Governor's Island: What Might Have Been

Governor's Island, Detail, 1911 New York Dock Dock Company Lithograph
Governor's Island
When we bought our house about three years ago, one of the attractions was "old house romance." The previous owner believed the house had been in her family since it was built in 1900. I've written previously about finding a 1911 lithograph of the New York Dock Company in the basement. Earlier this week, Peter Miller, the new owner of Freebird books in Columbia Waterfront/Red Hook, contacted me by email asking for permission to use one of my photos of it:
Anyone living in the neighborhood, particularly Red Hook, will be familiar with the New York Dock Company's remnants--hulking gray warehouses that must make Dumbo-drooling Corcoran agents weak in the knees. Seldom however do we get a chance to see a bird's eye view of their domain, which once sprawled over two and a half miles of waterfront. The lithograph provides a rare peek at the commerce that transpired along the banks of Governors Island and Brooklyn.
- December 28, 2007, Peter Miller, Freebird Books
Miller goes on to write more about the history of Governor's Island, and how it was nearly lost to infrastructure development.
In 1898 (the year Brooklyn became a borough of New York City), an assemblyman proposed using the island as a center span anchor for a bridge between Red Hook and the Battery. Proof that real estate value has never been far from New York's beating heart, the assemblyman argued that the bridge "would cause a phenomenal development in South Brooklyn."

That cheap promise would be reprised forty years later when Robert Moses demanded the very same public works project--but on a far grander scale. Given wide-ranging powers by La Guardia in 1938, Moses tried to reallocate the money meant for a tunnel to build a monumental (in all senses of the word) bridge that would hopscotch across Governors Island.
Today we have this view from Valentino Pier of both Governor's Island and Downtown Manhattan.
Governor's Island, Downtown Manhattan, and ATF Pier
This view was saved, in part, by opposition from community leaders in both Manhattan and Brooklyn, and, in part, by none other than Eleanor Roosevelt:
Moses's threats and ultimatums cowed city and state officials into submission. All he needed was the federal government's rubber stamp. But, unforeseen, Eleanor Roosevelt publicly questioned the bridge's impact: "Isn't there room for some consideration of the preservation of the few beautiful spots that still remain to us on an overcrowded island?" The bridge's opponents had infiltrated the White House. FDR allowed the War Department to kill the project and favor a tunnel out of national security concerns (but more likely out of spite).

Related Posts

1911 New York Dock Company Lithograph


Freebird Books, 123 Columbia Street (GMAP), Brooklyn, New York 11231


January 2008: Holiday Tree Recycling

Update 2008.01.06: I've added a post with photos from today.
Update 2008.01.05: I have photos from my stint at Park Circle today.
Update 2008.01.01: Added a new post with a map of Brooklyn locations for on-site chipping and drop-off.

Christmas Tree

This winter holiday season, when you're done enjoying your ChrismaHanuKwanzaa tree (or, if you prefer, like me, a paganish Solstice tree) be sure that it gets recycled. In New York City, you have two ways to do that this year: MulchFest, and Curb-side Pickup. Whichever you choose, be sure to first remove all lights, ornaments, decorations, tree-stands and what-not before turning your tree into mulch.

WHAT: Curb-side Pickup
WHEN: January 3 through 16, 2008

The Department of Sanitation will collect for composting clean holiday trees left at the curb from Thursday, January 3 through Wednesday, January 16, 2008. Make sure all lights, ornaments and stands are removed before setting trees at the curb.

WHAT: MulchFest, Tree Drop-Off and Free Wood-Chip Pickup at selected Parks locations
WHEN: January 5th & 6th, 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.

MulchFest provides New Yorkers an opportunity to bring their Christmas trees to designated sites where they are ground into wood chips. The chips can then be placed in tree pits and gardens. Parks & Recreation encourages New Yorkers to help the environment and their community by participating in this event. MulchFest takes place on January 5 & 6, 2008 from 10:00am to 2:00pm. Participants are encouraged to bring bags to take advantage of the free mulch provided. Participants will be able to take wood chips and/or mulch home from designated chipping sites. Mulch will not be available at sites marked as "Drop-off Only".

Brooklyn Mulchfest Sites

Location Address Service
McCarren Park Driggs Avenue & Lorimer Street Chipping
Von King Park Lafayette Street & Tompkins Avenue Chipping
Ft Greene Park Washington Pk. & Willoughby Street Chipping
Cobble Hill Park Verandah Place & Clinton Street Chipping
Prospect Park Third Street at Prospect Park West Chipping
Owl’s Head Park Colonial Road & 68th Street Chipping
Marine Park Avenue U & 33rd Streets Chipping
McGolrick Park Monitor Street & Driggs Avenue Drop-off only
Maria Hernandez Park Knickerbocker Avenue & Suydam Street Drop-off only
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Park Dumont Avenue & Bradford Street Drop-off only
Amazing Garden Carroll Street & Columbia Street Drop-off only
Coffey Park Dwight Stree & Verona Street Drop-off only
Sunset Park 44th Street & 6th Avenue Drop-off only
Bensonhurst Park Bay 30th Street & Cropsey Avenue Drop-off only
Paerdegat Park 40th Street & Foster Avenue Drop-off only
Green-Wood Cemetery 25th Street & 5th Avenue Drop-off only
Green-Wood Cemetery Mulchfest Info: Drop off trees 8am to 4:30pm daily from Jan 1 thru Jan 11. Bring trees for chipping 10am to 2pm on Sat Jan 12; NYC's recycling bin characters will be on hand from 11am to 1pm. Get mulch year-round! For more info, call Brooklyn Botanic Garden at 718-623-7290, or Green-Wood Cemetery at 718-768-7300.
Lincoln Terrace Park Buffalo Avenue between East New York Avenue and Eastern Parkway Drop-off only
Shore Road Park 79th Street & Shore Road Drop-off only


MulchFest 2008


New Blog on the Block: Real Flatbush

Discovered via Google Alerts, and added to my Brooklyn blogroll a few minutes ago: The Real Flatbush, a blog "for Non-pretentious people who live in Flatbush."

From yesterday's opening post:
It seems that there has been a number of blogs pertaining to my neck of the woods lately. There is a disturbing trend with all these blogs. ... They all seem to want to "change" Flatbush.
- Chief Joseph, Dan, The Real Flatbush
Dan identifies race-baiting in the Ditmas Park Blog in "a number of Micro-aggressive messages pertaining to Blacks living in the area." Dan has more to say about white folk moving to Flatbush:
So I saw this chinese restaurent on Cortelyou road and Rugby Road called New Neighbor. They had a new neighbor special and a brand new cheesy OPEN sign. New furniture. I've been to this take out place before our fair skin brethen started to move in. ... I've never seen cheap chinese food take out places going out of there way to look presentable. I guess all you need are a few lighter skin priviledge people to be treated like a human being. ... You gotta love this brand of racism.
- New Neighbor
That would be New Neighbor Kitchen at 1404 Cortelyou Road.
A New York times story about a women from New Orleans who had a great career. She is now living on hard times. I wonder if something like that could ever happen to our new neighbors of lighter persuation at Flatbush.
- Sad Story
As one of Dan's new, melanin-challenged neighbors I'm curious to see how this develops.
It does not require many words to speak the truth. - Chief Joseph


Solstice (the sun stands still)

Illumination of Earth by Sun at the southern solstice.

