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A Fort Greene warm-weather music staple, the Fort Greene Park Jazz Festival returns to Fort Greene Park Saturday, September 12.

The free event, now in its sixth year, features nonstop jazz by local musicians and singers from 3 pm. to 7 p.m. It happens twice a year, once in July and once in September.

The festival was started by Fort Greene resident and musician Eric Frazier. Raised in Brooklyn, Frazier — who studied Conga Drum and African Dance — performs jazz and world music throughout the New York area at venues including Madison Square Garden and the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

Every year he brings the music back to Fort Greene for Jazz Fest. (more…)

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A look at Brooklyn, then and now.

The Bedford Rest was established as a destination and rest stop in the late 1890s for the hundreds of cyclists enjoying Bedford Avenue and Eastern Parkway. As the years passed, and the cycling fad waned, the Rest maintained its reputation as a fine restaurant and event space near the excitement of Ebbets Field and Automobile Row. All was well, until Prohibition.

When we think of Prohibition today, it’s remembered as a time when the nation disastrously toyed with a powerful experiment in social engineering. Banning alcoholic beverages seems ridiculous today. No doubt people thought so then, too, and were shocked when it actually happened.

Between 1920 and 1933, alcohol was illegal in the United States. The effects were devastating not only to consumers, but to businesses.

Across the country, breweries, distilleries, wine and spirits merchants, restaurants, saloons and bars went out of business by the thousands.Organized crime, based on bootlegging, grew and flourished.

The country went dry on January 17, 1920. By November of that year, the Bedford Rest was finished. Although the Rest had been running out of steam for years, Prohibition was the final nail in its coffin. (more…)

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This one-bedroom co-op at 540 44th Street in Sunset Park has an open and airy feel, with a dining room as well as a living room and lots of windows. The combined living and dining space is a massive 23 feet long.

There are also original details such as hardwood floors, high ceilings, moldings, built-ins and French doors. Interestingly, the apartment also has an old wall safe that apparently has never been opened — at least not by the current residents. (more…)

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Pioneer Works is Red Hook’s answer to the Dia Art Foundation, a place where anyone can wander in off the street, take off their shoes, and perhaps even lie down on the cool concrete floors to contemplate the art and the soaring ceiling and exposed beams of the former industrial space.

If you’ve never visited the Pioneer Works Center for Art and Innovation before, you’re in for a treat and a surprise. Located in a former industrial space with an open garage door on a side street in Red Hook, inside you’ll find a sprawling complex with resident artists and scientists at work, galleries with art work on display, an extensive library of arts-related publications, and a well-maintained flower garden with sculpture outside.

There are even drinks and food for sale, if you time your visit right. All in all, it’s a pleasant place to chill on a hot afternoon. (more…)

500 State St, NS, PS

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Our neighborhoods evolve over time, and a building built for one use can be repurposed for something the builders never would have imagined.

Name: Row houses, then funeral parlor, now Zen temple
Address: 500 State Street
Cross Streets: Nevins Street and 3rd Avenue
Neighborhood: Boerum Hill
Year Built: Probably 1850s
Architectural Style: Originally Anglo-Italianate
Architect: Unknown
Landmarked: No

The architecture
Boerum Hill is one of Brooklyn’s older row house neighborhoods. The houses on these blocks represent development taking place from the 1840s until about 1870.

492-500 State Street — originally a group of five 15 foot wide houses — was probably built in the late 1850s to early 1860s, when the Anglo-Italianate style of architecture had a brief popularity.

These were the first “English basement” houses, with low stoops, leading into an ornate reception area and the central stairs. The kitchen and mechanicals were also down here behind closed doors. Guests would go upstairs to the parlor level. Above that were the bedrooms floors and private parlors.

498 and 500 State Street were combined in 1924 to create the State Street Chapel. Up until the early decades of the 20th century, funerals were generally held at home.

(more…)

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Brokers are fond of calling places “a rare find” – well, this one really is. You may have seen plenty of brownstones with period detail, but this one – at 46 1st Place in Carroll Gardens — is downright aristocratic.

Check out the columns, the stained glass, the ornate woodwork and crown moldings, the scrollwork, the inlaid floors. We don’t know how many they made like this, but not many survive, and certainly not in this kind of condition.

The house even has a name: Wisteria.

The place is huge as well. It’s 24 feet wide and four stories, for around 6,000 square feet. (more…)

Introducing Brownstoner’s first-ever reader renovation diary based in Sea Gate. It will document the renovation of a 100-year-old oceanfront home on the edge of Coney Island. Our intrepid blogger can also be found at Brooklyn Beach House.

