Here are the suggestions from readers of people who were not on the Top 50 list but should have been:
- Dan Rice, Watchtower Group
- John Sexton, NYU
- Councilmember de Blasio
- Councilmember Yassky
- Tim King, Chris Havens, Brian Leary, Commercial Brokers
- Mary Kay Gallagher, Victorian Flatbush Broker and Grande Dame
- Alan Fishman, Last CEO of WaMu
- Charles Bagli, NY Time Reporter
- Jonathan Lethem (and other Brooklyn-centric authors)
- Karen Auster, Organizer of Atlantic Antic and BKLYN Designs
- Arnold Lehman, Brooklyn Museum
- Harvey Lichtenstein, BAM
- Jack Walsh, Celebrate Brooklyn
- The What
Given that this was our first effort at putting together a list like this, we were bound to screw some things up, either by commission or omission. So help up pull together those deserving of inclusion that slipped our overly-crowded mind. One commenter already pointed out the following omissions: Dan Rice of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, John Sexton of NYU, Councilmembers de Blasio and Yassky and the commercial power trio of Tim King, Chris Havens and Brian Leary. We’ll do a wrap up on Monday.
Without Evelyn and Everett Ortner, there may very well have been no brownstone renaissance in Brooklyn (and, as one reader wrote to remind us, no Brownstoner.com!). Starting in the early 1960s, when they bought a brownstone on Berkeley Place (for $32,500!), the couple used a combination of charm and street smarts to preserve the architectural fabric of their neighborhood while building a strong activist community, among other things founding the Brownstone Revival Committee in 1968. Since then, they have served in leadership roles of Preservation Volunteers, the Victorian Society of America, D.C.-based Preservation Action, the Brooklyn Historical Society, BAM, the Brooklyn Museum and the Park Slope Civic Council. While Evelyn passed away in 2006, Everett, 89, continues to be deeply involved with Brooklyn preservation and community organizations. For a longer list of achievements, click here.
Two Trees Management founder David Walentas and his wife Jane, and more recently his son Jed Walentas, transformed industrial Dumbo into the borough’s most exclusive enclave, in part by providing free or discounted homes for creative institutions like St. Anne’s Warehouse, essentially artificially replicating Soho and Tribeca’s gentrification. In 1981, the Walentases bought 10 factories there for what now seems like a paltry $12 million considering half the borough’s 20 most expensive recorded condos sales are in those buildings, and a contract exceeding $7 million has been signed for the 14th floor of One Main Street, which would make it the top sale. In other buildings, he’s created one of the most important office markets in Brooklyn, home to scores of small and medium-sized “creative” firms. He hasn’t slowed down: Last year, The Real Deal named Walentas Brooklyn’s Biggest Builder with 905 units on the market. The Walentases (Jed, really) are also planning a boutique hotel in Williamsburg and brought the borough’s first Trader Joe’s to Atlantic Avenue. The Department of Education is reportedly warming to his suggestion of including a middle school in his proposed, controversial Dock Street project. And he might finally get his wife’s carousel inside Brooklyn Bridge Park! Brooklyn’s Top 50 Most Influential No. 11-20 [Brownstoner] Brooklyn’s Top 50 Most Influential No. 21-30 [Brownstoner] Brooklyn’s Top 50 Most Influential No. 31-40 [Brownstoner] Brooklyn’s Top 50 Most Influential No. 41-50 [Brownstoner] Photo by the NY Oberserver
Prospect Park: The beating heart of Brooklyn; its shared backyard and a symbol of our urban renaissance; with 8 million amblers a year, one of the borough’s most visited public attractions (Coney Island has 10.6 million). We have Tupper Thomas, Prospect Park’s administrator and founder of the Prospect Park Alliance, responsible for programming and 60 percent of its $10 million annual operating budget, to thank. When she took over in 1980, it was considered dangerous and decrepit, and only 1.7 million people ventured in a year. To bring in people, she arranged for off-leash hours, knowing dog owners would be the park’s most loyal users, and soon joggers, cyclists, and bar-b-quers followed. Thomas has also secured $120 million in public and private funds for renovations and capital projects, reviving an enviable amenity for Brooklynites of all stripes. The single largest feat of historic preservation in the borough. Brooklyn’s Top 50 Most Influential No. 11-20 [Brownstoner] Brooklyn’s Top 50 Most Influential No. 21-30 [Brownstoner] Brooklyn’s Top 50 Most Influential No. 31-40 [Brownstoner] Brooklyn’s Top 50 Most Influential No. 41-50 [Brownstoner] Photo by cassieshotz
