233-237 Butler St. ASPCA, Rogers Memorial, Jim Henderson, Wikipedia 1

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Originally Rogers Memorial Building for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), now Retrofret Vintage Guitars, and musical instruments repair shops
Address: 233-237 Butler Street
Cross Streets: Nevins and Bond Streets
Neighborhood: Gowanus
Year Built: 1913
Architectural Style: Renaissance Revival
Architect: Renwick, Aspinwall & Tucker
Other Buildings by Architect: American Express Building at 65 Bway, Grace Church Neighborhood House, 4th Ave, Provident Loan Building, 25th St., all Manhattan.
Landmarked: No

The story: The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was founded in Manhattan in 1866. It was established by Henry Bergh, and is the oldest animal protection society in the Western Hemisphere. Bergh believed that animals were entitled to respectful and kind treatment at the hands of people, and had to be protected under the law from those who acted differently. His initial efforts were in protecting horses from abuse, as well as trying to reform slaughterhouses and stop cock fighting. His cause was soon taken up by many. Only nine days after officially announcing his organization, Bergh was able to get the first anti-cruelty laws passed by the City.

The laws enabled the ASPCA to enforce those anti-cruelty laws, and with only a staff of three, the organization set out to do so, concentrating at first on those who abused horses and livestock. In 1867, they had special ambulance wagons for aiding and rescuing horses on the city streets, and also for rescuing cats, dogs and pigeons. By the time Henry Bergh died in 1888, 37 of the 38 states in the Union had ASPCA chapters and anti-cruelty laws on the books. (more…)

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In a major turn of events for the Gowanus area, Lightstone has agreed to spend $20,000,000 helping to clean up its corner of polluted Gowanus, the EPA announced yesterday. Since the developer broke ground on its controversial 700-unit apartment complex at 363-365 Bond Street, neighbors have complained of “petroleum waste” fumes that reportedly cause “light-headededness, nausea and dizziness,” according to the blog Gowanus Your Face Off.

Part of the remediation includes the removal of 17,500 cubic yards of polluted soil, DNAinfo was the first to report. Crews have already been replacing contaminated soil with fresh soil and gravel at 365 Bond Street, above, but whenever they stir up the existing soil, fumes are released, according to Gowanus Your Face Off.

The construction site was once home to dry cleaners, oil terminals, warehouses and factories, which spewed suspected carcinogens such as heavy metals and PCBs into the soil. Another part of the agreement is that Lightstone will work with the EPA on a sewage and stormwater plan so future flooding will not release contaminants.

Lightstone agreed to the cleanup in exchange for the EPA promising not to sue the company in the future for any additional cleanup work — or impact from the development on the canal (or vice versa), the EPA press release said. So if the development, perhaps combined with another flood, somehow spreads around more toxic waste, Lightstone won’t be liable.

Do you think that’s fair? Public comment on the agreement will be taken until October 8.

Photo by GYFO

345 carroll street 1

Although the Regency Carts building isn’t completely demolished, listings with new renderings have gone up for the luxury condo development that will replace it at 345 Carroll Street. Curbed spotted the first five listings for the apartments, designed by Gluck+. They range in price from $1,645,000 for a two-bedroom, two-bath to $2,950,000 for a four-bedroom, three-bath. The 32-unit building will have seven penthouses, six garden duplexes and 18 apartments with outdoor space.

Amenities include a landscaped courtyard with bocce courts, vegetable plots and cabanas for purchase, as well as a dog washing station and fitness center. Back in June, PR reps for the development told us sales had launched, not long after a sales office opened at 396 Court Street. The developer is Sterling Equities, which paid $12,500,000 for the Regency Carts site last year.

Click through to see more interior renderings. We’re not sure if the building is in Flood Zone A, but the units look extremely luxurious. The building will be clad in bluestone and the developers are also planning a “wildflower meadow,” with plantings a la the Highline, as well as cabanas that will be available for purchase, among other amenities.

What do you think of the spaces and prices?

