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Is Rockefeller Center Trying to Become the New Williamsburg?

First Rough Trade moves to Rockefeller Center, now Samesa?

Is Rockefeller Center trying to become the new Williamsburg?


Acme Smoked Fish Expansion Approved by City Council [✜]

Speaking of the Bushwick Inlet IBZ and its rifeness with office space, City Council approved the rezoning of the Acme Fish site on Banker Street. Rubenstein Partners and Gensler architects - the same team that developed/designed 25 Kent Avenue - is behind this proposal. (25 Kent, by the way, is really a quite wonderful experience. Needs more people obviously, but the architecture and (in particular) urban design are quite nice.)

Cayuga Capital selling Williamsburg assemblage for $65M [✜]

I will always think of this as the Fast Ashley's building (on North 10th), or the movie truck building (on Wythe), or Tony's aquarium loft (on North 11th), which I guess became Beacon's Closet). Big assemblage - almost 1/3 of the block - in the Bushwick IBZ, which is already rife with hotels and commercial office space.

27 May 2021

Greenpoint Ferry Landing Closed “Until Further Notice” [✜]

So the East River ferry's only service to Brooklyn is at North 6th Street. This is working out great.

17 May 2021

City Moves Ahead on Two Williamsburg Park Projects [✜]

The City has started construction on 50 Kent, part of the Bushwick Inlet Park puzzle, as well as on the second phase of work at La Guardia Playground, located on South 4th Street next to the BQE on ramp.

When completed a year from now, 50 Kent will be the first new parkland created at Bushwick Inlet Park in almost a decade. The $7 million in funding for this 2-acre piece of the park was allocated in 2017, along with funding for the Motiva site at BIP.

Together, these two parcels will add about 3 acres to the existing 6 acres. The big question, though, is when the remaining 2/3 of the park will be finished. To date, no money has been allocated for demolition of the CitiStorage building, nor for remediation and construction on the remaining 16 acres.

District 33 and 34 Candidates’ Forum

The North Brooklyn Open Space Coalition* held as excellent forum with the candidates for the District 33 and 34 City Council seats on Thursday. Some very good questions on parks, open space, development and the waterfront. Diana Reyna and Ron Shiffman did a great job moderating too.

Watch the forum via video link here (via Facebook – if there is a more open-source version out there, I will link to it).

* A coalition of North Brooklyn Neighbors, El Puente, Newtown Creek Alliance and North Brooklyn Parks Alliance. It is great to see these amazing groups working together.


Slavery in North Brooklyn

July 4 is the 193rd anniversary of the end of slavery in New York. Prior to 1827 Kings County – then a collection of 6 towns (Brooklyn, Bushwick, Flatbush, Flatlands, New Utrecht and Gravesend) – had the largest number of enslaved persons in the state.

In 1698, Kings County had a population of 2,015, 293 of whom (15%) were enslaved. The Town of Bushwick (comprising today’s Bushwick, Williamsburg (north of Division) and Greenpoint) had a population of 301 in 1698, 52 of whom (17%) were enslaved.

In 1738, the Town of Bushwick had a population of 325, 77 of whom (24%) were Black. The 1738 census doesn’t enumerate enslaved persons, but it is reasonable to assume that all or nearly all of the 77 Blacks were not free.

A 1755 “census of slaves” for New York State counted 41 enslaved persons in Bushwick. Total population was not recorded, and the count appears not to be complete.

In the 1790 US census (the first for the new country), the Town of Bushwick had a total population of 540, 171 of whom (32%) we enslaved persons. 5 people were recorded as “other free” (i.,e., not “white” and not “slave”). Likely some of those were Black.

In 1800, the Town of Bushwick had a total population of 666, 199 of whom (30%) were enslaved persons. 34 people were counted under “All other free persons”, and by this time it is likely that some were Black. It is possible that up to 1/3 of Bushwick was Black in 1800.

In 1810, the Town of Bushwick had a population of 800, 147 of whom (18%) were enslaved persons. Another 59 persons were counted as “other free persons”. Based on this, up to 1/4 of Bushwick was Black in 1810.

Why the decrease in enslaved persons? NY state laws already limited slavery, and the owning of slaves was already being looked upon as a cruel relic. But, significantly for Bushwick the western part of Bushwick was being developed as a village – Williamsburgh – starting the transition from agrarian to urban. The population was tiny (100 or 200?) in 1810 but the establishment of the village was already removing acres of farmland.

This trend continues in 1820, when the population of the Town of Bushwick had grown to 1,072, of whole 120 (11%) were enslaved persons and 63 (6%) were “free colored”. About 2/3 of the free Black were counted as part of white households (some of which also included enslaved persons). There were only three families of free Blacks in 1820, headed by Thomas Thompson, Jack Portland and George Rictas.

In 1830, the Town of Bushwick had a population of 1,520, of whom 164 (11%) were Black (all free, following emancipation in 1827). 20% of the Black population was enumerated as part of a white household. But over 100 Blacks, in 27 households, lived independently.

By this time, the Village of Williamsburgh had been incorporated (also in 1827), accounting for almost all the growth in the Town’s population. The Black population of Williamsburgh was 97 (about 2/3 the Bushwick total), and 21 of the Black families lived in Williamsburgh, indicative of a sizable Black population (10% of the village total). Up to the Civil War, Williamsburgh had a sizable Black population, active in the abolitionist movement. But that’s another story…


1 April 2020

St. Regis, Wythe Hotel Open Rooms to Medical Staff, Patients [✜]

Hotels are being used for quarantine and to house medical staff. This article mentions the Wythe - any other local hotels doing this?

The Four Seasons Hotel on East 57th Street, the Room Mate Grace Hotel and the Wythe Hotel have offered free housing for doctors, nurses and other staff, while the St. Regis Hotel, the Palace Hotel and Yotel will be providing space for non-critical care patients, according to a press release from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office.

Holy Tabernacle Church – Before and After

1255 Bushwick Avenue

(very) Former Bushwick Avenue Holy Tabernacle Church [Google]
Courtesy of Google street views – the fate of Bushwick Avenue. This was the Holy Tabernacle Church Grace English Evangelical Lutheran Church. Now it is just an unholy mess.


Teachers Say de Blasio and Carranza Helped Spread Coronavirus [✜]

In addition to exposure before the schools were closed, most teachers were still going into work last week for training and prep for online learning. Among the schools mentioned in the article is the Grand Street Campus (former Eastern District HS at Grand and Bushwick).