Friday, August 31, 2012

First & 52nd, Scenes of the Apocalypse

This 1890s warehouse, its roof mostly sky, stands like some bomb-blasted church. It reaches most of the way down 52nd.  At the bottom of the street: Utz trucks, water and the Sanitation salt piles. 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Third & 25th

According to TerraCRG brokerage, this building ($875,000), at Third & 25th, is ready to  be "repositioned for retail, warehousing, parking, storage or can be converted into an art studio, gallery, or office."

As an artist, you'd have interesting views.  From the back, sunset panoramas of city & ocean.  From the front, close-up scenes of traffic jams.  Imagine: the sour, grimaced faces of drivers, almost close enough to touch! 

"The building is highly visible from the BQE with over 130,000 vehicles passing per day and located on 3rd Avenue which has over 30,000 vehicles passing per day. Great opportunity for accessory signage. "

And I've always harbored fantasies of putting up a large sign near a highway.  I haven't quite got the phrasing right just yet, but I'm working on it.

Seriously though, it would be an interesting place to work, and it's a beautiful building, certainly more ornate than any other structures nearby.   But that expressway traffic!  I wonder what the architect would make of its current situation.

27th Street

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Pulling One's Socks Up

Well, despite travails on the home front, life must go on.  After some emotional catharsis (lots of Antony Hegarty) & some emotional fortification (disco classics), my energies are renewed.  So let us enjoy the good things in life: today's beautiful pre-autumnal sky, and last night's pre-birthday pizza at Luigi's.  On the way home from pizza, I saw that the dreadfully named "I Want a Breast Pump" store was a thing of the past.  Some losses are easy to bear!


Auto Shop Lion


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Wig Duties

It was time to go to 3rd Street for a wig check.  Last time I'd gone by, in March, it was still hanging in (or on) there, on a fence near Staples, its locks glossy as the first day I'd glimpsed them, all the way back in October '10.  On the way to 3rd, my mood was a little tense.  Surely it couldn't survive forever, but if it was still there, it would seem like a good omen. 

From a distance, I couldn't tell.  I would have to fight my way through summer foliage. 

I was not disappointed! Sheltered under a green canopy, the wig looked as good as ever. 

All praise to the gods for this symbol of constancy.

Monday, August 27, 2012


Hank's Saloon Saved!!!  For now ... with a three year lease & higher rent.  Fundraiser to come ... (Brownstoner)
Trying to restore Sunset Park's empty 68th Police Precinct station house & stable (Daily News)
Looking for the lost grave of the First Maryland Regiment (NY Times)
Online re-release of Amram Ducovny's novel, Coney (Brooklyn Ink):
In a time when the Cyclone was too young to have stories to tell, when carnival freaks and Mafia bookies were ordinary neighbors, and decades before an annual hot-dog-eating contest at Nathan’s, there was Amram Ducovny’s Coney Island.
Amram “Ami” Ducovny, who passed away in 2003, took his boyhood experiences and packaged them into a dark, mature, detailed account of life as the son of Jewish immigrants in the pre-World War II era of Coney Island.

Wedding Parties (5th & 23rd)

Here's the White Eagle Tavern in the mid 80s, sporting a little graffiti, but still looking positively Hopperesque:


Here's the same building on August 23, 2012, boarded up, corniceless, and flanked by a Fedder neighbor.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

20s Third

Another tax photo moment.  The Riverbend Diner, poised between expressway & the waters of Gowanus Bay:

It looks pretty small, though the light is so bright here it's hard to tell if this place extends back deep into its lot. Today you'll see this at the corner of 27th:

Across Third, here's a diner that, unlike the Riverbend, is still serving customers.

There are still some quick stops here. The broad, dark chasm of Third is daunting to cross on foot, and this raw world between highway & ocean is not a place to walk alone at night, unless it's a professional stroll. But it's worth exploring, especially before it turns, as it inevitably will, into a condo-ridden waterside playland. The tottering towers of wrecked cars, the sad blink of a peepshow pornstore sign, the infamous Detention Center (29th), the bargain buys at Rossman's wholesale/retail fruit & veg., the short warehouse-lined streets off Third that come to a sudden halt and offer views of water, ships & Red Hook just across the way.

