walt Whitman.
The paper started as a combination of objective news and Democratic party organ. During the American Civil War, the Eagle supported the Democratic Party; as such, its mailing privileges through the United States Post Office Department were once revoked due to a forged letter supposedly sent by the 16th President Abraham Lincoln. The Eagle played an important role in shaping Brooklyn's civic identity. The once-independent city became the third-largest city in America at that time, across the water from old New York City. In the 1898, it became a borough as part of the annexation and merger campaign that formed the City of Greater New York. The Eagle had editorially tried to forestall and stop this process, claiming that Brooklyn would go from being a great city on its own to a hinterland of the bigger city.
In August 1938, Frank D. Schroth bought the newspaper from M. Preston Goodfellow. In addition to dropping the word "Daily" from the paper's front page, Schroth increased the paper's profile and readership with more active local coverage focused on the borough as opposed to the other competing dailies at that time in Manhattan, such as The New York Times, New York Herald-Tribune, New York Journal-American, New York Daily News, New York Post, New York World-Telegram & Sun, New York Daily Mirror, and, later, Newsday, further out in the Long Island suburbs.
The newspaper received the 1951 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for its "crime reporting during the year." Investigative journalist Ed Reid in an eight-part series exposed the activities of bookmaker Harry Gross and corrupt members of the New York City Police Department. This exposé led to an investigation by the Brooklyn District Attorney, and resulted in the eventual resignation of Mayor of New York City William O'Dwyer.
On June 22, 1953, a newspaper boy, collecting for the Brooklyn Eagle, at an apartment building at 3403 Foster Avenue in Brooklyn, was paid with a nickel that felt funny to him. When he dropped it on the ground, it popped open and contained microfilm inside. The microfilm contained a series of numbers. He told the New York City Police Department, which in two days told a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent about the strange nickel. The FBI was not able to link the nickel to KGB agents until a KGB (Committee on State Security of the Soviet Union) agent, Reino Häyhänen, wanted to defect to the West and America in May 1957, including Vilyam Genrikhovich Fisher (aka Rudolph Ivanovich Abel) in the Hollow Nickel Case.
In the face of the continued economic pressure brought on by a strike by the local reporters' trade union, the Newspaper Guild, and later attempting to sell the Eagle, the paper published its last edition on January 28, 1955, and shut down for good on March 16, 1955.Thomas N. Schroth, the publisher's son, served as the newspaper's managing editor in the last three years of its existence, before moving on to become editor of the Congressional Quarterly and founder of The National Journal in Washington, DC, which covered the activities and actions of the United States Congress in the Quarterly, and national capital political events in the Journal which endure into the 21st Century.
This occurred around the same time as the National League baseball team, the Brooklyn Dodgers (formerly the "Trolley Dodgers"), who played at Flatbush's Ebbets Field, shocked the city and joined the rival New York Giants at the old Polo Grounds in Manhattan in moving to the West Coast and becoming the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants. The loss of both primary national icons of the town's identity within two and a half years sent Brooklyn into a psychological slump, which even the replacement New York Mets in 1962 could not quite resurrect.
In 1960, former comic book publisher Robert W. Farrell acquired the Eagle's assets in bankruptcy court, five years later after its closing, publishing five Sunday editions of the paper in 1960. In 1962-1963, under the corporate name Newspaper Consolidated Corporation, Farrell and his partner Philip Enciso briefly revived the Brooklyn Eagle newspaper as a daily. During the 1962-63 New York City newspaper strike, the paper had circulation grow from 50,000 to 390,000 until the strike ended.
The final edition appeared on June 25, 1963.
|Owner(s)||Everything Brooklyn Media|
|Publisher||J. Dozier Hasty|
|Headquarters||Brooklyn, New York City, New York|
A smaller newspaper also focused on the borough; The Brooklyn Daily Bulletin began publishing when the original Eagle folded in 1955. In 1996, it merged with a newly revived Brooklyn Daily Eagle, and now publishes a morning paper five days a week under the Brooklyn Daily Eagle name. This revived Brooklyn Eagle has no business relationship with the original Eagle; it adopted the Eagle name (adding it to its Bulletin title) after the Eagle name fell into the public domain, and following a dispute with another Brooklyn publisher over ownership of the Eagle name. As of 2014, it is one of three English-language daily newspapers published in the borough of Brooklyn (the others are the New York Daily Challenge and Hamodia).
As an homage to the original Eagle, it publishes a daily feature called "On This Day in History", made up of much material from the original Eagle.
It is published by J. Dozier Hasty under the auspices of Everything Brooklyn Media. The Eagle editorial staff includes 25 full-time reporters, writers, and photographers. Its coverage has grown to include the Bay Ridge section in western Brooklyn, where a weekly version of the paper, The Bay Ridge Eagle, is published.
Several exhibits have been held regarding the role of the paper in creating the identity of Brooklyn and its citizens at the Brooklyn Historical Society, including extensive mention and documentation in several histories published.
The Wednesday, January 2, 1856 edition mistakenly retained the previous edition's year of 1855. This was corrected for the next edition.
Similarly, a few weeks later on January 23, the edition number of Vol 14 No 18 was retained instead of advancing to No 19. This error (being one edition number behind) continued to March 31, which displayed as No 76 instead of No 77, and then compounded in the next edition, which retained 76, now two out of synchronization. On April 28, instead of correcting the error and advancing from 98 to 101, the printer backtracked to 97, now leaving a four number error. An accidental partial correction occurred on Jul 5; the paper does not publish on Independence Day, but the printed volume number jumped from 153 to 155, which was now 3 numbers behind. The error continued to the end of the year, showing a 306th edition, when there were actually 309 editions published that year.
50 Years after the Eagle: How City Papers Cover Brooklyn