Sunday, March 30, 2008

Who Owns the Brooklyn Sidewalk? No Cameras on Willoughby Allowed

McBrooklyn was standing on the sidewalk on the north side of Willoughby Street (near the corner of Duffield/Oratory Place) in Downtown Brooklyn, taking a photo of the new Sheraton hotel going up on Duffield (see above). A uniformed guard told us to stop taking pictures of the hotel -- because photography was not allowed on the sidewalk in front of his Willoughby Street building.

We crossed the street, walked down Duffield and continued taking photographs, then turned around and took a few more.

We took a close-up photo of the building he was guarding, which we never would have even noticed had he not been so obnoxious about it. Here it is right below this paragraph. He yelled at us as we took the picture.

It turns out the building he was so fervently guarding from our photography was the Willoughby Street side of 4 MetroTech Center, housing JP Morgan Chase and the Metrotech BID office. How do we know? From this clearly labeled map, on the MetroTech BID's own Web site.

So our question is, who owns the public sidewalk and everything you can see from the sidewalk? Is Willoughby Street not public anymore because it is near a top-secret installation: JP Morgan Chase?

McBrooklyn is not the only photographer of this site, of course. Google Maps not only shows the building -- it shows the guard as well (Duffield is called Oratory Place on Google Maps).

Photos by MK Metz; bottom photo by Google.


Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if this is the same building, but there is the HQ for NYC's 911 in one of those building around there. I once got busted fro riding my bike through there, not realizing I wasn't supposed to cross the police line (manned by officers who seemed like they couldn't care less).

Obviously we have the right to photograph from public sidewalks. And I would never take any grief from a private security guard. If it was the NYPD and it was an important government office building, I might feel less inclined to stand up for my rights all things considered. But it doesn't sound like that was the situation with your experience. I'd be really mad. And would have photographed like crazy just to piss the guy off and if there was scene, I'd have called the cops.

I am wondering if this was the building where our 911 operates out of...anyone else have any idea about this?

Anonymous said...

The 911 building is on Tech Place, on the north side of MetroTech. JP Morgan Chase is on the south side -- not even close.

Anonymous said...

good post. if this 'sidewalk' you speak of is actually inside the official metrotech "border" then you were on private property and then actually were violating some sort of deal. i'm sure forest city wouldn't have pressed charges though as you seem nice enough; however, to the bike dude passing through the the plaza, you may not be so lucky as that's defintiely not a public park. i've seen a restaurant flyer guy get chased out of there when trying to promote some chicken wing thing. (has been a sore spot for me when thinking of the AY and when a park is not a park anymore--who are the stewards)
good luck.

mcbrooklyn said...

Actually, this sidewalk was not even inside MetroTech. It was on Willoughby Street, on a public sidewalk outside the MetroTech perimeter. Facing the back wall of a building that has an entrance on MetroTech plaza.

Anonymous said...

I don't know mcbrooklyn...I do want you to be right that these were just way overzealous corporate muscle, but I got this funny tingle in my leg that metrotech/forest city's deeds are more expansive than perceived. And that what looks "public" may actually not be public. And I'm not saying that's a good thing or that you were in the wrong at all. Private/corporate-public ownership-partnerships can be a threat to us all if not watched closely.

anyway, good luck.