Fall Approaches, 2008

I've been watching fall advance locally: first the red of the Dogwoods, the yellow of the Locusts, the psychedelia of the White Ash. When my system gets back up and running, I'll have some photos of my own to share. Meanwhile, NASA treats us with their annual satellite perspective on the phenomenon. This is how it looked about two weeks ago.

Fall Color in the US Northeast
Fall was beginning to color the East Coast of the United States when the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured this image on October 12, 2008. Orange touches trees in the north and at higher elevations, where temperatures are cooler. Lower elevations are still green. The fall color follows the sweep of the Appalachian Mountains through Pennsylvania, New York, and into New England.
- Fall Color in the US Northeast, NASA Earth Observatory
The image also illustrates the dense population of the East Coast. Cities are gray in this photo-like image. The greater New York City region covers a large area on the coast. Boston, Massachusetts, and Providence, Rhode Island are also clearly visible.

Related Posts



Fall Color in the US Northeast, NASA Earth Observatory

"Ditmas Park" in LifeStyler: So Wrong ...

North side of Dorchester Road between Rugby and Marlborough Roads, Ditmas Park West (not "Ditmas Park")
North side of Dorchester Road between Rugby and Marlborough Roads, Ditmas Park West

In their Neighborhood Watch feature today, LifeStyler - "offering tips to young adults in order to promote financial responsibility and fiscally responsible lifestyle choices" - interviews neighbors Ben and Liena of the Ditmas Park Blog:
We turn our attentions to Ditmas Park, one of the three Flatbush historic districts that feature beautiful Victorian houses and a low-key, family-friendly vibe. We spoke with Ben and Liena of Ditmas Park Blog for their takes on one of Brooklyn’s best-kept secrets, and how it is also in a state of change.
- Neighborhood Watch: Ditmas Park, Jeffrey L. Wilson, LifeStyler, 2008-10-22
Are we really such a secret, anymore? Victorian Flatbush was featured in This Old House, for the gods' sakes, over the summer as the best place in the U.S. to buy an old house in an urban area.

Since they make a point about "historic districts" - which, in NYC, means landmarked and protected by law - I have no qualms about being a stickler for geography. Presumably, the three historic districts they refer to are:
  • Ditmas Park
  • Prospect Park South
  • Fiske Terrace-Midwood Park, which is one district comprising two adjacent neighborhoods.
Unfortunately, LifeStyler chose to illustrate the interview with photos mostly from Ditmas Park West, which is lovely, but not landmarked, and is not part of Ditmas Park. They lifted all the photos from Flickr. They used three of my photos in violation of all three terms of my Creative Commons license:
  • non-commercial use (they have ads on their site)
  • non-derivative (they cropped the photos to fit their page layout)
  • attributed (they only provide my handle on two of the photos, and only one of them is linked to my Flickr site or blog)
Only one of my three photos is from Ditmas Park: a photo of a vegetable stand on Newkirk Avenue.

Kim's Market, 1521 Newkirk Avenue, Ditmas Park, Flatbush, Brooklyn
Kim's Market, 1521 Newkirk Avenue, Ditmas Park, Flatbush, Brooklyn

I have no time to investigate, but I suspect the other photographers licenses were violated as well. For the record, they are:
I'm not providing any links to LifeStyler's Web site. Why should I? They didn't link to any of their folks whose creative content they ripped off.


Please stand by ...

... we are experiencing technical difficulties.
Trash 80

Specifically, the graphics card on my Dell laptop is shot. And, with their stellar support, which I already paid for, I get to wait 3-5 BUSINESS days for a replacement part.

So posting from the FG is going to be slim for the next two weeks.


