Good Place for a Haunting #2

1305 Albemarle Road

This is 1305 Albemarle Road in the landmarked district of Prospect Park South. The ground floor alone has the square footage of our entire house. It's the largest house in a neighborhood of huge homes. That alone qualifies it as a "monster house."

But my favorite feature, for this post: check out the windows on the second floor balcony and dormer:


I'm out of town this week, so I'm "phoning it in". If I was home, I would get some detail shots of the 2nd floor and dormer windows. Instead, here are a couple of other views. Visit the Flickr photo pages where you can view these images at their largest sizes and see the windows more clearly.

1305 Albemarle Road

1305 Albemarle Road

1305 Albemarle Road

[where: 1305 Albemarle Road, Brooklyn, NY, 11226]


1,000 Daffodils for Cortelyou Road

Two weeks ago I put out a call for volunteers to plant Daffodils along Cortelyou Road, from East 17th Street to Coney Island Avenue. My neighbor Stacey had arranged for 300 bulbs from the Daffodil Project.

Well, she got her order increased to 500 bulbs and received them today. And Friends of Cortelyou and the Cortelyou Road Merchants Association (CORMA) is getting another 500 bulbs for the effort. So we have 1,000 Daffodil bulbs to plant this season which will bloom along the new streetscape of Cortelyou Road next Spring.

The dates for planting are the first two weekends in November, Saturday and Sunday, 11/5 and 11/6, and 11/11 and 11/12. To help us estimate how many hands we'll have on deck, please fill out the survey in the sidebar, "What date could you help plant bulbs along Cortelyou Road?" To join us, meet at P.S. 139 at the northwest corner of Cortelyou Road and Rugby Road at 10am. You'll need to bring your own gardening tools for planting: trowels, gloves, gardening forks or spades. But if you don't have tools of your own, don't let that stop you; how about bringing some hot chocolate?!

How to plant Daffodil bulbs

Planting Daffodils

When to plant

Keep bulbs cool and dry until you're ready to plant. You can plant when nights start getting cool. You can plant as long as the ground isn't frozen. I've even planted when the top inch of soil was frozen by frost. I just lifted the top slab of frozen earth, planted my bulbs, then replaced the slab.


The rule-of-thumb is to plant most bulbs at a depth 3x the height of the bulb. For larger Daffodils, this places the base of the bulb about 6-8 inches down. Smaller varieties, with smaller bulbs, should be planted at a shallower depth.


You can space the bulbs about as far apart as the depth you plant them. It depends on the look you want. I like a natural, informal look, so I like to scatter the bulbs gently over the planting area, then plant them where they land.

Plant the bulbs with the nose, the pointy end, facing up, resting on the flat base.
Daffodil bulb


When planting larger areas, you can dig out the bed to the depth you want to plant, dig in any fertilizer, then place all the bulbs at once before back-filling with the soil you removed.
Daffodil bulbs in place

Daffodils covered

You can plant other, smaller bulbs at a shallower depth over the Daffodil bulbs before completely filling the hole. Bulbs that bloom earlier, such as Crocus (which are corms, not true bulbs, which serve the same function), will extend the Spring bloom season. Anything which blooms later may get smothered or covered by the Daffodil foliage, depending on how densely you've planted them.
Crocus corms

Crocus corms scattered above the Daffodil bulbs

Bulbs already have stored most of the food and energy they need to bloom once. To give them a boost, you can dig a little fertilizer into the bottom of each hole before placing the bulb. More important, to keep them blooming and spreading year after year, leave the leaves on the plants after they bloom until they turn brown. It will look messy, but that's how the bulbs store food for next year's blooms. Perennials and annuals can be planted alongside the bulbs; their leaves will help cover the dying foliage and keep the area looking neat.

Good Place for a Haunting

Update, 2007.11.27: The Landmarks Preservation Commission unanimously designated this building an individual landmark at their meeting on November 20.

2274 Church Avenue, former Public School 90
2274 Church Avenue

With all the big, spooky houses around here, you'd think it would be easy to find something to contribute to the Brooklyn bloggers' Halloween haunted house meme. Here's one from me.

According to the Department of Buildings Building Information System (BIS), this magnificent ruin at the corner of Church and Bedford Avenues has a range of addresses assigned to it: 2192-2210 Bedford Avenue, and 2274-2286 Church Avenue. The nominal address for their records is 2274 Church Avenue. The earliest DOB records date back to 1903.

