The Village Halloween Parade

October 31, 2006

In 1973, Greenwich Village mask maker and puppeteer Ralph Lee staged a house-to-house puppet show to entertain his neighbors, children and friends. Thirty-three years later, Lee’s show has evolved into the nation’s largest public Halloween celebration.

This year more than two million people lined Sixth Avenue to watch the Village Halloween Parade while another four million watched a live broadcast on local TV station NY1. Many of the people standing behind the barriers watching were as elaborately costumed as those who were marching, dancing and riding up the street.

Hometown boys (well, at least they are former New Yorkers) Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons of the rock band Kiss served as the Grand Marshals of the four hour event which included elaborate floats, choreographed dancers, dozens of marching bands, hundreds of puppets and more than 50,000 costumed marchers.

The sheer numbers make the event sound overwhelming but (unlike many other Halloween celebrations) the Village Halloween Parade isn’t raucous or rowdy; it remains a good-natured, friendly outdoor party for vampires, zombies, superheroes and kids of all ages.

Strawberry & big brother  Posted by Picasa

Man carrying skeleton puppet  Posted by Picasa

Captain Morgan  Posted by Picasa

MTV VJ & “David Letterman”  Posted by Picasa

Naughty cop & naughty maid  Posted by Picasa

Reporter & “Paris Hilton”  Posted by Picasa

Desperate housewife  Posted by Picasa

Stay-Puft marshmallow man  Posted by Picasa

Man in a pink tuxedo  Posted by Picasa

Martini girl  Posted by Picasa

Catwoman and Psycho Santa  Posted by Picasa

“Paris Hilton”  Posted by Picasa

Spoon man  Posted by Picasa

Lobster boy  Posted by Picasa

Beheaded man  Posted by Picasa

Blue-haired lady  Posted by Picasa

Corpse bride  Posted by Picasa

Zombie barista  Posted by Picasa

Elf  Posted by Picasa

Cheerleader Posted by Picasa

Raccoon  Posted by Picasa

The Riddler  Posted by Picasa

Religious guy  Posted by Picasa

Devil & Zombie  Posted by Picasa

Masked man  Posted by Picasa

Cow  Posted by Picasa

Spongebob Squarepants  Posted by Picasa

Bearded bumblebee  Posted by Picasa

Sock monkey Posted by Picasa

Man with a headache Posted by Picasa

Acrobats  Posted by Picasa

Viagra man  Posted by Picasa

Zombie  Posted by Picasa

Banana boy & friend  Posted by Picasa

Scooby Doo  Posted by Picasa

Easy chair  Posted by Picasa

Can-can girl  Posted by Picasa

First-class mail  Posted by Picasa

Hot dog girl  Posted by Picasa

Edward Scissorhands  Posted by Picasa

Orange feathers & red hair  Posted by Picasa

Woman with live parrots  Posted by Picasa

Puppeteers  Posted by Picasa

“Pamela Anderson” & “Kid Rock”  Posted by Picasa

Bagged spinach with E Coli  Posted by Picasa

Wolf & wizard  Posted by Picasa

Vampires  Posted by Picasa

Autumn leaf  Posted by Picasa

Little nurse  Posted by Picasa

“Borat”  Posted by Picasa

Little dinosaur in a stroller  Posted by Picasa

The Munsters  Posted by Picasa

Gilligan & palm tree Posted by Picasa

Real cop & zombie cop  Posted by Picasa

Dia De Los Muertos  Posted by Picasa

Jack O’Lantern puppets  Posted by Picasa

Scary implants  Posted by Picasa

“Prince” & “Madonna”  Posted by Picasa

On the Mannheim Steamroller float  Posted by Picasa

Grand Marshals from Kiss  Posted by Picasa

Paul Stanley & Gene Simmons  Posted by Picasa

  • New York Village Halloween Parade
  • Kiss
  • NY1

  • Halloween Parade & Costume Extravaganza

    October 29, 2006

    On this crisp autumn day, canines from Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO gathered for the 2nd Annual Dog Halloween Parade and Costume Extravaganza. About 60 animals and their human companions assembled at the Remsen St. entrance to the Brooklyn Promenade, then scampered to the Harry Chapin Playground for judging.

    The event’s sponsor, Perfect Paws, awarded dog-centric prizes for costumes in categories such as best large dog, best small dog, best store-bought, best homemade and most original. All entry fees from the Parade and Costume Extravaganza are being donated to the Hillside Dog Run and the Brooklyn Animal Resource Coalition (BARC) and will be used to benefit the animals of Brooklyn.

