Saturday, November 22, 2014

Rally at Vegas Auto Spa

Today's rally at Vegas Auto Spa, 557 Seventh Avenue.  Workers at Vegas have been on strike since Wednesday.

Brooklyn car wash workers who sued their boss say they’re still getting hosed and plan to walk off the job Wednesday morning.  
Employees at Vegas Auto Spa in Park Slope are hoping to form a union to protect themselves from what they call dicey working conditions and retaliation by bosses at the Seventh Ave. suds spot, said Santos Lopez, 28, who’s worked there since 2004. 
“First and foremost, we want respect at our workplace,” Lopez added. 
Eight employees sued owner Marat Leshehinsky in October, alleging he cheated them out of more than $600,000 in wages. They claim he has cut wages even more as retribution. 
Workers plan strike at 8 a.m. and ask the National Labor Relations Board to recognize their union on Wednesday.  (Daily News, 11/18)

Third & 20th

In the Shadow of an Expressway, Saints, Lovers & Others (NY Times, February, 2007)

Tony the Sculptor (Red Hook Star Revue, August, 2014)
" In September Antonio Cuonzo will open his Italian Sculpture Garden with an entrance on Dikeman right behind 361 Van Brunt."

Ruby Washington, NY Times

Friday, November 21, 2014

It's That Time of Year

The back of the truck is as good as the side.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Station Archway (Half) Revealed

Remember the MTA's press release from February 2012, when the eastern entrance to the Fourth Avenue station was reopened, after a forty-year closure?  It included a projection for completed station renovations.

Although this entrance is now open, there is much more work to come. The set of doors leading to and from 4th Avenue are temporary and the doors leading to and from 10th Street will remain closed at this time. Both sets of doors are scheduled to be completed later this year. In addition, the historic arch spanning 4th Avenue, which had been closed in with advertising billboards on both sides, will be restored. This will give the station a lighter, more open look.
Also underway at the 4th Avenue station:
  • Repair and restoration of all exterior tower stone and brickwork;
  • Repair and painting of viaduct underside over 4th Avenue;
  • Replacement of lighting beneath viaduct over 4th Avenue and sidewalks (will double existing illumination);
  • Restoration of all four entrance globes (on 4th Avenue and on 10th Street);
  • Restoration of all storefront windows (on 4th Avenue and on 10th Street). There will be 3 stores on the east side and 3 on the west side, and MTA Real Estate is projecting a contract award in 2013;
  • Restoration of some platform windows;
  • Restoration of station platforms and canopies; and
  • Installation of a PA system on station platforms.
Expected completion date for the component work at 4th Avenue-9th Street is fall 2012.
Well, that turned out to be a bit of a joke.  Two years after the "expected completion date" much of the listed work remains unfinished, leaving some riders indignant, and other, less innocent souls, merely wryly amused.  Today, however, marked an exciting development in the station renovation saga.  The scaffolding on the southern side of the archway came down, revealing its dazzling renovation.  And it looks good!  I went up to the F platform, to see if you could look through any of the archway windows, but they're still covered up.  I hope they get opened soon.


While things are looking up for the archway exterior, it's business as usual inside the station. In the eastern entrance way, there were familiar looking pools of water, and some listless mopping activities.  

I love the old place.

Changing Hands

Early morning, 2011 

Bay River Wines & Liquors, between 14th & 15th on Fifth, has new owners, & is transitioning into Park Slope Wines & Liquors.  This has been a friendly, reasonably-priced, go-to spot in the neighborhood for many years, attracting a broader range of customers than the newer, boutique wine stores. I'm told that it will not be changing in any significant way - good news.  Keep those $5.99 bottles of vinho verde in stock guys!

Con Ed Appears at the Jo, Brian & Joseph Corner!

Could this mean a re-opening is on the horizon?

We remain sceptical.


Third Avenue

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Back on 19th Street

Another day, another development.  Last month I was sad to notice that a group of properties at 198 - 204 19th Street, including two remaining back houses, were slated for demolition.  This week NY YIMBY* reports on permits filed for their replacement:

The five-story building will pack 22 units into nearly 15,000 square feet of net residential space, for an average unit size of just 680 square feet – surely rentals (three on the ground floor, six on floors two and three, five on the fourth floor, and two at the penthouse level)... 
The 19th Street project is set to include 12 parking spaces (one more than required by zoning) in an open area at ground level, though the contextual zoning will require that the parking area be tucked behind the building.
... The strange 75-foot-wide property (which had four structures containing seven housing units, for which a demolition permit was filed in September) has not yet been officially sold to the developer...

Photo taken in 2012.  The house at left was demolished earlier this year.

This corner of Brooklyn - Park Slope, South Slope, Greenwood Heights, northern Sunset Park - is rich with early wooden buildings, predating the tidy sweep of brick and brownstone blocks to the north & east.  The houses here tell a history not of the comfortably middle or upper-class, but, for the most part, of lower middle & working-class residents, of tradesmen & artisans, of blue-collar workers in an anarchically booming nineteenth-century city. In another boom, this quiet history disappears, lot by lot by lot.

