The Dodgers were the golden thread that tied Brooklyn together in those days. The fabric of the team was woven into the neighborhood.
About two miles from the new Nets' Arena, the hallowed ground where Ebbets Field once stood is now a massive brick apartment building in a neighborhood of Caribbean immigrants.
"We still haven't gotten over it," admitted Ron Schweiger, Brooklyn's official borough historian, whose basement is stuffed with Dodgers memorabilia. "I tend to think they never moved. They're on an extended road trip."
Why O'Malley moved the team from Brooklyn to Los Angeles after the 1957 season was, at its core, a question of dollars and cents. O'Malley wanted the city to help subsidize the new stadium, and the city refused. Fast-forward to the present: the $1 billion Barclays Center has received millions in public money.
With its deliberately rusted steel exterior, the new arena looks like a spaceship that cruised in for a landing in Brooklyn's busiest transportation and shopping hub. There are chain stores galore. A Modell's sporting apparel store across the street is stocked with racks full of team apparel in the Nets' new black-and-white color scheme and the logo designed by Jay-Z himself. Rivalry-stirring T-shirts proclaim: "New York Divided."
The city is banking on Brooklynites' deep-rooted sense of borough pride to win over new fans. And the championship-hungry Nets are hoping their new Brooklyn home will turn the tide for a franchise that has been largely overshadowed by the New York Knicks.
But gone are the days when sports allegiances were dictated by zip code. Brooklyn is a tight-knit borough no more: It is a deeply diverse community of many nationalities and income brackets.