    Parading towards the Playground Posted by Picasa

    Little Orphan Annie Posted by Picasa

    A little witch Posted by Picasa

    Shar-pei cheerleader (sans pom-poms) Posted by Picasa

    Count Dracula Posted by Picasa

    A pig Posted by Picasa

    Dragon & friend Posted by Picasa

    Elvis & clown Posted by Picasa

    In Happy Halloween shirt & bandana Posted by Picasa

    Angel inspecting the judges  Posted by Picasa

    Little Red Riding Hood & Wolf Posted by Picasa

    In a ball gown  Posted by Picasa

    Hot dog with ketchup Posted by Picasa

    Little Elvis Posted by Picasa

    Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz Posted by Picasa

    Fairy princess Posted by Picasa

    Another Elvis Posted by Picasa

    Security dog Posted by Picasa

    Hippie Posted by Picasa

    In a poncho & sombrero Posted by Picasa

    Hula girl Posted by Picasa

    Devil  Posted by Picasa

    Bark Mitzvah boy Posted by Picasa

  • Perfect Paws
  • Harry Chapin Playground
  • Hillside Dog Park
  • BARC
  • The SITS Girls

  • A Peek at One Hanson Place

    October 28, 2006

    When it opened at the corner of Hanson Place and Ashland Place in 1928, this was the tallest structure in Brooklyn. Designed to house the Williamsburgh Savings Bank by architects Halsey, McCormack & Helmer, the profile of its distinctive clock tower and dome led this description in the AIA Guide to New York City:

    Inadvertently, this was New York’s most exuberant phallic symbol … its slender tower dominating the landscape of all Brooklyn. A crisp and clean tower, it is detailed in Romanesque-Byzantine arches, columns, and capitals. The 26th floor once included accessible outdoor viewing space, after a change of elevators … all in all, it is 512 feet of skyline. Inside, the great basilican banking hall is called by the Landmarks Preservation Commission a “cathedral of thrift.”

    The cornerstone is engraved with the seal of the Williamsburgh Savings Bank, the date of its charter and the words, “To our depositors past and present this building is dedicated. By their industry and thrift they have built homes and educated children, opened the door of opportunity to youth and made age comfortable, independant and dignified. By those sturdy virtues they have attained their ambitions, swept aside the petty distinctions of class and birth and so maintained the true spirit of American democracy.”

    Now the building known as One Hanson Place is closed for renovation. When it reopens in about 15 months or so, this building will contain luxury condominiums.

    Scaffolding and banners cover facade  Posted by Picasa

    Hidden behind scaffolding Posted by Picasa

    A peek behind the scaffolding Posted by Picasa

    Gargoyle behind scaffolding  Posted by Picasa

    Base of a column behind scaffolding Posted by Picasa

    Owl on a column Posted by Picasa

    Lions guard the lobby entrance Posted by Picasa

    Arch over door from lobby to street Posted by Picasa

    Mosaic ceiling  Posted by Picasa

    A corner of the tiled, vaulted ceiling  Posted by Picasa

    Detail of elevator door  Posted by Picasa

    Sign at subway entrance Posted by Picasa

    Turtle in subway entrance Posted by Picasa

    Detail in subway entrance Posted by Picasa

  • One Hanson Place
  • Curbed New York: Borders Coming
  • Corcoran: Apartments at One Hanson Place
  • AIA Guide to New York City
  • Audio Tour of One Hanson Place (mp3)

  • Art Under the Bridge

    October 15, 2006

    This weekend the 10th Annual Art Under the Bridge Festival turns the entire DUMBO neighborhood into an enormous art gallery. More than 1,500 artists with ties to this area are participating by showing their work in exhibitions or opening their studios to the public. Many of the artists are present to meet visitors, discuss their creations and explain their visions.

    Streets, shops, cafes and even parked trucks are filled with paintings, sculptures and photography while basements, garages, parks and empty buildings host performances of dance, film, video and music. This is a time to wander in and out of galleries and installations, sample styles and works, explore new media and artists and, perhaps, find something unexpected and wonderful.

