On these cold and slippery days of winter, it’s hard to realize how important ice was to life in turn of the 20th century New York. Greater New York City, including the new borough of Brooklyn, consumed more ice than any other city on the East Coast. Ice was necessary for the storage and shipment of meat produce and dairy, was used in restaurants and hotels, and in the iceboxes of private homes. It was used in the production of beer and in other food industries. For a history of commercial ice making in New York, please see Part One of this story.
In the days before reliable artificial ice or electric refrigeration, the company that controlled ice controlled the fortunes and health of America’s largest city. The New York City area had many ice companies, all of which made good money. Just think of the power and money that could be made if all of those companies were consolidated into one huge “trust”. Customers would have no choice but to pay whatever this mega-company demanded. Where else were they going to go? That was exactly what happened, beginning in 1896, when a man named Charles W. Morse bought up the largest of New York’s ice companies and made himself the “Ice King of New York.”
Charles W. Morse was a character. Someone should have made a movie of his life by now, because he was one of the great despicable rogues of the 20th century. Businesses and industries that came under his grip were ground under his heel in his attempts to control prices, destroy rivals and make a huge pile of money for himself and his cronies. The collateral damage to individuals, municipalities and the companies and lives he ruined never seemed to enter his mind, or his concern. He started off innocently enough, hailing from Bath, Maine. (more…)
Yesterday mayor elect Bill de Blasio announced Goldman Sachs exec Alicia Glen will be his deputy mayor for housing and economic development, a key appointment for a pol who has pledged to end the economic divide in New York City. Questions were immediately raised about her current position working for one of the highest-paying companies in the city.
“I don’t care about any stereotypes or assumptions,” The New York Times quoted de Blasio as saying in response to questions about her Goldman employment. “I care about who shares my values and can get the job done.”
Glen was assistant commissioner for housing finance at the Department of Housing Preservation and Development under Mayor Giuliani. At Goldman, Glen “runs a division that focuses on good works,” as the Times put it. Goldman’s Urban Investment Group helps finance projects in neighborhoods that have difficulty attracting loans and investment. Projects have included a program to reduce recidivism among ex-convicts; Citi Bike; and development of manufacturing, retail and office space at Brownstoner’s 1000 Dean Street in Crown Heights.
The jobs are moving to Brooklyn. The borough is the “city’s fastest-growing job market and now accounts for 15.1 percent of jobs, a jump from 13.4 percent in 2000,” according to the New York Post, based on a report from Center for an Urban Future. Manhattan’s percentage of the job market is shrinking: 60.5 percent of all private-sector jobs are located there, down from 65.9 percent in 1982.
The number of jobs in Brooklyn grew 19 percent from 2000 to 2012, reported the Wall Street Journal. Retail jobs lead the growth, but health care, tech, design firms and manufacturers are also big. Retailers used to ignore Brooklyn but now they are flocking here. The paper pointed to Franklin Avenue in Crown Heights as an example of the trend. “The changes are evident down the once-gritty Franklin Avenue in Crown Heights, where vacant storefronts have given way to a parade of new avant-garde restaurants, boutiques and a wine shop in the past three years. At the Franklin Park beer garden, a sign on the wall proudly shows ‘Circa 2008.’ A few blocks away, Mayfield, which opened last year, serves dishes including $20 buttermilk fried quail and a $15 grilled octopus dish, complete with glazed Berkshire pork belly and arugula.”
“Creative and tech are everywhere and growing fast,” said Chris Havens, director of commercial property for Aptsandlofts.com. He predicted the Sunset Park waterfront will be the next big creative hub in his column in the New York Observer. “I say the area will be the future home of hundreds of modern manufacturing tenants, artists, office workers and craft tenants.”