*We at One More Folded Sunset prefer Brooklyn's IMBY.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

816 58th

Cameras and Photo Supplies
Learn Transphography - Make beautiful colored transparent photographs, on watch dials, chinaware, silverware, glass, celluloid, etc., with Transparo.  Costs 1c each, sell $2.  Learn in one hour.  No tools required. Knowledge of photography unnecessary.  Mr. St. John, Bridgeport, Conn., says, "Transparo is O.K."  Sample bottle, formula, and instructions 25c.  E. Greenhaigh,  816 58th, Brooklyn, N.Y.  "If it isn't from Greenhaigh - it isn't Transphography."
                                                                                             Popular Mechanics, April 1913

Monday, November 17, 2014

19th & Fourth

Just over a year ago, the Seafarers Union buildings, at the corner of Fourth and 19th, were sold to 635 4th Avenue Holdings LLC for ten million dollars.  The following spring, 635 Fourth was put back on the market for $24,500,000 - with plans in place for a 12 storey apartment building - but no sale took place.   Construction plans for a new building are yet to be approved, but demolition has begun.

Through an empty window, I spied remnants of naval-themed wallpaper.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Fire at the Station

There was a trash fire at the beleaguered Fourth Avenue station today.  According to news reports an MTA worker suffered minor injuries.  I went by at midday, when trains were bypassing the station.  From the street, there was no evidence of fire,  but at SubChat you can catch a view of the smoky platform.

On 58th

Most of the north side of 58th Street between Sixth & Seventh is taken up by an unbroken stretch of two-storey frame rowhouses. Today they're almost entirely aluminum or vinyl-clad, and have lost any decorative details they once possessed.  Their bays are intact though, and most have acquired awnings over their doorways.  Their sweep along the block is a stark, bright, geometry. There's just one house to tell us how this row once looked, with its cornice and the pediments that match its sharp-angled bay.

It looks almost identical to the asphalt-sided houses John D. Morell saw, when he walked this street fifty-six years ago.  I'm assuming the facades were originally wooden, but it looks as if the row got its brick-look treatment en-masse. It looked good in 1958 though, & still has some vintage grace today.  These were never grand houses, but look at the dignity afforded here.  It's priceless.

Friday, November 14, 2014

In Red on a Red Firetruck

Back in 2005 the FDNY began cracking down on company nicknames: the Nut House, the Hollis Hogs, 90 Proof, & other unprofessional terms would have to go.  This was met with some resistance, but even if the names remained, defiantly, on certain firehouse walls, the vehicles all conformed to the new directives.  Or so I'd thought until yesterday.
Joy.  There on Fifth, a ladder truck, quietly refusing to surrender its old identity.  My favorite name of all of them.
The Happy Hookers live on!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Al Noor Moves Down the Avenue

The excellent Al Noor Halal Deli has left 674 Fourth Avenue and is moving down to corner premises at 22nd.  Whatever the alarming"renovations" going on at 672 & 674 Fourth are, they seem to be the subject of benign neglect from our friends at the DoB.  Glad the deli has a new spot.

The old

The new

Before Strauss

The 59th Street Lutheran Brethren Church, between Seventh and Eighth, has been located in Sunset Park since 1929, and has been a church community since 1912. Today it holds services in both English & Chinese.

Before it was at 59th, its Norwegian congregation worshipped at Fourth & 15th St., in a church building vacated by the Greenwood Baptist Church,  which moved to Seventh Avenue & 6th Street.

The church at Fourth & 15th

I'm not religious, but the stories of these churches fascinate me, especially the church hopping that still goes on all over the city, when the demographics of neighborhoods change, when immigrant populations arrive, establish themselves, grow and prosper, or fade.  When younger generations lose their faith or move away.  Dutch, German, English, Norwegian, Spanish, Chinese, Korean.  Church to temple, Catholic to Baptist.  Believers, inhabiting each other's spaces in turn, or joining together to keep at least some of the older, frailer parishes alive.

I was sure there was no church still standing at the Fourth & 15th corner, but I was curious to find out more about it.  According to the New York City Chapter of the American Guild of Organists - an invaluable resource - it was founded in 1874.  After the Norwegian congregation went south, to Sunset Park, the church was taken over by the Holy Trinity Armenian Church, the first Armenian church in Brooklyn.  When did its final congregation leave?  There was no mention.  But the NYC AGO did reveal that much of the church structure still remained, as part of ... the Strauss Auto Center!  I know the corner only too well, but had never realized that part of a church was in hiding there.

I walked over today, to take a look, and just in time, it seemed, as scaffolding was going up for demolition work.

Here was the main body of the church, for perhaps a day or two longer.  I wondered if any religious detail remained inside, and if any of the workers knew what they were about to tear apart.

The Greenwood Baptist Church began as a mission school, established in the fall of 1855 by the Rev. Henry Brownley, a missionary appointed by the Tabernacle Baptist Church. In 1856, the mission school was extended so as to include Gowanus. On September 28, 1858, the Greenwood Baptist Church was organized in Mechanics Hall at the corner of 18th Street and Third Avenue. In 1863, the cornerstone was laid for a brick chapel, measuring 35 by 75 feet, that was erected on 15th Street, near Fourth Avenue. The chapel cost $11,000 and was dedicated on April 26th that same year.
Over the next decade the society grew and prospered, and on August 4, 1874, the cornerstone was laid for a new church building on the corner of Fourth Avenue and 15th Street. Described in The New York Times(Aug. 5, 1874) as "a plain but commodious structure," the church was to be of red brick trimmed with Cornet stone, and would measure 74 feet by 81 feet. The audience room would be 70 feet by 72 feet and would provide ample accomodations for 900 persons. No account has been found of the dedication, but the new church was to open by Christmas Day, and was not expected to cost more than $30,000.

Nothing much to distinguish it from a warehouse now, and no trace at all of the chapel.  Luxury rentals rising soon.