A recent history of Cortelyou Road

Cortelyou Road, North side, looking East from Westminster Road, September 2006, before the new streetscape was put in place in Spring of 2007.
Cortelyou Road, South side, looking East from Westminster Road

Neighbor, friend, and local real estate agent Jan Rosenberg writes of changes in our neighborhood in the online journal NewGeography:
Twenty some years ago my husband, 2 young sons and I moved from our cramped 16-foot wide attached row house in Brooklyn’s trendy Park Slope to a free-standing, 7-bedroom Victorian house in the Ditmas Park section of Flatbush with stained glass windows, pocket doors, original wood paneling, a back yard, front porch, driveway and 2-car garage in a little-known, tree-lined neighborhood about 10 minutes away – on the other, high-crime side of Prospect Park.
- Gentrification from the inside out in Brooklyn's Ditmas Park
I know everyone's tired of hearing it from me, but this is not Ditmas Park. It's Beverley Square West and Ditmas Park West. Or Victorian Flatbush. Or just plain Flatbush. I suspect the editors provided the title, not Jan.

We're newcomers to the neighborhood. We've only been here since the Spring of 2005. Most of our neighbors have been here much longer than that, even longer than Jan's "twenty some" years. Jan summarizes what we hear from the "old-timers:" not so long ago, moving to this neighborhood was a pioneering act:
When crime exploded in the 1960s and welfare tenants were moved into some of the apartments, much of the middle class – white and black – fled. By the early 1990s many assumed that nothing could be done about the collapse of the quality of life. It wasn’t unusual for police officers in that era, many of whom lived in suburban Suffolk County, to respond to crime victims condescendingly by asking, “What do you expect if you live in a neighborhood like this?”

Little changed even after the extraordinary Giuliani/Bratton efforts brought down crime, little changed in the mid-1990s. The district’s once thriving shopping street, Cortelyou Road , still had no bank, no coffee shop, no diner, no sit-down restaurant, no children's store, no real estate office.
The "from the inside out" part describes the efforts by Jan and other long-time residents to build community through a variety of means. Jan focussed her efforts on the 7 blocks of Cortelyou Road, from Coney Island Avenue to East 17th Street, that are zoned to allow commercial use. She credits other neighbors, as well, with transforming Cortelyou Road into our Main Street:
One incredible woman, Susan Siegel, decided she wanted to bring a farmers market to the neighborhood. She worked on this full time, and a year later it opened! Some Cortelyou grocers objected to having it on their strip; a few vocal homeowners objected to unlocking a public school yard and using it to house the market. Ironically the fight over the market swelled into a local “pro-development” movement, made up of people alive to the new possibilities, and sparked a neighborhood newsletter.

Once it opened in 2002, the Farmers Market became an informal community center, a literal common ground, for our neighborhood. The Market became a place where the full range of neighborhood residents could come together to buy fresh fruits and vegetables and to catch up on what’s happening in the schools, the playgrounds, and stores including a highly successful organic food co-op. Until then, only the homeowners were organized but now new co-op owners, home owners, and renters all came, mingling freely with each other, and with “veterans”, in a way that had not previously been the case.
Red Jacket Orchards, Greenmarket, Cortelyou Road, July 2007
Red Jacket Orchards, Greenmarket, Cortelyou Road

Although Jan doesn't mention it in her article, the transformation of the Cortelyou Road streetscape resulted from many years of organizing and planning from several different sources, including the Flatbush Development Corporation (FDC). FDC has been active since arson for insurance fraud was a serious concern for the neighborhood, unthinkable today, when the same homes that might have been torched 20 years ago are going for over $1 million. FDC sponsors the annual Flatbush Frolic, which takes place on Cortelyou Road, and has been running for 31 years.