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A Coney Island beach house. Yes! They exist.

I know, because we bought one a year ago. If you start at Nathan’s in Coney Island and head west toward the baseball stadium (keep the ocean on your left), in about a mile you will find that the boardwalk and Surf Avenue dead end into gates in the water and the street.

This is the beginning of Sea Gate, a 120-year-old gated community that boasts tiny bungalows, apartment buildings, mega-mansions, and everything in between. And the cool part is — despite the gate — anyone can live here!

After spending a delightful four years in a Park Slope brownstone on 6th Street just off the park, followed by an even more delightful seven years raising our new family in a large Queen Anne in Ditmas Park, I can honestly say THIS is Brooklyn’s best kept secret. (more…)

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The Landmarks Preservation Commission hearing to consider alterations to Park Slope’s landmarked Pavilion Theater has been rescheduled. Previously set for Tuesday, August 4, the hearing will now take place Tuesday, August 18.

The commission will consider Morris Adjmi Architects’ design for a new condo building next to the theater, as well an addition and restoration of the 1929 neo-Renaissance theater. The community board already conditionally approved the plan, despite some residents claiming the proposal looks like a “penitentiary.” (more…)

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A rendering is up at the construction site for the new apartment building that will rise at 369 Berry Street in Williamsburg. The design looks quite busy, and will use at least four different materials on the facade.

A tweedy brick in grey, black and beige will make up most of the facade. There will also be orange brick, beige tile and smaller multi-colored salt-and-pepper-colored tile (or possibly rock veneer). Colonial style sconces accent the entry, and a glass wall tops the structure.

The applicant of record is architect Charles Mallea, who is becoming quite prolific in north and central Brooklyn, with more than a dozen projects in Bed Stuy, Greenpoint, Williamsburg and Bushwick. Projects include a controversial apartment building with mirrored cracks at 410 Tompkins Avenue and more traditional buildings at 75 Ralph Avenue and 774 Bushwick Avenue. (more…)

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The last traces of the arson fires that devastated this stretch of Broadway and nearby blocks in Ocean Hill and Bushwick in the 1970s are slowly being erased by new development here.

Men have been busy toiling away on the largest and most prominent of these developments under the elevated J train track here on the corner of Broadway and Decatur Street in Ocean Hill since a big public groundbreaking in March.

A vacant, City-owned lot for decades, this was once a row of stores with apartments above and will soon be so again. (more…)

1513-1519 Pacific St. ChrisDBrazee for LPC 1

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

It’s human nature to get tired of the same thing – even in architecture. By the mid-1880s, the new Queen Anne style was beginning to change Brooklyn’s streetscape. In Crown Heights North, these were some of the first.

Name: Row houses
Address: 1513-1519 Pacific Street
Cross Streets: Kingston and Albany avenues
Neighborhood: Crown Heights North
Year Built: 1886
Architectural Style: Queen Anne
Architect: William H. Burhans
Other works by architect: 354-356 Stuyvesant Heights, as well as other wood-frame and masonry houses in Brownstone Brooklyn.
Landmarked: Yes, part of Phase III of the Crown Heights North Historic District (2015)

The growth of a new architectural style

American Queen Anne style architecture has nothing to do with the reign of England’s Queen Anne (1702-1714). British architect Richard Norman Shaw introduced “Old English” flair to his contemporary buildings in Victorian England, and the style was adapted by American architect Henry H. Richardson.

Everyone else learned from Richardson and took it from there. Queen Anne design became a very distinctive and wholly American style. It is characterized by a massing of shapes, textures and materials, varied rooflines, and a free borrowing of past styles used in previously unheard-of combinations.

Here, in the earliest group of Queen Anne style houses in Phase III of the Crown Heights North Historic District, architect William H. Burhans uses elements of the earlier Italianate and Neo-Grec styles, and mixes them with other classical details. (more…)

Bushwick residents packed a town hall meeting convened by a local community group to push for affordable housing at the massive Rheingold Brewery development in Bushwick. City Council Member Antonio Reynoso called on developer Rabsky to live up to a 2013 promise made by its predecessor, developer Read Property, to include affordable housing.

The former industrial space, which is being redeveloped as apartments and shops, covers about 10 city blocks close to Flushing and Bushwick avenues. However, the protest may be much ado about nothing.

Rabsky already said in June it has every intention of including affordable housing in its developments. The community group, the Rheingold Construction Committee, apparently isn’t buying it.  (more…)