07/03/15 10:30am

4th July parade, findmypastblogspot.com 1

As all American kids learn in school, Independence Day celebrates July 4, 1776, when the 13 colonies declared their independence from Great Britain. That announcement was made through the Declaration of Independence, one of this country’s greatest and most powerful documents.

There are some modern doubts as to whether it was actually July 4th, or the 2nd, or even another date, but it really doesn’t matter. John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail about the event, (which he thought was July 2) and said, “I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival.”

“It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”

Americans took John Adams’ advice and have been celebrating Independence Day ever since. (more…)

07/03/15 9:45am


Brooklyn Bridge Park fireworks. Photo by Etienne Frossard via Facebook

Pyrotechnic-loving Brooklynites, rejoice! Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks are returning to the East River. This year, the 25-minute-long show will be launched from two different locations instead of one. A double barge will be placed just south of the Brooklyn Bridge and four additional barges will sit between East 23rd and East 42nd streets.

The East River location is a major win for Brooklyn — but you’re going to need to strategize if you want an Instagram-worthy view. Luckily for you, we’ve rounded up the borough’s most firework-friendly spots. Even though the spectacle kicks off at 9:20 p.m., you’ll need to arrive a few hours early if you want a front-row seat.

Too agoraphobic to deal with the crowds? Start texting everyone you know in north Brooklyn. Williamsburg and Greenpoint will both have stellar views of the display. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to (smugly) watch the fireworks from your friend’s roof. If you prefer teeming throngs, though, these spots should give you a good vantage point. (more…)

07/03/15 8:30am


For the start of this Independence Day weekend, we’ve planned some holiday-relevant reading. First up: where to see fireworks in Brooklyn — and how to beat the crowds.

Next, the story of Independence Day celebrations in a Norman Rockwell-esque small town in upstate New York. Enjoy.

Photo by Victoria Belanger

07/02/15 5:36pm


DOT Opens Greenpoint Avenue Bridge Bike Lanes [Streetsblog]
Austrian Restaurant Will Soon Open at Coney Island Avenue and Turner Place [DPC]
The End Is Near: Clinton Hill Key Food Will Close in a Week [FGF]
Summerscreen Starts Next Week, Bands Announced [BK Vegan]
Thieves Swipe $7K in Copper Piping From 626 Flatbush Avenue Work Site [DNA]

Lunchtime in Dumbo.
Brownstoner on Instagram
Photo by Cate Corcoran

07/02/15 3:34pm


Our friends out at Northforker  — a site all about the North Fork lifestyle — just launched a new site for Shelter Island, covering the laid-back life of this Long Island retreat.

Brooklynites seem to love the North Fork, and we’ve often heard that the North Fork is to Brooklyn as the Hamptons are to Manhattan. We’ve been happy to have the Northforker name inspired by Brownstoner. But it’s true that “ShelterIslander” wouldn’t have quite the same ring.

Should you be inspired to go, there’s ferry service from both the North Fork and South Fork. You can park and ride, or take your car.

Photo courtesy of Deborah Srb

07/02/15 3:31pm


As always, the main event on July 4 is the Macy’s fireworks — which are back on the East River this year, for prime Brooklyn viewing. But there are other things to do in the borough on Independence Day, if you’re not headed to someone’s beach house. Here are 10, free unless otherwise noted:

Watch professional speed-eaters stuff themselves at the Nathan’s Famous hot dog eating contest in Coney Island. Will Joey “Jaws” Chestnut rack up his ninth straight title? Women’s event starts at 11 a.m., followed by men at 12:40, by Nathan’s on Stillwell Avenue.

Stick around Coney Island for the annual July 4 Beach Party held by Salsa Salsa Dance Studio, on the beach in front of the parachute drop. Music by DJ John John BK, starts at noon. (more…)


A new ice cream shop is coming to 115 Montague Street, almost directly across from the country’s first Haagen Dazs. Emack & Bolio’s is a rock-n-roll themed chain originating in Boston.