    Today’s notable surprises include the Rider Project, a temporary mobile art gallery located in the back of two rented Ryder trucks (the roof of one is adorned with a sculpture of grass that softly undulates in the wind), Micki Watanabe, who makes books that are scuptures that are caligraphy that are art, Ryan Schroeder, creator of molded frozen casein scupltures that melt, run and eventually disappear, Alan Sanchez, whose intricate drawings and assemblages connect science fiction, childlike wonder and engineering, Gautam Kansara, who transforms documentary-like videos of his family into poignant, moving fantasies, and Katrina Remembered: The Coast Is Not Clear, an exhibit of recent works by six Mississippi artists and Brooklyn’s Radhi Chakasani.

    Panel painted on Water St. (1 of 4) Posted by Picasa

    Panel painted on Water St. (2 of 4) Posted by Picasa

    Panel painted on Water St. (3 of 4) Posted by Picasa

    Panel painted on Water St. (4 of 4) Posted by Picasa

    Viewing images from Hurricane Katrina  Posted by Picasa

    At the Katrina Remembered exhibit  Posted by Picasa

    Viewing Katrina Remembered exhibit  Posted by Picasa

    The Rider Project parked on Water Street Posted by Picasa

    Inside the Rider Project  Posted by Picasa

    Standing in the Rider Project truck Posted by Picasa

    Sitting in the Rider Project truck Posted by Picasa

    Sitting near the Rider Project Posted by Picasa

    Artist Hayley Severns Posted by Picasa

    Artist Ryan Schroeder Posted by Picasa

  • D.U.M.B.O. Arts Center (DAC)
  • D.U.M.B.O. Art Under the Bridge Festival
  • Brooklyn Arts Council
  • Smackmellon
  • Art-Anon & the Rider Project
  • Brooklyn Artists Gym
  • Spring Design & Art
  • The ‘temporary Museum of Painting
  • Micki Watanabe
  • Marc Dennis
  • Peter Denmark
  • Jaime Logreira
  • Radhika Chalasani Photography
  • Amy Bennett
  • Gautam Kansara
  • Helen Brough
  • Eduardo Cervantes
  • Sarah Keane
  • Austin Donohue
  • Asuka Kakitani Jazz Orchestra
  • Courier-Life: 30 Blocks of DUMBO
  • Cool Magazine

  • No Sleep Till Brooklyn

    October 14, 2006

    The powerHouse Arena, an enormous new party space on Brooklyn’s Main Street, is owned and operated by avant-garde art publisher powerHouse Books. This weekend the Arena hosted its first event, No Sleep ’til Brooklyn: A Hip Hop Retrospective — a celebration of 30 years of hip hop culture.

    Named for the Beastie Boys’ 1986 hit and held in conjuction with VH1’s 2006 Hip Hop Honors, No Sleep ’til Brooklyn is a look at hip hop from its underground beginnings in the South Bronx to its ubiquitous presence today. Works by featured artists include photos, paintings, drawings, films, video, books, sneakers and, of course, music.

    Visitors filled the space to look at the works on display, sample the products from Brooklyn Brewery, hear music by DJ Synapse and hear from some of the pioneers of the art gallery graffiti scene: Lee Quinones, Diego Cortez and Patti Astor.

    Graffiti-style list of credits Posted by Picasa

    Life size images cover the front windows Posted by Picasa

    Photos taped to the pillars  Posted by Picasa

    Looking up at photos Posted by Picasa

    Visitors leaving their marks on the wall  Posted by Picasa

    Viewing framed works in the corner  Posted by Picasa

    Eliza from Pinkeye Posted by Picasa

    Sitting on the steps  Posted by Picasa

    Diego Cortez, Lee Quinones & Patti Astor Posted by Picasa

    Jane Dixon & Patti Astor Posted by Picasa

  • powerHouse Books
  • powerHouse Arena
  • No Sleep ’til Brooklyn: A Hip Hop Retrospective
  • No Sleep ’til Brooklyn Launch
  • @149st: Patti Astor
  • @149st: Fun Gallery
  • Diego Cortez
  • Lost Object: Diego Cortez
  • @149st: Lee Quinones
  • Pink Eye Personalizations
  • DJ Synapse
  • Licensed to Ill
  • Wild Style
  • Brooklyn Brewery
  • VH1 Hip Hop Honors

  • Mysteries of Brooklyn: The Hidden Grotto

    October 13, 2006

    Dere’s no guy livin’ dat knows Brooklyn t’roo an’ t’roo, because it’d take a guy a lifetime just to find his way aroun’ duh f_____ town.
    — Thomas Wolfe, Only the Dead Know Brooklyn, 1935

    At the mouth of the alley near the corner of 43rd Street and 8th Avenue, between the bar and the plumbing supply store, stands a tall iron gate. Affixed to the front are two signs: the white one says that a garage is available for rent; the yellow sign proclaims in English and Chinese that behind this gate is a private driveway; violaters will be tow and ticket [sic].