It's the longest night and shortest day of the year for my half of the world. This season's Solstice (Winter in the Northern hemisphere, Summer in the Southern), is at 6:08 UTC on December 22, 2007. That's 1:08 Eastern Time, my time zone. For folks on the West coast of North America, it will occur late Friday, December 21, at 22:08. That's right now.

Etymology: Latin solstitium (sol "sun" + stitium, from sistere "to stand still")


Another Warm Year

January - November 2007 statewide temperature rankings. Credit: NOAA

The year 2007 is on pace to become one of the 10 warmest years for the contiguous U.S. ... The year was marked by exceptional drought in the U.S. Southeast and the West, which helped fuel another extremely active wildfire season. The year also brought outbreaks of cold air, and killer heat waves and floods. Meanwhile, the global surface temperature for 2007 is expected to be fifth warmest.
- NOAA: 2007 a Top Ten Warm Year for U.S. and Globe
Preliminary data will be updated in early January to reflect the final three weeks of December and is not considered final until a full analysis is complete next spring.

Including 2007, seven of the eight warmest years on record have occurred since 2001 and the 10 warmest years have all occurred since 1997. The global average surface temperature has risen between 0.6°C and 0.7°C since the start of the twentieth century, and the rate of increase since 1976 has been approximately three times faster than the century-scale trend.

Sunday, December 16: Beverley Square West Holiday Caroling

Update, 12/16: I corrected the date: it's DECEMBER, obviously, not January!

If it's raining this afternoon, we won't go caroling. We'll meet at a local home instead.

I had to delete and re-create the original post. The Google Map was interfering with the Google post editor.

This Sunday, January 16, from 1:45 to 4pm, the Beverley Square West Association holds its annual neighborhood Holiday Caroling. Everyone is welcome. Singing in key is not necessary! Bring your musical instruments, tambourines, bells, whatever, anything that will add to the festivities.

All are welcome to join us. At 1:45pm, we meet up at the Tot Lot at the southeast corner of Cortelyou Road and Argyle Road. There we'll warm up and tune up (as best we can!). We then proceed to the firehouse, give them a holiday gift, and regale them with song.

After that, we will randomly wander and rove along the streets of Beverley Square West: Stratford, Westminster, Argyle, Rugby and Marlborough Roads between Cortelyou and Beverly Roads. We gather afterwards at a local home for hot chocolate, cookies and such.


Brooklyn Blogger Photo-Essay: Planting a Street Tree

Google Alerts is so cool. I just added an alert for "Brooklyn" and "Tree". And this popped up within about 20 minutes:
I had an amazing time planting the street tree. I never had the opportunity before, only knowing how to take care of windowsill gardens. It felt like I was part of something larger than myself. I really liked getting my hand dirty and working outside. I felt like I was bringing back the wolf by bringing back a tree.
- A tree grows in Brooklyn, art, life (no separation)
Angela's post is illustrated by a sequence of photos showing the progress from empty pit to planted tree.
A Quality Housing requirement for the NYC Buildings Department is for the home owner to plant a street tree either in front of their new home or somewhere nearby (same block or neighborhood). That was my task this week. Along with my father, we planted our first street tree together. A Japanese Zelkovatree [Zelkova serrata], apparently impervious to the devastating longhorn beetle, was chosen in conjunction with the Parks Department.
Parks has a list of approved street tree species on their Web site. This is not a complete list of species that could be planted - "Superior cultivars may be substituted with the permission of the Agency" - but species susceptible to Asian-Longhorned Beetle (ALB, Anoplophora glabripennis) are specifically prohibited. These include Maples (Acer), Elms (Ulmus), Ashes (Fraxinus), and Hackberries (Celtis).

Related Posts

Asian-Longhorned Beetle
Urban Forestry


Asian-Longhorned Beetle
Street Tree Species List
Trees & Greenstreets
NYC Department of Parks and Recreation


Sustainable Garden Design in Gowanus Development

Today on Brownstoner there's a post and extended commentary (as one expects at the 'Stoner) about the garden design for a multi-unit residential Project in Gowanus called Third & Bond (presumably located there):
Now that our building design is nearly complete, we’ve turned our attention to what surrounds the buildings: the outdoors. Third & Bond has 38 private outdoor spaces (enough for 85% of buyers to have their own) as well as 7 front yards and a courtyard. We want these spaces to look great, be easy to maintain, and meet our “green” goals. In short, we needed a green landscaping genius.
They choice local garden designer Timothy D. Osborne, who does business as The Organic Gardener. They promise to share "the actual designs in the coming weeks." In today's post they describe some design constraints dear to my heart: grass-less (meaning no lawn), native plants and local materials, and butterflies. Some of the points are a bit confused, but the intent is sound.
Grass is a LEED [Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design] no-no. Lawn grasses like crab grass and Kentucky blue grass are not native to North America and require a tremendous amount of watering compared with native coastal grasses.
I just checked the LEED Version 2.2 Rating System and Credit Checklist for New Construction and didn't find any references to lawn or grass. Still, eliminating lawn is a brave choice for a developer; I'm surprised and pleased to hear they're going to try to make it work.

Since we bought our house some 30 months ago, I've been gradually reducing the garden space devoted to lawn. I have a small patch of lawn left in the front yard. We no longer use a lawn care service; they all use gas-powered mowers and leaf-blowers, which pound-for-pound are worse than SUVs for their carbon emissions, particulate pollutants, and noise pollution. I use a push-reel mower and rake. I rarely water, and it shows. I've seen some beautiful examples of lawn-less front-yard gardens in the area. I expect that within a few years what's left of our lawn will be replaced with more complex, interesting, and sustainable plantings.
The Organic Gardener’s plant suggestions were almost all native including lavender and dogwood.
Lavender is not native to North America, but it's a great choice for xeriscaping, low-water-use gardening.
Satisfying the local butterfly population is pretty much our #1 priority at Third & Bond. But seriously, another benefit to choosing local plants is that they are more attractive to birds and butterflies native to the area. We’re hoping our plant materials will be especially attractive to winged wildlife.
If they can follow through with these intentions, I have no doubt they will be.

Although I write about local issues, and go so far as to dive into zoning and land use, I avoid the hard-core, snipe and snark, body-slam arena of Brooklyn real-estate blogging. There's not much opportunity to return the link-love I get now and then from Brownstoner. It's nice to be able to return the favor while staying on-point for this blog.

Related Posts

Front garden
Native plants
Mowing the Lawn, June 6, 2006


Third & Bond: Week 17, Brownstoner
The Organic Gardener, Timothy D. Osborne (Note: His Web site is poorly designed. All the information exists only as graphics. Even the menus are available only as image maps, with no labels. There's no text anywhere on the site.)
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), U. S. Green Building Council

Resource: DCP's Census Fact Finder

Map of Brooklyn Census Tract 520 returned by the DCP Census Tract Finder when searching on the Q Train Cortelyou Road Station.
Brooklyn Census Tract 520

At last night's Workshop #2 of Imagine Flatbush 2030, they had something new: a brief slide show of orientation information, similar in content to that presented at the first workshop, plus some census data about the study area. You can see some photos of these by Frank Jump, who attended last night's workshop and happened to be in my breakout group, on his blog, Fading Ad Blog.

