Williamsburg

Vermicomposting, Dirty Circus, Elsewhere Rooftop Opening Weekend — What’s Happening, Greenpoint? (5/15-5/21)

WEDNESDAY 5/15

*DIY spring planter: clay hand building class @ Manic Ceramic (395 Graham Ave), 7pm, $50, Each student will receive a slab of clay in which they will be taught special techniques in pottery wet clay hand building. No experience necessary, Buy Tix
♫ AfroBeats @ Bembe (81 S. 6th St), 9pm, FREE, the best of AFROBEATS and GLOBAL RHYTHMS with live percussion all night long, More Info
* Intro to Vermicomposting: A ‘WORMshop’ for New Yorkers @ AgTech X (40 Bushwick Ave) 630pm, $29, Buy Tix
♦ DOOM! the show we are hosting @Muchmore’s, 6pm, FREE, DOOM! (the last improv team you’ll ever see) is hosting a night of variety performance, More InfoTHURSDAY 5/16 Continue reading

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McGolrick Park Farmers Market Returns Sundays Through 11/24

(Courtesy of McGolrick Park Neighborhood Alliance)

The McGolrick Park Farmers Market is back for the season at the central pavilion inside the park on Sundays through November 24th.

The next farmers market at McGolrick Park takes place on Sunday, May 19th from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m., and according to the Down to Earth Farmers Market website the following vendors will be participating: Continue reading

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The Settlement House’s Long History and Continuing Role in North Brooklyn

The original Hull House in Chicago (courtesy of University of Alabama)

Local settlement houses have a long and honorable history in North Brooklyn and they have served as a cultural and educational oasis for generations of local youths. Still, many people might not fully appreciate the historic and current role settlement houses play in our area.

Settlement houses first appeared in England in 1884. Several young graduates from Oxford and Cambridge saw that the working class had little access to education or to culture, so they opened the first settlement house and hoped to share their knowledge and culture with their low-paid, poorly educated neighbors. The idea quickly spread to America where millions of illiterate, or semi-literate, immigrants with little or no English language skills began to populate the nation’s cities.

Many middle-class Americans feared that these immigrants and their children posed a danger to American culture and democracy. Something had to be done to help “Americanize” these newcomers and the settlement house quickly became the answer.

In 1889, Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Starr founded the famous Hull House Settlement House on Chicago’s west side. Hull House served the needs of recently arrived immigrants from Eastern Europe and it served as a model for approximately five hundred similar institutions that sprang up around the country.

Two settlement houses based on Hull House were founded in North Brooklyn. One was funded by Brooklyn’s richest man, Charles Pratt, on the ground floor of his model apartment building, The Astral Apartments, which still stands on Franklin Street and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The settlement house in the building ran a kindergarten, English language classes, home economics courses and civics classes for many of the newly arrived immigrants from Poland, Russia, Lithuania, and Italy.

The Astral in 1903 (Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Transfer from the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, Social Museum Collection): Caption states: “Greenpoint Settlement in South End, 85 Java Street. Settlement end of Astral Building eleven flats – for work of settlement Resident’s Apartments, fifth and sixth floors.”

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Brooklyn Community Board 1 Meets Tonight (5/14)

(courtesy of INGA/Flickr)

Brooklyn’s Community Board 1 (Greenpoint and Williamsburg) will hold its monthly public meeting tonight (5/14) at the Swinging 60’s Senior Center at 211 Ainslie St. starting at 6 p.m. The meeting will be live-streamed here and the agenda is as follows:

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Domino Sugar’s Enduring Lesson of Local History

The Domino refinery in 2008 (courtesy of Doug Letterman/Flickr)

The philosopher George Santayana once famously said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” I do not know if Santayana ever visited our area, but Santayana’s words relate to North Brooklyn’s struggle to recall its unique history and preserve the landmarks that help us remember our area’s fascinating past.


Last Saturday, I led about 75 hard souls who braved the rain on a walking tour of the Domino Refinery, which was once the largest sugar refinery in the world, processing at its height one-eighth of all the sugar refined on the planet! Today, the great refinery is being transformed into a mixed-use development.

Although the façade of the Domino building is landmarked and must be preserved, the building’s interior is being removed and it will become luxury condominiums and offices. Already huge metal stanchions have been attached to the exterior wall to facilitate gutting the historic refinery. Our history is being destroyed before our very eyes. Continue reading

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Vision for New Williamsburg School Settlement Gains Support

Rendering of the new community center (courtesy of School Settlement Association)

A rally in support of the School Settlement Association’s plan for a new building on Jackson Street was held last week with appearances by Assemblyman Joe Lentol and Senator Julia Salazar, News12 Brooklyn reports.

The event was held to bring attention to the more than one-hundred-year-old SSA community building at 120 Jackson Street, that is the association wants to be replaced with a modern 22,000 square-foot building at an estimated cost of $23 million, according to their website:

The new facility will consists of 22,000 sq. ft. of fully accessible community and classroom space including a state of the art auditorium-gymnasium. The new center will also provide in-home care services for frail elderly seniors through School Settlement Home Care.