    Peeking past the iron bars of gate, beyond the partially-disassembled cars and the tools strewn about the ground, a passer-by can glimpse something that seems out of place — a flash of color out of keeping with this dirty, gray, shadowed space.

    If the workmen are in a good mood they’ll allow you to pick your way through the mazes of tires, wrenches and hoses until you reach the back wall. There you will find a grotto roughly hewn from wood, plaster and pieces of broken stone. The person who built this wasn’t a skilled craftsman, didn’t know how to use a lathe or a level, didn’t know how to move the electrical outlets that were already laid onto the surface.

    But at some point, an unknown person, for unknown reasons, felt compelled to build this grotto in this very spot. Driven by passion or madness, he or she carefully built a series of niches, firmly fixed statues of saints inside them and painted the entire creation.

    Today, the men who labor here know nothing of the hidden grotto, its creator or its meaning. The plaster is crumbling. The paint flakes from the wood. St. Gabriel’s wing is broken; St. Joseph’s robe is chipped; Mary’s blue mantle is marked with patches of gray. But still they stand here, long forgotten, silently keeping watch over the workers and cars. Just another of Brooklyn’s many mysteries.

    The hidden grotto Posted by Picasa

    Madonna with electrical outlet Posted by Picasa

    They call it “Blooklyn”

    October 13, 2006

    You say you’ve been to Chinatown in New York? Which Chinatown?

    The fact is, New York City now has three separate Chinatowns. The oldest is in Manhattan. The largest is in Queens. And the smallest and newest is right here in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.

    Brooklyn’s Chinatown is centered on 8th Avenue between 50th and 60th Streets. It is commonly believed that the Chinese moved here because they consider the number eight fortuitous for business and “8th Avenue” can be interpreted as “the road to wealth.”


    But a more plausible explanation is that those seeking to escape from Chinatown Manhattan’s crowded, twisting alleys, noisy factories and overflowing tenements appreciated Sunset Park’s clean, grassy recreation areas, the relatively wide streets, an abundance of retail space and a direct subway connection to friends and jobs in the old Chinatown.

    As with the other Chinatowns, many of the most visible businesses here are focused on food – preparing it, serving it, selling it. The curbs are lined with baskets of skittering crabs, tubs of fat, bobbing bullfrogs and Styrofoam coolers of flopping, freshly-caught fish. Vendors stand in tiny pushcarts, transforming thick, eggy batter into hot, puffy cakes ($1 a bagfull) and transforming skewers of marinated meat into hot, sizzling satay ($1 each). Bakeries fill the air with the scents of fresh-browned chestnut bread, lotus cakes, cinnamon crisps and pork buns.

    In terms of charm and quaintness, Chinatown Brooklyn comes in dead last, which means that it is almost completely free of hulking tour buses, pushy sightseers and cheap, tacky souvenirs. If you go, instead of t-shirt shops and Starbucks, you’ll see hundreds of businesses that cater to the residents’ daily needs: insurance agencies, banks, bakeries, pharmacies, acupuncture clinics, hairdressers, tutoring services, cell phone centers, internet cafes, restaurant uniform and supply stores and florists.

    Want to know which shops have just opened? Look near the doorway for an array of green plants festooned with red ribbons, traditionally thought to bring luck to a new enterprise.

    Church notice board Posted by Picasa

    Egg cake cart Posted by Picasa

    Fa Da Mall Posted by Picasa

    Moms doing errands Posted by Picasa

    Price list in beauty salon Posted by Picasa

    Funny dry cleaning shop Posted by Picasa

    Optician’s shop Posted by Picasa

    Sign in deli window Posted by Picasa

    Dried fruit displayed outside shop Posted by Picasa

    Banks at the corner of 55th & 8th Posted by Picasa

    Fresh caught and for sale curbside Posted by Picasa

    New Dawang Seafood Market Posted by Picasa

    Hong Kong Supermarket Posted by Picasa

  • Village Voice: The Other, Other Chinatown
  • Asia’zine: Brooklyn’s Chinatown
  • Chinatown NYC: Brooklyn
  • Prosper with 8 88 888 88888

  • A Place to Watch the Sun Set

    October 13, 2006

    Sunset Park, one of the highest points in Brooklyn, stands at the corner of 43rd St. and 5th Ave. An essential resource for this crowded, working-class community, the hilly, tree-filled park boasts an art deco recreation center for indoor activities, an outdoor swimming pool (now closed for the season), handball and basketball courts, a baseball diamond and rows of game tables that are usually occupied by older people playing chess, mah-johng, checkers and go. A section known as the Rainbow Playground includes swings, slides, jungle gyms, fountains and other play equipment.