I just discovered that the NYC Department of City Planning (DCP) provides online access to census data in their Census Fact Finder. The finder is tabbed to provide searches by:
  • Street address
  • Community District
  • Point of Interest (not enough "points" to be widely useful)
  • Subway station
Except for Community District, once you've identified a point, you can view census data by a single Census Tract, by neighboring Census tracts within a .1 to .5 miles range you specify, or by Community District.

At the top of the resulting report is a map showing the point or area you selected and the matching census tracts. A pink dot identifies the focus, the selected tracts are highlighted in blue, and all visible tracts are numbered. Associated with the map are the usual zoom and navigation tools. It also provides tools to select or exclude additional census tracts.

For example, the map at the top of this post is returned when selecting the Q Train Cortelyou Road Station as the focus of the map. The finder returned Census Tract 520, which news reports in 2005 highlighted as the most diverse Census Tract in the entire United States:
In 1970, Census Tract 520 in Ditmas Park [sic] was 92.1% white. Less than a quarter of the population was foreign-born, and most of them were Italian and Jewish. Today, the neighborhood is a miniature United Nations, with nearly two-thirds of the population coming from other countries.

Although Elmhurst and Jackson Heights have a larger percentage of foreign-born residents, the city's demographer, Joseph Salvo, said it's the convergence of racial and ethnic diversity that distinguishes Ditmas Park.
- In a Diverse City, Ditmas Park Takes the Cake, New York Sun, May 26, 2005
Note, however, that Census Tract 520 is not in the historic district of Ditmas Park. It comprises the eastern half of Ditmas Park West, my neighborhood neighbor to the south, plus the blocks between Newkirk and Foster Avenues.

Below the map in the report is a table showing all the census data, aggregated for the selected census tracts. The table is tabbed for the major categories of data available:
  • Demographic
  • Socio-economic
  • Age
  • Income in 1999
  • Labor
  • Education
  • Housing Characteristics
  • Housing Costs
For example, to examine the claim that this tract is the most diverse, let's look at the demographic data:

Demographic Profile Tract(s) Brooklyn New York City
Total Population 4,399 2,465,326 8,008,278
Single Race, Nonhispanic: (by percentage)

White 19.3% 34.7% 35.0%
Black / African American 29.2% 34.4% 24.5%
American Indian and Alaska Native 0.3% 0.2% 0.2%
Asian 22.4% 7.5% 9.7%
Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander 0% 0% 0.0%
Some other Race 1.3% 0.7% 0.7%
Two or More Races, Nonhispanic 7.8% 2.8% 2.8%
Hispanic Origin (of any race) 19.8% 19.8% 27.0%

The "most diverse" claim arises from the observation that the demographic category comprising the largest single group, Black / African American, only comprises 29.2% of the population. Across the city as a whole, there is diversity. Queens has the largest percentage of foreign-born residents of all five boroughs. But when you get down to the level of a few blocks, what you usually see is a predominant group.

At last night's workshop, at each breakout group, the facilitators asked each of us to briefly identify our main concern, our main wish or goal for Flatbush in the years to come. By the time it got around to me, I'd had time to practice in my mind what I wanted to say, and wrote it down in my notebook:

Diversity Without Disparity

And I explained that I mean this "in every way I can think of." This captures the asset of diversity we enjoy today, one which I think most of those who've participated in the workshops so far value as well. It also presents the challenge: how can we mitigate existing disparities, and keep the gap from widening. How can we avoid becoming the victims of our own success as a vibrant, interesting, developing community?

Related Posts

Imagine Flatbush 2030


Imagine Flatbush 2030 (Sponsored by the Municipal Art Society of NY) - Workshop #2, Brooklyn College, Frank Jump, Fading Ad Blog
Over 100 People Imagining Flatbush 2030, Brooklyn Junction
In a Diverse City, Ditmas Park Takes the Cake, Daniela Gerson, The New York Sun, May 26, 2005


Tomorrow: Imagine Flatbush 2030 Workshop #2

Just a reminder that tomorrow evening's Imagine Flatbush 2030 Workshop #2 will begin at 6:30pm on the Brooklyn College campus.


Directions to the Brooklyn College Student Center

Flatbush Facts: Brooklyn's Noisiest 'Hood

It makes a body proud. Flatbush is Brooklyn's noisiest neighborhood, measured by the number of noise complaints to 311.
[In Flatbush] 2,058 noise complaints were made to the city's 311 hotline from July 1 to Nov. 20. Williamsburg fell just three complaints behind, followed by Bushwick and Brownsville.
- Flatbush tops loudest in Brooklyn, NY Daily news, December 11, 2007
This year, DEP complaints in Brooklyn surged by approximately 23%, from 3,914 to 5,101 calls, officials said. Citywide, there were more than 135,589 complaints in the nearly five-month period - about a 25% hike over the same period in 2006.

Brooklyn's top noise culprit is construction-related din, which is handled by the DEP and clocked in at 2,300 complaints.

Other pesky rackets plaguing the borough include ... barking dogs, which annoyed Brooklynites enough for them to dial 311 1,263 times from July until last week. Ice cream truck jingles drew 261 complaints and loud music spurred 119 calls. Car noises, including honking horns and alarms, also made the top-10 list of complaints for the borough.


Air & Noise, DEP


Satellite Image of Northeast's First Snow of the Season

Satellie view of the first snow in the Northeastern United States
A string of storms brought the season’s first snow to the eastern United States from the mid-Atlantic states to New England during the first week of December 2007. By December 6, most of the clouds had cleared, providing the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite this view of the snow-covered landscape. The snow highlights the contours of the land. Waves and curves follow the gentle folds of the Appalachian Mountains through Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. The more rugged mountains of New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York wrinkle the surface of the land.
- First Snow in the US Northeast, NASA Earth Observatory
The snow also makes rivers and lakes more visible than they might otherwise be. The dark blue-green Finger Lakes of upstate New York pop out against the surrounding white land. The long narrow lakes formed when glaciers scoured, deepened, and eventually dammed stream valleys. The lakes point north and northwest to the shores of Lake Ontario, portions of which are visible beneath a bank of clouds in this image. The northern shore of Lake Erie similarly peaks through the clouds to the west. In the far north, particularly in Maine and Canada, lakes have already started to freeze. The ice is a smooth, bright white surface in contrast to the slightly darker land.

To the south, snow-covered Maryland surrounds the northern Chesapeake Bay, starkly outlining the ragged shoreline where rivers and streams enter the bay. The largest river flowing into the Chesapeake is the Susquehanna, which cuts southeast across the Appalachian Mountains of Pennsylvania.
Here's a closer view of the NYC area.
Satellie view of the first snow in the NYC area

Related Posts

First Snow of the Season


First Snow in the US Northeast, NASA Earth Observatory

Upcoming Local Events

Some quick notes of things happening within a couple blocks of me over the next few weeks. Details for all these events are available from the Google calendar in the sidebar.

