Bushwick

Anchor Mistaken for Sea Mine Discovered in Newtown Creek

Metropolitan Avenue Bridge over Newtown Creek (courtesy of Jim Henderson)

A homemade anchor that was first reported to be a sea mine was discovered in Newtown Creek on Friday afternoon causing street closures, NBCNY reports. Sea mines are bombs used to sink and destroy ships and submarines; to prevent injuries, surrounding streets including the Metropolitan Avenue Bridge were shut down during the two-hour investigation.

Sea mines (courtesy of Andre Kaur)

FDNY was notified of a possible explosive device in Newtown Creek near Grand Street on Friday around 1 p.m. and a bomb containment squad was dispatched to the scene, according to NBCNY. Continue reading

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NYPD to Host Community Forum Against Hate (3/14)

The NYPD Patrol Borough Brooklyn North is hosting a community forum and discussion on hate crimes and how residents can work together to stop the noted increase in hate crimes over the past year. The forum will take place on Thursday, March 4, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at 179 Wilson Ave. in Brooklyn; RSVP at [email protected]

NYC experienced a 40 percent increase in hate crimes so far this year; 66 hate crimes in 2019 compared to 47 during the same period in 2018, with 64 percent categorized as anti-semitic, NBC reports.

Greenpointers recently reported on the string of local hate graffiti, a Manhattan Avenue-addressed hate letter, and vandalism at the Chabad of Bushwick.

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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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Greenpoint’s Hidden Waters Explored at A/D/O

Pratt’s Astral Oil Works on the East River at Bushwick Inlet (Scientific American 1872)

Walk alongside the western Greenpoint waterfront and you’ll eventually hit a jut of water bordered by a weathered fence, marsh plants, and a lingering stench of seawater. Unlike the mammoth Hudson or Superfund-famous Gowanus, Bushwick Inlet is easily lost in the hierarchy of remarkable city waters.

This humble inlet, however, joined the limelight this past Thursday, thanks to Sergey Kadinsky, an analyst at the New York City Parks Department and adjunct professor at Touro College. Speaking at A/D/O, a design hub and workspace on Norman Avenue, Kadinsky gave a wide-ranging talk exploring the “hidden waters” across the metropolitan area.

Kadinsky took the stage as the final speaker in a series on water and design. Once a tour guide on Gray Line double-decker buses, he channeled that same brio as he barreled through the five boroughs, pointing out disappeared bodies of water at a blistering pace.

Suffice to say, the city hasn’t been kind to its ponds, streams, creeks, or lakes. Take the now-defunct Collect Pond, which used to be Manhattan’s main source of freshwater. As the city grew, so did the surrounding industry. Contaminated wastewater from breweries, tanneries, and slaughterhouses seeped into the small lake, leading officials to fill it in.

1924 NYC Map aerial survey of Bushwick Inlet to McCarren Park (via Hidden Waters blog)

Bushwick Inlet had a similar history. Fed by the disappeared Bushwick Creek, it had an illustrious career, home to a notorious rumrunner during prohibition and was also the launch site for the first ironclad warship constructed in the United States.

City officials then filled in Bushwick Creek in the 19th century, which ran through north Williamsburg and present-day McCarren Park, leading to the contraction of the inlet.

While there’s little hope for the resurrection of Bushwick Creek (its path was projected to run through the location of A/D/O), Kadinsky argued that this doesn’t prevent us from “daylighting” previously forgotten waters.

View of Bayside Oil Tanks through the weeds at Bushwick Inlet Park. Photo by Megan Penmann
Bushwick Inlet Park. Photo by Megan Penmann

For example, Collect Pond is gone for good, but city officials named a park in the same location in lower Manhattan Collect Pond Park, connecting past geography to present.

Bushwick Inlet has fared better than Collect Pond, but by all accounts needs a facelift. Luckily, it projects to be part of the northern extension of what will eventually be a complete Bushwick Inlet Park, a move to put the inlet “back on the map.” 

Via Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park
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Measels Outbreak Centered in Un-Vaccinated Williamsburg Community

(courtesy of Nick Youngson)

The highly contagious measles virus, which was eradicated two decades ago in the U.S. with an effective vaccine, has returned with a surge of 90 diagnoses (mostly children) in Brooklyn, with most of the confirmed cases centered in the Orthodox Jewish community in Williamsburg, where 15 people were diagnosed since last October. There were 349 confirmed cases of measles in the U.S. in 2018, according to the CDC.

Since October 2018, approximately 225 New Yorkers have contracted measles, tracing back to a traveler to Israel, according to the NY Times.

According to the NYC Dept. of Health and Mental Hygiene:

As of February 19, 2019, there have been 90 confirmed cases of measles in Brooklyn since October. Most of these cases have involved members of the Orthodox Jewish community.

The initial child with measles was unvaccinated and acquired measles on a visit to Israel, where a large outbreak of the disease is occurring. Since then, there have been additional children from Brooklyn who were unvaccinated and acquired measles while in Israel. Children who did not travel were also infected in Brooklyn or Rockland County.

