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NYC Music Trail: Erasmus Hall High School (w/ Slideshow)

by Jake Neher
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Historian Ron Schweiger inside Erasmus auditorium
Jake Neher, WFUV.

Famous alumni include Babs, Neil Diamond.

Brooklyn's Erasmus Hall High School in Flatbush has never been a special school for the gifted. Yet dozens of famous musicians and other celebrities once walked these halls as students. They include people like Barbra Streisand, Neil Diamond, and Stephanie Mills.

The school's immense, hundred-year old auditorium seems fit to host them - even today. Borough Historian Ron Schweiger seems awestruck that this is where Babs and Neil performed together in the school's choir decades before "You Don't Bring Me Flowers."

"You're sitting here and trying to picture them as teenagers," Schweiger says chuckling,  "performing here long before they even realized that they're going to be as famous as they became. It's something, it really is."

But don't expect to just waltz into the school and get a tour. Technically, it doesn't even exist anymore. Like many public schools in recent years, it's been shuttered and replaced by a group of smaller specialty schools.

The alumni association had operated a museum showcasing the school's famous former students. That's gone now.

But historian Ron Schweiger is always happy to share his knowledge of the school's history.

Note: This is Part Two of WFUV's series on the New York City Music Trail. There are dozens of spots all over the five boroughs that embody the city's rich musical heritage. In 1992, the NYC Grammy Awards Host Committee and the city decided to map them. The NYC Music Trail includes legendary "sites of sound" like Carnegie Hall, the Apollo Theater, Tin Pan Alley, CBGB, and Lincoln Center. But all this week, we're visiting some of the places on the trail that likely haven't crossed your radar yet.

Tomorrow, we take a stroll down 52nd Street in Manhattan, or "Swing Street", which used to be the world Mecca for jazz music. You can hear each installment live on WFUV 90.7FM at 7:40AM and 3:30PM.

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Gallery

Main entrance to the former Erasmus Hall High School
Main entrance for the former Erasmus Hall High School
Inside the turn-of-the-century buildings of the former Erasmus Hall High School
An entrance to one of the turn-of-the-century buildings of the former Erasmus Hall High School from inside the school's campus.
The original 1787 Erasmus Academy building. It is one of the oldest secondary schools in the country.
Brooklyn's official Borough Historian Ron Schweiger in front of the original 1787 Erasmus Academy building.
Brooklyn's official Borough Historian Ron Schweiger.
The 100-year-old auditorium of the former Erasmus Hall HS, affectionately called "The Chapel"
Historian Ron Schweiger inside "The Chapel"
"The Chapel."
Stained glass windows in "The Chapel".
Stained glass windows in "The Chapel".
Stained glass window behind "The Chapel's" stage.
Picture of Barbra Streisand displayed in "The Chapel."
Historian Ron Schweiger looking at some displays in "The Chapel" of some of Erasmus Hall's famous alumni.
Historian Ron Schweiger walking the perimeter of "The Chapel," looking at displays of some of Erasmus Hall HS's famous alumni.

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