Thursday, May 31, 2007

It's Bikers vs. Vehicles in Tour de Brooklyn 'Feeder Ride'

Bikers Laugh in the Face of 'Tillary Street Bike Lane of Death'

Downtown Brooklyn bikers are prepared to fend off motorized vehicles at the start of the "Feeder Ride" to this Sunday's Tour de Brooklyn.

Though this year’s 18-mile tour gets underway at the majestic Grand Army Plaza in Park Slope, the Downtown/Brooklyn Heights feeder ride leaves from Cadman Plaza near the Brooklyn Bridge, along the infamous "Tillary Street Bike Lane of Death." The lane -- long a favorite with cars, trucks and the B25 bus -- has been called "an accident waiting to happen."

But Tour de Brooklyn bikers are ready: Safety marshals will be stationed with the Tillary Street riders, and will escort the bicyclists all the way to Grand Army Plaza.

So there! Delivery trucks, SUVs and taxi cabs -- bikers laugh at you! (As long as our safety marshals are with us...)

Previous posts about the Tillary Street Bike Lane of Death!

Photo by MK Metz

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

House of Detention Site May Be 'Most Valuable Square Block in Downtown Brooklyn'

The House of Detention site on Atlantic Avenue may be the most valuable square block in Downtown Brooklyn these days, says the Brooklyn Eagle's Denis Holt.

Holt, who thinks there must be a better place to put a jail, has been in a bit of a feud with the NYC Correction Commissioner about the the proposed supersizing of the (presently closed) House of Detention. Commissioner Martin F. Horn recently said he was shocked -- yes, shocked! -- with Holt's description of the proposed expansion as "dispiriting and ... ugly."

Holt says that before creating a jumbo jail/residential/retail complex in a booming neighborhood, Brooklyn’s elected officials should request that a professional benefits/cost analysis be applied.

Previous posts on this topic here.

Photo by MK Metz

Water Taxi from Brooklyn to Governors Island Starts Saturday

By legend, a secret escape tunnel links the the Governor's Mansion on Governor's Island to Red Hook, Brooklyn. The island is only 400 yards from Brooklyn -- so close, that when the military base was still active a few years ago (it closed in 1996), neighbors in Red Hook would be awakened by bugles playing reveille every morning.

To celebrate our close alliance, the New York Water Taxi will start weekend service from Brooklyn to Governors Island with a free trip this Saturday from the Red Hook stop (behind Fairway) and from Fulton Ferry Landing, reports the Brooklyn Eagle.

Previously, this trip was only available from lower Manhattan and took forever. But from Brooklyn the trip will take only 4 to 15 minutes. And just in time -- a Family Festival to celebrate Governors Island opening day takes place from 12:30 - 4 p.m. Saturday. See the Governors Island web site for details.

And here's some news about big changes coming to the island: Five design teams have been asked to come up with a new landscape for the southern end of Governors Island, its promenade, and the open space in the northern historic section, reports New York Magazine. Visit the web site for photos of the proposals.

Photo of Governors Island from Red Hook Marine Terminal by MK Metz

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Across the Street from a Famous Red Hook Destination Stands a Monument to the Human Spirit

You can have your Ikeas, your Zipcars, your condos.

On a street named after a naval officer, just across the way from a famous Red Hook destination, stands a monument to the human spirit owned by a guy named Ralph.

Covered in nautical memorabilia and filled with the precious debris of ages, this place has long been where Ralph and his friends hang out, shoot pool, and sit in the shade watching those crazy newcomers flowing in from all over to the new thing-a-mag-jig across the street.

Here's to Ralph's place.

Photos by MK Metz

Monday, May 28, 2007

Swimming in Prospect Park?

Lasker Rink in Central Park does it, and now a petition has been started for the new Wollman rink in Prospect Park to do it too: to convert into a swimming pool in the summer.

A correspondent on the Park Slope Forum pointed out the online petition which asks for "the redesigned Wollman rink in Prospect Park to be adaptable to a swimming pool in the summer, while using the same footprint." Petition here.

