Robin Ketchum Prospect Heights Community Organizing Collection
Language of Materials
Materials related to community organizing in Prospect Heights, including documents, ephemera, and photographs, collected by longtime neighborhood resident and activist Robin Ketchum.
Prospect Heights is a neighborhood in Brooklyn generally agreed to be bound by Atlantic Avenue to the north, Flatbush Avenue to the west, Eastern Parkway to the south, and Washington Avenue to the east. The neighborhood has a long history of demographic and cultural diversity. Its residential architecture is a mix of 19th century townhouses, early 20th century apartment buildings, and more recent condominium developments.
The neighborhood was part of the Brooklyn brownstoner movement in the 1950s and 60s and by the 1970s neighborhood residents began banding together to organize their community. The Prospect Heights Neighborhood Corporation (PHNC) was established in 1976. The corporation's Economic Revitalization Committee was established in 1980 and worked with local merchants to create the Vanderbilt Avenue Merchants Association. Local block associations formed as early as the 1950s and continue to be active today. In 1981, those associations united to form the Coalition of Prospect Heights Block Associations.
One of the major achievements of community organizing in Prospect Heights was the revitalization of the Underhill Avenue Playground. Around 1980, neighborhood resident and community activist Robin Ketchum formed the Underhill Avenue Playground Committee with the support of the Park Place/Underhill Avenue Block Association and members from each of the other eight block associations in the neighborhood. The committee engaged the Parks Department and local government officials and eventually won over $1 million in funding to redesign the playground. The new playground opened in 1987 and is still a beloved community fixture.
Robin Ketchum moved to Prospect Heights in 1968 and soon became involved in various community organizing efforts in the neighborhood. Ketchum is a longtime member of the Park Place/Underhill Avenue Block Association and participated in organizing the association's block parties, block watch, and other programs and events. She also served as Chair of the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Corporation's Economic Revitalization Committee, which was instrumental in creating the Vanderbilt Avenue Merchants Association and in securing community development funds for that thoroughfare. Ketchum also created the Underhill Avenue Playground Committee, which secured over $1 million in funding to redesign the playground. As of 2021 Ketchum was still involved in community organizing efforts and serving as the co-president of the Park Place/Underhill Avenue Block Association along with Marc Gordon.
This collection is arranged alphabetically by subject. The donors grouped the materials roughly by subject and that arrangement has been maintained as much as possible.
Scope and Contents
This collection includes the following materials:
Newspaper articles and reports related to general economic development in Prospect Heights.
Agendas and minutes of the Vanderbilt Avenue Merchants Association and newspaper articles and reports related to the improvement of the business environment on Vanderbilt Avenue.
Corporate records, minutes, correspondence, plans, newsletters and reports of the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Corporation.
Flyers, meeting notices, newsletters and newspaper articles related to housing, safety and security, and block association activity.
Reports, correspondence and newspaper articles related to the history of the neighborhood.
Agendas and minutes from meetings of Brooklyn Community Board 8.
Correspondence, plans, meeting minutes, public notices, and photographs related to community-led rehabilitation of the Underhill Playground and programming for residents.
Photographs of the neighborhood and neighborhood events.
Conditions Governing Access
Open to researchers without restriction.
Conditions Governing Use
While many items at the Center for Brooklyn History are unrestricted, we do not own reproduction rights to all materials. Be aware of the several kinds of rights that might apply: copyright, licensing and trademarks. The borrower assumes all responsibility for copyright questions.
Identification of item/descriptive title, date (if known); Robin Ketchum Prospect Heights Community Organizing Collection, BCMS.0079; Brooklyn Public Library, Center for Brooklyn History.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Gift of Gib Veconi, 2020, and Robin Ketchum, 2021.