Cobblestones, Cortelyou Road, South side, West of Stratford Road, march 2007. That's Coney Island Avenue in the background.
Dry-laid cobblestones, Cortelyou Road, South side, West of Stratford Road

The new clock at night, in April 2008, shortly after it was installed this Spring, on the grounds of P.S. 139 at the corner of Rugby Road.
Cortelyou Clock at Night

Even before we moved into the neighborhood, James Heaton's Flatbush Residents Email Network Database - FREND - served as an introduction to the cultural landscape and issues of the neighborhood we were adopting.
Jim Heaton, a local advertising executive initiated an online newsletter, FREND, [which] served to “connect” nearly a thousand people and families to the new initiatives, particularly around the Farmers Market and crime ...
The successor to FREND is The Flatbush Family Network, started by two other neighbors:
The on-line contribution really blossomed in 2003 when Ellen Moncure and Joe Wong revived the Flatbush Family Network (FFN) . This site has become an invaluable source of neighborhood and childrearing information for the many young families who live here. For many people moving into this neighborhood, FFN provides an initial introduction and orientation to life in this neighborhood. For those who live here, it’s a convenient, ongoing source of information and support.

Related Content

Cortelyou Road Park, Park(ing) Day NYC 2008, September 2008
The Daffodil Project is in bloom on Cortelyou Road, April 2008
Cortelyou Road (Flickr Collection)


Gentrification from the inside out in Brooklyn's Ditmas Park, NewGeography
Changing Ditmas Park, Ditmas Park Blog
Race, Class and Gentrification in Ditmas Park, Brownstoner


Fall Foliage Photo Contest at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Cherry leaves falling at the entrance to the Viewing Pavilion, Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, November 2006.
Falling Leaves

Remember how I told you to keep an eye out for BBG.org 2.0? The Brooklyn Botanic Garden is sponsoring a Fall Foliage Photography Contest. The contest started this past Monday, October 13, and runs through November 30. (The photo above is not eligible because it wasn't taken this season.)
Autumn is upon us, and the leaves are already starting to turn at BBG. Come document the change in foliage and then submit your photos to our Flickr Fall Foliage Contest!

The Rules

Photos must be of fall foliage, but you are not limited in format—close-ups, macros, wide-angle shots, landscape images—it's all fair game! Photos must be taken at BBG this year, between Monday, October 13 and Sunday, November 30.

The Prizes

Each week the Garden's web staff will select a favorite image from the group to feature on our homepage and award the photographer with 2 free passes to BBG. All submitted photographs will be featured in a slideshow on the site as well.

How Do I Enter?

It's easy! Just add your photos to our Fall Foliage Flickr group and we'll do the rest!

- Fall Foliage Photo Contest, Brooklyn Botanic Garden
So get clicking!

Related Contents

BBG, November 5, 2005 (Flickr photo set)
Field Trip: Brooklyn Botanic Garden, November 4, 2006
BBG, November 4, 2006 (Flickr photo set)


Fall Foliage Photo Contest, Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Fall Foliage Contest at Brooklyn Botanic Garden (Flickr group)

Botanic Garden’s First-Ever Fall Foliage Photo Contest, Brooklyn Eagle, 2008-11-05


Tree Giveaway this Saturday in Sunset Park

Maple Tree, 91 Marlborough Road, Prospect Park South, November 2006
Maple Tree, 91 Marlborough Road

Not much advance notice, but I just learned of this myself. The only Brooklyn giveaway date and location this season is this Saturday, October 18, in Sunset Park.

Via fellow blogger(s) in Sunset Park, Best View in Brooklyn:
1,250 FREE trees will be available for adoption by homeowners and community groups at select locations throughout the five boroughs this October. Trees will be distributed by New York Restoration Project (NYRP). Note – individuals and families are limited to adopting one tree per household; and all tree recipients are required to register their new tree at www.milliontreesnyc.org. Interested community groups that can plant and care for 5-10 trees should contact mcrowley@nyrp.org before October 18th.

For residents who do not have their own yard to plant a tree, information on volunteering, educational programming and contributing to MillionTreesNYC will also be available.

