The recent tragic fire on Diamond Street made me think about one of the most fascinating characters from my book “ Greenpoint, Brooklyn’s Forgotten Past. “Joseph Bartnikowski, born in 1926 just down the street from the blaze, was a reclusive and eccentric self-taught genius painter who died in 2005. It was only after his death that people understood the sheer size of his work and the talent he had.
Starting in the seventies, Bartnikowski for three decades or so was a familiar, if somewhat strange, fixture in the area. Astride his bicycle, with easel, and paints ready, he was constantly on the look out for subject. Dressed in a French Foreign Legion style military cap with the brim flattened out, and a home–made curtain-like attachment to protect his neck from the sun, he painted what struck and sometimes infuriated his subjects when he told them that his canvases were not for sale. Continue reading →
Anna Sawicka, a nearby resident, has spearheaded the efforts with the help of her sister Magdalena and Edward Sawicki.
“Many of them lost everything in the fire and on top of it they did not speak fluent English and needed translation help (my sister and myself are fully bi-lingual so we were able to help),” she told Greenpointers in an email.
Of the roughly 16 victims that Sawicka is aware of, she believes only two have sought temporary housing, while others have taken up temporary residence with friends.
The Red Cross has been heavily involved, as has the Polish Consulate. Currently, the Red Cross has 14 victims officially registered.
If you’d like to help or donate any items, here’s a list of collection spots. Continue reading →
Four people — including two firefighters — were injured last night in a four-alarm fire that engulfed three consecutive buildings on Diamond Street.
According to the Fire Department, the fire started around 10:30 p.m. on Sunday night at 49 Diamond Street and spread to two neighboring buildings at 47 and 51 Diamond, resulting in a massive blaze that required the efforts of 168 firefighters to extinguish.
It took the team about three hours to bring the fire under control, no thanks to bitterly cold temperatures that caused the spray from their hoses to freeze on the street.
Thankfully, no one was killed or seriously injured, but the residents of those buildings have taken up shelter in temporary housing provided by the Red Cross, and it’s likely that the buildings will have to be completely torn down.
The two firefighters who sustained injuries were taken to Wyckoff Heights Medical Center, and the other two went to Bellevue.
The cause of the fire is still currently under investigation.
Jill Checker was staying at 53 Diamond Street when it went up in flames. Went back inside to rescue Larry the cat pic.twitter.com/oLUkTVfkQ6