This Weekend

Saturday December 8 and Sunday, December 9, 1-6pm, Prospect Park South resident Karen Friedland hosts an Art Show and Sale.

Sunday, December 9, 10am-3pm, P.S. 139 has their annual Holiday Craft Fair.

Next Week

Wednesday, December 12, starting at 6:30pm, Imagine Flatbush 2030 Workshop #2 at Brooklyn College.

Next Weekend, Sunday December 16

1:45-4pm, Beverley Square West Holiday Caroling. Meet at the Tot Lot at Cortelyou and Argyle Roads at 1:45pm.

3-5pm, Cortelyou Road Tree Lighting, at the Tot Lot.

3:30-5:30pm, The Regina Opera, at the Victorian Place Cultural Center / Temple Beth Emeth.


12/13: Hearing on Parks' use of artificial turf

Field 11, part of nearly 40 acres of artificial surface at the Parade Grounds, on Caton Avenue south of Prospect Park in Brooklyn
Field 11, Parade Grounds, Caton Avenue

Next Thursday there will be an oversight hearing on the use of artificial turf in NYC's parks:
The New York City Council Parks and Recreation Committee will hold an oversight hearing on the use of artificial turf in the City’s parks. New Yorkers for Parks published, “A New Turf War: Synthetic Turf in New York City,” which provides background on this issue and offers recommendations for determining when and where to use artificial turf in city parks and athletic fields. New Yorkers for Parks will use this opportunity to voice some of the recommendations of our policy report on the topic.
- The Dangers of Fake Green Grass
The hearing will be held from 10am-12pm, at 250 Broadway, 14th Floor Hearing Room.
New York City’s Department of Parks & Recreation (DPR) has become increasingly reliant on synthetic turf as a replacement for asphalt and natural grass athletic fields across the city. Through the installation of the “new generation” of synthetic turf, DPR seeks to increase community access to fields as well as to solve the maintenance challenges of grass and the aesthetic and safety problems associated with asphalt. This surface offers all-weather playability and lower maintenance costs than grass; however, synthetic turf has some negative environmental impacts and requires a significant capital investment. The important environmental benefits of natural turf, such as its ability to absorb and filter rainwater and pollutants, and to decrease the impact of the urban heat island effect, must be considered in the debate.
- Executive Summary, A New Turf War, Spring 2006
Sign: Lawns Closed, Union Square Park, Manhattan
Sign: Lawns Closed, Union Square Park, Manhattan


The Dangers of Fake Green Grass, Katia Kelly, Pardon Me For Asking
Parks Dept. denies health study of synthetic turf, April 4, 2007, Patrick Arden, Metro New York
A New Turf War: Synthetic Turf in New York City Parks, Spring 2006, New Yorkers for Parks


Notes from Imagine Flatbush 2030 Workshop #1

Your host, reporting the observations of his breakout group to the larger assembly at IF2030 Workshop #1. Credit: Municipal Art Society.

Yesterday's Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC has brought wider awareness of and interest in Imagine Flatbush 2030. For those who are curious about the process, or might even be interested in attending Workshop #2, here are the notes which the Municipal Art Society facilitators compiled from the first workshop back in November.
Imagine Flatbush 2030 kicked off on Monday, November 19 at Temple Beth Emeth, with a preliminary stakeholders meeting. (A list of approximately 150 stakeholders was cultivated with help from FDC, neighborhood groups, and elected officials. Stakeholders who attended were asked to serve as project ambassadors and assist with outreach for the next meeting.) [At least three of us who live within the study area and write about it on our blogs - Sustainable Flatbush, Brooklyn Junction, and I - attended the first workshop.] Approximately 50 of those invited attended—representing Brooklyn College, tenant associations, city government, homeowners associations, the local YMCA, merchants groups, community development groups, and civic and faith-based groups.
After an introduction by the Planning Center to MAS, Jane Jacobs, and the goals of the project, Elizabeth Yeampierre, Executive Director of UPROSE led a discussion of the meaning of neighborhood sustainability, the Mayor’s PlaNYC, and why neighborhoods needed to create their own agendas to work in tandem with the Mayor’s plan.

Attendees were asked to work in groups to brainstorm neighborhood assets and challenges, as a way of beginning a dialogue. Six groups produced observations that they first recorded on paper, then shared with the entire group at the end of the workshop. [A full transcript of all the notes from all groups will be available from MAS. I've asked for a copy as soon as its available. In my group, we covered both sides of two large sheets of paper!]

Shared observations about Flatbush’s assets included:
  • diversity (cultural; economic; ethnic; racial; religious);
  • proximity to Prospect Park;
  • good public transportation;
  • good schools;
  • proximity to Brooklyn College;
  • distinctive, historic neighborhood character;
  • strong and active community-based organizations;
  • aesthetically pleasing;
  • long tenure of many residents;
  • and locally-owned businesses.
Shared observations about challenges included:
  • lack of neighborhood parks;
  • school overcrowding;
  • lack of space for artists;
  • lack of active ways to engage youth;
  • lack of space for public assembly, such as community, senior, and youth centers; gentrification;
  • lack of affordable housing;
  • traffic;
  • achieving energy efficiency in buildings;
  • gang activity (both real and perceived);
  • lack of parking;
  • and inadequate sanitation in some areas.
Some interesting macro-level impressions: the neighborhood is large and varies in character and composition from place to place and consequently assets and challenges vary from place to place.

Next step: Workshop 2 at Brooklyn College Conference Center, Wednesday, December 12. [Note: This will start at 6:30pm, not 7pm as reported in these notes as sent out to Workshop #1 participants.] Agenda: public forum to identify sustainability goals.

Related Posts

Posts tagged "Imagine Flatbush 2030"


Municipal Art Society
Flatbush Development Corporation
Sustainable Flatbush
Brooklyn Junction


12/12: Imagine Flatbush 2030 Workshop #2

Imagine Flatbush 2030 Winning Logo, Credit: Imani Aegedoy, 11-9-2007
Imagine Flatbush 2030 Logo
Next week, on Wednesday, December 12, the second community workshop of Imagine Flatbush 2030 will be held at Brooklyn College:
Come and participate in a special dialogue about the future of Flatbush. The Flatbush Development Corporation (FDC) and the Municipal Art Society (MAS) are inviting you to take part in Imagine Flatbush 2030—a community visioning and dialogue process—designed to get you together with other Flatbush community members to collectively create a more sustainable neighborhood. If you care about the environment, community health, protecting diversity, ensuring affordable housing and a whole host of other community issues, this is the meeting for you!
When: Wednesday, December 12th @ 6:30 pm
Where: Brooklyn College Student Center, 6th Floor
East 27th St. & Campus Road
(ramp entrance near Amersfort Place, see map below)

The star highlights the location of IF2030 Workshop #2. The closest subway stop is the 2/5 Brooklyn College-Flatbush Avenue / Nostrand Avenue station. North is to the lower-right in this map.
Imagine Flatbush 2030: Location of Workshop#2

For more information and to RSVP, please contact Sideya Sherman, at the MAS Planning Center, at 212/935-3960 or via email at ssherman@mas.org.