Photo by Gamenerd, Creative Commons license.

Memorial Weekend in Brooklyn Heights

Photos by MK Metz

More Creative Uses for Tillary Street Bike Lane: Parking

Street parking got you down? There's a fabulous bike lane on Brooklyn Heights' Clinton Street (at the corner of Tillary) just waiting for your car. Don't worry about the bikers -- they can ride on the sidewalk.

For more fun postings about the "Tillary Street Bike Lane of Death," see here.

Photos by MK Metz

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Photo of Borough Hall by MK Metz

Saturday, May 26, 2007

'Artsy' Hotels Underway on Duffield Street

Across the Street from Underground Railroad Houses, a Sheraton and a 'Hip' Hotel Bloom

In spite of the Underground Railroad scandal right across the street, construction is ongoing at the site of two new upscale, artsy and “hip” hotels in Downtown Brooklyn, on the now infamous Duffield Street.

We know that a Sheraton and another hotel are planned for the site, because the developer, John Lam of The Lam Group, told the Brooklyn Eagle all about it last year.

But we didn't know just how artsy the hotels were going to be. A recent walk-through revealed that even in this early stage, the developer has chosen the high road: a poster by Degas graces the construction fencing.

In spite of the good feelings produced by the Degas, a rendering posted by Brownstoner shows the hotels may not have the desired artsy effect. One Brownstoner correspondent went so far as to say the planned twins looked like "a Hostess factory, maybe Crackerjacks."

Not quite up to Degas.

Photos by MK Metz

What Brooklyn's Fulton Street Will Look Like in 2009

As part of the Downtown Brooklyn Plan, the City will invest $15 million to modernize Fulton Street Mall. The improvements include new streetlights, bus shelters, sidewalks, benches and other street furniture, with more lighting and trees. Construction is set to begin in spring 2008.

Related story here.

Photo courtesy of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership

Friday, May 25, 2007

Bluefish Biting in Red Hook

The bluefish are cruising the Red Hook surf in large numbers, say fishermen who have been hauling them in off the Louis J. Valentino, Jr. Pier at the end of Coffey Street. Stripers are also solid, especially, at night.

Photo of boy with two blues on Louis J. Valentino, Jr. Pier, Thursday, by MK Metz

Brooklyn Underground Railroad Home for Sale for $4.5 Million

Oh what a convoluted tale is being told about one of the famous Duffield Street Underground Railroad homes, caught up in eminent domain proceedings. According to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, the home is on the market for $4.5 million -- and nobody knows exactly who put it up for sale.

It's possible, though, that attorney Angelyn Johnson, who has some murky connection with the tenant, has something to do with it. Johnson was charged in February by the Queens District Attorney’s Office as part of a six-person deed fraud ring, says the Eagle.

Listed as having a “Downtown Brooklyn Prime Location,” the eight-bedroom, four-bathroom, semi-detached home with a store happens to also have 20 stories worth of air rights.

Eagle story here.

Photo by MK Metz

Want to Be on TV Forever and Throughout the Universe?

Pedestrians were warned in no uncertain terms this week that if they took even one teeny-tiny step into Cobble Hill Park, they granted consent to be filmed in the new TV thriller "Damages," starring Glenn Close, Ted Danson, Noah Bean and a bunch of other stars.

Not only that, but their consent would be granted "in perpetuity throughout the universe." It seems that the FX channel has big plans for this one.

According to, the show will premier on Tuesday, July 24 at 10 p.m.

Photo by MK Metz

Thursday, May 24, 2007

NYC Correction Commissioner Says Supersized Brooklyn House of Detention Won't Really Be Butt Ugly

Martin F. Horn, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Correction was personally offended with the Brooklyn Eagle's description of the proposed expansion of the Brooklyn House of Detention as “dispiriting and … ugly.” The comment was made by the Eagle's resident sage Dennis Holt.

Horn, in a letter to the Eagle, says that the (butt ugly) illustrations that Holt criticized are not really actual designs. Rather, they are “massing diagrams” which architects and developers use to calculate and illustrate the amount of usable floor space.

