Brooklyn School Rezoning Dumbo Vinegar Hill PS 8

A summertime school switch-up has Dumbo and Vinegar Hill parents reeling. New boundaries have been drawn for the overcrowded, but high-achieving P.S. 8, rezoning many students to the less crowded, albeit less elite P.S. 307, school officials revealed this week.

While better balancing the quantity and diversity of students at each school, the change-up does little to assure improved quality. First, some details of how the student makeup might change under the new rules.

P.S. 8’s current student body is 66 percent white, a number expected to rise to 75 percent with the new boundaries. Meanwhile, P.S. 307’s current student body is 95 percent minority, a number expected to decrease to 55 to 65 percent with the influx of students previously zoned for P.S.8, the Brooklyn Paper reported.


Grand Union Tea Company 68 Jay Street

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Before Dumbo teemed with tourists, residents and artists, it was one of the busiest industrial neighborhoods in Brooklyn. Large food companies like the Grand Union Tea Company were major contributors to jobs and commerce.

Name: Former Grand Union Tea Company, now offices and studios
Address: 68 Jay Street
Cross Streets: Water and Front Streets
Neighborhood: Dumbo
Year Built: 1915
Architectural Style: “Daylight factory” with transitional Queen Anne elements
Architect: William Higginson
Other works by architect: Industrial architecture in Greenpoint, Dumbo and Manhattan. In Dumbo, most of the Gair buildings, including 1 Main Street.
Landmarked: Yes, part of the Dumbo Historic District (2007)

A block-wide and -long warehouse for tea

Construction began on this massive warehouse in 1896, the same year that Frank, Cyrus and Charles Jones brought their Jones Brothers/Grand Union Tea Company to Brooklyn.

This part of the block-long, block-wide complex was the last to be built, out of modern steel frame construction and brick. It is a transitional example of a “daylight factory.”

Daylight factories were introduced in the 20th century. They mostly refer to the reinforced concrete factories of the day that allowed for more windows and natural light to flood the work spaces. This construction also allowed for fewer interior beams and more open spaces. (more…)


Empire Stores in 1968

The austerely impressive Empire Stores along 53-83 Water Street reveals New York City’s storied founding purpose as a port city. The complex of seven nearly 150-year-old warehouses bears “mute testimony to the prosperous commercial activity of Brooklyn during the second half of the 19th century,” in the words of the Landmarks designation report.

Today, it is a construction site, slated to open next year as a 500,000-square-foot multipurpose facility. The red-bricked, iron-shuttered walls will house various gourmet eateries as well as high-end office space, stores, a rooftop garden and exhibition space, but for most of its life, before being abandoned, Empire Stores stocked a different kind of luxury good. As a cargo warehouse, coffee beans, sugar, molasses, and the likes from Africa, South America and Cuba were the main occupants of the building. (more…)


The 6,000-square-foot rooftop garden designed by James Corner Field Operations at 60 Water Street in Dumbo is complete. Brownstoner toured it when it was under construction, in April.

The landscape designer also had a hand in The High Line and is creating new gardens for the San Francisco Presidio and the Seattle Central Waterfront. (more…)


Gabriel Koren’s story sounds all too familiar. The 68-year-old artist — lauded for making public sculptures of African American luminaries like Frederick Douglass and Malcolm X — has been priced out of her Dumbo workspace with nowhere else to go, according to an article in Sunday’s New York Times.

But for Brownstoner, Koren’s story hits close to home. The studio she’s kept for the past 28 years is just one floor above our office at 68 Jay Street. When we visited her yesterday afternoon, Koren was overwhelmed by the response to the Times article.

“So many people call. I am very thankful that so many people are calling,” she told Brownstoner. Koren is still listening to her many voicemail messages. She welcomed the possibility of help.


Dumbo Family Fest kicked off the opening of John Street Park and the expansion of Main Street Park in Brooklyn Bridge Park this past Saturday, August 8. 

Hosted by the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy and sponsored by 1 John Street, festivities included food trucks, bubbles, and music by Hungry March Band. There was also face painting and arts and crafts. (more…)

2015_08_09 BBP John Street 03

Two more sections of Brooklyn Bridge Park opened to the public with celebration this past weekend, bringing new spaces for enjoying the great outdoors and taking in dramatic new views of New York’s waterfront and skyline. Located north of Brooklyn Bridge, the newly expanded Main Street Park and all-new John Street Park make up the northern boundary of the waterfront park.

Designed by landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh, the Main Street Park has expanded lawns, a dog run, and bouldering wall. It is also the home of a new park maintenance and operations building that also offers public restrooms and space for children’s education programs. (more…)


Since construction on the Manhattan Bridge began in 1901, the bridge’s Brooklyn-side tower has been beautifully framed by the brick warehouses on Washington Street near the water. The steel structure photogenically rises up out of the East River, the Empire State Building visible in the distance.

Visitors and tourists are ever standing in the middle of Washington Street to snap the same iconic shot — which caught a photographer’s eye even before the bridge’s span was complete.



This weekend marks the return to New York City of Come Out and Play, an annual festival showcasing whimsical, inventive street and live-action games. Much of it takes place Saturday on Governors Island, but for the second year, the festival will include “Come Out and Play After Dark,” a Friday evening event in Dumbo that “will turn the streets into an arcade, with social party games, large physical video games and wild new street games.”

Said games include:

Chirp Club: “a twitchy competitive local multiplayer video game that combines Joust-style movement and combat with elements of field sports.”

Urban Werewolf: A live-action game in which “players must work together to keep their city safe while dealing with the threat that one of them is a werewolf trying to take them down.”

RainboDisko: Both “an homage to the Dada and Fluxus art movements” and “a game of speed, dexterity and anarchy,” it’s “a tabletop game for two-plus players to be played on an operating record player.” (more…)


Workers were putting in the foundation at 181 Front Street in Dumbo when we passed by recently. Retaining walls are up in some places, and workers were fashioning the rebar reinforcements throughout the site.

This is a large and prominent project that will transform this block of Dumbo when it’s finished. It takes up a good chunk of the block and will rise 12 stories with 105 luxury rentals and retail on the ground floor.

Twenty percent of the units will be affordable, according to The Real Deal. It will also house a gym and children’s playroom, according to permits.

The foundation of the building is so deep, in part, to make room for a parking garage — a rare amenity in this neck of Brooklyn, where the cost of parking has reached $425 a month.

181 Front Street is actually part of a bigger project to convert a landmarked day light factory at 200 Water Street, on the other side of the block, into condos. The architect on both projects is Ariel Aufgang and the developers are Megalith Capital Management and Urban Realty Partners. Both properties belonged to the Jehovah’s Witnesses, as we have reported. (more…)

jah_panDumbo under the arch

Enjoy free concerts every Thursday evening through October in the archway under the Manhattan Bridge in Dumbo. Acts playing Live at the Archway include Nadia Ackerman and the Harold Pinter Orchestra this Thursday, June 25, and Jah Pan, pictured above, on July 9.

Other acts this month and next include an all-female worldbeat dance jam band called Paprika, the Williamsburg Salsa Orchestra, Throw Vision and more. (more…)

Southwest corner from John Street.

The condo building going up at 1 John Street in Dumbo has almost topped out and curtain wall installation has begun. A joint venture between Alloy Development and Monadnock Development, the 42-unit, 12-story condominium is one of three projects currently under construction within the confines of Brooklyn Bridge Park.

While the larger project to the south, the Pierhouse and 1 Hotel, has drawn vehement criticism and lawsuits — now resolved — 1 John Street has flown somewhat under the radar. (more…)