    Climb to the top of the bluff and you’ll see the park’s most notable feature – its sweeping views of Lower Manhattan, the Statue of Liberty, the East River, New York Bay, Staten Island and New Jersey. The vista once included a magnificent view the World Trade Center; when the towers were destroyed, residents gathered here to honor and remember the dead. Now this scenic area is the site of the city’s first Living Memorial Grove, a few dozen young trees protected with wire cages and surrounded by thousands of daffodils planted by local schoolchildren.

    There wasn’t time to do it today, but this is the perfect place to settle comfortably on a wooden bench, kick off your shoes and watch the sun slowly sink below the horizon.

    Boy on a swing Posted by Picasa

    Girl hanging from monkey bars Posted by Picasa

    Boy in yellow on a swing Posted by Picasa

    Boys on the playground Posted by Picasa

    Ceiling in Recreation Center Posted by Picasa

    Terra cotta tiles on Recreation Center floor Posted by Picasa

    Fountain in Rainbow Playground Posted by Picasa

    Rear of fountain in Rainbow Playground Posted by Picasa

    View from the top of the hill Posted by Picasa

    Men photographing the Memorial Grove Posted by Picasa

    Looking towards New York Bay Posted by Picasa

    Benches facing west Posted by Picasa

  • NYC Dept Parks & Recreation: Sunset Park
  • NYC Dept Parks & Recreation: Rainbow Playground
  • NYC Dept Parks & Recreation: Sept 11th Living Memorial
  • NYC Dept Parks & Recreation: City’s 1st Memorial Grove

  • Strawberry Fields Forever

    October 9, 2006

    Imagine there’s no countries
    It isn’t hard to do
    Nothing to kill or die for
    And no religion too
    Imagine all the people
    Living life in peaceYou may say I’m a dreamer
    But I’m not the only one
    I hope someday you’ll join us
    And the world will be as one

    Had he not been killed by Mark David Chapman in 1980, this would have been his 66th birthday. Today his admirers gathered at Strawberry Fields, the teardrop-shaped space in Central Park created as a memorial, to remember John Lennon.

    Throughout the day, dozens of musicians brought their instruments to the circular black and white mosaic that says, simply, Imagine. There, accompanied by fans from around the world, they sang and played in honor of the man, his music and his memory.

    Imagine mosaic Posted by Picasa

    Musicians gather at Strawberry Fields Posted by Picasa

    Fans sing along Posted by Picasa

    Imagine – click on the arrow above to view

  • Central Park Conservancy: Strawberry Fields
  • John Lennon: Official Site

  • Is That a Smile I See?

    October 9, 2006

    While walking past a house on Manhattan’s Upper East side, I saw something out of the corner of my eye. I stopped, went back and photographed this architectural detail. I think it looks as though the stone is smiling. What do you think?

    In front of 38 West 76th Street Posted by Picasa

    Mirror, Mirror

    October 9, 2006

    Anish Kapoor’s monumental Sky Mirror is now on display in the Channel Gardens at Rockefeller Center. The massive, tilted piece, assembled from sections of highly polished stainless steel, stands three stories tall. The Indian-born artist describes the work as a “non-object,” a work of art that suggests a window or void and seems to disappear into its surroundings.

    Despite its size, the combination of its reflective qualities, the curving surfaces and the angle at which it is displayed distort the viewer’s perceptions. The closer one stands, the more difficult it is to discern the edges and boundaries and to see where Sky Mirror begins and ends.

    Walk around it and you’ll see the effects of the changing light and angle; one moment the sculpture stands out distinctly from the nearby buildings, the next it appears to blend into its surroundings, and finally it almost completely vanishes.

    Sky Mirror will remain at Rockefeller Center until October 27. See it soon — before it disappears.