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Pregnant Woman Recovering From Williamsburg Hit and Run

Middleton Street at Lee Avenue (via Google Maps)

A driver who fled the scene after running over a 25-year-old pregnant woman at the intersection of Middleton Street and Lee Avenue in South Williamsburg is being sought by NYPD.

The hit and run happened on Wednesday at approximately 3 p.m. and sent the woman flying into the air, she is recovering at Bellevue Hospital

The car, a 2007 Chrysler was abandoned by the driver after he sped away, even driving onto the sidewalk to escape, Pix11 reports.

With at least 63 fatalities this year, traffic-related deaths are up approximately 30 percent in NYC compared with the same time period in 2018, according to Streetsblog.

Anyone with information is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74682), logging onto the Crime stoppers website at www.nypdcrimestoppers.com, or by texting tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enterings TIP577.

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A History of Gardens in Brooklyn’s “Garden Spot”

Victory Garden in McCarren Park during World War I ( Image from the scrapbook of local resident)

Greenpoint has a nickname, “The Garden Spot,” which was given at a time when our area was truly a bucolic haven. Although it later became one of the most industrial areas on planet earth, today our community is trying to live up to the verdant image of its nickname and Greenpoint is rapidly becoming a “green point” again, but let us take a look at the history of gardens in our area.

Greenpoint was once a farming community and every family had its own garden. There was a huge hill running around the area of Franklin and Green Streets called Pottery Hill where wildflowers grew. The flowers there were so pretty that courting couples sailed over from Manhattan to enjoy its beauty. However, the name Garden Spot derives from the Meserole Orchard, which once occupied a huge swath of land around Meserole Avenue. The garden was famous for its apples and the beautiful apple blossoms each spring, but in what has become a familiar local story: the real estate was too valuable and the orchard disappeared as lots were sold off for housing.

Greenpoint became an area of factories and heavy industry, but it was also still an area of homes, many of which boasted gardens. One of the most beautiful Gardens was the rose garden of Thomas Smith, the porcelain baron who lived on Milton Street, but many local kids who grew up in tenements never saw a garden and the name “ The Garden Spot” became something of a cruel joke in the heavily polluted area. The area suffered from a severe lack of green spaces, however, Pete McGuinness not only ironically referred to the area of smokestacks and pollution as “ The Garden Spot of Brooklyn,” but he even called it “The Garden Spot of the Universe.” Continue reading

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Thursday Spotlight: Deniz Ayaz On the “Unpredictable Nature” of Watercolor and More

Whimsical, precise, and meditative, Deniz Ayaz’s illustrations and watercolors may make you hungry. She often creates tempting portraits, though her skills reach far beyond illustrations of food. Deniz has had works featured in leading outlets including The New York Times, Print Magazine, and more, and below we get to know the Greenpoint artist who dishes not just on her drawings but her favorite places to get baos, ice cream, and more.

Greenpointers: You mentioned you’ve lived in the neighborhood for a few years! Any favorite spots? How has Greenpoint treated you?
Deniz Ayaz: I remember the first time I went to Greenpoint. It was a small field trip with my illustration class to Pencil Factory in 2011. Meeting some of my favorite illustrators there was very inspiring and I can say that this neighborhood has always treated me well. I’ve met inspiring people (including my husband), discovered new spots, and never felt like I was not in a concrete jungle. 

Some of favorite spots in the area are Lot Radio for Saturday afternoons, Baoburg for yummy baos in the backyard, Polka Dot for homemade apple pie, Van Leeuwen for coffee ice cream, Maha Rose for soundbath, and Magick City for dancing, which I’ve recently discovered and been amazed by the space and events.

You dabble in a few different mediums: watercolor, ink… any favorites, and why?
I love the fluidity and unpredictable nature of watercolor. In the past, I’ve painted with various mediums including oil, acrylic, and gouache and it was great to experiment with all of them before finding the “one.” I enjoy creating abstract patterns in watercolor and most of the patterns I like tend to be the ones that are less structured.

Nowadays, it’s quite common to see people planning every second of their lives and try to control every little thing. As a result, it becomes hard to enjoy spontaneity. For me, painting with watercolor is a great way to let go, and it’s quite meditating.  Continue reading

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Dharmahuasca, PHYSICALITY, Mother’s Day Rally — What’s Happening, Greenpoint? (5/8-5/15)

WEDNESDAY 5/8

*Dharmahuasca: Buddhist Dharma, Ayahuasca, and Sacred Medicines @ Park Church Co-op (129 Russell St), 7pm, $20, learn about sacred medicines with the practice of Buddhist Dharma, Buy Tix
♫ The Dandy Warhols @ Brooklyn Steel (319 Frost St.), 7pm, $35 Buy Tix
♫ Delicate Steve with The Muckers @ Baby’s All Right (146 Broadway) 9pm, $15, Buy Tix
* Community Reiki (105 Grand St.), 7pm, $40 – $70, a monthly, sliding scale Reiki clinic serving North Brooklyn in the Community Room at Grand Street Healing Project., More Info

THURSDAY 5/9 Continue reading

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