Thursday, September 20, 2018

New Building for 21st


An application has been filed for a four-story, four-unit building at 332-334 21st Street.  332-334 were sold for $3M.

The double lot has been vacant for several years.  Prior to that, there was a small house to the rear of the lot at 334, and a garage/shed at the rear of 332. The rest of the space taken up with junked cars, a boat and an ephemeral mix of trash. The house, which became damaged by fire, was occupied until 2013 when according to local accounts, an elderly woman living in the basement was evicted.


A house at 334 is indicated on a map of 1880, when the block was still mostly empty lots. The Eagle gives us only wisps of information on early occupants at 332 & 334. The names of William Artz & G.C. Pabst appear at 332, and at 334 John Clark (marriage) and Thomas Mulligan (death). In 1933 the Eagle runs an ad for a 3-piece velour parlor suite, $10, (A-1 condition).  334 21st Street- call HUguenot-4-3230.  At the same address, in 1947, sixteen-year old Thomas Kennedy was listed in "fair condition" at Methodist, after being "Shot in Back by Pal  While Assembling Rifle."

Tax photo, 1980s

A couple of years ago, a woman on the block told me she was hoping the lot would be built on soon.  It was rife with raccoons.  She also spoke about the block and that ever-fluid & contentious topic  - neighborhood names & boundaries.

It was quieter, safer now, but local dramas were always better than TV.  By far.  With no prompt from me, the topic of neighborhood names came up.  These days, the lady said, it was South Slope to 23rd, & Greenwood Heights to the mid 30s, but when she was growing up it was Park Slope straight to Sunset Park.  


More info from UPROSE here.

"Hurricane Maria landed on a legacy of austerity, neglect and colonialism in Puerto Rico and opened the floodgate to those who prosper on the pain and loss of people of color - those responsible for climate change. Climate Justice is the to a history of extraction of land and labor in the Global South. We know this is a fight for our survival and we are ready."
                                                                                             Elizabeth Yeampierre

New York City Neighborhood Data Profiles (Furman Center)
Neighborhood data is critical for understanding local housing and demographic trends, identifying community needs, and informing policy conversations. The NYU Furman Center's New York City Neighborhood Data Profiles are a one-stop platform for viewing and downloading neighborhood indicators, providing an in-depth look at demographic, housing market, land use, and neighborhood services indicators for the city’s 59 community districts.

Commercial rent control bill to get October hearing (Crain's)
A hearing on a hotly-debated piece of legislation could determine who is really in control of city policy—Mayor Bill de Blasio or Council Speaker Corey Johnson.
The City Council confirmed to Crain's that its Committee on Small Business will hold a hearing on the Small Business Jobs Survival Act near the close of October. Often described as "commercial rent control," the bill would entitle any commercial tenant who has complied with the terms of their lease to a 10-year renewal and the right to force the negotiations into binding arbitration if the new terms are contested.

Coming to Grips With the Two-Decade Deluge of LLC Money into New York’s Democracy (City Limits)
The 22-year-old “LLC loophole” has been a bĂȘte noire for government-reform advocates for years because it gives these companies the same rights as people. In fact, it allows firms to wield far more power than individual donors by using affiliated LLCs to write multiple checks to candidates. What’s more, while the beneficial owners of the LLCs make themselves known to the candidates themselves, the structures are so opaque that they are often impossible to penetrate for the voting public. New York’s LLC loophole—similar ones exist in five other states—defeats a basic function of the modern campaign-finance system, which is to make the source of candidates’ money transparent.

Who’s Left Covering Brooklyn With the Big Newspapers in Retreat? (Atlantic)
When the New York Daily News laid off half of its newsroom in late July, the retreat from the outer boroughs by the city’s great daily newspapers was more or less complete. And it didn’t stop there. At the end of August, the legendary alternative weekly The Village Voice shuttered publication online—it had closed its print operation last year. Digital news organizations have proved equally vulnerable, because sustainable ad revenues online have been almost as elusive as rapidly disappearing print advertising.

CNG Acquisition Means Less Local News For Bay Ridge and Sunset Park (Bklyner)
BAY RIDGE – On September 7, 2018, Schneps Communications bought Community News Group and associated properties, making them the largest owner of community weeklies in the city.  This comes on the heels of Schneps having sold Brooklyn Reporter to the Brooklyn Eagle in May of 2018. They had shed Brokelyn even faster from the acquisition of Blank Slate (publisher of Brownstoner) in February of 2017.
A non-compete from the Brooklyn Reporter sale bars the new entity from covering the same ground as their old paper, Josh Schneps confirmed.
All this just means that Bay Ridge and Sunset Park will have fewer reporters covering the area, at least for a good while.

How Smart Should a City Be? Toronto Is Finding Out (CityLab)
A data-driven “neighborhood of the future” masterminded by a Google corporate sibling, the Quayside project could be a milestone in digital-age city-building. But after a year of scandal in Silicon Valley, questions about privacy and security remain.

Business of the Month — Casa Magazines, 22 Eighth Avenue (Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation)
It is small and cramped with over 3,000 magazines stacked all the way to the ceiling. The best sellers are lain flat on the lower ledges, while a broad array of quotidian and esoteric titles from all over the world are displayed on racks and shelves packed to the ceiling. But Mohammed and his staff know where every single title is. And if they do not carry it, which would be a surprise, Mohammed is glad to order it for you or even ship it.  The daily tabloids and international papers are also on hand, along with gum, and batteries, and other daily basics.