    As seen from Fifth Avenue Posted by Picasa

    Reflecting the office towers Posted by Picasa

    Standing close to the base Posted by Picasa

    Banner at Rockefeller Center Posted by Picasa

    Viewed from Fifth Avenue at dusk Posted by Picasa

  • About Sky Mirror
  • Rockefeller Center
  • Public Art Fund: Kapoor

  • The Hidden Garden in the Sky

    October 8, 2006

    Yesterday I participated in the 4th Annual OpenHouseNewYork Weekend by taking a tour of the Wallabout section of Brooklyn. Today I took advantage of the weekend-long event to visit a legendary space that has been closed to the public for more than 60 years: the Rockefeller Center Rooftop Garden.

    Located atop the British Empire Building, this garden offers exceptional views of St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Saks Fifth Avenue, its neighbors across the street. The compact, formal space, smaller than a city block, includes meticulously clipped hedges, a shallow pool with a small fountain, a few perfectly matched cypress trees, a border of pink geraniums and a raised platform of fastidiously manicured sod.

    Peeking around the corners provides rare glimpses of the rest of the Rockefeller Center complex including Radio City Music Hall and the skating rink which just reopened for the season.

    This is a hidden spot of greenery high above the city, a retreat usually reserved for private moments of the rich and powerful, but for four hours today, it was a beautiful space open to all who came.

    Saks Fifth Avenue across the street Posted by Picasa

    The frog fountain Posted by Picasa

    The garden pool and lawn Posted by Picasa

    The spires of St. Patrick’s Cathedral Posted by Picasa

    A glimpse of Radio City Music Hall Posted by Picasa

    A glimpse of the skating rink Posted by Picasa

    OHNY donation box Posted by Picasa

  • OHNY
  • Rockefeller Center
  • Newyorkology: Rockefeller Center Roof Gardens

  • Dancing up Fifth Avenue for 41 Years

    October 8, 2006

    By definition, the word Hispanic refers to people from the Spanish-speaking areas of the Americas and the Caribbean.

    For 41 years, New York’s United Hispanic-American Parade has brought together people whose origins are in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Uruguay and Venezuela.

    Dressed in their national and regional costumes, thousands of men, women and children mambo, salsa, merengue, cha-cha and tango up Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue. The dancers’ energy and joy is contagious, the drummers hands are frenetic, and the massed spectators smile, sway and wave flags in time to the relentless beat.

    Girl with yellow pom-poms Posted by Picasa

    Girls in orange Posted by Picasa

    Girl with blue eyeshadow Posted by Picasa

    Puerto Rican woman Posted by Picasa

    Dancers waiting for their cue Posted by Picasa

    A dancer and her beau Posted by Picasa

    Men with bells on their boots Posted by Picasa

    Girl in ostrich feathers Posted by Picasa

    Girl in pink and green Posted by Picasa

    Boys and girls in pink and green Posted by Picasa

    Men with skulls on their chests Posted by Picasa

    People in Peruvian costumes Posted by Picasa

    Drummers marching up the avenue Posted by Picasa

  • New York Hispanic Parade
  • Galos Corp.: New York Hispanic Parade History

  • A Walkabout Wallabout

    October 7, 2006

    OpenHouseNewYork (OHNY), a group focused on New York City’s architecture and design, has organized this as the 4th Annual OpenHouseNewYork Weekend. Billed as “America’s largest architect and design event,” the Weekend offers free tours of dozens of sites around the city, many of them usually closed to the public.

    I was unaware of OHNY or the event, scheduled for today and tomorrow, until late last night. When I went to OHNY Web site to investigate the available tours, I found that most of the best-known, least-accessible buildings were already full to capacity. Searching for a tour that I could join, I discovered the Wallabout neighborhood.

    Even if you’ve never set foot in New York, you’ve probably seen and heard of certain iconic locations ― the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, Greenwich Village, Times Square. But even natives are unfamiliar with some areas of the city, and the Wallabout neighborhood is firmly among the obscure.

    The area borders three districts burgeoning with new historic and commercial interests ― Fort Greene, Clinton Hill and the Brooklyn Navy Yard ― but even its closest neighbors don’t know Wallabout’s name or its story.

    The name comes from the location; this section of Brooklyn is built on a parcel of land purchased in 1637 from the Dutch West India Trading Company by Walloon (Belgian) Jansen de Rapeljein. The river inlet bordering his land became known as Wallabout Bay (from Waal Boght, “Bay of Walloons”).

    During the 1700s, Wallabout Bay was the site of one of the greatest tragedies of the American Revolution when 11,000 men died on British prison ships moored in the East River. Most of their corpses were thrown overboard and, for many years afterwards, their bones washed up on the muddy shore.

