It’s the money shot of the home design world: The pale gray marble mantel with the arch-topped firebox clad in a black iron summer cover. It’s a classic brownstone Brooklyn look, typical of the Italianate brownstones of the 1860s and 1870s that dominate highly desirable Brooklyn brownstone neighborhoods such as the Heights, Cobble Hill, Fort Greene, and Clinton Hill.

The arched marble fireplace first started appearing with regularity as a fetish object — a sign that its owner had made it and had the whole brownstone as well as the lifestyle to go with it — in Domino magazine some years ago.

This year, The New York Times reports, the Brooklyn brownstone “is on track to become the aspirational space of the year,” thanks to its appearance in catalogs, ads, and TV shows such as “Girls.” The Times writes:

The Brooklyn brownstone has been fetishized in so many catalogs, ads and television shows, including Design Within Reach, Target and Lena Dunham’s “Girls,” to name a fraction, that location scouts like Andrea Raisfeld of Bedford, N.Y., say it has become the bulk of their business. After rattling off the addresses of seven of her “cash cows,” as she described her most-requested Brooklyn brownstones, Ms. Raisfeld, who has 100 Brooklyn properties in her portfolio, recalled how in the 1990s it was Westport, Conn. — Martha Stewart country — that beckoned.

Do you agree with the Times? What do you think of the interiors they show? Click through to the story to see some really stunning photographs of these covetable spaces, including a magnificently proportioned Clinton Hill Italianate whose frothy yet bold white marble mantel and ornate ceilings make a jaw dropping contrast with inlaid parquet floors and a modern kitchen.

It’s That Brownstone. Again. [NY Times]


Over on the Brooklynian, there is an interesting thread about a mural on the corner of Nostrand Avenue and Park Place in Crown Heights. The mural, painted on the side of a bodega, documents the lives and deaths of about 50 people from the neighborhood from the 1990s to about 2006. Most were young men, most died before the age of 25 though some were decades older and some, sadly, were much younger. The writer believes that most were the victims of the violence and turf wars that accompanied the drug trade. Such murals are common throughout Bed-Stuy, Clinton Hill and Crown Heights, though most celebrate the life and mourn the death of a single person or a few people. The mural is right alongside the entrance to a daycare. Though there is no indication that the mural is slated to be painted over or that the building or business is changing hands, the commenters are debating whether such a mural, documenting a far different, more violent time in the neighborhood’s history, serves a purpose anymore. Should it remain as a warning of past ills, a marker of the neighborhood’s history? Or, has its time come and gone? Would the neighborhood be better off if the mural were painted over and such past violence forgotten. What do you think? Do these murals have a place and serve a purpose in neighborhoods that are nearly a decade removed from their most crime-ridden eras? Is it disrespectful or arrogant to want to wipe out such history and the names of those who once lived and died here?

Should the Shrine at Nostrand and Park Place R.I.P.? [Brooklynian]

This Sunday our own Montrose Morris and regular commenter Amzi Hill, aka Morgan Munsey, are hosting a tour through the Stuyvesant Heights Expansion District. The Landmarks Preservation Commission just designated the expansion this spring, enlarging the original district created in 1971. They’ll tour through both districts, covering residential, civic and sacred architecture as well as cultural highlights. The tour is hosted by the Municipal Arts Society; tickets are $20, or $15 for MAS members.
Photo via Historic Districts Council

metrotech-summer-festival-050313All summer long, there will be sports, movies, music, and other free events at the MetroTech Commons, Forest City Ratner Companies announced yesterday. It’s part of a new summer festival called Summer@MetroTech that kicks off May 17 with a rooftop film. Other events include a Bastille Day celebration, lunchtime sports broadcasts, a science festival, and live music at noon and in the evenings. BAM’s R&B Festival, the BEAT Festival and Rooftop Films are part of the lineup. For a full calendar, go here.
Photo by Downtown Brooklyn Partnership

id-brooklyn-042413Some designers, artists, professors and branding experts are attempting to crowdsource the graphic identity of Brooklyn via Kickstarter and the Web, as FIPS pointed out. Here’s how they put it on their Kickstarter page:

In recent years Brooklyn’s culture has received national and international attention due to its booming arts and maker cultures juxtaposed with its historical significance in the United States. As Brooklynites and Brooklyn-lovers, we want tap into the borough´s pulse and make it the world’s first community branded by participatory design. We, a micro-collective of award-winning artists and branding experts, have designed a four-part project that allows Brooklynites and people from around the world to contribute to the cultural identity of this borough. (more…)

