Goodbye Heights Books, and thanks!

February 27, 2009

For nearly two decades, Heights Books was a fixture in Brooklyn Heights.

The used bookstore, which often displayed carts filled with bargain-priced books on the sidewalk, was the last remaining bookseller on busy Montague Street — the street that inspired Christopher Morley’s 1919 novel, The Haunted Bookshop, which begins, “If you are ever in Brooklyn, that borough of superb sunsets and magnificent vistas of husband-propelled baby-carriages, it is to be hoped you may chance upon a quiet by-street where there is a very remarkable bookshop.”

Recently, when the building in which it was located was sold, Heights Books’ owners decided to close up and move to another part of the borough. Rather than pack their entire stock, move and reshelve it all at the new location, they chose to sort out the books that had lingered far too long in the store’s inventory and throw them away.

Today, a crew of workman tossed thousands of volumes into a dumpster outside the shop. When passersby spotted cartons full of books being hurled into the trash, they scrambled to rescue as many as they could grab. They jumped atop the piles of books, their efforts intensifying as darkness and rain began to fall. One fellow remarked, “I’ve heard the expression dumpster diving, but this is the first time I’ve seen people literally diving into a dumpster!”

The dumpster on the street

Inside the store, the shelves are gone

Passersby grabbed books before they were tossed in the dumpster

Younger readers stood on boxes to better see into the dumpster

Older readers remained on the sidewalk

Some climbed atop the pile

Few could resist peeking into the dumpster

Some books were rescued

A last grab as the rain starts to fall

Books heading for the landfill

Page by Page Books: The Haunted Bookshop
Heights Books
New York Magazine: Heights Books
The Brooklyn Paper: Book ‘em! Heights Books to move to Cobble Hill
The Brooklyn Paper: Book ‘em! Heights store will not close, says owner

The Cemetery of the Evergreens

February 3, 2009

The Cemetery of the Evergreens is one of the largest, oldest burial places in New York City. Its 225 acres straddle the border between Brooklyn and Queens, and contain the graves of approximately 550,000 people of all faiths and nationalities.

The cemetery, designated a national historical landmark, was organized in 1849. Strolling across the rolling hills and meadows is like taking a walk through history. Many notable and infamous figures are buried at the Evergreens, including unidentified victims from two of the city’s greatest tragedies: the General Slocum Disaster and the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire.

One unusual feature of the cemetery is Kwong Fai Toi, a section reserved as a Chinese burial ground. Many of the graves here show evidence of joss paper, or ghost money — sheets of paper, cut and printed to look like currency, that are burned at traditional Chinese funerals to ensure that spirit of the deceased has good fortune in the afterlife.

Kwong Fai Toi

Joss paper

Faded, weathered joss paper

Kang, Yu



Both the fronts and backs of the stones are carved

Yee, Lau, Yu





The Evergreens Cemetery
The Evergreens: Where Brooklyn is Laid to Rest

Give Real Change to the Homeless

February 1, 2009

New York City’s Department of Homeless Services has launched a campaign to educate the public about helping the homeless. Their message is simple: the best way to aid the homeless is by contacting the agencies designed to aid them.

Someone, reading one of the campaign’s posters in the 14th Street subway station, added a few pithy notes.

The poster

Do I look excited about a shelter? Hell no.


New York City and MTA Unveil ‘Give Real Change’ Public Education Campaign
NYC Department of Homeless Services (DHS)
NYC Action Plan to End Homelessness


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