    Five years after the establishment of the United States, the first shipyard was built on Wallabout Bay. In 1801 the federal government purchased the land and the shipping works and established what would come to be known as the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

    As the shipyard developed, commercial interests related to the docks began to spring up in the surrounding area, resulting in factories and warehouses for the goods being shipped and low-cost housing and taverns for the shipworkers. Those bustling streets, just beyond the walls of the Navy Yard, were dubbed the Wallabout district.

    There was never a reason for tourists to flock to this modest, hidden neighborhood. This was never a fashionable location. The houses, while often attractive and comfortable, were never populated by socialites or bankers; the shops, while serviceable, never included fine jewelers or chic dressmakers; the amenities, while adequate, never featured museums or theatres.

    The houses here were always, in every respect, in the shadows of the shipyards, warehouses and factories. Because the district was defined by industry, not ethnicity or economic status, it lacks a clearly defined culture and identity.

    Two major events transformed Wallabout and led it even deeper into obscurity: first, in the 1940s, World War II, great swathes of the industrial area (including most of the Dutch-style marketplace) were torn down to make way for America’s urgently expanded shipbuilding efforts; secondly, in the 1960s, the construction of the massive Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE), during which block after block of housing was razed in the name of “progress” and “slum clearance.” The building of the BQE not only destroyed streets and houses, it eliminated an source of public transportation, bisected the area and cut neighbor off from neighbor.

    Today, a small band of activists and advocates are working to have Wallabout named as a Landmark district. This designation would help homeowners restore some of Brooklyn’s oldest wood framed houses, which today are often decaying and crumbling, while preserving more of the area’s rapidly disappearing industrial landscape.

    Ironically, the most neglected houses in Wallabout are also among those most likely to still retain their original architectural details; their owners, either through neglect or lack or resources, failed to follow the lead of neighbors who have stripped away delicate ironwork, hidden carved stone under vinyl siding, replaced stained glass with factory-made windows and, strangely enough, covered solid bricks with brick veneers and layers of stucco.

    Today’s tour, led by an historic preservationist from the Pratt Institute, working with the Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership, took us past former candy factories and cold-storage warehouses, charming cottages and crumbling churches, tidy homes and neglected gardens, empty lots, litter-strewn housing projects and well-maintained apartment buildings.

    At the end of the program, the group turned onto Ryerson Street, site of the last surviving home of America’s greatest poet, Walt Whitman. There, we were greeted by representatives of the Walt Whitman Project, who ― to the surprise and delight of the tour group and the area’s residents ― read to us from the 1856 edition of Whitman’s masterpiece, Leaves of Grass.

    The sum of all known reverence I add up in you, whoever you are;
    The President is there in the White House for you–it is not you who are
    here for him;
    The Secretaries act in their bureaus for you–not you here for them;
    The Congress convenes every twelfth month for you;
    Laws, courts, the forming of States, the charters of cities, the going and
    coming of commerce and mails, are all for you.List close, my scholars dear!
    All doctrines, all politics and civilisation, exsurge from you;
    All sculpture and monuments, and anything inscribed anywhere, are tallied in you;
    The gist of histories and statistics, as far back as the records reach, is in you this hour, and myths and tales the same;
    If you were not breathing and walking here, where would they all be?
    The most renowned poems would be ashes, orations and plays would be vacuums.

    All architecture is what you do to it when you look upon it;
    Did you think it was in the white or grey stone? or the lines of the arches and cornices?

    All music is what awakes from you, when you are reminded by the instruments;
    It is not the violins and the cornets–it is not the oboe nor the beating drums, nor the score of the baritone singer singing his sweet romanza–nor that of the men’s chorus, nor that of the women’s chorus,
    It is nearer and farther than they.

    Heading into the ‘hood under the BQE Posted by Picasa

    The grandest house in the neighborhood Posted by Picasa

    The shabbiest house in the neighborhood Posted by Picasa

    Few awnings remain in the old marketplace Posted by Picasa

    A warehouse with an awning and terracotta tiles Posted by Picasa

    77 Clinton Ave., former bakery building Posted by Picasa

    Site of the Rockwell Candy factory Posted by Picasa

    The site of former stables on Waverly Ave. Posted by Picasa

    Vinyl siding covers a wooden house Posted by Picasa

    Left, brick & ironwork; Right, brick veneer Posted by Picasa

    The last remaining tenement Posted by Picasa

    A brick & brownstone doorway Posted by Picasa

    Apartment building doorway carved with dragons Posted by Picasa

    An original doorway and glass-paned door Posted by Picasa

    A rotting front stoop Posted by Picasa

    99 Ryerson Street, Walt Whitman’s house Posted by Picasa

  • OHNY
  • Prison Ships In Wallabout Bay
  • Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership
  • Pratt Institute
  • Fort Greene & Clinton Hill Places of Interest
  • Andrew Cusak: Wallabout Market
  • Gowanus Lounge: Wallabout Update
  • The Walt Whitman Project
  • Fort Greene Park Conservancy
  • Clinton Hill Blog
  • NYC Roads: Brooklyn-Queens Expressway