345 Carroll Street Listing [Stribling]
Sales Launch at Bluestone-Clad 345 Carroll Street From $1.64 Million [Curbed]
Regency Carts/345 Carroll Street [Coverage]

(more…)

550-4th-avenue-082714

Brookland Capital has at least 46 developments in the works in Brooklyn right now — all condos — but most of them are in less prominent spots than the one the firm has just scooped up for $7,400,000 on 4th Avenue. The very active developer, whose private sources of capital have allowed it to build condos when most in Brooklyn could develop only rentals, is planning a 13-story building with 45 apartments plus ground-floor shops at 550-554 4th Avenue, The New York Observer reported. (more…)

4th avenue 9th street

The MTA announced last week that the lengthy renovation of the 4th Avenue – 9th Street subway station will continue with the closure of the northbound R train stairway on the northeast corner for three months, beginning September 1. It’s going to replace the staircase. After that work finishes, the MTA will close the southbound R train entrance on the northwest corner, in order to replace that staircase.

Councilmember Brad Lander released a statement about it today, chastising the MTA for blowing all of its deadlines and not communicating with the community about construction plans.“While I am glad that the MTA is making necessary investments in our public infrastructure, I am disappointed that the delays plaguing the Culver Viaduct Rehabilitation will now cause more commuters to regularly traverse a construction zone,” Lander said in the press release.

Photo by Gryffindor via Wikimedia Commons

626 4th Ave, Max Huncke Chem. composite

A look at Brooklyn, then and now.

A look through the Brooklyn Public Library’s Brooklyn Collection revealed this picture of an attractive factory building on the Gowanus/Park Slope border. Today it’s the site of one of 4th Avenue’s many automobile service stations. Tomorrow it will probably be a condo tower, but 85 years ago, this was the home of the Max Huncke Chemical Company. There are chemical companies and there are chemical companies. This one specialized in chemicals for embalming. It turns out that chemist Max Huncke was the grandfather of the modern embalming process. (more…)

Ragpickers, NYC, thehistorybox.com 1

Today, we are used to seeing the people who somehow manage to make a living recycling cans and bottles. We hardly notice them as they root through trash cans looking for those precious five-cent drink containers. Perhaps we even separate them out for them, and hang the cans on the fence, so they won’t disrupt the garbage. The people who are really serious about this occupation can be seen pushing grocery carts heaped high with bags of cans, often on their way to a recycling facility, where if they have been diligent, they can make $25 or $30 a day. It’s certainly not an easy life, but as the saying goes, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”

Their collecting cousins are the guys with an old pickup truck who roam around picking up all kinds of metal for the scrap dealer. They are experts on metal, and can tell you how much is being paid for iron, copper, brass and steel. Finding a large amount of copper is like finding the mother lode – money in the pocket. In many cities with a lot of abandoned buildings, copper pipes don’t last long. For that matter, neither do radiators, iron pipe, or any kind of metal. My house in Troy, which had been empty for a number of years before we got it, was stripped of everything metal including the doorknobs, which were literally ripped out, leaving ragged holes in the wood. We had to replace everything. (more…)

Ragpickers, NYC, 1896. Alice Austen 1

The story of Brooklyn is a story of immigrant success. Beginning with the Dutch in the 17th century, Europeans have come here, worked hard to carve lives for themselves and families, and most have prospered and thrived. Some groups did better than others. Some groups were wanted, others were not. All in all, a complicated mixture of nationality, drive, skills, language, bigotry, religion, acceptance, political opportunity and a dash of luck have resulted in the polyglot mosaic that makes up the American experience.

Unfortunately, human society is built on class and caste, no matter how egalitarian we may boast of being, and someone is always going to be on the bottom. For centuries the bottom was reserved for black people who were brought here as slaves. The end of slavery meant menial work for most, and equality for very few. It would take many more centuries to change that impression, and the job still isn’t done. When large amounts of Europeans began immigrating to the US, room had to be made on the bottom for new groups. (more…)

kentile-floors-sign-video-073114

Over the course of the last two months, the owner of the former Kentile Floors factory in Gowanus has slowly dismantled its iconic red sign. And now an enterprising Vine user has made a heartbreaking four-second time lapse video of its demolition, which we found via Gothamist.

Image by Martin Pavely