The Bay Parkway Elevated’s Ancient Sign: The Story of Orloff’s

8

[This story was updated at 2pm on 9/9/16.]

Taking the D train into the Bay Parkway train station, have you ever noticed, on eye-level with the train, the word “Orloff’s” inscribed in all caps on the side of one building?

All that can be learned from the partially obscured sign is that this “Orloff’s,” located at 2211 86th Street between Bay Parkway and 23rd Avenue, on the southern tip of the neighborhood, was established in August of 1902.

Curiously, while the sign says “1902,” New York City records state that the building itself was constructed in 1926.

orloff's

The Orloff’s building is the second from front. Photo via Jim Buccuni

According to former Brooklynite Jim Buccini, the Orloff in question is Henry Orloff — Khuny Ortleyevich, before Ellis Island — a Jewish Ukrainian man who came to the U.S. in 1885 at the age of 16.

Buccini spoke with the alleged grandson of the man who actually built 2211 86th Street. He writes that Henry Orloff worked as a feed dealer before he had the building on 86th Street constructed. Orloff went on to maintain a retail business there.

Originally, the Orloff’s building had many purposes — including as a stable for horses, and a dry goods and men’s shoe seller, according to Forgotten New York.

“The building housed a number of different businesses over the past 114 years as the waves of immigration played out,” Buccini writes in his post on the building on Facebook, adding that he found these waves to be what “always made Bensonhurst an interesting neighborhood.”

orloff's

The building in 2015. Photo by Christopher Bride via PropertyShark

Today, the building holds a Cantonese restaurant called 86 Fu Kee, which advertises above the Orloff’s sign. The building is not landmarked.

orloff's

A tax photo showing the building, likely in the 1970s, when it housed a shop called Money Donut.

If the building was indeed constructed in 1926, the fact that the Orloff’s sign is eye-level with D train straphangers makes sense. The elevated platform was completed in 1917, according to building photographer Dave Cook’s blog, Eating in Translation.

What can you tell us about the Orloff’s building?

  • Laurie

    It’s not 22 Avenue. It’s Bay Parkway.

  • Sarah Crean

    Thank you for writing in! We show the address on 86th Street— #2211. Take a look at the tax lot photo above. Is that Bay Parkway?

    • Sean F

      There is no 22nd Avenue in Brooklyn. The avenue between 21st and 23rd is called Bay Parkway, though the buildings between it and 23rd are numbered as if it were 22nd Avenue.

      Same thing with Bay Ridge Parkway in place of 75th Street, or Bay Ridge Avenue in place of 69th Street.

    • Sean F

      To be clear, the second paragraph says “2211 86th Street between 22nd and 23rd avenues”. There is no 22nd Avenue. The aves run 20th, 21st, Bay Parkway, 23rd.

      • Sarah Crean

        I see! Thank you so much for explaining.

  • Emerald5Forever

    Interesting article, thanks for covering; I’ve noticed the sign before.

    • Emerald5Forever

      The throwback photo actually does not look much different from the street we see today. The markets are still here, but demographics are completely different.

  • Nick Sk

    At first I thought the article was about the sign on top. It’s from the Ming Dynasty