  • Please Don’t Stand on the Art

    October 7, 2006

    Stencilled street art found on a sidewalk and standpipe near the corner of Flushing and Grand Avenues, directly across from the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

    Purple and orange scream Posted by Picasa

    Red and yellow stare Posted by Picasa

    Juke five  Posted by Picasa

    Gray and blue shapes Posted by Picasa

    How About a Little Seoul Food?

    October 4, 2006

    Some people call it Koreatown, some say K-Town. But unlike the Koreatowns in San Francisco and Los Angeles, Manhattan’s Korean enclave isn’t much of a neighborhood; in fact, it is just a single block of 32nd Street between Broadway and Fifth Avenue.

    Few Koreans actually live here. There isn’t much residential space on the block or in the surrounding area. But K-Town has become the cultural center for New York’s growing Korean population.

    At ground level you will find an assortment of shops, newsstands, banks and hotels, but the street is dominated by dozens of Korean restaurants and cafes. This area is busy 24/7 and if you are in the mood for an inexpensive prepacked lunch box, a stylish sweet snack, a traditional barbecue or an elegant dinner – regardless of whether you are a vegetarian, a seafood fan, a calorie counter or a lover of bloody red meat – you’ll easily find something to suit your taste and your budget.

    Don’t miss the eggless scallion pancakes at Woorijip, the cold acorn noodles (yes, they’re made from acorns) at Hangawi, the freshly-baked cakes and buns at Koryodang Bakery or the green tea frozen yogurt (so addictive it is affectionately called crackberry) at Pinkberry. If the day is sunny, you might prefer to sit outside at the tables on the plaza to watch the busy social scene.

    Once your craving for Seoul Food is satisfied, remember to look up. The higher floors of the buildings on this block are packed with businesses that cater to the needs of the Korean community, offering herbal medicines, spas and beauty treatments, tutoring and language lessons, employment and travel agencies, tattoo parlors, internet cafes and raucous karaoke bars.

    On 32nd Street Posted by Picasa

    Animated billboard with Korean subtitles Posted by Picasa

    Pinkberry yogurt shop Posted by Picasa

    Girls on the plaza Posted by Picasa

    On the plaza Posted by Picasa

    Korea Way sign Posted by Picasa

    Newspaper stand Posted by Picasa

    Looking in to Woorijip Posted by Picasa

    Nightlife on the upper floors Posted by Picasa

  • Hangawi Restaurant
  • Woorijip Restaurant
  • Koryodang Bakery
  • Pinkberry
  • Village Voice: Close-Up on Koreatown
  • K-Town Comes of Age
  • New York Times: Beer For Breakfast

  • Where the “big stuff” is

    October 1, 2006

    Mission: To discover, interpret, and disseminate – through scientific research and education – knowledge about human cultures, the natural world, and the universe.

    In 1871 The American Museum of Natural History mounted its first exhibit in the Central Park Arsenal. Within one year, the institution had outgrown its home at the Arsenal and was busily engaged in building a bigger facility.

    One hundred and thirty-five years later, the Museum is still expanding, adding new halls, exhibits and laboratories. The current facilities include 45 permanent exhibition halls spread across 25 interconnected buildings all located on 18 acres across the street from Central Park.

    Regardless of the latest additions, for many people the museum will always be the place where the “big stuff” is — the monumental, the outlandish, the extraordinary all lie within these stone walls.

    Whether you are on your first visit or your thousandth, at some point a trip to the Museum will make you stop in your tracks, look up in awe and say, “Wow!”

    The five-story tall Barosaurus at the main entrance Posted by Picasa

    A 300 foot wide slice from Giant Sequoia tree Posted by Picasa

    The 94 foot long blue whale Posted by Picasa

  • American Museum of Natural History
  • Barosaurus
  • Giant Sequoia
  • The Hall of Ocean Life

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