Please be advised that there will be a supervised homework room provided for school aged children. If you need to bring a child, please contact us in advance.

Refreshments will be served

Related Posts

IF2030 on the Brian Lehrer Show, earlier today
The Albemarle Road Pedestrian Bridge, November 25
Imagine Flatbush 2030, November 20


Imagine Flatbush 2030, Municipal Art Society

TODAY: Imagine Flatbush 2030 on the Brian Lehrer Show

UPDATE: The podcast is available from WNYC's Web site, or through the widget below.

I just learned of this a few minutes ago. Today on the Brian Lehrer Show:
Susan Siegel, outgoing executive director of the Flatbush Development Corporation (FDC)and Zenobia McNally, local resident and business owner and Eve Baron, director of The Municipal Art Society Planning Center and the project manager for Imagine Flatbush 2030, discuss their efforts to create a community-directed development plan for Brooklyn's Flatbush neighborhood.
The Brian Lehrer Show airs weekdays at 10AM on 93.9 FM and AM 820 and Tuesdays through Saturdays at 1AM on AM 820. The call-in number is 212-433-9692 (or 212 433 WNYC).

Related Posts

The Albemarle Road Pedestrian Bridge, November 25
Imagine Flatbush 2030, November 20


Making Jane Jacobs Proud in Flatbush, The Brian Lehrer Show
Imagine Flatbush 2030, Municipal Art Society


Sustainable Flatbush General Meeting

Just a reminder that TOMORROW, Monday, December 3, is the next general meeting for Sustainable Flatbush.

The Gardening Committee will report on plans for a public community-wide educational event in late February.

November Arborea, FotT #18

Festival of the Trees #18, November Arborea, is up on Larry Ayers' Riverside Rambles. This issue has a link to my post about Brooklyn's Trees, the Flickr photo pool I started this year.

The 19th Festival of the Trees will be hosted by Lorianne of Hoarded Ordinaries. She’ll be taking submissions until midnight on December 30th. You can e-mail her at zenmama (at) gmail.com. You can also use the handy submission form.

First Snow, and Snowbirds, of the Season

Updated 12/6: Added Brian of Brooklyn, who has the most photos I've seen so far.
Updated throughout the day Monday, December 3, to add links to other blogs with photos of the first snow.

Slate-Colored Junco, Junco hyemalis hyemalis, in my Flatbush backyard
Slate-Colored Junco, Junco hyemalis hyemalis

We had our first snow of the season overnight. It was in the 20s all day, gradually warming, and it will be in the 30s tomorrow, so it will all be gone soon. I didn't get any pictures of it myself, but others did:

A Brooklyn Life
Bay Ridge Rover
Brian of Brooklyn
Ditmas Park Blog
Gowanus Lounge
Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn
Pardon Me For Asking
Self-Absorbed Boomer
Sustainable Flatbush

I didn't get out of the house today. Too busy cleaning, getting ready for guests tomorrow evening. But I was keeping an eye on the bird feeders yesterday and today. The winter migrants are firmly established now: Juncoes, Chickadees, and a little crested one whose name escapes me at the moment. I was looking for nuthatches, my favorites, but I didn't see any this weekend.

American Goldfinch, Cardulis tristis, in winter plumage. I think this is a female. Thanks to Flickr pals megankhines and PhotoJeff for the id!
American Goldfinch, Cardulis tristis, in winter plumage

Factoid: Street Trees and Property Values

The street tree in front of our house
Sycamore Maple? Street Tree, Stratford Road

Two weeks ago, I wrote that stormwater runoff reduction was the "second biggest" contributor to the annual benefits New York City receives from its street trees. So what's the largest contributor? The annual increase in property values that accrues as trees grow:
Well-maintained trees increase the “curb appeal” of properties. Research comparing sales prices of residential properties with different numbers and sizes of trees suggests that people are willing to pay 3–7% more for properties with ample trees versus few or no trees. One of the most comprehensive studies on the influence of trees on residential property values was based on actual sales prices and found that each large front-yard tree was associated with about a 1% increase in sales price (Anderson and Cordell 1988). Depending on average home sale prices, the value of this benefit can contribute significantly to property tax revenues.
- NYC Municipal Forest Resource Analysis, Appendix D: Methodology, Property Value and Other Benefits [emphasis added]
The annual increase in property values attributable to NYC's street trees alone is estimated at $52,500,000 per year. The standing value of those trees is far greater, 50-100 times the annual figure, in the billions of dollars. And this study only examined street trees. These figures do not take into account the standing and ever-increasing value of trees, plants, and other landscaping on the properties themselves.

Take that, Barbara Corcoran.
Many benefits attributed to urban trees are difficult to translate into economic terms. Wildlife habitat, beautification, improved human health, privacy, shade that increases human comfort, sense of place, and well-being are difficult to price. However, the value of some of these benefits may be captured in the property values of the land on which trees stand. To estimate the value of these “other” intangible benefits, research that compares differences in sales prices of houses was used to estimate the contribution associated with trees. The difference in sales price reflects the willingness of buyers to pay for the benefits and costs associated with trees.
- NYC Municipal Forest Resource Analysis, Chapter 4: Benefits of New York's Municipal Trees
The calculation of annual aesthetic and other benefits is tied to a tree’s annual increase in leaf area. When a tree is actively growing, leaf area increases rapidly. At maturity, there may be no net increase in leaf area from year to year, thus there is little or no incremental annual aesthetic benefit for that year, although the cumulative benefit over the course of the entire life of the tree may be large. Since this report represents a 1-year snapshot of the street tree population, benefits reflect the increase in leaf area for each tree over the course of one year. As a result, a very young population of 100 callery pears
will have a greater annual aesthetic benefit than an equal number of mature planetrees. However, the cumulative aesthetic value of the planetrees would be much greater than that of the pear.
Barbara Corcoran Hates the Earth, November 18
Factoids: NYC's Street Trees and Stormwater Reduction, November 15
Basic Research: The State of the Forest in New York City, November 12
Preserving Livable Streets: DCP's Yards Text Amendment, November 7
How Much Is a Street Tree Really Worth?, April 9
Million Trees NYC


Where is Flatbush, Anyway?

Update 2007.11.04: For others' reactions to the Times piece, see the Links at the end of this post, or check out the list on Brooklyn Junction. Also added a link to a 1998 letter to the editor about their invention of "Greater Ditmas Park."

