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Archive for the ‘Urban Affairs’ Category

“Despite a six-day-a-week work schedule, Derr always makes time to take pictures. His images of DUMBO, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Red Hook, and Brooklyn Heights can be seen on Flickr — and purchased through Imagekind — and have appeared in the Gothamist, the New York Times, and Brooklyn Heights blog. They’ve also been published on dumbonyc.com and used in the promotional materials of Arts at St. Ann’s and the DUMBO Neighborhood Association. . . .

“‘DUMBO was rough when I arrived,’ he begins. ‘There is a building complex on Sand Street that is owned by The Watchtower where about 900 staff live. When I first moved in, the area was not as refined as it is now, with galleries, shops, and brand name stores. Before, there were art collectives and there was more of an artist presence in the community. Right up the street there was the Between the Bridges Bar, which looked like a dive. I guess something was lost, and something gained.’

“Among the losses, Derr says, is DUMBO’s once-gritty feel—the abandoned warehouses and factories, broken concrete, and glass shards that used to litter the ground. He is saddened, he says, by the destruction of numerous art deco structures, one of which, the Purchase Building, was knocked down to create a parking lot that now houses the Brooklyn Flea each Sunday.” (more @ The Brooklyn Rail, via Dumbo NYC)

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“TOMORROW, the seventh annual show of designs created in Brooklyn — Bklyn Designs — will open in Dumbo, drawing renewed attention to this neighborhood of former factories and warehouses, and its vibrant design scene.

“Over the last six years, the juried show, which features contemporary furnishings, lighting and accessories designed, and in most cases made, in Brooklyn, has grown from a Chamber of Commerce exercise in borough boosterism into a high-profile event and an effective springboard for local designers. This year, it has 45 exhibitors and is attracting attendees from as far away as Milan, the Netherlands and Japan.

“The show in Dumbo offers a good place to begin exploring what Brooklyn offers in the way of home furnishings. Just as the borough has become a center for locally produced, handcrafted food, it has also developed a broad population of independent, often artisanal designers.” (cont’d @ NY Times)

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dock_street_two_trees“The City Planning Commission voted overwhelmingly to support a controversial tower next to the Brooklyn Bridge — though the building’s 18-story wing will be shaved by one story.

“In addition, Jed Walentas’s 325-unit Dock Street proposal — which features a ‘green’ design, plus 65 below-market-rate rentals and a public middle school — would lose two to three stories from the part [sic] its 10-story wing closest to the bridge.

“The vote to rezone Walentas’s lot from manufacturing to residential was 11-2, but despite the landslide, Planning Commission Chairwoman Amanda Burden described the proposal as ‘the most difficult to come before the commission in many years.’ . . .

“In ordering a height reduction and the cut-out section from the mid-rise portion of the building, the Commission seemed to at least be partially swayed by a late push by Brooklyn Bridge historian David McCullough, who visited the fabled span this month to call for the Walentas proposal to not only be halted, but for other buildings around the bridge to be demolished for a national park.” (more @ The Brooklyn Paper)

Even so, celebrity opposition to the project continues to grow. Dumbo NYC reports:

“We received word from [Dumbo Neighborhood Alliance (DNA)] that in addition to David McCullough, several celebrities will be starring in supporting roles in their grass roots campaign. Gabriel Byrne of The Usual Suspects and HBO’s In Treatment, Helen Hunt of As Good as It Gets and Mad About You, Gary Sinise of The Green Mile and Forrest Gump, Ana Gasteyer of  Saturday Night Live and Mean Girls, Emmy Award winning documentary filmmaker Ken Burns of Brooklyn Bridge and The Civil War fame and Skipp Sudduth of Third Watch and Law & Order have all added their support to the opposition of the proposed 18-story building.” (more @ Dumbo NYC)

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hopper-new-york-restaurantJoseph Epstein on why New York food is so good:

“Manhattan must have 300, perhaps 400, splendid restaurants. I estimate that Chicago has, at the outside, 30, and San Francisco, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., respectively probably not more than that. Why is this? How to account for this plentitude of good restaurant food in Manhattan?

“Demand has a lot to do with it. By this I don’t mean demand as in the old economists’ formula of supply and demand. What I mean is that New Yorkers are, and always have been, more demanding than any other Americans when it comes to what they eat. . . .

“New Yorkers tend to order food as if they are spoiled children dining in their mothers’ kitchens. They demand excellent service, which includes accommodation for their idiosyncrasies (that pickle on the separate plate). If they do not get what they want, they howl, return food, do not return to the restaurant, and verbally torch the place. If you open a restaurant in New York, you had better be good, or you will soon be gone.” (more @ Wall Street Journal)

[Thanks, John.]

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housingworksOn Saturday, May 2nd, “The Millions.com” will lead their first annual “Walking Tour of New York’s Independent Bookstores.” The 11-stop itinerary begins in the East Village, continues through NoLita and SOHO, crosses the Brooklyn Bridge into DUMBO, and ends after 4 or so hours of walking and book-browsing in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

The complete, 11-stop  itinerary includes: 

Additional information on the event can be found here.

A full-size Google map of the tour, with walking directions, can be found here.

RelatedLiterary DUMBO: An Afternoon Walk Under the Bridges in Search of Books

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“As the national economic crisis has deepened and social services have become casualties of budget cuts, libraries have come to fill a void for more people, particularly job-seekers and those who have fallen on hard times. Libraries across the country are seeing double-digit increases in patronage, often from 10 percent to 30 percent, over previous years.

“But in some cities, this new popularity — some would call it overtaxing — is pushing libraries in directions not seen before, with librarians dealing with stresses that go far beyond overdue fines and misshelved books. Many say they feel ill-equipped for the newfound demands of the job, the result of working with anxious and often depressed patrons who say they have nowhere else to go.” (more @ NY Times)

RelatedIt Has Computers, Gives Advice and Is Free

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“In the latest chapter of a hot dispute over the building of a proposed tower near the Brooklyn Bridge, the historian and Brooklyn Bridge expert David McCullough is voicing his opposition to the plan.

“At a news conference on Wednesday, Mr. McCullough spoke to a crowd of more than 50 local advocates and politicians about why he opposed plans by the developer Two Trees Management to construct a tower called Dock Street Dumbo, so close to the Brooklyn Bridge.

“While Mr. McCullough lives in Maine, he used to live near the bridge, and also spent extensive amounts of time near the site of the bridge when researching the Battle of Brooklyn for his book ‘1776′ and the bridge itself for ‘The Great Bridge: The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge.’ He also worked with Ken Burns on a documentary of the Brooklyn Bridge.

“‘It’s one of the most important structures in our country,’ he said. The construction of the proposed tower is ‘upstaging what should not be upstaged. The magic of the bridge’s image is diminished. It’s wrecked.'” (more @ NY Times)

letter from McCullough to Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz opposing the Dock Street Project, penned in January, 2009, can be found here. 

A video of McCullough calling for a halt to construction plans near the Brooklyn Bridge, which he says would obscure the monument and damage a forgotten historical site nearby, can be found here.

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