A variety of trees of different sizes, including flowering and medium and large canopy (shade) trees will be available. Our horticultural staff will be present to provide advice on which species tree is best for your home.
- Free Trees for NYC Homeowners and Community Groups in October (PDF only)
I'm curious to know what kinds of trees are available. I'm planning to plant two native trees in my backyard to replace the failing, weedy maples which I've had to get removed over the years. This giveaway conflicts with the Daffodil Project pickup, which is also this Saturday, in Grand Army Plaza.

Dates and Locations:
  • Saturday, October 18th – 9 am to 2 pm
    St. George CENYC Greenmarket – Staten Island
    St. Mark’s and Hyatt
  • Saturday, October 18th – 9 am to 2 pm
    Sunset Park CENYC Greenmarket – Brooklyn
    4th Ave. between 59th and 60th Streets
  • Sunday, October 19th – 9 am to 2 pm
    92nd Street CENYC Greenmarket – Upper Manhattan
    1st Ave. and East 92nd Street
  • Saturday, October 25th – 9 am to 2 pm (It’s My Park! Day)
    Atlas Park Greenmarket – Queens
    Cooper Ave at 80th Street
  • Saturday, October 25th – 10 am to 3 pm (It’s My Park! Day)
    Crotona Park Fall Harvest Festival - Bronx
    Fulton Avenue and Crotona Park North

Related Posts

Urban Forestry


New York Restoration Project


The Brooklyn Blogade at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden

The Brooklyn Blogade in the Member's Room of BBG's Lab & Admin Building
The Brooklyn Blogade

Earlier today, the Brooklyn Blogade, a semi-regular gathering of Brooklyn bloggers from across Brooklyn, met at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. We had perfect weather for the outdoor portions of our visit, which included schmoozing in BBG's open-air Terrace Cafe and a guided tour of some of the Garden. During the indoor session, we had presentations from BBG staff and free-wheeling Q&A about the online face of BBG: where it came from, where it is today, and where it could go.

We had a great turnout, including several faces new to the Blogade. Those attending or represented included:
and, of course, the hosts for today's event, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and Flatbush Gardener.

From 11am on, we gradually assembled in the Terrace Cafe. Folks had a chance to get something to eat, sit around, make introductions, chat, and so on. We greeted friends and made new acquaintances.

Shortly after noon, we moved to the Member's Room, seen in the photo at the top of this post. I briefly explained the agenda for the rest of the day, then turned it over to our hosts from BBG.

Elizabeth Peters, BBG's Director of Publications, was first up. She provided a brief history of the Garden, from its founding and opening to the public in 1910 and 1911 to the present.
Elizabeth Peters, BBG's Director of Publications

BBG's centennial is just two years away. BBG hopes to have a new Visitor's Center ready for that. The new Center will transform the northwest corner of the Garden, where they share a parking lot with the Brooklyn Museum, and open it up to Washington Avenue. This rendering, from BBG's 2007 Annual Report, depicts how the new Center will appear from the Cherry Walk inside the garden, looking northwest toward the new entrance on Washington Avenue. The Overlook, with its allee of mature Ginkgo trees, is to the left.

Although construction will require permanent removal of four Ginkgos, one will be transplanted elsewhere in the Garden - a project in itself - and the other three will have their lumber put to use in the Visitor's Center. Test beds for the green roof in the building are already planted out along the Overlook, in roughly the location the building will occupy. We saw these during the guided tour for the Blogade. The roof will be a meadow of what looked to be mostly, if not entirely, native plant species and cultivars.
Green Roof Test Beds

The Visitor Center will be BBG's first "green" building and will be part of an unfolding series of future projects, including new gardens and improvements to public entrances. Constructed to meet rigorous Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building certification standards, the Visitor Center will feature such environmental elements as a living roof, use of recycled building materials, passive solar principles, geothermal heating, and bioswales (recessed catchment zones filled with water-loving plants) that will improve storm water management and relieve the burden on the municipal sewer system. It will house an exquisite new garden shop, a much-needed orientation room for tours and classes, an information desk, a dramatic event space, a refreshment bar, and other visitor amenities.
- Capital Projects & Master Site Plan, 2007 Annual Report, Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Dave Allen, BBG's Web Manager, spoke next. The integrity of the information available through BBG is an important aspect of BBG's educational mission. Dave spoke of the challenges to opening up BBG's online presence, while retaining its "authoritative" voice.
Dave Allen, BBG's Web Manager