They’ve taken the space that was vacated by Connecticut Muffin earlier this year after the rent got too d*mn high. Curious peepers can see purple-painted columns above the brown paper. (more…)

07/02/15 1:00pm

KC Courthouse and Muni Bldg. undated 1

In Part 1, we met Clarence R. Van Buskirk – architect, engineer, preacher’s kid, and well-regarded Assistant Engineer for the Brooklyn Department of Highways. He would one day be the architect of Brooklyn’s most iconic structure: Ebbets Field Stadium. But before that, he needed to get out of deep trouble. In 1907, the Department of Highways was on the hit list of a local politician looking to make a name for himself by rooting out corruption. And he had Van Buskirk in his sights.

Bird S. Coler was the Borough President of Brooklyn, coming into office in the fall of 1905. But he had higher political ambitions, and was consumed with a fanatic’s zeal to weed out corruption in the borough. If it happened to further his political ambitions? Well, all the better.

Self-serving or not, he did have a point.

At the time, all of New York City was a hotbed of corruption of one kind or another, some forms more blatantly corrupt than others. Over at Brooklyn’s Department of Highways, where Coler first set his sights, the head of the department, Frank Ulrich, had continued a long-standing tradition.

He bloated his department with patronage jobs, played favorites with certain inspectors, accepted kickbacks, and hugely overbilled utilities like Edison Electric Company and Brooklyn Union Gas.

Ulrich overstepped and got caught accepting payoffs in exchange for jobs. He was indicted, arrested, and let out on bail awaiting trial. He submitted his resignation towards the end of 1906.

Coler called for a Grand Jury to determine if charges could be filed against anyone else in the department, especially Ulrich’s junior staff, which included Clarence Van Buskirk.

Investigators came to the offices and boxed up billing and other records pertaining to the utilities, and put them under lock and key, intending to remove them for review.

But in the early hours of February 25, 1907, at least two men entered the Department offices on the top floor of the old Municipal Building, broke into the locked desk which held the keys, and made off with the records. (more…)

07/02/15 12:28pm


There aren’t a lot of bells and whistles attached to this one. No landscaped roof deck, no on-site yoga studio, no marble-countered kitchen in which to “unleash your inner Wolfgang Puck.” What we’ve got here is a straight-up, modest one-bedroom in prime Brooklyn Heights in decent shape for under $2,000.

They’re calling the bedroom “good-sized” — “not very big” would be another way to describe it. Without a floor plan we can’t tell if there’s a closet in there — if so, presumably we’re not talking about a walk-in. The kitchen is small and drab, though serviceable. (more…)

07/02/15 12:01pm


Brooklyn’s wave of development just made a big splash in Flatbush, where a no-name developer is demolishing three houses — including a unique faux French chateau — to make way for a 69-unit apartment building.

The new building, whose address will be 200 Linden Boulevard, will have 69 apartments and a day care facility. It will be eight stories tall and cover four wide lots. The architect is the emerging Charles Mallea — more about him in a moment.

A Brownstoner reader caught the biggest of the three houses in mid-demo Thursday and sent us these photos. He said of the faux French chateau, a Brownstoner Building of the Day in 2011:

Was going down Linden Boulevard today and noticed a standout building being torn down. 210-212 Linden Boulevard was a really magnificent mansion at some point. It has unfortunately gone under the knife many times since the early days, and was being used as a doctor’s offices most recently. Well, sadly, the building (along with the two next to it) is being wiped off the face of the earth.


07/02/15 11:31am


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You know what it’s like to look for an apartment in Brooklyn. You find a spacious apartment in a hip neighborhood, but it’s got three bedrooms. You could swing the rent with two roommates, but none of your friends are currently looking. Or you’re new in town, and you know from experience that opening this up to Craigslist means sifting through dozens of messages from the wrong people, all while panicking that your great apartment is going to get snagged out from under you.

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07/02/15 11:00am


OUT OF A 1930s WAREHOUSE on a commercial block between Cobble Hill and Boerum Hill, architect Ben Herzog and Brooklyn-based interior designer Kiki Dennis conjured a family home that’s both fun and functional.

The homeowners, a couple with three young kids, had lived in the 25-foot-wide, three-story building for years. However, the “functional lifestyle things were not working for them,” Dennis recalled. The answer was a total renovation. (more…)