Print / View Finding Aid as Single Page

Brooklyn Historical Society logo

Guide to the Listen to This: Crown Heights Oral History collection 2010.020

Brooklyn Historical Society
128 Pierrepont Street
Brooklyn 11201

Brooklyn Historical Society

Collection processed by Brett Dion

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on May 22, 2017
Finding aid written in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Container List

Atkins, Desmond, 2010 March 10

Biographical / Historical

Desmond Michael Atkins was born and raised in the central Brooklyn neighborhoods of Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights to parents of Barbadian and Panamanian descent. Atkins' childhood home, located at 122 Kingston Avenue near the corner of Bergen Street, was adjacent to historic Crown Heights' nightclub the Kingston Lounge. Having attended, but not completed college, the largely self-taught narrator worked for the United States Postal Service and as an information technologies professional in several businesses. At the time of the interview in 2010, Atkins - who expresses an avid interest in ethnic, regional and local history - continued to reside in Crown Heights.

Scope and Contents

In the interview Desmond Atkins takes listeners on a personalized journey into New York's past, describing the dramatic economic, cultural, and educational changes that have occurred during his lifetime - a period that overlaps with the postwar decades of American history. He explains the musical and architectural significance of the historic Kingston Lounge nightclub. Atkins' narration pays special attention to Brooklyn's economic relationship to the surrounding region via traditional shipping routes and modes of travel. He attempts to contextualize this past with more recent events - namely the 2008 financial crisis and its fallout - as well as with the Crown Heights riot of 1991. Interview conducted by Floyya Richardson and Treverlyn Dehaarte.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires the permission of BHS. For assistance, contact

Subject Names

  • Atkins, Desmond

Subject Topics

  • African American neighborhoods -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Architecture -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x History -y 20th century
  • Education
  • Immigrants -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Jews
  • Minorities -- United States -x Economic conditions
  • Nightclubs -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Popular music -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Race discrimination -- New York (State) -- New York

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Social life and customs
  • Crown Heights (New York, N.Y.)
  • New York (N.Y.) |x Social conditions
  • Northeastern States |x Social life and customs
  • United States |x Emigration and immigration