It's next to Erasmus Hall High School on the Bedford Avenue side. The Department of Finance classification is W-8, an educational structure. The DOB listing also notes that it's calendared for landmark status. I found it as Item #1 for a September 18 LPC meeting [PDF], which solves part of the mystery: it was a public school:
FORMER PUBLIC SCHOOL 90, 2274 Church Avenue aka 2274-2286 Church
Avenue, 2192-2210 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn.
Landmark Site: Borough of Brooklyn Tax Map Block 5103, Lot 58
I can't find anything about what happened at that meeting, or anything else about its landmark status. I can't find anything about its use as a public school. Everything here is what I found from public records. Anyone know anything more about this?


Meta: Blogger/Blogspot now provides comment feeds

I haven't had a chance to try this out yet, but Blogger Buzz announced today that you - yes, you - can receive follow-up comments by email. You can subscribe to a post's comments by clicking the "Email" link next to "Subscribe to comments" on the post page.

There's a bit of a catch to it, though:
In order to receive follow-ups via email, you’ll need to post your comment using your Google Account. We only send comments to your verified Google Account so that someone else can’t use this feature to send you email you didn’t sign up for.
Not much worse than I've experienced on some other hosting services, especially TypePad. So, not ideal, but better than nothing.

Subscribe to Comments - by email! (Blogger Buzz)
How can I subscribe to comments by email? (Blogger Help)


NYC OEM recommends cash donations for California Wildfire Relief

Via email:
The NYC Office of Emergency Management urges residents who wish to help those affected by the California wildfires to make cash donations to disaster relief organizations.

A list of organizations collecting donations can be found at National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD) Network For Good. The American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, Catholic Charities USA, and the Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City are also accepting donations for wildfire relief.
Why make cash donations?
  • Relief agencies will often spend cash in the disaster area, helping the local economy get back on its feet.
  • Cash donations help avoid the costly and time-consuming process of collecting, packing, transporting, storing, and distributing donated goods.
  • Cash donations allow relief agencies to make purchases that meet victims' precise needs.
  • Cash donations to recognized relief organizations are tax deductible.

"Wherefore art thou, Romeo?" (Lost Cat)

Romeo, a Cat
Romeo, a Cat

A neighbor is on the lookout for their cat, Romeo:

Romeo, our much loved small (only 8-9lbs.) male gray and white cat is
missing--now over 2 days. He has no collar and frequents the backyards
between Albemarle/Church and Westminster/Argyle...any sightings?
- message posted to Flatbush Family Network

We've been trying to socialize a litter of three kittens that appeared in our backyard over the summer. So we've been on the lookout for strange cats. We think we've seen this little guy on our property, a block away. We'll keep a special lookout for him.

The Bay Ridge Blogade

Corrected: Eli of Brooklyn Junction arrived after I left. Sorry we didn't get to meet this time, neighbor!

Some of the Bay Ridge Blogade at Omonia Cafe. Left to right: Rob Lenihan (Luna Park Gazette), Claude Scales (Self-Absorbed Boomer), David Sheffler (Swell Designs), and Tony/Brooklyn Beat (Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn)
Bay Ridge Blog, Omonia Cafe
This past Sunday I attended the fourth Brooklyn Blogade at the Omonia Cafe in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.

Omonia Cafe, 7612 3rd Avenue, Bay Ridge, Brooklyn
Omonia Cafe, 7612 3rd Avenue, Bay Ridge, Brooklyn

I had to leave early to get back to my nabe to attend the inaugural concert of the Victorian Place Cultural Center later that afternoon. I was sorry I had to cut out. The conversation was lively. When I left, we were talking about - gasp - blogging, not real estate. You never know what's going to happen at a Blogade.

I rarely do portrait photography. Lesson learned from this attempt: Take photographs of people while they're listening, as in the photo at the top of this post. It's difficult to get good still shots of animated speakers. All you get are grimaces, psychotic, deer-in-the-headlights, open-eyed stares, and other images that don't capture the spirit of the speakers. These are the best I got of those whom I met there on Sunday.

Our radiant host, Rob Lenihan of Luna Park Gazette
Rob Lenihan, Luna Park Gazette

Petra, Bed-Stuy Blog
Petra, Bed-Stuy Blog

Chandru Murthi, I'm Seeing Green
Chaundru Murthi, I'm Seeing Green
Tony/Brooklyn Beat, Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn
Brooklyn Beat, Brooklyn Junction

Claude Scales, Self-Absorbed Boomer
Claude Scales, Self-Absorbed Boomer

I'm afraid I did the worst job with David Sheffler of Swell Designs. This was the best of about a dozen shots I got of him. Sorry, David!
David Sheffler, Swell Designs

Because I left early, I also didn't get to partake of the tempting delicacies offered up in Omonia's huge, wrap-around horseshoe of cakes, pastries, cookies, and everything.