Map of Flatbush in 1873
Map of Flatbush, 1873


Celebrating 50 Years of Carbon Dioxide (Measurement)

Monthly Mean CO2 for the Past 50 Years. Credit: NOAA
Mauna Loa, Hawaii Monthly Mean CO2 for the Past 50 Years

This simple graph of the Mauna Loa Carbon Dioxide Record documents a 0.53 percent or two parts per million per year increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide since 1958. This gas alone is responsible for 63 percent of the warming attributable to all greenhouse gases according to NOAA's Earth System Research Lab.
Fifty years ago the U.S. Weather Bureau, predecessor of NOAA’s National Weather Service, helped sponsor a young scientist from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography to begin tracking carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere at two of the planet’s most remote and pristine sites: the South Pole and the summit of the Mauna Loa volcano in Hawaii. This week NOAA, Scripps, the World Meteorological Organization, and other organizations will celebrate the half-century anniversary of the global record of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere—often referred to as the “Keeling Curve” in honor of that young scientist, Charles David Keeling.
- NOAA Celebrates 50-Year Carbon Dioxide Record
NOAA's Mauna Loa, Hawaii CO2 Monitoring Station. Credit: NOAANOAA's Mauna Loa, Hawaii CO2 Monitoring Station
Carbon dioxide is the most important of the greenhouse gases produced by humans and very likely responsible for the observed rise in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century. The Mauna Loa and South Pole data were the first to show the rate of CO2 buildup in the atmosphere. In 1974, NOAA began tracking greenhouse gases worldwide and continued global observations as the planet warmed rapidly over the past few decades.


Mauna Loa Carbon Dioxide Record
Mauna Loa Observatories
Earth System Research Lab


December 8, Red Hook: Observing the Edge

This looks interesting:
Brooklynites know better than anyone the havoc that development can wreak on a habitat. So on Saturday, Dec. 8, the Kentler International Drawing Space in Red Hook will host an artist’s talk on “Observing the Edge,” the gallery’s current show, which features works on paper relating to flora and fauna with habitats threatened by progressive development.

... anyone who has seen plants, or any other living creatures, displaced by development will surely want to take notice.
- Cutting ‘Edge’, Daniel Goldberg, The Brooklyn Paper
(Note: The Brooklyn Paper gave the date incorrectly as 12/4.)


Kentler International Drawing Space
353 Van Brunt Street
Red Hook/Brooklyn, New York 11231
Tel: 718-875-2098
Email: info@kentlergallery.org

The Volunteers

I'm guilty of rarely highlighting other gardeners or their blogs here. I read something wonderful today:
She embodied the spirit of volunteerism in both its meanings. She was a person who performed services willingly and without pay, providing an example to others who may have come to the garden for personal growth but stayed to cultivate that passion in others. But she was also like a stubborn volunteer plant, flourishing in our communal garden without being planted or cultivated.
- Death of a Gardener, Grow This
I've written many times here about the connections I feel among between gardening, grief and recovery. This echoes it beautifully:
Dorcas embodied the gardener’s faith that the ground we prepare, and the seeds we sow today, will bear fruit in the future – regardless of whether today’s gardeners will be there to witness the next harvest. While she will be greatly missed, the volunteers that she inspired will continue her work for many seasons to come.


Welcome to the (Online) Neighborhood

Our neighbors to the NorthWest in Windsor Terrace have formed the Windsor Terrace Alliance:
The Windsor Terrace Alliance (WTA) is made up of residents, community groups and businesses of Windsor Terrace interested in advocating for our neighborhood. We are your neighbors. The more voices we have, the louder our voice will be. Please consider joining us to get involved or for updates on issues affecting our neighborhood (click on the Contact Us button below).
via the StableBrooklyn Yahoo Group.
The WTA covers the area from Prospect Park West on the west, Prospect Park Southwest to Park Circle on the north, follows Ocean Parkway and then Caton Avenue on the east, and to McDonald Avenue on the south.
These boundaries include the East 4th Street Community Garden which I recently visited.


Windsor Terrace Alliance (WTA)
WTA Yahoo Group
StableBrooklyn Yahoo Group


Summary of the Kickoff Meeting of the Gardening Committee of Sustainable Flatbush

Updated 2007.11.30: Added the complete list of ideas which came out of the brainstorming session.

Last night I hosted the kickoff meeting for the Gardening Committee of Sustainable Flatbush. Clockwise from lower left in the photo are Mela, Anne, Lashonda, and Bruni.
Sustainable Flatbush Gardening Committee Kickoff Meeting

At the end of the evening, I asked if someone was willing to co-chair, and Bruni volunteered. She will report to the general meeting next Monday. What follows is my summary of how the evening went.
We opened with some quick introductions, everyone helped themselves to tea and cookies, then we settled in for a quick brainstorming session. As you can see in the photo above, my little card table wasn't big enough to hold all the ideas we generated in just a few minutes. Next time I'll use a bigger table.

Next we reviewed everything each of us had written while grouping and clustering the cards. For example, we had clusters for ideas related to composting, schools and youth, gardening techniques, street trees, and community. This sparked more discussion, questions and answers, and more ideas.

The strongest theme to come out of the meeting was "community." Each of us feels strongly about the connections between community and gardening. I talked about my experiences with the Daffodil planting on Cortelyou Road. Bruni talked about her experiences with a community garden, and the community of gardeners, in the East Village. Others talked about their desires to organize people in their buildings, and on their blocks.

We decided to focus on a single near-term action: a public community meeting in late February. The idea is to get people excited about the possibility of doing something with their building, their block, their neighbors in 2008, and connect them with opportunities to learn more and organize. I've contacted BBG's Brooklyn Greenbridge to see if they can do a Flatbush-oriented version of their "Greening Up Your Street" program. Even if not, we'll be able to put some kind of program together.

We don't have a date yet for our next meeting. We're thinking it might be sometime in January. When we have a date, it'll be announced here and on the Sustainable Flatbush motherblog.

I'm inspired by this definition of community gardening:
What is a Community Garden?
Any piece of land gardened by a group of people.
- American Community Gardening Association
By this definition, we can create "Community Gardens" everywhere:
  • Tree pits
  • Median strips
  • Planter boxes
  • Grounds and foundation planting areas of apartment/coop/condo
Imagine turning our streets into community gardens ...

I'll close with this photo. This shows the state of our table workspace after we had done the grouping and clustering. Visit the Flickr photo pages for this and the opening photo; they have notes with the text from some of the cards. This photo also shows that my home-made, from scratch, double Callebaut bittersweet chocolate chip cookies were well-received.
Sustainable Flatbush Gardening Committee Kickoff Meeting

The crayons were popular. I also ended up with some nice drawings and doodles on the paper covering the card table. I'll have to get some photographs of those as well.


Here's the complete list of ideas, in alphabetical order, which came out of our brainstorming session.

Adopt a tree
Apartment building gardens/landscaping
Aromatic gardening
Assisting renters in taking/using green space in or around buildings
BBG/Brooklyn Greenbridge
Benches around tree pits (wood benches)
Brooklyn College Garden
Buddy gardening
Build community
City repair (Portland model)
Community composting
Community garden
Demonstration gardens
Donate food grown to families with food challenges
Educate neighbors about types of trees in neighborhood
Engage youth/children
Find neighbors with farming experience
Food, not lawns
Gardens/farms in schools
Green roofs
Ground cover for older tree pits
Grow food
Guerilla gardening
Highlight/profile local gardeners
Kids education (PS 139, PS 217, and at other local schools)
Lawn care practices
Library Plaza Garden
Million Trees NYC
Planting in Newkirk Plaza
Public composting
Rain barrels
Rain gardens
Red Hood Community Farm
School compost
Sponsor a tree
Street arboretum
Tree signs
Window boxes

Monday, 12/3: Sustainable Flatbush December Meeting

This month's Sustainable Flatbush general meeting will be next Monday, December 3, from 7 to 9pm.

