Following a measles outbreak of 39 confirmed cases in Williamsburg and Borough Park since October, the New York City Dept. of Health and Mental Hygiene has banned unvaccinated schoolchildren from attending Orthodox Jewish schools in Brooklyn.
The highly contagious virus can infect people of all ages who lack a vaccination. The measles outbreak in Williamsburg stems from children who traveled to Israel, where the country’s Ministry of Health counted over 1,300 measles patients in November of this year. NYC health officials released a statement warning travelers to take caution.
As of December 5, there have been 39 confirmed cases of measles in the Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn since October. 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.
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.
As of Friday, Dec. 7, yeshiva students can only attend school if they are vaccinated, even if the student has an approved exemption and/or the yeshiva has no reported measles cases. Unvaccinated students can return to school after receiving the proper shots.
According to the Dept. of Health, pre-k and daycare attending children must have at least one measles, mumps, and rubella vaccination and kindergarten through 12th-grade students must have two MMR shots.
Approximately 2 percent of children in the Orthodox community remain unvaccinated for either religious or medical purposes, NBC New York reports.
Greenpoint is now the third most expensive Brooklyn neighborhood to purchase a home in with a median sale price of $1,225,000, up 37 percent from last year’s $890,969 median sale price, according to Property Sharks’ year-end report. The study’s ranking lists Greenpoint as the 14th most expensive neighborhood citywide.
For the study Property Shark calculated sale prices on single-family homes, condos, and co-ops from January to November 2018.
By this measure, Greenpoint is currently the third most expensive neighborhood in Brooklyn behind DUMBO (fifth most expensive in NYC) and Boerum Hill (seventh most expensive in NYC). The report explains that 14 units at 886 Lorimer St. sold for a median of $2.2 million, helping to bump Greenpoint’s average upward.
Greenpoint ranks 28th out of 50 for most transactions this year, far behind the Upper East Side, which had the largest number of deals this year with 2,150 transactions. Park Slope and Williamsburg take fourth and fifth place in the number of transactions citywide with 434 and 433 respectively.
The largest price drops this year for median sales prices in Brooklyn happened in the neighborhoods of Manhattan Beach (-24 percent) and Brooklyn Heights (-19 percent).
Thanks in large part to the writings of celebrated author Henry Miller and the stately Italianate houses on the street, Fillmore Place were landmarked in 2009 and will forever preserve the charm that enthralled the young Miller, who first saw it as a child in the late 1890s. The atmosphere of late 19th century Williamsburg is rtetained on the street in an area that rapidly gentrified over the past decade and lost much of its history: Fillmore Place is a gem and a throwback to an earlier era of local history. Gazing upon the austere brick facades of the old row houses on the south side of Fillmore Place, it is easy to imagine Williamsburg before the bridge and why Miller loved the neighborhood so strongly.
In the 1840s two merchant tailors could see that Williamsburg was prime real estate ripe for development. In 1846, Connecticut-born businessmen Alfred Clock and Ephraim Miller began acquiring parcels of land on the block bounded by Grand Street, Roebling Street, N. 2nd Street (renamed Metropolitan Avenue), and 5th Street ( Now Driggs Avenue). They purchased 12 lots from one owner and Clock and Miller also acquired three more lots from another landowner in 1847. Finally, they added a small strip of the David Van Cott farmstead in 1848. Now owning a contiguous parcel of developable land, Clock and Miller then hired a surveyor in 1850 to lay out a new, more regularized set of city lots on the property. The cumbersome dimensions of the block—each frontage was over 300 feet in length—also lead the pair to cut a narrow road through the middle of their development, which they named Fillmore Street (soon renamed Fillmore Place), after the president of the United States at the time Millard Fillmore.
There are few regions of New York City that can match North Brooklyn for its history of metal casting. Many of New York’s most iconic pieces of cast iron, steel and bronze were cast locally. Metal casting was one of the five black arts that shaped North Brooklyn’s industrial era. These black arts also included oil refining, porcelain making, paper production and glass blowing. Even today local foundries continue to create different kinds of metal objects locally. Sadly, even local history enthusiasts do not know the major achievements of local metal fabrication. It is a proud history our area should reclaim.
Most people can identify one of Greenpoint’s most famous metal objects: the ironclad battleship, the United States Ship Monitor, which was built in an amazing 101 days at the Continental Iron Works on Quay Street. The ships’ thick iron turret repelled cannon shots and saved the union in the battle of Hampton Roads in 1862. What you might not know is that many other monitor type ships were also built there and during the Civil War 1,500 men worked around the clock building these iron battleships, but there were many other local non-military achievements in metal.
The Brooklyn Bridge also used the work of local foundries. The bridge architects designed huge caissons, massive iron boxes built by a local firm. John Roebling, the bridge’s architect, designed them in 1868, giving the demanding contract to the shipbuilding firm Webb and Bell, located at the foot of Milton Street. Building these massive objects itself was a daunting engineering feat. Nothing like them had ever been built before. There was one for each bridge tower and each weighed an amazing 3,000 tons, larger than any object ever sunk into the ground before. The caissons were 168 feet long and 103 feet wide, an area covering half a city block. Each contained 110, 000 cubic feet of timber and 250 feet of iron with iron walls and a ceiling six feet thick.