Treats, Omonia Cafe
Treats, Omonia Cafe
Meringues? Omonia Cafe
Mmmmm, Cake! Omonia Cafe
Jordan Almonds Under Glass, Omonia Cafe


Images: Fires in Southern California

Update 2007.10.24: NASA continues to publish updated satellite imagery of the fires and the natural phenomena driving them. Check the sidebar of their page for "Other Images for this Event".

By Wednesday morning, 600,000 people had been displaced by the fires. By the afternoon, CNN upped the estimate to over 900,000.

Image acquired 2007.10.22 13:55 PDT

Watching the news this morning before going to work, I was shocked to hear that a quarter of a million people - 250,000 - have been displaced by the fires in California. This satellite image, taken less than 24 hours ago, provides some sense of the scale of what's going on there.

In what seemed like the blink of an eye, wildfires ignited in the paper-dry, drought-stricken vegetation of Southern California over the weekend of October 20, 2007, and exploded into massive infernos that forced hundreds of thousands of people to evacuate their communities. Driven by Santa Ana winds, fires grew thousands of acres in just one to two days. The fires sped down from the mountains into the outskirts of coastal cities, including San Diego. Dozens of homes have burned to the ground, and at least one person has died, according to local news reports. Several of the fires were burning completely out of control as of October 22.
The drought in the Southwest throughout summer 2007 has been “extreme” according to the categories used by the U.S. Drought Monitor. Dry vegetation and Santa Ana winds, which can reach hurricane force as they race downslope from the deserts of the Great Basin and through narrow mountain passes, are often a devastating combination in Southern California. According to the Incident Management Situation Report [PDF] from the National Interagency Fire Center for October 22, Santa Ana winds were expected to continue through Wednesday.

- Fires in Southern California, NASA Earth Observatory
California Fire News (Blog)
CNN Coverage
NASA: Fires in Southern California

Victorian Flatbush at risk from inappropriate zoning

Updated 2007.11.15: Added link to DCP Zoning Glossary and definitions of selected zoning terms used in the post.

A comment on Ditmas Park Blog open thread, Landmarking Pro and Con, led me to begin writing a lengthy response, which I thought I'd post here instead.
The area's R1 and R2 zoning already prohibits anything but a detached single-family house.
I've written about this issue several times before on this blog.

Only Prospect Park South, Ditmas Park, West Midwood, Midwood Park, and Fiske Terrace - maybe a third of Victorian Flatbush in area, if that - are covered by R1 and R2. The rest is mostly R3-2. The most at-risk are the R6 zones; there have already been several teardowns along Stratford Road in Ditmas Park West that I've seen and photographed.

Zoning only addresses physical properties, such as setbacks, curbcuts, building height, Floor-to-Area Ratio (FAR), and so on. You can still rip off all architectural details, stucco over the entire woodframe house, add faux quoins, brick in the porch, add picture windows, and top it off with a six-foot rolling gate stainless steel barricade. Only landmarking can protect the street character of a neighborhood.

Check DCP for an index of all Zoning Maps. South Midwood is on map 23a; the rest of Victorian Flatbush is on 22c. DCP includes an explanation of basic residential zoning regulations on their Web site.

Related Posts

State of Flatbush/Midwood, October 5
Illegal Conversions Kill, September 24
Another reason to loathe real estate brokers, April 6
Four Borough Neighborhood Preservation Alliance Recommending Brooklyn Neighborhoods, March 23
Landscape and Politics in Brooklyn's City Council District 40, February 14
NASA Earth Observatory Maps NYC's Heat Island, Block by Block, August 1, 2006


DCP: Residence District Zoning Explained
DCP Zoning Glossary


Narrows Botanical Gardens, Bay Ridge, Brooklyn

Update 2007.10.24:
  • The insect nymphs have been identified as Large Milkweed Bug, Oncopeltus fasciatus.
  • A work colleague translated the Russian sign for me.

Crabapple, Narrows Botanical Gardens

Yesterday I visited Bay Ridge for the first time to attend the fourth Blogade, organized by Rob Lenihan of Luna Park Gazette. This gave me a chance to visit the Narrows Botanical Gardens (NBG) earlier in the day.

NBG is a 4.5 acre community garden run entirely by volunteers. It lies between Shore Road and the waterfront trails along the Narrows between Brooklyn and Staten island in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. You enter NBG from Shore Road. Unfortunately, my visit yesterday was ill-timed. Two of the three entrances were closed for construction. And the gate to native plant garden at the north end of NBG, which I was most looking forward to, was locked off.

It was another of those warm, sunny days we've been having, more like late May or June than October. There was lots in bloom, and lots of animal activity. I was surprised at the number of things I didn't recognize or couldn't identify. If you can identify any of these "unknowns", please leave a comment!