At the meeting, Gardening Committee co-chair Bruni will report on last night's kickoff meeting and our plans for a public community event sometime in late February 2008.

Related Posts

Gardening Committee Kickoff Meeting

Upcoming BBG GreenBridge Classes

I know Fall lingers on, and we haven't even reached the Winter Solstice, but it's time to start thinking about Spring! Registration for the Brooklyn Botanic Garden's Winter and Spring classes begins this Saturday, December 1. In addition to professional education, such as programs for Certificates in Horticulture or Floral Design, Brooklyn GreenBridge, BBG's Community Horticulture program, offers free and low-cost education to Brooklyn residents and communities:
Brooklyn GreenBridge is BBG's community horticulture program, including our Brooklyn Compost Project. For a free copy of our newsletter and more information about GreenBridge programs and events, call 718-623-7250. To reach our compost help line, call 718-623-7290. All classes are free, but you must preregister at 718-623-7220 unless otherwise indicated.
All classes are held at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. All classes are free but require registration. I've highlighted some upcoming classes below. See their Web site for registration information and the complete class schedule.

Composting in the City

Thursday, January 17, 6–8 p.m.

Leaves, kitchen scraps, garden trimmings, and weeds can all become garden gold through composting. Making dark, rich, crumbly compost doesn't take much time, work, or space. This class covers the essentials: the composting process, how to compost even in small city yards, using finished compost, avoiding and solving problems, and helpful equipment and tools. Participants receive a copy of the BBG handbook Easy Compost: The Secret to Great Soil and Spectacular Plants.

Teacher Workshop: Worm Composting in the Classroom

Thursday, January 31, 6–9 p.m.

Working with worms in the classroom is a great hands-on way to teach ecology, recycling, and gardening. Learn how to set up a worm bin, feed worms with food scraps, and maintain the system successfully. Activities, curriculum ideas, and ways to incorporate worm composting into science, math, and language arts for students of all ages will be introduced. Teachers will receive a copy of the activity guidebook Worms Eat Our Garbage, by Mary Appelhof, and may purchase a $10 voucher for a pound of red wiggler worms and a plastic worm bin.

This class may also be held at your Brooklyn school for a group of ten or more teachers. For information contact 718-623-7290 or compost@bbg.org.

Composting with Lovely Redworms

Thursday, February 14, 6–8 p.m.

Did you know that redworms have 5 pairs of hearts? Come to this workshop and learn other things about this unique species. Learn all about vermicomposting, or composting with worms, including how to make and maintain a home for redworms. Participants will receive a copy of the book Worms Eat My Garbage, by Mary Appelhof, and may purchase a $10 voucher for a pound of redworms and a plastic worm bin.

Register with Karla Osorio-Pérez at 718-623-7368.

Make Compost With a Touch of Spanish / Haz Abono Orgánico con un Toque de Inglés

Thursday, February 28 / Jueves, 28 de febrero, 6–8 p.m.

Karla Osorio-Pérez

This class addresses two audiences—English and Spanish speakers—and is translated in both languages simultaneously throughout the session. We cover the basics of composting in a complete, practical, and interactive way. Participants receive handouts and literature to review at home.

Esta clase esta diseñada para el público de habla hispana e inglés y será brindada en ambos idiomas al mismo tiempo. El taller ofrece una gran oportunidad para aprender cómo hacer abono orgánico en una forma práctica, sencilla y de una manera interactiva. Participantes recibirán material informativo para estudiar en casa.

Register with Karla Osorio-Pérez / Llama a Karla Osorio-Pérez, 718-623-7368

Good Place for a Haunting Landmarked

2274 Church Avenue, Flatbush, Brooklyn
2274 Church Avenue

Remember me? I'm now a landmark:
A former public school in Flatbush has been approved for designation as an individual landmark by the Landmarks Preservation Commission. At its meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 20, the commission voted 8-0-0 to approve a recommendation by its research department to designate the former Flatbush District No. 1 School, later named PS 90, at the corner of Church and Bedford avenues and adjacent to Erasmus Hall High School.
- Landmarks Commission Designates Former PS 90 in Flatbush, Linda Collins, Brooklyn Eagle, 11/26/2007
Given the condition it's in, I hope this action hasn't come too late to save this building. I bet this would make a terrific community center in an area that's sorely lacking public meeting space.

Related Posts

Good Place for a Haunting, October 27


[where: 2274 Church Avenue, Brooklyn, NY]


Requesting photobloggers experiences with Schmap

Update 2007.12.10: I gave them permission to use the photo - a view of Governor's Island from Red Hook - and they included it.

I got an email this evening notifying me that one of my Flickr photos has been short-listed for inclusion in a Schmap guide. I've never heard of them before this, and just want to know if anyone has any experiences with them as a content contributor. Please share publicly in the comments or email me privately at [xrisfg at gmail dot com].

Schmap is advertising-driven. My photos are licensed Creative Commons for Attributed, Non-Commercial, Non-Derivative works, so they're asking me for my permission for them to use my photo:
While we offer no payment for publication, many photographers are pleased to submit their photos, as Schmap Guides give their work recognition and wide exposure, and are free of charge to readers. Photos are published at a maximum width of 150 pixels, are clearly attributed, and link to high-resolution originals at Flickr.

The creative commons license that you've assigned your photo(s) provides for non-commercial use. Our Schmap Guides, though free to readers, are ad supported: if you would like your short-listed photo(s) to continue to our ... final selection phase, please therefore read our 'Terms of Submission' and press the 'Submit' button, no later than our editorial submission deadline – Sunday, December 2.
Here are their Terms of Submission to which they're asking me to agree:
The term "Photos" refers to one or more photographs and/or images licensed by You to Schmap pursuant to the Terms.

Subject to the terms and conditions herein, You hereby grant Schmap a worldwide, royalty-free, non-exclusive, perpetual license to include the Photos in the current and/or subsequent releases of Schmap's destination/local guides.

Nothing in these Terms is intended to reduce, limit, or restrict any rights arising from fair use, first sale or other limitations on the exclusive rights of the copyright owner under copyright law or other applicable laws.

The license granted in Section 2 above is made subject to and limited by the following express limitations:

(a) Schmap may only distribute, publicly display, publicly perform, and/or publicly perform the Photos pursuant to the Terms.

(b) Schmap shall be required to keep intact all copyright notices for the Photos and provide, reasonable to the medium or means of utilization, the name of the original author (or pseudonym, if applicable) if supplied, for attribution in Licensor's copyright notice, terms of service or by other reasonable means, and a credit (implemented in any reasonable manner) identifying the use of the Photos in any derivative Photos created by Schmap.

(c) Schmap shall, to the extent reasonably practicable, provide Internet link(s) to your Photos.

(d) Schmap shall not sublicense the Photos.

(e) Schmap shall indicate to the public that the Photos are licensable to others under the Creative Commons license that you have assigned to the Photos prior to Schmap's initial short-listing of your Photos, and provide a link to this license, where reasonably practical.

(f) Schmap shall continue to make its destination/local guides available at no cost to end users.

You confirm that You own or otherwise control all of the rights to the Photos and that use of the Photos by Schmap will not infringe or violate the rights of any third parties.