Webb and Bell insisted on being paid $100, 000 in advance for the complicated task of building them. To dig inside the caissons workers needed air and the caissons were built with a revolutionary new technology: airlocks made of one-half inch boilerplates, seven feet by six and a half inches in diameter. Due to their enormous size, the massive caissons had to be built in parts and then welded together at the foot of the bridge.
Finally, in May 1870 the caissons were ready to be pulled down the river by two tugboats. They hoped to float them down the river, but launching such heavy objects into the East River was a major engineering problem. Webb and Bell had to build seven launch ways so that these massive objects could reach the river. Thousands of Greenpointers turned out to witness their launch into the river. Huge cheers arose from the throngs assembled along the East River as the caissons hit the water and did not sink. They were then towed the five miles down the East River to the bridge construction site.
The Hecla Iron Works
Some Greenpointers might also be surprised that some of the city’s most beautiful cast iron facades in were also cast locally. The Hecla Architectural Iron Works occupied 35 city lots located between N. 10th Street and N. 12th Street between Wythe Avenue and Berry Street and employed 1,000 workers in its various departments. Founded by two Scandinavian immigrants, Niels Poulson of Denmark and Charles Eger from Norway, the firm has become legendary for its graceful creations
Chanukah celebrations are Dec. 2 – Dec. 10 this year, and in celebration of the Jewish “Festival of Lights,” a menorah lighting was hosted by the Chabad of North Brooklyn last night at the intersection of Bedford Avenue and N. 7th Street in Williamsburg. If you missed the menorah lighting in Williamsburg, a Greenpoint Chabad-hosted menorah lighting ceremony will take place this Saturday, Dec. 8, at 8 p.m. at the corner of Greenpoint Avenue and Franklin Street. Check out the photos and video from the Williamsburg celebration below:
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.
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.
With all of the praise surrounding Lin-Manuel Miranda’s extraordinary musical, “Hamilton,” it is not surprising that the man who killed him, the villain Aaron Burr, has also enjoyed something of a revival. If you even half paid attention in American history, then you probably know that Burr killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel, his shot ending Hamilton’s brilliant career. Burr and Hamilton rowed across the Hudson River to Weehawken, New Jersey, where on July 11, 1804 the fatal encounter took place.
Burr, however, later in his life would also ferry across the East River, not to satisfy his aggrieved sense of honor, but to court a comely young Greenpoint woman, even though Burr was old enough to be her grandfather. In 1837, Burr, in his mid-70s, but still devilishly handsome, had a well-earned reputation in New York as a thorough rogue. He had been charged, but not convicted, with treason against America. He had also skipped out of the country, failing to repay huge debts he owed and only later quietly slipped back into the country. Nevertheless, Burr was still a dashing figure, much admired by women. Burr had lynx-like eyes that women found hard to resist and suave, aristocratic manners ladies adored.
Burr had heard tales about the great beauty of a young woman who lived on Pottery Hill, which once stood around what today is Franklin and Green Street. Although almost 50 years older than the young woman, Burr began to make regular nocturnal Greenpoint trips to court her. Unbeknownst to the local beauty, Burr had a well-deserved reputation as a womanizer and frequent patron of prostitutes. He left broken hearts (and numerous offspring) scattered over two continents.
Burr most certainly did not mention his biggest secret- he was engaged to another woman who vied with Burr for having a notorious reputation, but she was not just any woman: she was America’s richest woman, Madame Jumel, a perfect match for Burr with her own history equally rich in scandal. This story was recalled by Greenpointers in 1890 and published in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.
Born in a brothel in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1775, as Betsy Bowen, Jumel was the daughter of a prostitute and followed in her mother’s footsteps. Eventually, she married one of New York’s richest merchants and inherited a fortune when he died. Rumors quickly reached her ears of the nocturnal visits of her fiancé to Pottery Hill in Greenpoint. Madame Jumel smelled a rat and decided she would discover Aaron’s cunning exploits for herself.
While Greenpoint is still a bastion of Polish food, community, and culture, there was a time when pierogi purveyors were more ubiquitous than banks and drug stores, longtime neighborhood resident Richard Humann recalls. In the 1980s, the large population of single Polish men working for the American dollar made for a pierogi paradise, with bare-bones cafeterias selling the dumplings for cents at seemingly every street corner. The combination of gentrification and more opportunities to make money following the fall of communism led to the departure of many of the Polish men and the resultant closure of many pierogi vendors.
In 2018, there’s still cause for indecision when picking a pierogi spot in Greenpoint, even if the dumplings today are a bit pricier and a bit more infrequent. Below, a guide to the best local pierogis.
Opened by Krakow native and restaurant namesake Krystyna Dura in 1993, Christina’s is known for its no-frills food in a charming, but tacky diner-like space. The table service is speedy and the plates will reliably fill you up faster than you think. Sour cream will cost you 50 cents extra.