The neighborhoods that are affected include:

Bensonhurst: 1 confirmed measles case (no new cases since November 2018)
Borough Park: 41 confirmed measles cases (2 new cases in the past week)
Midwood/Marine Park: 1 confirmed measles case (no new cases since November 2018)
Williamsburg: 47 confirmed measles cases (15 new cases in the past week)
If you plan to travel to Israel, protect yourself and your family against measles and get vaccinated with the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine at least two weeks in advance of your trip. If you have traveled to Israel and you have a fever, cough, red eyes, runny nose and body rash, contact your doctor. You should call your doctor before going to their office to prevent exposing other people to measles.

The measles virus can live for two hours in rooms lacking ventilation and is spread through casual contact. Symptoms include a rash that can spread across the body along with white spots in the mouth, high fever, runny sinus, and a cough. A 95 percent immunization rate is ideal to shield the general population, but immunization rates are as low as 60 percent in New York regions according to the NY Times.

Measles cases by year (courtesy of the CDC)

For perspective,  a worse outbreak occurred in 2014 when 667 measles cases were reported, with nearly 400 cases in an un-vaccinated Amish community in Ohio.

Children should have their first dose of the measles vaccine by one year of age and a second dose between the ages of four to six. According to the city:

All children enrolled in pre-kindergarten, nursery school, daycare programs, and Head Start are required to receive one dose of the measles vaccine. Children enrolled in grades K through 12 and college students must have two doses of measles vaccine. Health care workers are required to receive two doses of a measles-containing vaccine, or have a blood test showing that they are immune.

In December 2018, the City Health Department began cracking down on un-vaccinated schoolchildren, banning children from school until they receive proper shots.

 

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Brooklyn Community Board 1’s Monthly Public Meeting is Tomorrow (2/12)

It’s that time of the month again for Brooklyn’s Community Board 1 to convene for its monthly public meeting.

CB1 map (via Google MAps)

You can attend in person on Tuesday, Feb. 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: Continue reading

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Suspect Wanted for Slashing Woman’s Face in Williamsburg

The suspect wanted for a robbery that occurred on 2/3/19 at approximately 7:45am on the corner of Boerum St & White St. (courtesy of NYPD)

The NYPD is seeking the public’s help to identify a male suspect who allegedly slashed a 31-year-old woman across her face before robbing her Sunday morning. The suspect approached the victim, Dana Sagona of Queens, near Boerum and White streets in Williamsburg at approximately 7:45 a.m., when the suspect made a comment on her looks and offered a marriage proposal.

Dana Sagona (courtesy NY Daily News)

Sagona works as a city librarian and was waiting for a cab to Manhattan to volunteer at an animal shelter when the assault and robbery occurred. She described the incident to the NY Daily News: Continue reading

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US Premiere of “Bleach” Follows Lonely Bushwick Rentboy

Eamon Yates in “Bleach.” Photo by Hunter Canning

Check your coat at the door, and maybe your comfort.

But what else would you expect going to see an immersive play about a gay sex worker in a Bushwick basement? Bleach, the UK-imported one-man show now at Tyler’s Basement (637 Wilson Avenue), boldly but often unsuccessfully tests the limits of actor-audience intimacy. An attendant at the theater asks if you’ll be comfortable with the performer touching you; the character, a gay prostitute, is a pro after all. He gets paid to touch.

Even if you say no, it’s hard to emerge unscathed. In Tyler’s subterranean shoebox studio where the ten-max audience members convene, it’s difficult to not at least brush shoulders with the single performer in Dan Ireland-Reeves’s erotically stimulating but intellectually numbing play. Continue reading

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N. 4 Street Retail Prices Soar Ahead of L Train Shutdown

N. 4th Street at Bedford Avenue looking West Google Maps)

N. 4th St. between Driggs Avenue and Kent Avenue had the largest increase in retail rental prices over the last year, where prices increased by 34 percent according to a REBNY study that looked at 16 of Brooklyn’s “prime retail corridors,” The Real Deal reports. Williamsburg’s N. 4th Street has seen a proliferation of corporate chains set up shop over the past couple of years including Whole Foods, Levis, Scotch & Soda, and Chipotle.

Bedford Avenue at N. 7 Street Google Maps)

Still, on nearby Bedford Avenue between Grand Street and N. 8th St. prices decreased by 11 percent to $351 per square foot. Rents in Williamsburg may drop further after the L train shuts down between Manhattan and Brooklyn for 15 months beginning in April 2019.

In Greenpoint, Franklin Street between Meserole Avenue and Commercial Street saw no change in the $74 per square foot price for groundfloor retail since last year, according to the study.

Continue reading

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$450 Million Co-Living Building Planned For Williamsburg

The Collective’s Old Oak in London.

The Collective, a London-based real estate development firm, will launch its $450 million co-living building at 277 Lorimer St. on the border of Bushwick and Williamsburg by 2020.

The 350,000 square-foot building on the land purchased from Bless Properties for just over $54 million will be Brooklyn’s first co-living building and The Collective’s only U.S. location to date. Continue reading

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