Schmap shall have no obligation whatsoever to reproduce, distribute, broadcast, or otherwise make use of the Photos licensed by You to Schmap hereunder.

While the Flickr website and/or Flickr API have been used to short-list your Photos, Schmap claims no affiliation or partnership with Flickr.

[Lots of legalese ...] If there is any dispute about or involving the Terms or the license granted hereunder, You agree that such dispute shall be governed by the laws of the State of California without regard to its conflict-of-law provisions. You agree to personal jurisdiction by and venue in the state and federal courts of the State of California, City of San Francisco. The license granted in the Terms may not be modified without the mutual written agreement of You and Schmap.


Two of my favorite things


And bugs.

via Bug Girl's Blog

Forgotten Flatbush: The Albemarle Road Pedestrian Bridge

In the first Imagine Flatbush 2030 workshop, we enumerated "Assets" and "Challenges". At our table - and it sounded like the experience was shared at others' - where someone lived emerged as a primary determinant of what appeared in which category. Sometimes shared concerns, such as transportation, appeared as both an asset and a challenge, depending on where one lived. It became clear to me that the lines can be sharply drawn, sometimes block-by-block.

I'm a newcomer to the area, having moved here only in Spring of 2005. I researched more and more about the area and its history as we committed to buying a home and moving here. I've still only visited a small portion of Flatbush. IF2030 is making me curious about exploring more of it.

Part of what I want to explore more of is literally "on the other side of the tracks" from where I make my home. The B/Q subway line runs through this neighborhood as an open trench. There are several places where there is no crossing, and the cut forms a geographical barrier, a steel river, separating one side from the other. It wasn't always so. With homage to Forgotten NY, here's a little piece of Flatbush that's not quite forgotten, still part of living memory, the Albemarle Road pedestrian bridge.

Google Map of the location of the old Albemarle Road pedestrian bridge. 143 Buckingham Road is also highlighted; it's a landmark in all the historical photos of this crossing. The markers show where I took the photos for this article.

View Larger Map
The BMT as I remember -- never rode it much, but had relatives on East 17th & Beverley Road. We would always go to the Albemarle Road footbridge by the tennis courts over the BMT cut, and watch the trains.
- Steve Hoskins, SubTalk Post #93389, NYC Subway
Eastern Dead End of Albemarle Road at Buckingham Road. 143 Buckingham Road is at the left of the photograph.
Dead End, Albemarle Road at Buckingham Road

Western foundation of Albemarle Road Pedestrian Bridge
Western foundation of Albemarle Road Pedestrian Bridge
“I seem to have a memory - or is it just a dream? - going back to my earliest childhood, associated with a place about a mile in a different direction from where I lived, towards Prospect Park: it is a stretch of about five blocks of Albemarle Road, going from the Brighton subway underpass to Coney Island Avenue. One got there from our side of the subway tracks by crossing over on a small footbridge. On the far end of the bridge, Albemarle Road suddenly widens, and in the middle of it there is a traffic island, covered with trees and extending a 11 the way to Coney Island Avenue; there are also trees on both sides of the street. My first encounters with this scene are in my memory entirely intermingled with my dreams of it, a recurring vision of overwhelming loveliness at the edge of things, beyond which something entirely new and different must lie.”
- Ronald Sanders, A Brooklyn Memoir, via Living in Victorian Flatbush
Western Dead End of Albemarle Road near East 17th Street. 143 Buckingham Road is at the right of the photograph, across the tracks.
Western Dead End, Albemarle Road, near East 17th Street

East Foundation of Albemarle Road Pedestrian Bridge. 143 Buckingham Road is in the center, across the tracks.
East Foundation of Albemarle Road Pedestrian Bridge

Albemarle Road is interrupted by the subway cut for the B/Q lines. In the late 19th Century, several rail lines were developed to take passengers from the City of Brooklyn, what we now think of as downtown Brooklyn, through the other villages and towns such as Flatbush, to the beach resorts on Coney Island and Brighton Beach. By the 1870s the Brooklyn Coney Island Railroad ran along Coney Island Avenue. By the 1890s, the Brooklyn, Flatbush and Coney Island Railroad (BF&CI) ran along what is now the current route of the B/Q subway line. Most of Flatbush was still farmland at the time. When the Flatbush farms were sold and the area was developed at the turn of the 20th Century, the tracks still ran at grade.

In this 1873 map of Flatbush, Prospect Park and the Parade Grounds are already laid out to the north, and the Brooklyn Coney Island Railroad runs along Coney Island Avenue. On this map, Parkside Avenue is named Franklin Avenue, Church Avenue is named Church Lane, and Cortelyou Road is named Turner Harrow (or Narrow?) Lane. The Waverly Avenue shown on this map no longer exists; it's later replaced by Albemarle and Beverly Roads Road, whose future locations are shown, but neither named nor yet built. The future route of the B/Q line is not shown. The families whose landholdings and houses appear on this map lent their names to several streets and neighborhoods: Turner, Hinkley, Ditmas and Vanderveer.
Map of Flatbush, Brooklyn, 1873

In an 1888 USGS Survey Map of Brooklyn, just a small portion of which is shown here, Waverly Avenue has been "de-mapped." The roads built in its place, unnamed on this map, are Avenues B and C; these will be renamed later to Beverly and Cortelyou Roads. Between them run East 11th through East 14th Streets; in the early 1900s, these will be renamed to Stratford, Westminster, Argyle and Rugby Roads to cash in on the cachet of Prospect Park South. The BF&CI, which began service in July 1878, is also now in place. East of that, the eastern half of Avenue A (Albemarle Road) has been built, along with East 17th through 19th Streets.
Detail, 1888 USGS Survey Map of Brooklyn

Through the early 1900s, all these railroad lines ran at grade, at street level. There were also trolley lines, at first horse-drawn, then later electrified, on many of the crossing streets. Development brought a burgeoning residential population, more traffic, and more traffic conflicts and accidents. The decision was made to separate the rail and street traffic by moving them to different levels, passing above and below each other.

This photo from the 1918 "Reports of the Brooklyn Grade Crossing Elimination Commission" shows the Albemarle Road Footbridge. The line has been widened to four tracks and now runs below grade. Today, the local Q train runs on the outer tracks, while the express B runs on the inner tracks. 143 Buckingham Road is visible on the upper left of the photograph. Thanks to Art Huneke for permission to use this photograph. This photo appears on his page Brighton Beach Line, Part 3.
Albemarle Road Footbridge

The physical contrasts could hardly be stronger across the tracks: a wide, tree-lined boulevard with large, detached wood-frame houses on one side, and tall, multiple-unit residential buildings with few trees on the other. It is tempting to imagine what it would be like to restore the pedestrian bridge, eliminating at least a geographical barrier between these two halves of the same neighborhood. Would it help us to make other connections, to recognize our common assets and challenges, and work together to create a future we can all live with?

Related posts

Imagine Flatbush 2030


My Flickr photo set
Brighton Line, NYC Subway
ARRT's Archives, Art Huneke's Web site
Rapid Transit Net
The Brooklyn Grade Crossing Elimination Project, 1903-1918