While the pierogi options at Karczma are limited, what they do have delivers. The waitresses are all dressed in traditional outfits or school uniforms and the restaurant itself feels from another era. The borscht bread bowl isn’t for the faint of heart, but it’s worth a second trip back to experience it.
The pierogi here qualify more for their price and location than quality, although they’re certainly tasty too. In the back of Krajan, a Polish bodega of sorts, fridges sit full of soup, milk, meat and boxes of pierogi, $8.99 for 12, meat or cheese. Nab some cow caramels on your way out: a medium-sized bag filled with them will run you just $2.99.
Commonly known as some variation of “The Knights” due to the armored figures guarding its entrance and the hard to pronounce name, Krolewskie Jadlo is a neighborhood landmark. It earned this status not only through its memorable front but also its authentic atmosphere, hearty food, and warm environment.
The name and homey but chic decor make Polka Dot seem a bit out of place with the neighborhood’s food scene at first glance. A look at the prices and offerings will show you otherwise. If you’ve got room post pierogi, try the zucchini pancakes – like a lighter latka.
This cafeteria-style eatery hasn’t been updated in decades, prices included. The atmosphere alone is worth a visit. Don’t get too comfortable while you wait for your order – it’ll be called out in Polish when its ready for pickup at the counter.
North Brooklyn neighborhoods have experienced redevelopment over the past decade with demolitions and new construction a common sight. Living directly next to an active construction site can also be a headache, to say the least, and when serious issues arise that may require legal action homeowners can be flummoxed when considering which steps to take.
To help educate the public, a North Brooklyn homeowners’ rights meeting is taking place on Monday, Dec. 10, at the Polish Slavic Center (176 Java St.) at 6 p.m., where reps from the Dept. of Buildings and the offices of Council Member Stephen Levin, State Senator Brian Kavanaugh and Assemblyman Joe Lentol will be in attendance to answer questions. Event organizer and Greenpoint resident Victoria Cambranes worked to put the meeting together over the past few months:
“The idea occurred to me back in October because I had been speaking to quite a few of my neighbors and I’ve been hearing stories for quite some time now about people experiencing cracks, and issues with foundations and getting into litigation with developers, and it seemed like people were only discussing these things once it was too late.
It also occurred to me that many of my neighbors, because they’re older, a lot of them purchased houses in Greenpoint in the 60s and 70s and they don’t really have the wherewithal to go and do their own research and educate themselves, that they were missing a lot of information that could help them prevent a lot of these issues.
I’ve been given a bit of an education just in the last couple of months with DOB procedures, and insurance policies, creating party wall agreements and essentially what your rights are as an adjacent homeowner. And this was all new to me so I’m sure it would be new to a lot more people…I also got involved with a homeowners group down in Crown Heights because I was alerted that State Senator Velmanette Montgomery and Assemblywoman Tremaine Wright were working on legislation to help protect homeowners, so I’ve been in contact with them and hoping that they could come to educate us in North Brooklyn a little bit about what their work has been and what kind of legislation they hope to pass.”
Perhaps other blocks in Greenpoint have more elegant houses or more imposing churches, but no block has more beautiful trees than Guernsey Street, which runs parallel to the river between McCarren Park, on its southern end, and Oak Street at its northern tip. The block between Meserole and Norman Avenues has the most dramatic tree canopy in our area. The street is towered over by forest-scaled locust trees that create a leafy roof – a delightful respite from the blazing sun on steamy summer days.
The area was once home to the Meserole orchard, where fruit trees thrived in the rich wet soil that has also allowed these atmospheric locusts to create a tunnel of leaves, whose shade makes entering the block feel like stepping indoors from outdoors. The green ceiling of the locusts alters the light and tricks you into believing that you have stepped indoors. The west side of the street in particular, with its high flat brick buildings, creates the perfect backdrop for the magic of the subdued light, which gives the block its surreal, indoor quality.
In March of 2003, a New York Times reporter filed a story on the residents of the street and perfectly captured the block’s unique verdant beauty:
“In a landscape of warehouses and factories, this block of Brooklyn seems to appear out of nowhere like a magical wood in a fairytale. Graceful 19th-century apartment buildings, some with bay windows are guarded by towering honey locust trees that in a few weeks will form a lush green canopy.”
The trees are so atmospheric that it is hard to imagine that they were not always there, but people who grew up in the 1960s on the block and returned decades later are often shocked by the change the locusts have made. Artist Tim Doyle perfectly captured the feel of the green shade trees in the painting below:
The Times correspondent also called Guernsey Street “the archetypical American block,” but I disagree because there is nothing else locally quite like it and the street also has a unique history. The Southside of the street was a for many years open land, known to locals as “Paddy Floods lots.” The Eckford baseball team practiced there for a time before the Civil War, but the area’s development forced them out. When Grover Cleveland ran for president, his likeness was outlined in fireworks and ignited, much to the delight of local Democrats. A trestle once ran from these lots to the Southside, but it was long ago demolished. Around the 1920s, tawdry clapboard wood-frame four-story apartments were built, their flimsiness standing in marked contrast to the solid brick structures just across the street.