Now there is no money in the state budget for SUNY Downstate, the Central Brooklyn parent of Cobble Hill’s Long Island College Hospital, which SUNY Downstate officials just last week voted to shutter. “The state’s new budget — which the Senate began adopting Sunday — contains no new funds for the ailing Brooklyn hospital…SUNY officials…must submit a restructuring plan for the hospital by June,” said The New York Daily News. SUNY Downstate, located in East Flatbush, is the only academic medical center in Brooklyn and the borough’s fourth largest employer. SUNY Downstate is just the latest of Brooklyn medical centers to experience financial difficulties recently: Also troubled are Interfaith Medical Center in Bed Stuy and Wyckoff Heights Medical Center in Bushwick. Meanwhile, the Daily News reports, developers are salivating to get their hands on the prime Cobble Hill waterfront site currently occupied by SUNY Downstate’s Long Island College Hospital, and SUNY officials admitted real estate played a role in their decision to sell off the property. What do you think is ailing Brooklyn’s hospitals, and will we have enough to support the growing number of Brooklyn residents? State Nixes Bailout for Ailing SUNY Brooklyn Hospital [NY Daily News] Developers Licking Chop Over Cobble Hill’s LICH Site [NY Daily News] Photo by Jim.henderson via Wikimedia Commons
Brooklyn is a hotbed of startups — not so much digital ones, though there are those, but food based ones. A report this week from the Center for an Urban Future said 19,351 companies launched in Brooklyn in 2011, up 5 percent from the year before, reported The New York Daily News. In other boroughs, the number of startups decreased since the recession began in 2007. “Brooklyn has become a real entrepreneurial epicenter for New York City,” said report author Jonathan Bowles. The types of businesses launched encompass almost every possible category, including food, film, law, furniture and the Internet. Above, food vendors and patrons at the Red Hook Ball Fields. Regulation and a lack of office space could slow the boom, according to the report. Startups Booming in Brooklyn, Even During Recession [NY Daily News] Photo by Carl Tashian
A new report out digs not only into rental trends in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens, but also looks at employment trends as well. Since the kinds of jobs and the level of compensation employees receive is fundamental to how much people can afford to pay for rent, this analysis may provide a bit more insight than the simple rents are up or rents are down number crunching. The Mid-Year Triboro Rental Report from StreetEasy and leasing and tenant screening firm On-Site.com, authored by real estate consultant Nancy Packes, finds that some of the larger employment trends favor the outer boroughs’ more economical rents. The share of financial services employees in the city has been falling for years. In 2006, 58 percent of new renters worked in financial services, according to the report, but that fell to 44 percent in 2012. At the same time, the number of new renters employed by tech firms and the broad category of creative jobs has grown from 16 percent to 26 percent. And these people earn less than those in financial services. With less money to spend, these people are looking away from Manhattan in ever greater numbers. As a result, Manhattan rents have seen sluggish growth. Rents in Brooklyn, on the other hand, have been on the rise (though other reports have found slow growth here in recent quarters too). This report, which only examines rents through the first half of 2012, found that rents on studios in buildings with a doorman were up 16 percent over the previous year. Two-bedrooms in doorman buildings were up 22 percent in the year. And, the report concludes, there is plenty of room for rents to go even higher. “Looking at a renter’s ability to spend, there appears to be further capacity to push rents. Why? Over the last five years, salaries have not decreased, yet today’s income spent toward rent rests at its five-year average, having dropped 20% perent from its 2007 peak.” And it’s the creatives who spend the highest proportion of their incomes on rent. Creative Workers Drive Down Rents [WSJ]
Over the weekend the Daily News took a look at how businesses around the Barclays center are faring since the arena opened this fall. They found that bars, some more than a mile from the arena are seeing a significant boost in income from fans stopping by before the game. The co-manager of Brooklyn Tap House on Myrtle and Classon in Clinton Hill, two miles away, told the News, “we get the pre-game crowd. We aren’t even in walking distance.” Some restaurants are also seeing increased business, but only for concerts. But many more businesses are feeling left out in the cold, like the owner of Cake Ambiance on Dean Street: “People don’t know about the area. They don’t walk around, and the train is right there. There are bakeries in there. Junior’s is in there. Starbucks is in there. There is this thing about [Barclays] helping the locals – that’s dream land.” Villanova University sports sociologist Rick Eckstein who co-wrote Public Dollars, Private Stadiums, says that these early spending trends are likely to influence the future of the neighborhoods around the arena: “You have to play to the crowd. When you have thousands of people coming in, you give them something to drink, not a hardware store. My guess is the corner stores and mom-and-pop shops won’t be around in a few years.” Have you noticed any changes in the kinds of businesses prospering around the arena?
Business Insider recently took a look at how cities are divided by class, focusing particularly on New York. A Pew Research Center report found that residential segregation between upper and lower-income households was up in 27 of the country’s 30 largest metro areas. And the number of middle-income neighborhoods had declined. New York, like many cities, has seen a loss of middle-income manufacturing jobs while low-paying service jobs and highly paid knowledge, professional and creative jobs have grown. The result is a city more divided by class than in previous decades.