We're just seeing the beginnings of BBG's online transformation, one that will parallel transformation on the grounds. They experimented two years ago, during the historic bloom of BBG's Titan Arum, "Baby." They published the online journal of Allesandro Chiari, BBG's Director of Propagation, as he tracked the growth, peak, and death of the bloom. They even published some visitor content on their Web site: some of my photos of "Baby" on my final visit, just after peak bloom, and in the early stages of decline before collapse.

BBG's current Web site is static pages, "authoritative" in content and tone, and closed to more personal observations. Development is already underway on BBG's next generation Web site - call it "BBG.org 2.0" - which will incorporate more dynamic content, personal observations of BBG staff, and more.

Following the lively discussion about BBG and its online efforts, we did the round-robin "Shout-out" where each of us introduced ourselves and our blogs, and had a chance to share our interests.
The Shout-out

After the Shout-out, there was time for coffee, cookies, and more schmoozing before our tour guides joined us and took us out onto the grounds.

Our primary guide, Christina, was a good sport. Not only did she have three BBG staffers and another guide on her tour, there was a past BBG tour guide, and a pedantic garden blogger to contend with. Nevertheless, the tour was enjoyed by all, and I hope Christina was able to tolerate our company as much as we enjoyed hers.
Christina, BBG Garden Guide

Here are the Blogadiers at the Viewing Pavilion in the Japanese Garden ...
Viewing Pavilion, Japanese Garden

... in the Cranford Rose Garden ...
Cranford Rose Garden

... and the Osborne Garden ...
Osborne Garden

... and viewing the knot garden in BBG's Herb Garden. This may be the last year for the knot garden. This is right where the new Visitor's Center and entrance will be located. The entire Herb Garden will be recreated near the southern end of the garden, along Flatbush Avenue.
Viewing the Knot Garden

Related Content

Flickr photo set
Announcement post for today's Blogade
Other Brooklyn Blogade posts


Creative Times
Curly Comedy
The Luna Park Gazette
Prospect: A Year in the Park

Brooklyn Botanic Garden:


Brooklyn's Grand Boulevard in New York Times

Ocean Parkway is featured in Today's New York Times:
Elegant and sketchy, welcoming and insular, the striated band of roadway, trees and people called Ocean Parkway both reflects Brooklyn and divides it with a thick green line. It was designed about a century and a half ago as a place to promenade, to socialize, to pleasure-drive or to settle, on a street that looks like a park. The architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux were inspired by the grand tree-lined boulevards of Europe, like Avenue Foch in Paris and Unter den Linden in Berlin.
- A Tree-Lined Boulevard That’s a Park and a Living Room, Kareem Fahim, Brooklyn Journal, New York Times, online: 2008-10-10, print: 2008-10-11
Ocean Parkway held the first bike path in the country ... in 1894. Its northernmost extent was lost to the Robert Moses' Prospect Expressway in the 1950s. While it once extended to Prospect Park, at Park Circle, it now ends at Church Avenue. The City designated Ocean Parkway a scenic landmark in 1975. Today, the Parkway is managed in part by the Parks Department.
Five and a half miles long, it stretches from Prospect Park to Brooklyn’s beaches at Coney Island. The parkway is divided according to function. The center lane is only for private vehicles, and was intended for pleasure driving, originally for horse-drawn carriages. It is flanked by two greenswards, planted with trees and grass, which lend the road a park-like atmosphere and provide a place for pedestrians to stroll. Outside the greenswards are service roads for local and commercial traffic.

