Arthur Miller’s Brooklyn


“When Arthur Miller first visited his country cousins in Brooklyn in the early 1920s, Midwood was not just a neighborhood, it was a description. Patches of woods stood thick enough near their East Fifth Street home that the boys could hunt squirrels, rabbits and other small game. There were muddy paths and tomato fields, and big sacks of potatoes in the cellar. Miller’s two salesman uncles — on whom he would base the character Willy Loman — were urban pioneers, planting roots in the borough just after World War I. The woods have been replaced by houses and streets, but much of what Miller loved and used as inspiration for his plays can still be found. The centennial of Miller’s birth on Oct. 17, 1915, has put his name front and center in the New York theater world. Among revivals of his work, a spare, searing British production of ‘A View From the Bridge,’ has drawn stellar reviews; ‘The Crucible,’ starring Saoirse Ronan, starts previews in a few weeks; and a centennial celebration reading will be held at the Lyceum Theater in Midtown on Monday. But nowhere is Miller more alive than in the streets of Brooklyn, from Ocean Parkway to Avenue M, to Coney Island and Brighton Beach, down the old Culver Line to Brooklyn Heights, over to the Navy Yard and the Red Hook piers. Miller was born in Manhattan and lived as a boy in Harlem in a spacious apartment overlooking Central Park. His father, Isidore, a Jewish émigré from Poland, owned a clothing business that allowed the family a certain level of luxury: three bathrooms, a chauffeur-driven car and a summer place in Far Rockaway. Before the stock market crash, the business began to fail, and so, in 1928, Isidore and his wife, Augusta — Izzie and Gussie — moved the family to the borough of churches and cheap rents. After a short stint at 1277 Ocean Parkway, the Millers bought for $5,000 a six-room house on East Third Street and Avenue M in the Parkville section, a couple of blocks from Gussie’s family. In his 1987 memoir, ‘Timebends: A Life,’ Miller writes about the wonder of moving to that dead-end street tucked between the Midwood and Gravesend sections. He was 13, an impressionable age, and was thrilled by the village-like feel of his neighborhood and its many characters. On weekends, he and his cousins would ride the wooden carriages of the elevated Culver line (now the F train) to Coney Island, where they would fish off the rocks for flounder and sea bass. …”
NY Times
Arthur Miller’s Red Hook excavated at Waterfront Barge Museum
Vanity Fair: Arthur Miller’s Missing Act
The Paris Review: Arthur Miller, The Art of Theater No. 2 (Summer 1966)
Arthur Miller: Studio
W – Arthur Miller


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