Note: I just came across the 1980 TV documentary Third Avenue: Only the Strong Survive. The film, directed by Jon Alpert, focuses on the lives of six families or individuals living on the Third Avenues of Brooklyn, Manhattan & the Bronx. The scenes in the Bronx examine the sheer hell of life in a condemned and almost empty apartment building & the complete inadequacy of social services in providing assistance.  In the Manhattan portion we visit a Bowery regular and his estranged wife, a twenty-something hustler, and (briefly) some scarily young children looking for customers around Playland. The Brooklyn scenes focus on a family in Sunset Park, the elderly Pascones, hanging on in a barbershop at 11th,  and auto-part workers (by day and night) based at 22nd, just a few blocks from the Riverbend.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Along the Avenue

I was walking along Fourth the other day.  Just the stretch between 3rd Street and 12th.  I was just wondering, for the umpteenth time, at the transformation of the avenue from regular, blue-collar traffic corridor, to condoland. 

Of course, on on the side streets, there are countless more of these monstrosties. Here's a baby building at 232 7th :

Let's do a little tax photo time travel back to the early 80s, about the time I came to the city. Here's 232 back then. It looks like it could be much earlier.

Gohlke Roofers (at one point Burger & Gohlke) was founded in 1895. I found ads for the company in the Daily Eagle, one dated 1934, and another (date uncertain, 1940s?) with a nice hand-drawn sketch of two men in overalls, brimmed hats on heads, at work on a rooftop. At a later date it became Neptune Roofers. If you start looking at the tax photos, prepare for a long shift. I went through Sunset Park, Red Hook, downtown Brooklyn, and my part of the South Slope/Gowanus, and then I had to stop. It was overwhelming. Some of this time-travel revealed streets, lots, stores and buildings I was unfamiliar with, but a lot brought back buried memories of the city I saw when I first came to this country, and a weird, sensory immersion in the past. And in the streets near to home, the sheer numbers of small businesses & houses - many early freestanding wooden structures - that have vanished without mention.

"A savage servility slides by on grease."

Friday Afternoon, Just Around the Corner

On my way home down Fifth yesterday, I spotted a Ford Falcon Futura outside the 99c store.  Those crazy gold rims blazed like suns across the avenue!

Much leaning, talking, engine scrutiny, and soaking up of sun and attention on a late summer's day. If only September would stay away for good.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Links & Update

Recalling the Real 'Dog Day Afternoon,' 40 Years On (NY Times); Dog Day Anniversary (Daily News)
Here's the 1975 trailer to what may be my all-time favorite American film:

Game Time - Bruce Ratner & the Barclays Center (NY Magazine)
Ratner & Co. ... believe that the idea of Brooklyn itself—the Brooklyn brand, the actual word Brooklyn—has commercial power. As Yormark puts it: “I often tell people, ‘Shame on us if we do not leverage this. It comes for free. You do not have to pay for it, and to some degree we inherit it.’
Slope Cafe on Fourth & 10th (West Indian food!) expected to open during the first week of September (& here I update an earlier post which sounded much snarkier than I had intended).

A Little Touch of Country in the City

Where is this mini-Eden?  Here's a view on Google Earth:

It's on the Queens/Brooklyn border, in a rather industrial setting:

Yes, if you're good at reading the blurry writing on a Google Earth image, you may detect the words Flushing Av.  Here's a much clearer image a little to the north of our mystery site.  The good old Bohack factory building:

Here's the next door neighbor to our place of the day:

and here you can actually catch a glimpse of it, as approached from the north:

Yes, O well travelled reader(s), you are correct! It's the Vander Ende-Onder Donk House, the oldest Dutch Colonial stone house in the city. A smaller house was built in the mid seventeenth century, and Paulus Vander Ende began construction of the current house in 1709. In recent weeks I seem to have spent a good deal of (enjoyable) time traversing Brooklyn & Queens on Flushing & Metropolitan Aves., & seeing the Vander Ende-Onder Donk House nestled between auto part-stores and garment warehouses has pleased me no end. What context! And who can imagine a three hundred year survival? The heroic members of the Greater Ridgewood Historical Society saved it from destruction in the 1970s and brought it into the 21st century. What a lovely sight it is.

