The Brooklyn Historical Society is hosting a seminar next month on how to unearth the history of any home or block in Brooklyn, using archival documents and databases. Historical Society Librarian Elizabeth Call will show house nuts how to conduct research in the organization’s library.
Attendees will pore over historic maps, archival images and ancient public records. “If These Walls Could Talk” will take place on Sunday, April 12 from 2 to 4 pm at 128 Pierrepont Street. Tickets cost $50.
The photo above shows an aging wood frame that once stood at 47 McDonald Avenue, across from Green-Wood Cemetery in Windsor Terrace. It was eventually torn down and replaced by a condo development.
The Transit Museum is hosting its yearly “Platform” performances inspired by mass transit and urban development next week, where attendees can experience animation, dance, film and interactive art pieces. In a decommissioned subway station on Court Street, the Shakedown Dance Collective will perform “riffs on real-life NYC transit experiences collected from the general public” — including manspreading and public drunkenness.
Genevieve DuBose will host a museum-wide game of human bingo, and Bob Goldberg will present a video time-capsule and live accordion journey based on riding the subway through Brooklyn and Manhattan. There will also be a two-man play based on the demolition of the old Penn Station, and live comedy inspired by conversations overheard in a subway car. (more…)
Artists, developers, gallery owners and community leaders will gather at Brooklyn Borough Hall Friday morning for a conference on creating and preserving art along the Brooklyn waterfront. The event, “Spaces and Places,” will explore the history of art in the borough. Artists and gallery owners will discuss how art has been made, shown and sold along the Brooklyn waterfront and the issues facing those who make and display art there.
Speakers include Tom Finkelpearl, commissioner of NYC’s Department of Cultural Affairs; Deborah Schwartz, president of the Brooklyn Historical Society; Borough President Eric Adams; Anita Durst, artistic director of chashama; Kathleen Gilrain, executive director of Smack Mellon; Lisa Kim of Two Trees; and Greg O’Connell Jr. of the O’Connell Organization.
See the full list of speakers here. The Brooklyn Historical Society and CUNY’s Brooklyn Waterfront Research Center are organizing the free event, which you can register for through Eventbrite.
For the fourth year in a row, City Council Member Brad Lander is organizing info sessions and voting for participatory budgeting. Lander has committed $1,500,000 from the city budget to make five public works projects a reality, and residents of the 39th District will decide how the money will be spent.
There are 13 proposals on the ballot, including an art installation for the 4th Avenue-9th Street subway station (pictured above), a storytelling garden at the Park Slope Library, new technology for local arts nonprofits, an A/C for the cafeteria at P.S. 124 in Park Slope, and street greening projects in Windsor Terrace and Gowanus. (more…)
The New York Landmarks Conservancy and Brooklyn Historical Society are hosting events and tours later this month to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Landmarks Law. The law made possible the creation of the city’s first historic district, Brooklyn Heights, in 1965. (Above, row houses in the Heights.) On Monday, March 30, Gregg Pasquarelli, principal of SHoP Architects, will discuss the firm’s plan to transform the landmarked Domino Sugar Factory on the Williamsburg waterfront. Cathleen McGuigan, editor-in-chief of the Architectural Record, will interview Pasquarelli at the Brooklyn Historical Society at 6:30 pm. Tickets are $10.
The next day, the Landmarks Conservancy will host a series of free panels and tours at the Thurgood Marshall Courthouse in Foley Square, in Manhattan. There will be tours of the courthouse from 5 to 5:45 pm, followed by a panel discussion with Kent Barwick, former LPC Chair and President Emeritus of Municipal Art Society; Andrew Berman, Executive Director, Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation; Peg Breen, President, The New York Landmarks Conservancy; Paul Goldberger, Pulitzer Prize-winning architecture critic; Phillip Lopate, author and essayist; Gene A. Norman, former NYC LPC Chair and Principal of Architecture Plus!. See the full schedule for the events, which will happen Tuesday, March 31, from 5 to 8:30 pm at 40 Foley Square.
The first day of spring is almost here, and next weekend, tree expert Lisa Nett will teach two classes at the Brooklyn Brainery on identifying London Planes and the science behind maple syrup. The London Plane class will explore why the trees shed their bark and include a brief outdoor walk through Prospect Heights at the end.
Anyone who attends the maple syrup class will get to taste some syrup and learn about the “science and seasonality” behind it. The tree class will happen Sunday, March 28 from 10:30 am to noon, and the syrup one will take place Sunday, March 29 from 10 to 11:30 am. Registration is $8 and $10 respectively, and you can sign up at Brooklyn Brainery.
Crown Heights was once home to the city’s first black-owned gay club – the Starlite Lounge at 1084 Bergen Street, on the corner of Nostrand Avenue. Filmmaker Kate Kunath set out to chronicle the bar’s 50-year legacy in “We Came to Sweat,” which premiered last year and will screen tomorrow at the Queens World Film Festival in Jackson Heights. She told Vice the film began as an effort to save the bar, “the oldest black-owned, non-discriminating club,” which was sold in 2009 and finally shuttered for good in 2010. The whole interview is worth reading, but one quote in particular caught our eye:
“There was this unspoken common ground of the patrons, which was their willingness to say ‘f*ck the establishment!’ — whether that was over politics, religion, sexual shame, or social norms. And the energy of that was intoxicating. But what I took away from the plight is that nothing is permanent, progress is not a straight line and losing space is losing ground in the bigger picture.”
“We Came to Sweat” is screening tomorrow at 10 pm at P.S. 69 in Jackson Heights, Queens. Tickets are $12 or $9 for seniors and students, and available here. Pictured is the building in 2006, before the bar closed. It still stands, but a deli and dollar store have moved into the Starlite’s old space.
Now that spring is almost here, the Municipal Arts Society is organizing tours of three very different Brooklyn areas —Prospect Heights/Atlantic Yards, Bushwick and Bed Stuy. First, preservationist Joe Svehlak will explore historic row houses and churches as well as new developments, like Rheingold Gardens, in Bushwick. The tour will discuss potential landmarks and Bushwick’s history as a German community known for breweries.
Then journalist Norm Oder, who’s behind the Atlantic Yards Report, will explain the politics, design, and decade-long controversy behind the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park project. He’ll also touch on part of the nearby Prospect Heights Historic District and retail changes in the area.
Lastly our very own Montrose Morris columnist, Suzanne Spellen, will lead a tour of Bedford Stuyvesant with preservationist and real estate agent Morgan Munsey. Attendees will learn about the history and culture of Bed Stuy. Expect a healthy dose of architectural history and insights into buildings designed by some of Brooklyn’s finest 19th and early 20th century architects.
The tour of Bushwick will take place Sunday, March 22 at 11 am, followed by the Atlantic Yards tour at 2 pm. The Bed Stuy tour will happen on Sunday, March 28 at 2 pm. Each tour costs $20 or $15 for MAS members, and tickets can be purchased through the MAS website.
The formal land-use review for the mayor’s proposed East New York rezoning could kick off soon. City Planning Commission expects to certify the rezoning application “this spring,” according to Capital New York, which technically begins March 20. During a City Hall budget meeting this week, City Planning Director Carl Weisbrod said, “I do anticipate we will be entering the formal [land use] process this spring.”
Once the ULURP process begins, it could take up to a year. The process starts with review at the community board level, then moves to the borough president, City Planning and the City Council. The mayor’s rezoning plan aims to bring 7,000 new apartments to the area by allowing housing and taller buildings along commercial and industrial corridors. Above, the 1935 Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Church at the corner of Glenmore and Pennsylvania Avenue, in the proposed rezoning area.
Developer Rabsky Group has filed an application to rezone two blocks in Williamsburg’s Broadway Triangle, both part of the former Pfizer campus, to make way for two big mixed-use buildings with nearly 800 apartments, The Real Deal reported. Rabsky paid $12,750,000 in July 2012 for two properties there, which occupy the entirety of both blocks and are currently zoned for manufacturing.
The vacant properties, whose addresses are 249 and 334 Wallabout Street, total about 150,000 square feet. One of them is used for parking, and the Flushing G stop stops on the block.
If the rezoning were to go through, the properties could accommodate 622 market-rate units, 155 affordable ones and 32,000 square feet of retail, according to TRD. Back in 2012, the mammoth former Pfizer plant next door at 630 Flushing Avenue was converted to light industrial space, and the building is now home to a fashion accelerator, small food businesses, furniture makers and Brooklyn Grange.
Rabsky is also building on the next block, at 376-382 Wallabout Street, and is one of the partners developing apartments at the nearby Rheingold brewery complex in Bushwick, among other projects in Brooklyn. The Broadway Triangle has a contentious history, as various groups have clashed over building housing there.
Later this month, the Historic Districts Council will host a panel on the evolution of historic districts and the possible creation of new ones, as part of its Annual Preservation Conference Series. Panelists will explore the changing definition of what is considered worthy of preservation, which has slowly broadened from Brooklyn Heights, the first historic district, designated in 1965, to include areas with a mix of modern and industrial buildings, like the Soho Cast-Iron District. The panel, “Tomorrow’s Yesterdays: Historic Districts of the Future,” will take place in Gowanus, pictured above, and consider whether the eclectic, industrial neighborhood could ever gain landmark designation.
First, architectural historian Francis Morrone will give a presentation on the development of historic districts. Then urban planner Paul Graziano, Gowanus advocate Marlene Donnelly and Ward Dennis, a Columbia University professor and CB1 member, will discuss “potential historic districts, technological and bureaucratic strategies for looking ahead,” according to the HDC’s description. Pardon Me for Asking was the first to post about the panel, which will take place March 18 at 6:30 pm at the Shapeshifter Lab at 18 Whitewell Place. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased here.
Artist Jennifer Maravillas has spent the last three years walking all 9,000 blocks of Brooklyn and collecting trash to create a 10-foot-by-10-foot map of the borough, according to Animal New York. She recently finished the map, titled “71 Square Miles,” and it went on display yesterday at BRIC in Fort Greene. The Prospect Heights resident donned rubber gloves to pick up the refuse, tracking her movements in mainland Brooklyn first by labelling blocks and later with a running app. You can check out a digitized version of the map here or see it in person through September 6 as part of the “Mapping Brooklyn” group exhibition at BRIC.