Since Marianna Koval joined the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy in 1998, through her programming and fundraising efforts she’s helped keep the dream alive, even during those uncertain years when planners faced legal battles and endless construction delays. Koval was instrumental in starting popular activities like the Movies With A View series and the Floating Pool to bring people into the park, while lobbying hard to have construction on the piers started before developers for the far more controversial residential high-rises and commercial properties within the park were designated, which was a time-consuming and money-draining process that strained public support. Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation president Regina Myer, far more affable than her predecessor Wendy Leventer, finally got a shovel in the ground and an additional $75 million for construction, putting an end to fears that the project would die. Koval continues to develop plans for interim uses during construction, a skating rink beneath the Brooklyn Bridge, and ultimately for a role in operating the park once built. Within the next few months Myer will preside over designating developers for properties within the park, including a hotel, all intended to fund its maintenance. If Myer can pull off completing the park, with its stunning views it could trump Central Park as the must-see park in the city. Brooklyn’s Top 50 Most Influential No. 11-20 [Brownstoner] Brooklyn’s Top 50 Most Influential No. 21-30 [Brownstoner] Brooklyn’s Top 50 Most Influential No. 31-40 [Brownstoner] Brooklyn’s Top 50 Most Influential No. 41-50 [Brownstoner] Koval photo by Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance; Meyer by Brooklyn Paper.
If a tree falls in the woods and nobody hears it, does it make a sound? No matter, with hundreds of reporters and bloggers in Brooklyn even the mere crack of a twig can turn into a fever pitch, and as a blog, we see media as a collective force since its work product is consolidated on our pages (yes, we know this is shameless cheating). Battles over projects like the Downtown Brooklyn redevelopment, Atlantic Yards and Coney Island are played out in the media daily, swaying public opinion, galvanizing activists, and selling the borough to buyers and investors. Speaking of buyers, a National Association of Home Builders study found during the boom years, over half said media reports had an impact on their decision — where to buy, when, and at what price. An updated study was done during these bust years, and a spokeswoman told us the number was much higher but declined to release the figure. In Brownstone Brooklyn, with three of the nation’s bloggiest communities, buyers especially have the edge, and may even discover a neighborhood they wouldn’t have previously considered. A few of the many local notables: New York Post reporter Rich Calder and Daily News reporter Jotham Sederstrom break Brooklyn stories in the tabloid wars, and Brooklyn Daily Eagle columnist Dennis Holt and Brooklyn Paper editor Gersh Kuntzman disagree about almost everything in the local rags. Our publisher Jonathan Butler started Brooklyn’s most-read blog (our commenters, the New York magazine noted, encapsulate the Brooklyn Wars), and a city-wide hit with the Brooklyn Flea, bringing an average of 5,000 people into Clinton Hill every weekend. Other notable bloggers include Robert Guskind, founder of Gowanus Lounge and Brooklyn editor of city-wide Curbed, and Norman Oder, who has broken multiple stories on his Atlantic Yards Report. And speaking of Atlantic Yards, No Land Grab is the site that has tirelessly compiled every iota of media since the fight began. Brooklyn’s Top 50 Most Influential No. 11-20 [Brownstoner] Brooklyn’s Top 50 Most Influential No. 21-30 [Brownstoner] Brooklyn’s Top 50 Most Influential No. 31 – 40 [Brownstoner] Brooklyn’s Top 50 Most Influential No. 41 – 50 [Brownstoner] Photo by valentepvz