Horn says he is confident that the jail can be visually integrated into the neighborhood while making "maximum use of the parcel."

Sounds super.

Past posts on the big House of D here.

Photo by MK Metz

Brooklyn's Answer to Hatfields and McCoys: Real Estate War Gets Ugly

It's Brooklyn's answer to the Hatfields and the Mccoys -- only this time it's the Gershons vs. the Cunninghams.

It started with a bulldozer blocking a driveway, escalated to dog droppings in a front yard, then to a sledge hammer breaking a foundation, then to a wall being built two inches from the Gershon's existing living room wall, at Brooklyn's 123 87th Street.

Thrillingly, a reporter from the Brooklyn Eagle was standing in the Gershon's living room taking pictures when work crews from the Cunningham construction site tried to shove Gershon's air conditioner back into his own home as he frantically held it with one hand, dialing 911 with the other. Make sure to view photo number three to see the frenzied push-of-war.

Eagle story here.

Underground RR Consultants Tried to Pull (Another) Fast One

It seems that the consultants --AKRF -- who determined that there were no links to the Underground Railroad at several houses on Duffield Street and vicinity (without even bothering to hire an archaeologist) were caught in flagrante delicto with the city's Economic Development corporation.

In this latest twist, Brownstoner reports that AKRF claimed that the New York State Historic Preservation Office had ruled that the houses were not eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, when in fact the Office had never been asked to make determination. City Council Member Letitia James blew AKRF's cover, Brownstoner says.

Earlier this month, City Council Menbers slammed AKRF's report. According to the Brooklyn Eagle, Councilman Charles Barron said, “For you to get paid a half a million to conclude what the EDC wanted you to conclude, I think that is despicable."

Past posts on this subject here.

Photo by MK Metz

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Tillary Street 'Bike Lane of Death' Still a Car Magnet

Now that it's nice and sunny, more bicyclists than ever are gearing up for the Tour de Brooklyn -- but is it really wise to start the "feeder ride" at the Tillary Street Bike Lane of Death?

This year’s 18-mile tour starts at Grand Army Plaza, for those in that area. But the feeder ride leaves from the bike lane the Brooklyn Eagle called "an accident waiting to happen."

In spite of the occasional traffic cone set out by courthouse workers worried about the inevitable, drivers seem to have no idea that the lane is meant for bikes. Even the B25 bus has been sighted using the lane.

We've chronicled this problem many times here at McBrooklyn. Here are just a few more recent photos of cars in the lane.

EMTs Have a Field Day at MetroTech Tuesday

18 Auto 'Accidents,' All Survived

It was a pretty bloody scene at MetroTech Commons in Downtown Brooklyn Tuesday morning. Multiple car wrecks were staged and bodies (volunteers with fake blood and dummies) were all over the place.

All in good fun. It was the 7th Annual EMT/ Paramedic Competition, where dozens of fire station teams competed to save lives.

The judges threw the teams a few curves -- such as dummies stuffed under the cars and emotionally disturbed victims.

Photos by MK Metz

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Ten Tons of Dirt on Cadman Plaza West

It took all day but finally a work crew consisting of a handful of York gardeners ("It's a Dirty Job!") and a building super with a mini bulldozer finally cleaned up what one engineer estimated to be at least ten tons of deep, rich loam, spilled onto Cadman Plaza West behind 75 Henry Street in Brooklyn Heights. It happened when the truck hauling it gave up the ghost as it backed into position.

The 32-story tower/ townhouse complex, which converted from a middle-income project to a private co-op a couple of years ago, has been on quite the gardening tear recently, planting hundreds of bushes and trees, installing trellises, and hauling in truckload after truckload of dirt ...

Photos by MK Metz

Monday, May 21, 2007

Infamous Brooklyn 'Body Parts' Scandal Never Seems to Go Away

Check Out Those New Implants!

