Mysteries of Brooklyn: The Painted Kiosk

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

A narrow, wooden pedestrian-only bridge connects Emmons Avenue in Sheepshead Bay to Shore Boulevard in Manhattan Beach. Built in 1880, the span is known as the Ocean Avenue Bridge.

At base of the bridge, at the corner of Shore Boulevard and Exeter Street, stands a shabby wooden kiosk. No signs indicate the purpose of the hexagonal structure. 

On one side of the minuscule building is a boarded up door and an ancient air conditioner clogged with paint. The other five sides feature plywood panels carefully painted with fanciful, colorful scenes. 

Who painted them — and why? A name and date appear on some of the panels, but time has made the script difficult to decipher. Is the date “74″ or “94″? Does the signature say “Salystein”? “Sacystein”? “Szcystein”? “Sackstein”?

For those in the neighborhood, it is just part of the landscape. Every day dozens of joggers and strollers pass without even glancing at the little kiosk or its fantastic menagerie. Just another of Brooklyn’s many mysteries.

The kiosk
Originally uploaded by annulla.

Dog panel
Originally uploaded by annulla.

Fish panel
Originally uploaded by annulla.

Cat panel
Originally uploaded by annulla.

Bird panel
Originally uploaded by annulla.

Flower panel
Originally uploaded by annulla.

Wikipedia: Manhattan Beach
NY Times: Manhattan Beach
Manhattan Beach Community Group
Kingsborough Community College

22 Responses to Mysteries of Brooklyn: The Painted Kiosk

  1. photowannabe says:

    What wonderful panels. Its too bad such artwork goes unnoticed and will soon disappear.
    Thanks for visiting my blog and your nie comments. Its most appreciated.


  2. Olivier says:

    superbe ce kiosque, en plus il se trouve dans une partie vraiement tres belle de Brooklyn.

    superb this kiosk, in more it is in a part vraiement very beautiful of Brooklyn.


  3. Kristen says:

    Thanks for visiting my site. I have this unsatiable urge to find out what that kiosk used to be. Was it an information kiosk? Or one of those kiosks from the 1980’s where they used to develop photos? I am not sure, BUT I love the panels!


  4. Thanks for visiting my blog. Yes, the movie, “The Fly” and that squeaky help me voice is one I always think of when I see my fly close-ups.

    I am guessing this kiosk must have been for summer concerts where they sold tickets or something like that. I cannot imagine them putting an airconditioner in it unless somebody spent some time there. Anyway, it poses lots of questions. And I do also agree the panels are neat.


  5. Piika says:

    gosh the panels are quite excellent – I could see them reproduced into posters.


  6. Peter says:

    Kiosks of the world – unite!

    Seriously, words say more than a thousand photos. I enjoy your writing, your description of the kiosk. It makes me want to go and explore myself. Also, “pedestrian-only bridge … known as the Ocean Avenue Bridge”. Tall name for a small bridge?

    I’ll bookmark your blog and read more of it. It could come handy as I’m sure I will visit the great city of Ney York again. Last time I was visiting I came as close to Brooklyn as walking over the bridge, then I unfortunately had to turn back.


  7. Gillian says:

    Thank you for visiting my blog! Gosh what could that kiosk be? It is fascinating that those beautiful panels are there – that such care has been taken in decorating it but now it is not used. Maybe a gypsy selling their wares, or an elderly artist with the smallest gallery in the world!!


  8. sleepyfrog76 says:

    It’s amazing the things you can find just around the corner that most people just look past. This kiosk has so much mystery, it’s driving me crazy! If you every get more info, please share.

    I’m loving your blog. Mind if I add you to my list?


  9. annulla says:

    sleepyfrog76, thanks. I’d be delighted.


  10. Marina says:

    I live in the area since 1992, and from that time paintings didn’t loose any color or quality.One of the old neighbors told me, that at some point Manhattan beach was gated community, it was a entrance gate spot, and kiosk was the place for the guard/ 24 hours/. Later, after Kingsborough college was built, Manhattan Beach become open to the public and the need in the guard disappeared, but kiosk still there.
    You have to search the answer from people who were residents of Manhattan Beach for more that 50 years; they will give you the answer or advice where to get it.


  11. Audrey Sackstein says:

    Someone needs to update the photos. As of 2011, the birds & plants were vandalized beyond repair. I have since repainted them as Impressionistic water lilies. The booth art has been tagged & defaced many times; I have repainted or cleaned it as needed.
    I have been maintaining the artwork since I created it in 1994. I have lived in MB since ’92. The dogs were my lab mix Worf, & her golden retriever pal Benny, both long gone. But it is rewarding to see children enjoy their happy faces.
    The booth has a twin on Oriental Blvd & West End Av.
    I hope people will continue to enjoy the art. Mystery solved.
    FYI: The little rectangle over the doorway was a light, not an A/C.


  12. Kathleen Higgins says:

    I am a life long Brooklynite and long time resident of Manhattan Beach. The kiosk, and ones like it on Oriental Blvd at West End Ave and West End at Shore Blvd, were police stations. This was a quasi-private neighborhood in the early- to mid-20th century. I don’t know how much enforcement there was as to non-residents coming into area. I do know that Audrey Sackstein painted the murals and keeps them refreshed. She also painted a terrific mural on the doors of the Lundy’s building when it was still closed but in early stages of revitalization. How that painting became controversial is another Brooklyn story.


  13. Susan Sprecher says:

    So glad to see Audrey’s painting get recognition. She is a wonderful painter and a great lover of dogs. It is a fitting memorial to two special canines. We knew Worf well and his pal Benny was our golden boy. Happy they continue to bring joy to the neighborhood.


    • Audrey Sackstein says:

      This art survives in the face of adversity. While the years take their toll, I have tried to maintain it’s integrity. The temptation to abandon it is always there. But I know there are still people who will enjoy it; I try my best to not disappoint anyone. I regret I am not always able to do so.


  14. SEO says:

    I pay a quick visit day-to-day a few blogs and information sites to read
    articles, except this weblog offers feature based articles.


  15. Eric & Eileen says:

    Today we were visiting the area and were admiring the artwork on the kiosk (me, my wife and my 85 year old dad) when Audrey passed by with her dog, Kessie.  We were so glad she stopped to introduce herself!

    I grew up in Sheepshead Bay from 1960 to 1983 and knew the kiosk well.  We moved to NJ until 2003, and then moved to Israel where we have been for the last 11 years.  We came in last week to visit my Dad who still lives in the neighborhood, and were taking a stroll when we decided to snap a few photos in front of Audrey’so work.

    Wishing Audrey good health and hope to meet her again on our next visit!

    Eric & Eileen Polly


  16. Dror says:

    I made a short video about the kiosk. Let me know if you like it and if want a video made for you.


  17. Audrey, I remember you from Brooklyn College in the “70’s. There was a sorority Gamma Sigma Sigma. You were an artist then. I’m glad you are still doing it.


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