From the Archives

Oral History Project

From Dumbo to your ears.

In 2016, in honor of the tenth anniversary of the founding of the Dumbo Improvement District, we embarked on a project to record the history of DUMBO.

We interviewed thirty-two Dumbobians–business owners, artists, residents–about how they shaped the neighborhood, and how it's shaped them.

Here are a few of these stories.

Have a story to tell? Let us know at dumbo@dumbonyc.org.

The Stories in Audio

The 2016 Oral History Project, in podcast-esq form.​

The Stories in Video

Individual stories, told here in the flesh.
Bruce Silverglade Oral History
Bruce Silverglade

Owner, Gleason's Gym

Since 1983, Bruce and his world-famous Gleason's Gym team have been training Olympians, movie stars, and locals in the art of boxing.

Watch his story here.


Cara Lee Sparry Oral History
Cara Lee Sperry

Co-founder, Superfine

Cara Lee Sperry moved to DUMBO as a part of a wave of artists in the 90's and put down roots as one of the co-founders of neighborhood favorite, Superfine.

Watch her story here.


Dj Walentas Oral History
David and Jane Walentas & Jane's Carousel

Founders, Two Trees Management & Jane's Carousel

In the early 1980's, David Walentas bought 12 buildings in a vacant industrial district called DUMBO, starting the area on its road to major NYC destination. Jane Walentas added her own piece to the neighborhood: restoring an antique carousel still operating on the waterfront, Jane's Carousel.

Watch their story here.

Watch the story of Jane's Carousel here.


Larry Leonardi Oral History
Larry Leonardi

Co-owner, Front Street Pizza

Larry Leonardi worked his way from delivery boy to owner of his family's famous pizzeria, Front Street Pizza, a DUMBO staple since the 80's.

Watch his story here.


Susan Feldman Oral History
Susan Feldman

Founder & Artistic Director, St. Ann's Warehouse

Susan Feldmen brought the St. Ann's Warehouse theater company from their namesake location to DUMBO in 2000, creating instant classics like Martin Scorsese's "The Blues" and Broadway-transfer Oklahoma.

Watch her story here.


Jane Bell Oral History
Jan Bell

Founder, Brooklyn Americana Music Festival 

Resident Jan Bell has been the driving force behind DUMBO's music scene since the Urban Cowgirl Cabaret of the 90's, bringing the sounds of Americana to the stages and streets of DUMBO.

Watch her story here.


Josh Oral History
Josh Wise & Etsy

Former Global Director of Workplace Ecology and Design, Etsy

Longtime DUMBO fan Josh Wise and e-commerce giant Etsy ushered in the era of tech in DUMBO.


Tanya Rynd Oral History
Tanya Rynd

Co-founder, Superfine

Tanya Rynd first visited DUMBO on an errand in the 90's and hasn't left since, bringing food, drinks, music, and more to neighborhood favorite, Superfine.

Watch her story here.


Hervé Oral History
Hervè Poussot

Chef & Owner, Almondine Bakery

Chef Hervè founded Almondine in the early 2000's on historic Water Street, across from longtime friend and chocolate purveyor Jacques Torres!

Watch his story here.


Regina Myer Oral History
Regina Myer

President (2007-2016), Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy

Regina Myer is responsible for the beautiful, fun and diverse park that crowns the DUMBO waterfront, transforming it from empty shoreline to community highlight.

Watch her story here.