On the map above (unfortunately there is no way to zoom in further), the areas in purple are occupied by creative and knowledge workers who earn an average of $87,625. Though they account for only 36 percent of workers in the metro area, they made up over 80 percent of those in Park Slope, Brooklyn Heights and Cobble Hill–some of the highest concentrations in region. Some of the area’s highest percentages of service workers were also in Brooklyn in Sheepshead Bay, Manhattan Beach, Carnasie as well as what it calls Bedford/Clinton Hill and several parts of East New York. Service workers earned an average of $34,241. Working class employees made up 16 percent of the region’s workforce but none of the top locations were in Brooklyn. In fact they were all in New Jersey. Said the author: “While our cities may be increasingly diverse in terms of nationality, ethnicity, and sexual orientation, they are becoming ever-more divided by class. These mounting divides threaten both their underlying economic dynamism and potentially their social and political stability as well.” What do you think? How important is class diversity to the health of Brooklyn?
This weekend The New York Times looked into what it takes to be middle class in Manhattan. As can be expected, there were an incredible range of answers. According to the story, the mid-range of income in Manhattan is between $45,000 and $134,000. But defining middle class by lifestyle (what your money gets you) requires a significant upward adjustment due to the high cost of housing. By that measure middle class Manhattanites earn between $80,000 and $235,000. The writer found a Columbia University professor who could only make ends meet for herself and her 9-year-old son on a likely salary of $125,000 thanks to heavily subsidized university housing. One basic definition of middle class came from Desiree Gaitan, a social media manager quoted in the story: “Middle class, to me, is having a pretty good job, enough money to pay bills and rent, and then a little extra.” According to the Census Bureau, median household income in Brooklyn is $45,593 about $21,000 lower than it is across the river. Is it easier to be middle class in Brooklyn than in Manhattan? What is middle class here?
Turns out all that artisanal pickle making is having a big economic impact on Brooklyn — and outside it. Brooklyn’s growing restaurant and food manufacturing scene is creating jobs in the borough, a report from the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce has found. Food-related businesses from supermarkets to restaurants to manufacturing account for 16 percent of the 49,000 businesses in Brooklyn and 12.5 percent of the borough’s 472,000 private sector jobs. What’s more, the food chain added one out of every five new jobs in Brooklyn since 2000. “Brooklyn added, by far, the most jobs among the city’s five boroughs between 2000 and 2010, gaining 50,000 jobs, more than two-and-a-half times as many jobs as the Bronx, the borough with the 2nd greatest job growth,” said the report. Food is the No. 2 employer in the borough, surpassed only by health care. Food manufacturing alone generated $2.2 billion in revenue in 2011, and nearly a quarter of its output is sold outside Brooklyn. Of that output, $134 million accounts for exports outside the U.S. Total wages in the Brooklyn food chain sector came to $1.46 billion in 2011. Brooklyn Takes Its Trendy Artisanal Food to the Bank [Brooklyn Eagle] Brooklyn’s Food Chain [Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce] Photo by wallyg
The controversial community organization that helped push through Atlantic Yards despite vocal opposition, BUILD, will officially dissolve by Nov. 16, said Atlantic Yards Report today. Meanwhile, a Barclays Center restaurant is now unionized, the AFL-CIO said. BUILD’s shut down comes on the heels of funding difficulties, tax arrears, and a complaint about spending irregularities from a former staffer. In addition, the organization, which was accused by some critics as being in the pocket of Forest City Ratner, was sued last year by seven participants in a jobs training program who allege they were promised construction jobs and union cards, and said they should have been paid for work they did during training. The lawsuit, which also names Forest City Ratner as a defendant, is ongoing. Levy Restaurants in Barclays Center is now unionized. The 750 workers there voted in Unite Here Local 1. Job Development Group BUILD Closes Down in Wake of Funding Troubles [AYR] Hotel, Broadcast, Theater Workers Join AFL-CIO Unions [AFL-CIO Now] Photo by Kuyata
The Brooklyn Tech Triangle Coalition is creating a master plan to make Brooklyn as welcoming as possible to tech companies. First order of business: The coalition picked WXY Architecture + Urban Design to direct the team of architecture, construction, engineering and policy firms that will design the master plan, the coalition announced yesterday. Technology employment in Brooklyn is expected to nearly double in the next three years, according to a story in The Real Deal. Right now, the Brooklyn Tech Triangle, which covers Downtown Brooklyn, Dumbo and the Navy Yard, employs about 9,600 people in tech and produces $3.1 billion, according to a study by the coalition. The master plan will look at how to make real estate, transportation and other necessities more appealing to technology tenants. Above, WXY’s design for Greenpoint’s Transmitter Park. Brooklyn’s Tech Triangle Group Chooses WXY to Spearhead Infrastructure Plan [TRD] Photo by Inhabitat