America Is Alive and Well at Paradise Alley (Punch)
Since 1993, the neighborhood has shifted starkly. Scattered around Northern Boulevard are some of the borough’s best Korean barbecue restaurants. Just south of the Alley is a Hindu Temple and west are Mongolian, Shanghainese, Cantonese and Hunan restaurants. Fitzmaurice recalls that with the arrival of the Asian population, the neighborhood became safer, cleaner. “You never know who’s going to show up. Some nights it’s all Hispanic men. Last Thursday, it was all Korean.”
In a city that’s become increasingly expensive and homogenized, aesthetically and culturally speaking, Paradise Alley feels like an oasis of New York camaraderie—a place reflective and welcoming of its neighborhood’s vibrant, shifting population.

The schedule for next month's Open House New York has just been revealed.  This is a not-to-miss event.  Plan your weekend now.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Topping Out

The place is flush with red white blue & gray. Gray's the default for upscale flip-job brick three-families, & closer to the sky the flags are flying from construction sites. Sometimes the two merge.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

The Dance

I spent the day at the shore.  I went to a Russian supermarket and bought candy & disturbing mini sausages called TV Sticks.  On the avenue sidewalk, right in front of Starbucks, a man was passed out. Someone called an ambulance & a woman knelt to comfort him.  A crowd gathered. The EMS guys knew him as a regular.  Their faces were weary but they weren't unkind.  As they led him to the ambulance, someone shouted, "His hat! his hat!" & they picked it from the ground, dusted it off a bit, & jammed it on his head.  It was drink, the crowd nodded, looking important.  A man who couldn't speak tried to explain more about the situation.  His gestures were grand, and very exciting, but almost impossible to understand.  The sidewalk outside Starbucks stank, the crowd observed, & several of us wrinkled our noses. The drama over & the stench unbearable, the crowd dispersed. How stupidly we gather sometimes. Just down the street a couple were sitting at the curb between two parked cars.  The woman got up, unsteadily, and crouching over in the street, tried to get her partner's boots back onto his sockless feet. He was laughing and this wasn't helping much. The woman was pissed. There were panhandlers on the sidewalk all the way along Brighton Beach Avenue.  Some of them looked in desperate shape. 

Up on the boardwalk the sun was dipping & everything was sentimental.  It got you too easily, you knew, it suckered you in, but who could resist it?  At least the boardwalk didn't deal in age discrimination.  It gilded us all.  An elderly woman in a dripping swimsuit was toweling herself; her dimpled thighs pink with cold.  There were ocean gazers and boardwalk shufflers and a cute little kid in a plastic pushcar holding an ice cream, just starting out.  A couple selling Christian books and frilly dolls and flip flops were dancing together in front of their stand. Middle-aged teenagers. They made me think of the Leonard Cohen song, & of Miss Coney Island, dancing on demand & always reminding us. Don't Postpone Joy.

Friday, September 14, 2018

BQE Discount

Whenever we're at Humboldt & Meeker, crossing to McGuinness, there's a moment of suspense.  Will the little shingled house with the BQE Liquor sign (the liquor store itself is round the corner) still be standing?  I haven't seen it for several months, but fingers crossed it's made it into fall.   I wanted to get an elevated shot (the only good thing about the BQE are views) but the best I could get was a Google vintage 2014 & the angle I was hoping for was hidden by this damn truck. It's not such a bad truck really, especially when set in front of New York's Finest needs all of New York's finest (we're still hoping for them), & the French Products add a certain frisson to the scene. 

Here's the blurry best I could manage.

And from the ground, several years earlier. 

Cheers to the old place. 

Monday, September 10, 2018

City for Sale

It's a bitter night, with snow on the way.  It's quiet in the grocery store, just one customer at a table. Up front, two little girls are standing at a shelf, facing a candle wrapped in cellophane. They're playing birthdays.  It's a sweet little game, and they sing so softly, then all of a sudden their interest vanishes. The game is a dull old thing.  It's time to run, & they hit the aisles, screaming with pleasure.  It's fun to watch them letting off steam, but oh, now they've gone too far.  It's time to leave, and they're sent to the back, each with a concha and a cup of milky coffee in hand.

719 & 720-722 Fifth are currently listed for sale for $10.95M. 720-722 were previously occupied by the Guerrero Food Center. The space was divided into two in 2014, and since then it's been occupied by Danny's Tailoring (which moved from 681, two blocks north)) and the Puebla de Los Angeles grocery store.  I've had countless clothes altered or repaired at Danny's, and often stop by to place an order at the grocery store. The food's good. These two define the essence of a family business.  I always like seeing the kids around the place, and have sometimes lingered there, drawing pictures with a restless store-bound toddler, or, (on request & with permission), taken pictures of the schoolgirls playing outside.  This part of Fifth is still peaceful, hospitable to children chalking on the sidewalk, or lost in a game with a doll or a superhero.  Jane Jacobs would recognize it with a smile. It's quiet enough for little kids to play out front alone, with a store door open & someone nearby keeping a watchful eye.  The sidewalk isn't a means of getting from A to B; the sidewalk's home.

This is the city we love.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Breaking Through

I love these cigarette-card ciclistas, staring down time with sturdy bare limbs and a jaunty contempt for the camera.  How easily duped we are by the stiff poses of history, by a slow shutter leaving the subject far behind, inscrutable and out of reach.  "Old-fashioned". These girls have made it to the twenty-first century intact, as fresh and insolent now as then.  Look how alive they are in mind and body, altogether of the moment, brimming with health.  Nothing will hold them back.

Arents Cigarette Cards (NYPL Digital Collections)