A Carroll Gardens resident recently helped launch the website CourseHorse, a site that centralizes the different types of classes offered in New York City. Here’s an aggregated list of all the classes available in Brooklyn, and you can filter by neighborhood, price range, and types of class. Right now many of the website’s users live in Brooklyn and are posting about classes at Brooklyn Kitchen, Brooklyn Art Space, BKC Brooklyn Central, Painting Lounge, Brooklyn Botanical Garden, and more. Here’s an adult ceramics class, DIY Printmaking, Culinary Bootcamp, and Pickling with Rick’s Picks. There are really tons of options to choose from, so go check it out here.
The Brooklyn Kitchen via Coursehorse

new-development-BAM-area-031513The massive redevelopment under way in the BAM Cultural District in Fort Greene is drawing comparisons to Lincoln Center in the ’90s, reports The Real Deal. It’s all part of rapid change in downtown and nearby areas, including Barclays Center, that will transform the borough in the next few years. Since a rezoning in 2004, New York City has spent more than $100 million in the BAM Cultural District, the story said. “People will look back at this and say it’s a truly remarkable renaissance,” said developer Douglas Steiner, who is building a 720-unit rental tower at Flatbush Avenue and Schermerhorn Street known as the Hub. New residential buildings and businesses began to spring up following the 2004 rezoning. Demand for housing is outpacing availability, and rents have increased, reaching an average of $3,254 for a one-bedroom in January, according to real estate firm MNS. Retail is also in demand, with commercial rents doubling or tripling since 2004. Meanwhile, the City is encouraging cultural spaces and programming. Within the next four years, the area will boast about 40 arts and cultural organizations, the story said. “We like to think of this as a cultural district that caters to everyone — not just the New York elite,” said Tucker Reed, president of the nonprofit Downtown Brooklyn Partnership.
The BAM Cultural District: The Next Lincoln Center? [TRD]

The long-anticipated Williamsburg Cinemas on the corner of Grand Street and Driggs is set to open any day now, probably in early December, according to DNAinfo. The seven-screen theater, which will show a mix of indie and mainstream first-run films, was on track to open early this month, but Hurricane Sandy delayed the final inspections by city agencies. Owner Harvey Elgart also owns Cobble Hill Cinemas and Kew Gardens Cinemas. Until recently, there were no movie theaters in Williamsburg, but now the neighborhood has quite a few, including Nitehawk Cinema, Spectacle Theater and indiScreen.
Williamsburg Cinemas Ready for December Opening [DNAinfo]
Williamsburg Cinemas Won’t Make Summer Opening [Brownstoner]
Rendering by Williamsburg Cinemas via DNAinfo GMAP

The screening of the On My Block neighborhood filmmaking challenge takes place tomorrow evening in Dumbo. Fifteen films made in all five boroughs using only residents of the filmmaker’s block as cast and crew will be shown. Films range from one to five minutes in length and can be narrative or documentaries. Awards will be presented for Best Narrative Film, Best Documentary Film and Best In Show. The contest provides an opportunity for neighbors to get to know each other better through a collaborative process. “The finished films will live on past the festival end date as a source of community pride, and as a living map of the world’s most creative city,” said the organizers. The reception starts at 7 pm at the White Wave John Ryan Theater at 25 Jay Street. Tickets are $7 in advance or $9 at the door.


The fate of the Slave Theater at 1215 Fulton Street in Bed Stuy is still up in the air. An auction of the building that once housed the famed Afrocentric cultural institution was expected to take place today but has not been scheduled. It is not clear if an auction will be set for next month or at all. No word on whether building owner Rev. Samuel Boykin is in contract or sold the building, though in August several potential buyers were reported to be interested. The New Brooklyn Theater did not reach its goal of raising $200,000 through Kickstarter, but may still be able to raise some funds directly to try to buy the building, if it is still available. “Due to the hurricane, I have been told that the entire process may get pushed back because of availability from the Department of Buildings who is going to be helping with Sandy related issues,” said New Brooklyn Theater Executive Producer Sarah Wolff.
Photo by Andreas Burgess
New Brooklyn Theater to Hold Meeting About Slave Theater [Brownstoner]

While the Nets and Knicks game will go on as planned, the Park Slope Civic Council has cancelled its Halloween parade this year. Other cultural events are proceeding as scheduled, while some are not. The Fisher Theater may open Thursday; movies are playing as usual at the Brooklyn Academy of Music and the Brooklyn Heights Cinema. Jimmy Kimmel is back on at the Harvey Theater. Friday’s hardhat tour of the Squibb Park Bridge has been postponed.
Storm-Related Cultural Cancellations Continue [NY Times]
Photo of last year’s parade by ps5thavebid