Brooklyn

Emergency Blood Drive This Sunday (3/17)

An emergency blood drive is being organized by the North Brooklyn Chamber to help the NY Blood Center meet the needs of their patients during an ongoing shortage. The blood drive takes place Sunday, March 17, at Our Lady of Mt Carmel Church, (275 N. 8th St.) from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.; donors can signup for an appointment here if they can’t make it this Sunday.

The NY Blood Center released a statement explaining that donations have lagged this winter:

Four weeks ago, the New York Blood Center announced a blood emergency because donations had been lagging through the month of January. O- and B- inventories have not recovered. O- is the most needed blood type, transfusable to all other blood types and most urgently needed.
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Second L Train Open House is Wednesday (3/13) in Williamsburg

(Courtesy of Salim Virji/Flickr)

The MTA is hosting its second L train open house tomorrow (3/13) at the Williamsburg Northside School (299 N. 7th St.) from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Two additional L train open house sessions are scheduled for Tuesday, March 19: Grand Street Campus High School, (850 Grand St.), and on Monday, April 8: (14th St. Y), 344 E 14 St.

The current L train reconstruction plan is thin on finalized details, but a night and weekend repair schedule beginning April 26th where the L train runs in 20-minute increments between Manhattan and Brooklyn is expected. To help mitigate the problem, the MTA would like L train commuters to reconsider their station: Continue reading

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Brooklyn Community Board 1’s Monthly Meeting is Tonight (3/12)

The monthly Brooklyn Community Board 1 meeting is tonight (3/12) at the Swinging 60s Senior Citizens Center (211 Ainslie St.) from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. The meeting will also be live-streamed and the agenda is available here:

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Maria Stewart: America’s ‘First Black Woman Political Writer’ Who Taught in Williamsburg

Maria Stewart

As we celebrate International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month its time to recall that one of the early giants of both the Abolitionist movement and the women’s movement lived for many years in Williamsburg. Maria Stewart, who taught in Colored School #3 on Union Avenue, can claim a number of amazing firsts.

Colored School #3 where Stewart taught

Stewart had a brief, but an extremely controversial career as a public orator in Boston where she became the first black American female to address a racially mixed audience. She also has the honor of being the first black American woman to lecture about women’s rights and black women’s rights. Stewart is even credited as being the first known American woman to lecture in public on political issues. As if these accomplishments were not enough Stewart also can claim to be the first black American woman to make public anti-slavery speeches. Speaking up also got her in a lot of trouble and that is part of the reason Stewart ended up here in North Brooklyn.

Maria Stewart was unique from her childhood. She was born free as Maria Miller in 1803 in Hartford, Connecticut, during a period when the state still practiced slavery. All that is known about her parents is their surname: Miller. At the age of five, her parents passed away and she was forced to become a servant in the household of a white clergyman where she lived for 10 years.

Although Stewart received no formal education, she taught herself literacy by reading books from the extensive family library. After leaving the family at the age of 15, she continued to work as a domestic servant while continuing her education at Sabbath schools.

The young Stewart moved to Boston where on August 10, 1826, she married James W. Stewart, a 44-year-old veteran of the War of 1812 who earned a good living by fitting out whaling and fishing vessels. At the time, African Americans made up only three percent of Boston’s population, and the Stewarts were part of an even smaller minority: Boston’s black middle class.

In 1829, Stewart died. Although Stewart left his wife with a substantial inheritance, the white executors of the will cheated her out of it after a court battle. Once again, Maria was forced to turn to domestic service to make ends meet. Continue reading

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MTA to Host First of Four L Train Open Houses Tonight (3/7)

The MTA is hosting the first of four open houses focused on the L train tonight (3/7) at Our Lady of Guadalupe St. Bernard at 328 W 14 St. in Manhattan from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

The other three open houses are also scheduled from 6-8 p.m.:

  • Wednesday, March 13: Williamsburg Northside School, 299 N 7th St.
  • Tuesday, March 19: Grand Street Campus High School, 850 Grand St.
  • Monday, April 8: 14th St Y, 344 E 14 St.

The L train is currently undergoing service disruptions on nights and weekends through March 18, and while a night and weekend repair schedule is expected to be implemented for approximately 15 to 18 months during repairs scheduled to start this spring, a final plan has yet to be approved. Continue reading

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New Greenpoint Landing Towers From Architect of Shenzhen Stock Exchange

(Rendering courtesy of OMA)

Renderings of two additional Greenpoint Landing mixed-use towers with 745 rental units (30 percent ‘affordable’) were released today resembling a “ziggurat and its inverse,” Curbed reports.

This is Brooklyn’s first development from the architectural firm OMA (founded by the esteemed Rem Koolhaas), who is also behind the McKinsey & Company Hong Kong office, the Shenzhen Stock Exchange, and the redevelopment of the Miami Beach Convention Center, among dozens of other “world-class” buildings.

(Rendering courtesy of OMA)

The two incongruent Tetris-esque buildings are part of the 10 building, 22-acre Greenpoint Landing development, bringing 5,500 apartments to the northern-most area of the neighborhood, abutting the  Nuhart Plastics Superfund site and on a Zone 1 hurricane evacuation area (most prone to flooding and future rising tides). One tower will be 30 stories and the second 40 stories with a total of 768,000 square feet of residential space and 8,600 square-feet for retail. Continue reading

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Brooklyn Label: Rediscovering the Astral’s Legacy

The Astral (Pratt Institute archives)

A lot of local history is quickly disappearing, but one place that is holding strong is Brooklyn Label (180 Franklin St.) and the historic building it calls home. French Greenpointer Robert Arbor, proprietor of Le Gamin (108 Franklin St.) re-opened Brooklyn Label in the historic Astral Building. The former management did little to recognize the amazing history of the space, something that Arbor has dedicated himself to changing.