Four employees of the same biomedical supply company charged in the infamous Brooklyn “body parts” scandal secretly removed skin, bone and other body parts from 36 corpses awaiting cremation at three funeral homes in Rochester as well, according to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

In case you were out of the country over the last year, the owner of Biomedical Tissue Services -- Brooklyn dentist Michael Mastromarino -- and others are accused of removing bone and tissue from 1,077 (mostly diseased) bodies at Brooklyn and other New York-area funeral homes without the permission of families. The (mostly diseased) parts were sold for things like dental implants and hip replacements to people who thought they were getting nice clean body parts.

Beyond this, we dare not go. But the Eagle does! More here.

Fulton Street Mall to Get Quite the Overhaul

NY1 reports that the Bloomberg administration announced plans Monday to spend $15-million to overhaul Downtown Brooklyn's Fulton Street Mall.

Along with a slew of nice street furniture and other improvements, a new plaza -- with 10,000 square feet of open space -- will border the always impressive (even with scaffolding around it) Dime Savings Bank building and the former Albee Square Mall property on Fulton Street.

NY1 story here.

Photo by MK Metz

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Times Says Fulton Ferry Landing a 'Ghost Town'

Overlooks Bargemusic, River Cafe, Fireboat House, Eagle Warehouse, and the Landing Itself
Today's New York Times article about Fulton Ferry Landing ("From Ghost Town to Park Gateway"), calls Old Fulton Street "a neglected row" and a "ghost town" -- which will soon become "the gateway to one of New York’s most spectacular parks."

Hello? Sure, a few buildings feature For Sale signs, but the Times article only looks at 1-25 Old Fulton Street (though it does admit that pizza lovers "sometimes" stack up outside Grimaldi’s Pizza).

The article overlooks the floating chamber music concert hall Bargemusic, docked where Robert Fulton once landed his ferry. The Times must have forgotten that it recently said: "Bargemusic is an internationally renowned recital room boasting more than 100 first-rate chamber music performances a year. Visiting musicians love the chance to play in such an intimate setting, so the roster regularly includes highly respected international musicians as well as local stars like violinist Cynthia Phelps ..."

Likewise, the Ice Cream Factory in the old Fireboat House at 1 Old Fulton Street, where fireboat hoses once hung to dry from the high steeple. New York Magazine rates the factory "Highly Recommended,'" saying the "high-grade Michel Cluizel chocolate with a 72 percent cacao content for deep, dark fudge" was "worth the wait—and a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge."

Or the prominent Eagle Warehouse. From 1841 to 1892, this site held the offices of the Brooklyn Eagle newspaper, where Walt Whitman served as editor.

The old bank building, at 1 Front Street, is the home of Toro Cuisine.

Brooklyn Heights Drunk Driver Arrests: 'Like Shooting Fish in a Barrel'

The NY Sun -- via the Brooklyn Heights Blog -- reports that arrests for drunken driving in Brooklyn Heights and a few other affluent neighborhoods have nearly doubled this year.

According to the Sun, drunken-driving arrests are often a result of sting operations. A lawyer who defends accused drunken drivers said, "My clients aren't hardened criminals; for the cops, its like shooting fish in a barrel."

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Gay Marriage Marchers Brave Synthetic Turf at Cadman Park

March With Rainbow-Hued Umbrellas Over Brooklyn Bridge

A gay pep rally for equal marriage rights, with entertainment by groups like the simply fabulous Gender Offenders (Sassy and Candy Samples, shown above; their friend Chic is also in the group), was held on the new synthetic turf at Cadman Plaza Park Saturday.

Though thousands were predicted, just a couple of hundred, armed with synchronized rainbow-hued umbrellas, braved the wisps of rain to march over the Brooklyn Bridge from Foley Square in Manhattan as part of the annual Wedding March.

Locals were interested to observe that the equipment trucks and portable johns were kept off the newly installed synthetic turf, contrary to the practice in previous years of allowing heavy gear onto the (now-gone) real grass.

Previous postings on Cadman Plaza Park here.

Photos by MK Metz