And of course, for an oddist like myself, compulsively repeating Vander Ende-Onder Donk, Vander Ende-Onder Donk over and over again is pure juvenile nirvana.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Links with Sea Views

Visiting a wooden-hulled trawler (The Gog Log)
Among the many upcoming events at Coney Island, USA:
Thursday, August 23, 9 pm : Surrealist Burlesque:  Society of the Spectacular - Surrealist Burlesque returns to Coney Island on Thursday, August 23rd for "Society of the Spectacular," a show inspired by Guy Debord's seminal text, Society of the Spectacle. Featuring site-specific installations, multi-media performance art, spectacular production numbers, and elaborate props and costumes, this show is guaranteed to make your eyes sweat and your brain tingle!
Wednesday, August 29, 9 pm : Penguinpalooza, a benefit for the hospitalized CI Sideshow cast member, The Illustrated Penguin
Breathtaking views & prices, & the ever more surreal double life of a neighborhood: Red Hook's Imlay Warehouse ready to go rental? (Brownstoner

Let's Go

I've walked along this stretch of 30s Fourth many times, but I think I'm more often on the eastern side of the avenue, and I'd never noticed the carved stone lettering at the top of 863 until yesterday.  In the 80s there was a sportsmen's club here, & more recently a sewing supply business.  I'd like to know the story of Let's Go.

Our Lady of Czestochowa Place (24th Street)

Monday, August 20, 2012

New Bar at Fourth & 18th

In the space formerly occupied by Alto's Pub (hip-hop, salsa, reggaeton), which closed several years ago, another bar, Supercollide(r?) is coming in. 


Around the stadium, a plethora of empty stores.  Here are three.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Thursday, August 16, 2012


Strauss Auto declares bankruptcy, closes 45 stores, including the one at Fourth & 14th (Sheepshead Bites, Brownstoner)
Hmm.  That's a big development site.
Yesterday's Gowanus floods (Brooklyn Paper)
Stabbing at Fifth & 9th (PSP)

A Roosevelt Quartet

Look at these four stores, all lined up in a row.  Bill's Cycle store (est. 1939),  a nondescript but serviceable liquor store, the Bum Bum Bar (a Latin gay women's club) and the Filthy Rich Barber Shop, a hip-hop music scene favorite.  You can check out a whole bunch of Filthy Rich clips on Youtube.  I love the names here & just a great array of businesses. Viva Woodside!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

4th Avenue Station: 5:30 p.m.

Coming Home


Almost three years ago, I posted a photo of construction at 292 15th Street. The plan was for a Lubavitch ritual bathing pool, and IMBY, with the usual diligence, had been covering the details of this back in '08. Well, the years have rolled by. Still no mikvah. Construction limped along, then ceased. Time, alas,  has cast no rosy glow of loveliness here.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

More Coffee on Fifth

The Kahawa Cafe, at Fifth & 15th, opened this week, taking part of the space from the pharmacy operating around the corner.  Nice to see the Christmas wreath is still there.

Clocks & their Keepers

Main Street, Flushing.  Surrounded by AT & T logos, and frozen at 12:14, this little clock looks humbly out of place.   It doesn't exactly scream high-tech,which makes me like it all the more.

At the other end of the public clock hierarchy, the beautiful (working) beehive clock on West 14th Street,  with its CVS appendage.

Sunday, August 12, 2012


Aaron's is long gone, but the sign for the store is still around.  I knew a few people who shopped there, but I was always overwhelmed by the hovering staff, and obligatory coat check.  Too much, too much!

Saturday, August 11, 2012


My dining companions were in a hurry to get home, so I didn't linger outside this store as long as I would've liked. The store(s), in the shadow of the elevated 7 track, were closed anyway, so I'll have to come back and look around inside another time.  Everything for the Home (and Car)is a bold and pleasing claim, and the sign, with its old-school lettering & hand painted illustrations is just great. Well, there are two signs, as it appears the store shrank in recent times, but the less said about the real estate office the better. There's mystery in the name of this hardware & goods store, though. It says (with a replaced vowel) Archer, but the business at this address online is listed as Arcters, so is that "h" a replacement too? Just a spare consonant that happened to fit the gap? This seems casual to the point of indifference. My guess is that the original Arcters are long gone, & their successors happy enough with approximation. I'd love to know for sure.

Arcters/Archers, 73-21 Broadway, Jackson Heights