The Astral Apartments are not only landmarked, but the building is also on the National Register of Historic Places. Arbor and his manager, Alex Russell, are determined to honor the building’s rich history and its patron philanthropist Charles Pratt, the oil baron and the richest man in 19th century Brooklyn.

Completed in 1883, the Astral Apartments were unique in their day: Unlike the flimsy tenement buildings that sprang up all around the city without basic amenities, the Astral was a kind of gift to the Greenpoint community and a solidly built showcase.

In contrast to tenements, Pratt’s building had plenty of natural light, air and even indoor plumbing, unheard of luxuries for most tenement dwellers. And the building was stunningly beautiful too!

The philanthropist hired famed architects Hugh Lamb and Charles A. Rich who also designed his stately Pratt Institute campus. Pratt commissioned them to design the Astral as a model for worker housing. Lamb & Rich based the Astral design on innovative tenement housing built by American philanthropist George Peabody in London who was a personal friend of Pratt’s.

Astral Kindergarten (Pratt Institute archives)
(Pratt Institute archives)

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Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney to Host “State of the District” in Upper East Side (3/10)

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney is hosting a “State of the District” presentation on Sunday, March 10, at Hunter College W714 (E. 68th Street and Lexington Avenue) from 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. “Join me at my State of the District presentation this Sunday at 1pm! I’ll be discussing my legislative work in Washington, infrastructure investments in NYC, and the status of ongoing projects in #NY12. Hope to see you there,” Maloney posted on Facebook.


Maloney represents NY’s 12th Congressional District including parts of Williamsburg, Greenpoint, Bushwick, Long Island City, Astoria, the East Village, Midtown East, and the Upper East Side.

The congresswoman recently doubled down on her backing of the failed Amazon bid to build a second headquarters in Long Island City in a deal that would have granted the trillion dollar corporation upwards of $3 billion in state and city tax subsidies in exchange for 25,000 high-paying jobs. Read the letter published in the NY Times addressed to Jeff Bezos last week that Maloney signed urging the Amazon founder to reconsider:

We know the public debate that followed the announcement of the Long Island City project was rough and not very welcoming. Opinions are strong in New York—sometimes strident. We consider it part of the New York charm! But when we commit to a project as important as this, we figure out how to get it done in a way that works for everyone.

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Honoring Greenpoint’s Pioneering Female Factory Workers

(Photo via Turnstile tours)

The iconic industries of North Brooklyn were staffed by females who were underpaid and often worked in dangerous conditions. It’s high time we honor these anonymous, but heroic local workers. Some local industries preferred female workers.

Why? Well, there are a number of reasons, but more often than not factory owners could underpay female workers, especially immigrant women who often lacked the language skills and awareness to demand their fair wage and better conditions.

The American Manufacturing Company

Some local female workers, however, were anything but docile. They fought for better wages and better conditions in strikes that often became violent. The American Manufacturing Company centered on West Street employed thousands of women, with many from Poland and Lithuanian. They were superior workers to men because the work making ropes required great manual dexterity and female hands outperformed men in making ropes.

The women worked long hours for poor pay, however, in 1910, the women organized a sit-down strike and engaged in a full-fledged street battle with the local police who tried to prevent them from taking over the sprawling factory. Polish women were also arrested when they violently confronted Italian immigrant workers hired to replace them. Later Puerto Rican women were brought from their native island to work in the plant, establishing a Puerto Rican presence in our area that lasts until today.

Another famous strike occurred at the Leviton plant on Greenpoint Avenue. Leviton manufactured pull-chain lamp holders for Thomas Edison’s newly developed light bulb, and in 1922 the company moved to Greenpoint. The massive factory took up two city blocks between Newel and Jewel Streets and produced over 600 other electrical items, from fuses to socket covers to outlets and switches.

(The Brooklyn Eagle Archives 06/1941)

The Leviton plant employed numerous women doing piecework. When inspectors came they saw guards on the machinery that protected the workers’ hands, but when the inspectors left the guards were removed because they slowed down assembly of the devices. Women at the plant lost fingers due to the lack of guards, which led to a demand for increased safety and union recognition in a long and bitter 1940 strike. The strikers were visited by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, the first time in American history the First Lady addressed striking workers. The women won the long bitter strike achieving better pay and safe conditions. Continue reading

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BQX Public Discussion on Local Business and Public Transit at Brooklyn Bowl (3/5)

BQX streetcar rendering

A panel discussion on the proposed Brooklyn Queens Connector (also known as BQX) is scheduled for Tuesday, March 5, at 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. at the Brooklyn Brewery (79 N. 11th St.); the talk is hosted by Friends of the Brooklyn Queens Connector, RSVP here.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams will moderate a discussion with small business owners, organizers, and experts from Seattle, Portland, Toronto, Kansas City, and St. Paul. Small group brewery tours begin at 6:00 and 6:30 pm. and the panel discussion starts at 7 p.m. Complimentary food and drinks will be available.

The BQX is a streetcar that would span 11 miles of dedicated lanes from Astoria to Red Hook with stops half a mile apart connecting to nine ferries, 30 buses, and 13 subway lines.

According to the BQX website:

The BQX is anticipated to cost approximately $2.7 billion to construct. These estimates assume that the BQX will be built and operated using all union labor. Half the project can be paid for by a bond issued against future tax revenue increases from commercial and multifamily properties along the BQX route and will not not rely upon any new residential rezonings or tax rate increases. Furthermore, the project is estimated to created $30 billion in economic value over the coming decades which is over 10 times its capital cost.

 

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