Gloria Florist on Court Street, one of the oldest businesses in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, has closed. Sal, the elderly owner of the shop—which started in the 1940s—recently died. The family hopes to rent the space to another florist.
The business didn't look that old, but if you were eagle-eyed, you could discern its age from the lovely terrazzo rising-sun design on the stoop just in front of the entrance. Accounts of the store's history vary. Some say it has been in the same location since the 1940s. Some say 1938. Others have told me it began on Columbia or Henry Street and moved to Court Street in the 1970s after the BQE killed business on that side of the neighborhood.
The closing of Gloria brought to mind all the old Italian businesses that have been lost since I moved to Carroll Gardens in 1994. Helen's Italian Restaurant, Fratelli Ravioli, Rainbow Deli, Renaissance Pharmacy, Carroll Gardens Pharmacy, Cammerari Bakery, Rapid Valet Dry Cleaners, Joe's Restaurant, Joe's Superette (and its amazing prosciutto balls), Mastellone Grocery.
Carroll Gardens has held on to its old character more than many Brooklyn neighborhoods, but it's fading. These days, the few remaining Italian businesses—Esposito Pork Store, Caputo Bakery, Court Street Pastry—look pretty lonely.