Set in New York: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

The main character of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is Francie Nolan, a daughter of Irish and Austrian immigrants who grows in poverty in early 20th-century Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Obviously, Francie‚Äôs Williamsburg looks quite different from today’s: birthplace of the hipster and now home to luxury high-rise condos. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn ends in 1918, when Francie is 17 years old — almost a century ago.

Strikingly, many of the names of places and streets have stayed the same through the years, even as the structures around and along them have changed. But you can still find a few remainders of that era, from the church Francie would have attended to the subway station (then the “El”) where she would have boarded the train to Manhattan.

Continue reading “Set in New York: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith”