05/25/15 10:49am

Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer, the three-day weekend that gives us a much-needed excuse to go to the beach, have a picnic, or just enjoy a lazy day at home. It can be easy to forget that, though, that it’s meant to be a day to remember those who died while serving our country.

We’ve selected a few interviews with living veterans to learn more about the experiences of those who served in the military.

The videos linked in this post are interviews with veterans conducted by the Brooklyn Public Library for the Veterans History Project. Signed into law by President Clinton in 2000 after unanimous support in Congress, the Veterans History Project collects firsthand stories by wartime veterans for posterity. With the help of schools, libraries, veterans service organizations, and community groups, these remembrances are recorded, where they will be sent to the Library of Congress’s American Folklife Center.

The story above is from an interview with Vietnam veteran Donald MacIver, Jr. at the Central Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library. This is part three of a four-part interview series detailing MacIver’s experiences before, during, and after the war. We cued up his gripping story of a daring helicopter mission that went wrong, and how soldiers deal with the wartime loss of their comrades.

Click through to hear more local stories from Brooklyn recorded for the Veterans History Project. (more…)

05/25/15 10:30am

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A 2009 Memorial Day concert in Green-Wood Cemetery by Green-Wood Cemetery

We celebrate Memorial Day with food, festivities and perhaps even a day at the beach, on the semi-official start of the summer season. Some of us plan to go shopping, taking advantage of all of the Memorial Day sales at practically every large department and discount store.

Because the experience of war, losing someone in war, military service, or even having a relative in the service is so foreign to most of us, nowadays, it’s hard to conceive of this convenient holiday on the last Monday in May being anything more than just a blessed day off, a break in the schedule of hard work that we are all too familiar with.

But it was not always so.

My parent’s generation were veterans of World War II, with the Korean War following right on its heels, so war and national and personal sacrifice were things they were very familiar with. I grew up in a small town upstate where patriotic parades took place on Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, and Veterans Day, with the school band marching down the village streets, followed by the local chapter of the American Legion, the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, the 4-H, the Grange, church groups, and anyone else who wanted to participate.

Looking back, I’m surprised there was anyone left to line the streets, but there always was a crowd, waving flags and cheering. I started out marching with the Girl Scouts, and by high school was in the marching band, along with my brother. My Dad, a WWII vet, marched with the American Legion.

Our parade began at the school, wound through the town, and ended at the village cemetery, where a very solemn ceremony of wreath laying took place, accompanied by prayer, a 21-gun salute fired by proud veterans, and ended with the lonely and poignant sound of taps echoing across the hills. My brother was one of the two trumpet players on opposite sides of the cemetery, one playing the echo to the other.

The Vietnam War was still dragging on, but on that hill above Gilbertsville, time stood still, the ground was sacred, and even as a rebellious generation, we knew and honored those traditions. (more…)

05/23/15 10:30am

This post courtesy of Explore Brooklyn, an all-inclusive guide to the businesses, neighborhoods, and attractions that make Brooklyn great.

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The Revolutionary War makes many think of New England, but a number of significant battles actually happened throughout New York. Brooklyn, in particular, was home to many historic war sites, buildings and battles, many of which have been memorialized. For Memorial Day weekend, we present these five Brooklyn Revolutionary War sites that are worth the visit for any history buff, or any Brooklynite who had no idea how monumental a role the area played in the war.

Map of the Battle of Long Island courtesy of the Library of Congress via mountvernon.org. (more…)

05/22/15 4:44pm

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Community That Lost Hospital Pushes Back Against Proposed Towers [DNA]
Ocean Avenue Footbridge Now Open! [Sheepshead Bites]
(Yet Another) Hotel Plans to Come to East Williamsburg [Bushwick Daily]
DoBro’s Schermerhorn Street May Get Even More New Apartments [Curbed]
Williamsburg Warehouse 184 Kent’s Condos Will Start at $800K [Curbed]
Peek Inside Bed Stuy’s New 4,000-Square-Foot Performance Arts Studio [DNA]
Bushwick’s Farm-in-the-Sky Gets Uprooted by Its Landlord [B+B]

Photo by Atomische * Tom Giebel

05/22/15 4:00pm

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The nation will be awash in parades commemorating fallen soldiers this Memorial Day weekend — but only one has run continuously since Civil War casualties were recent memories.

That would be the Kings County Memorial Day Parade, which kicks off for the 148th year in Bay Ridge on Monday. Run by the United Military Veterans of Kings County, it brings together veterans from every war going back to WWII, along with high-school marching bands, Irish pipers, antique cars, fleet week sailors and contingents from the FDNY and NYPD. Everything you want from a Memorial Day parade, in other words.

Leading the throng will be Grand Marshal Howard Dunn, a WWII vet and lifelong Bay Ridge resident. (more…)

05/22/15 3:00pm

PP Picnic House, Bridge And Tunnel Club, 2

This story concludes our weeklong look at Brooklyn’s greatest treasure, Prospect Park.

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Prospect Park Picnic House
Address: 95 Prospect Park West
Cross Streets: Behind Litchfield Villa at 5th Street and Prospect Park West
Neighborhood: Closest to Park Slope
Year Built: 1927
Architectural Style: Colonial Revival
Architect: J. Sarsfield Kennedy
Other Work by Architect: The “Gingerbread House” in Bay Ridge; houses in Prospect Park South, Brooklyn Heights, Park Slope and elsewhere
Landmarked: Yes, in 1975. Also on the National Register of Historic Places

The story: The grass had hardly begun to grow in the new Prospect Park before eager picnickers swarmed the Long Meadow and other areas, ready to enjoy the outdoor spaces. The year was 1868, and the park wasn’t even done yet.

The city had already received seven requests for permits from groups of over 100 who wanted to have picnics. In response, a picnic shelter and concession stand was built in 1876.

The popularity of the park grew steadily, and as time went by, more shelters, restaurants and other buildings were added inside the park, all designed to make the park experience easier for patrons and to add to the park’s ambiance. Some of the buildings were quite charming, some quite unusual, and some just silly. (more…)

05/22/15 2:37pm

Commenter Pig Three has started an interesting discussion in the Forum about a supposed new NYPD policy to give drug dealers over 40 a free pass.

A New York Post story about the policy doesn’t say a word about the Mayor, but Pig Three blames the administration. Replies in the Forum evaluate de Blasio’s record on everything from universal pre-K to Vision Zero. Here’s the question:

Relief for drug dealers over 40?

Could this possibly be true? (more…)

05/22/15 1:11pm

With the Memorial Day holiday coming up Monday, there aren’t a whole lot of open houses happening this weekend. But we did find a few worth a look that we haven’t covered before.

All of them are renovated and appear to be in move-in condition, going by the photos.

The neighborhoods they represent are more varied than usual and include a rare listing in Kensington as well as property in Greenpoint, both with a few original details. There’s also a Colonial Revival in Prospect Lefferts Gardens and a better-than-average flip in Bushwick.

Which one do you think offers the best value?

1111 Jefferson Avenue

1111 Jefferson Avenue in Bushwick
Broker: Corcoran
Price: $1,200,000
Sunday 2:00-3:00
Photo by Corcoran

(more…)

05/22/15 11:31am

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Sponsored By Lakeside Brooklyn.

The LeFrak Center Lakeside offers seasonal activities including roller skating, boat and bike rentals, splash pad and winter ice skating as well as year-round dining at Bluestone Café.

Created By BlankSlate

Looking for some fun outdoor activities for the Memorial Day weekend staycation? Look no further than the Samuel J. and Ethel LeFrak Center at Lakeside in Prospect Park. This weekend kicks off the season of boat and bike rentals — along with a host of other activities going down this weekend at Lakeside.

After several years, boat rentals are back at Prospect Park Lake, and you’ll want to take advantage of this unique Brooklyn experience. With a pedal boat or kayak, you can peacefully paddle among the diverse wildlife while your friends on shore watch in envy. You can rent pedal boats by the hour ($20/hr for singles and $30/hr for doubles), and kayaks by the hour, half day, or day ($15/$30/$40 for single kayaks, $25/$35/$45 for doubles).  (more…)

05/22/15 11:00am

athens ny

This posted originally ran on July 25, 2014. It has been updated.

Today, we want to show you around the Hudson River village of Athens in Greene County (west of the Hudson, about 2.5 hours from Brooklyn). It’s a worthy destination for a serene Memorial Day weekend getaway or a visit any time.

We went there just to explore the waterfront park since its recent upgrade, and overall, we came away feeling quite charmed by it all, even if Athens seems to suffer from that same eerie weekday quietness that other places around here do, as if the whole town is waiting for something to happen.

There are lots of empty storefronts with “for rent” signs in the windows, almost no cars driving around, and we encountered only two other people out walking. There is, however, a brew pub that emits the most tantalizing malty fragrance for two blocks surrounding its location, not to mention the most charming outdoor dining area on the waterfront that is connected to the historic Stewart House boutique hotel.

Other stuff we discovered on our jaunt: Athens has a town pool, a huge cemetery, and tons of great houses. Take a visual tour of the town after the jump.

(more…)