Williamsburg Brookyln

Collapsed Scaffolding on Wythe Avenue Crushes Parked Cars

Three cars were crushed by the partially collapsed wall and construction scaffolding on Wythe Avenue and N. 13 Street.

A partial wall and scaffolding collapse crushed three cars parked at the corner of Wythe Avenue and N. 13th Street in Williamsburg at approximately 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday.

The partial collapse was caused by a backhoe vehicle that backed into the wall at the demolition site, according to FDNY. No injuries were reported. Continue reading

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Environmental Cleanup to Begin at Toxic Williamsburg Parking Lot

510 Driggs Ave. in 2012 (via Google Maps)

Environmental cleanup will begin this month at 510 Driggs Avenue under the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Brownfield Cleanup Program. The cleanup will be performed by “187 North 8 Street Owner LLC” with oversight by the NYDEC.

510 Driggs Ave. in 2018 (via Google Maps)

The vacant parking lot has been closed for the past year and was home to the Bulletin Market during recent summers. A manufactured gas plant (MGP) was demolished on the site in 1887, and it later became a garage and a chair manufacturer after an industrial conversion in the 1940s.

508 Driggs Avenue in 1940 (via NYX tax photo archives)

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L Train Petroleum Stench Linked to Bushwick Avenue Gas Station Spills

The Shell gas station at 2 Bushwick Ave. in September 2017 (via Google Maps)

A shuttered Shell gas station at 2 Bushwick Ave. where five spills were reported from 1989 – 2006 is being identified as the potential source of the L train petroleum stench that has resulted in multiple sick passengers and workers since last week, NY Daily News reports.

The Dept. of Environmental Conservation received the spill reports from the former gas station owners whose business operated directly above the L train between Grand Street and Graham Avenue as recent as 2017.

The Shell gas station at 2 Bushwick Ave. in 2018 (via Google Maps)

The DEC is not officially placing the blame on the former gas station for the L train oil smell, the NY Daily News explains:

Transit officials said the tank was abandoned for more than 20 years after DEC officials opted not to remove it, citing its proximity to the subway tunnels. But their timeline may be off — fuel was sold at the gas station as recently as 2017.

DEC spokesman Sean Mahar said Monday that the agency had not yet identified a single source of last week’s disturbing odor, and that a comprehensive investigation into the issue was ongoing.

City Councilman Antonio Reynoso, whose district includes the vacant station, said his office received very little communication from the MTA on the source of the L train stink.

“To make matters worse, the information we have received is conflicting and leaves many unanswered questions about the gravity of the situation and its impact on the health of the riders and residents,” said Reynoso. “This is especially angering and adds insult to injury when considering that north Brooklyn has a history of experiencing environmental injustices, specifically oil spills.”

 

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Walt Whitman’s Writing About North Brooklyn

For most of us when we think about Brooklyn’s greatest poet Walt Whitman we think about his poetry and not about his prose. However, Whitman like many creative people today in Brooklyn, had to pay the bills and to make ends meet from 1857 to 1859 he edited a Williamsburg newspaper called the Brooklyn Daily Times, which changed its name from the Williamsburg Daily Times when Williamsburg merged with the city of Brooklyn in 1855, the same year Whitman first published his celebrated “Leaves of Grass.” Whitman worked out of an office that was near the foot of Broadway in Williamsburg and the prose he wrote there gives us a unique window into what our area was like on the eve of the Civil War.

Many of the editorials that Whitman wrote for the paper concerned the spread of slavery, the burning national question of the day. Whitman was no abolitionist and even told his readers that there were some positive aspects to slavery. Whitman was a “Free Soiler,” which meant that he favored stopping the spread of slavery into the new western territories that were to be incorporated into states. Previously, Whitman had edited the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, a Democratic paper and he had been fired because of his free-soil stance from the paper.

Whitman’s desk in Williamsburg courtesy of Walt Whitman Review

Looking back on Whitman’s racial views a century and a half later, we are struck by the fact that a man who was so humane and sensitive in his poems could be so indifferent to the enslavement of millions of Americans. Whitman never believed in racial equality and asked, “Is not America for the whites?” He also asked what he believed to be a horribly racist rhetorical question, “Who believes that whites and blacks can ever amalgamate in America? Or who wishes it to happen?”

Aside from dealing with the burning political questions of the day, Whitman also loved Brooklyn deeply and wrote extensive observations of local life. In 1857, he visited Greenpoint and described at length the burgeoning pottery industry here. He visited Pottery Hill, where the father of local ceramics, Charles Cartlidge had set up our area’s first pottery and Whitman went into great detail describing the process by which pottery was crafted. Continue reading

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