Water Lily
Water Lily, Narrows Botanical Garden

Modern Rose
New Rose, Narrows Botanical Gardens


Pennisetum, I think


Sleepy Bee
Sleepy Bee

Unknown Sparrow
ID REQUEST: Unknown Sparrow

Nymphs of Large Milkweed Bug, Oncopeltus fasciatus
ID REQUEST: Insect nymphs
Thanks to Hannah Nendick-Mason, Contributing Editor to BugGuide and urtica (Flickr), whom I know better as Jennifer Forman Orth, author of the long-running and indispensible Invasive Species Weblog.

Monarch on Butterfly Bush
Monarch on Butterfly Bush

Bamboo, Zen Garden
Bamboo, Zen Garden, Narrows Botanical Gardens

Morning Glory
Morning Glory, Narrows Botanical Gardens

Fruit of unknown shrub
ID REQUEST: Fruit of unknown shrub

Monarch Butterfly on unknown purple-flowering shrub
Monarch on unknown shrub

"Please, don't pick the flowers"
Probably says Don't pick the flowers in Russian
One of my work colleagues translated the sign for me. Here's the Google English to Russian Translation:

Russian: Не ставят цветы, пожалуйста

The word for "PICK" doesn't match the sign.

Another Modern Rose
Rose, Narrows Botanical Gardens

Amaranth flowers

Opuntia in Fruit
Opuntia Fruit
(Firefox' spell-checker didn't recognize "Opuntia." It suggested Jauntily Haunting Prudential Aunties.)

Catching Up

I've been out of town for a week. I more than made up for it yesterday, with a trip to and from Bay Ridge using two different subways and buses. It was my first visit to Bay Ridge. I went for the Bay Ridge Blogade. I also visited the Narrows Botanical Gardens. I had to leave the Blogade early to return for the inaugural event of Victorian Place Cultural Center.

I took about 600 photos over the course of the day. These are getting seriously whittled down. Even so, it's going to take me a couple of days to get to each set. So watch this space!


Bay Ridge Blogade This Sunday, October 21

The fourth Brooklyn Blogade, a more-or-less-monthly roving meetup of Brooklyn bloggers, neighborhood residents, and others interested in community-building, will be this Sunday, October 14. This month, Rob Lenihan of Luna Park Gazette is hosting in Bay Ridge at Omonia Cafe, 7612 Third Avenue, Brooklyn, NY. His post has more details, including how to RSVP.


Newkirk Avenue

Newkirk Plaza
Newkirk Plaza

This afternoon, Blog Widow and I had brunch at Picket Fence on Cortelyou Road, then strolled through Ditmas Park and Ditmas Park West. Yes, yes, there are beautiful houses there. But today it's about Newkirk Avenue.

Watching You
Watching You, Newkirk Avenue and East 16th Street
A half-block from the Newkirk Avenue subway station is this imposing array of surveillance cameras. I'm sure I'm recorded somewhere now, and facial recognition systems will soon match this suspicious character to my 25-year old blog profile photo, my identity revealed.

Christ My Sufficiency
Christ My Sufficiency, Brooklyn Foursquare Church, 603 Rugby Road
This is just south of Newkirk Avenue on Rugby Road. The sign caught my eye, as well as Blog Widow's. He said I had to take a picture of this store-front church. He's in the biz, so I assume it's out of professional interest.

Of course, I had to ask him, "What's a FourSquare Church?" It was founded by Aimee Semple McPherson in 1927. Which doesn't explain anything to me. I'll read the Wikipedia article later.

Markets and Grocery Stores
Kim's Market, 1521 Newkirk Avenue, Ditmas Park
SSC Market, 4 Newkirk Plaza
Rupali Grocery, 1408 Newkirk Avenue

MYSTERY SOLVED! Bitter Melon on Newkirk Avenue
Mystery produce, Newkirk Avenue
Frank Jump, neighbor and general cohort, identifies these objets as bitter melons. It looks like a hairy, warty cucumber. It just doesn't say "Eat ME!" to me.

Two Guys
Two Guys, Newkirk Avenue
I was taking a photo of the Drupali Grocery on Newkirk Avenue when these guys told me to "Make it a good picture!"

Each said I should take a picture of the other guy. So I asked to take a shot of both of them together. This was the third and last photo, after I prompted them to "smile!"

Welcome in Eleven Languages
Welcome in Eleven Languages
This is the sign on the corner of the Newkirk Family Health Center, at the northeast corner of Newkirk and Rugby Road.

I don't even recognize half of the alphabets, let alone the languages.
The first four are English, Spanish, Russian and French. I recognize Hebrew second from the bottom. I think the bottom one is Arabic script, and fourth from the bottom are Chinese characters.