I've written a lot about South Brooklyn's vanished Scandinavian heritage in the past. I didn't think there was much I had missed. But this article, while covering a lot of the same familiar ground, turned up one toothsome tidbit that had escaped me.
I have passed by the above bar, at the corner of Columbia and Kane Streets, a couple hundred times, having no idea it was once a tavern with the glorious name of Otto's Scandinavian Bar. It was a popular watering hole, and was used as a location in the Jimmy Breslin-inspired film "The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight," before closing sometime in the 1980s. That would make it perhaps the last working vestige of the area's once teeming Norse population. From what I can gather, Otto himself tended bar well into the 1970s.
I found the mind-blowing picture below on the Who Walk in Brooklyn site. What fantastic signage Otto had. The painted words on the western side—"Otto's Forste Og Siste Stop—translate to "Otto's, First and Last Stop." A great motto for a bar if I ever saw one. On the north wall, I think it says "Otto Hansen," and man's full name.
Most recently, Otto's was the home of an uninspiring bar called Blue Stone Bar & Grill. It closed at least three years ago, and the space has remained dormant, though I'm told the owners of Blue Stone retain the lease. That may change soon. I've noticed that the old Blue Stone signs have been removed and the windows papered over. And today, I spied a man in a suit inside looking over some blueprints. Could his name be Otto Jr.?