The City of Brooklyn acquired the land for Ocean Parkway in 1868. When the Parkway was built, between 1874 and 1876, it started at Park Circle, which is now known as Police Officer Robert Machate Circle, at the southern entrance of Prospect Park. The Parkway’s central drive quickly became a popular place for impromptu horse and carriage races; jockeys referred to it as the Ocean Parkway Speedway.
- Ocean Parkway, Parks Department


Last call for this Sunday's Blogade

Bonsai of Acer buergerianum in the root over rock style by Stanley Chinn in the Bonsai Museum at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, November 2006
Acer buergerianum, Bonsai, Root over rock style, Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Only two days before this Sunday's Brooklyn Blogade at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. The weather's looking perfect: sunny, in the mid-70s.

We're going to have a good turnout. If you previously RSVPd, and did NOT receive a confirmation email this morning, please forward a fresh copy of your original email to the Blogade RSVP email address given below.

If you would like to attend, there are still seats available. RSVPs REQUIRED:

* BBG is offering free admission - and parking - to those attending the Blogade.
* Space in the Member's Room is limited.
* For free admission, please provide your real name.
* RSVPs will be fulfilled first-come, first-served.
* RSVP to blogade.rsvp@gmail.com

Related Posts

The Brooklyn Blogade visits the Brooklyn Botanic Garden on Sunday, October 12


Reminder: Blogade at BBG this Sunday

Southern approach to the entrance to the Japanese Garden, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, November, 2005
Southern approach to the entrance to the Japanese Garden, Brooklyn Botanic Garden

This is a reminder that the next Brooklyn Blogade is this Sunday, October 12. Our location this month is seasonally appropriate: the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

There are still seats available, but RSVP is required. See the original post for details.

Related Posts

The Brooklyn Blogade visits the Brooklyn Botanic Garden on Sunday, October 12

New Flatbush Rezoning Proposal Gets It Right

Update, 2009-07-29: Flatbush Rezoning Proposal approved by City Council

477 Westminster Road, Ditmas Park West, one of hundreds of homes that will receive more protection with DCP's revised draft
447 Westminster Road, Ditmas Park West

NYC's Department of City Planning (DCP) provided the first view of their revised draft of the Flatbush Rezoning Proposal to Brooklyn's Community Board 14 (CB14) on September 3, and more recently to the CB14 Executive Committee on September 18. I wasn't able to sit in on any of the meetings, but I've spoken with folks who've seen the new proposal first hand.

The revised draft is covered in Flatbush Life, including a photo of the redrafted map:
After a presentation to the executive committee of Community Board 14 – which greeted the plan warmly – the Department of City Planning (DCP) is moving forward to certify the proposal, which will launch the formal approval process for the rezoning.

During the meeting, which was held in the board office, 810 East 16th Street, DCP received accolades from board members and area residents for reworking the plan to take into account neighborhood concerns.

- Flatbush rezoning moving forward
I wrote a detailed report about the earlier draft that DCP presented to CB14 and at a public hearing back in June. From everything I've heard and seen about this second draft, they got it right. In general, lots that are 50x100 feet will get the R3X designation, while lots that are 40x100 will get R4A. This is a more tailored approach than the broad brush of R4A that was painted over Ditmas Park West and South Midwood in the first draft. (See my original post for complete details on these zoning designations.)

They really listened to the concerns of residents, went back and re-drafted to address them. The free-standing homes responsible for the physical character of this area of Flatbush will be protected. All of Flatbush will be protected against unlimited height residential development. There are new opportunities for commercial development, and incentives for affordable housing. It's hard to find something to critique in this draft.

Related Posts

Flatbush Rezoning Proposal will define the future of Victorian Flatbush, 2008-06-13


Flatbush rezoning moving forward, Flatbush Life, 2008-09-28
Rezonings for Flatbush, Canarsie Move Forward, Campaign for Community-Based Planning, 2008-10-06
Flatbush Rezoning Moving Forward, Ditmas Park Blog, 2008-10-07