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9 July 2023

Patriot Names Revisted [✜]

July 9th is the anniversary of the first reading of the Declaration of Independence. In the mid-1840s, as Brooklyn was expanding to the north and east, the streets in what is now South Williamsburg and parts of Bed-Stuy were laid out and named for signers of the Declaration.

16 May 2023

Vice, Decayed Digital Colossus, Files for Bankruptcy [✜]

Harsh headline, but going from a valuation of $5.7 billion to $225 million is a pretty harsh decline. Hopefully something will rise from the ashes.

Patriot Names

Geo wythe

Love this guerrilla signage by @laruepaname, but George Wythe was mayor of Williamsburg, VIRGINIA in 1768-69. That he has street named for him in Williamsburg, Brooklyn is a complete coincidence.

Williamsburgh (with an h), New York did not exist until 1802, which was when Richard Woodhull had surveyor Jonathan Williams lay out a street grid on the Bushwick waterfront. By 1828, Williamsburgh was a village, occupying the area between Division Avenue and Bushwick Inlet. In 1855 the then City of Williamsburgh became part of the City of Brooklyn.

Williamsburg 1827
Village of Williamsburgh in 1827 [via Stiles]

The area between Division Avenue/Broadway and Flushing Avenue – in what is now South Williamsburg/Broadway Triangle – was the hinterlands of the City of Brooklyn. Called East Brooklyn, it was not laid out with streets until the mid-1840s. The city chose to name the streets after American patriots, with East Brooklyn getting the signers of the Declaration of Independence.

Hassler 1846

1846 Hassler map of NY Harbor, detail.

(The area south of Flushing out to Broadway, now Bed-Stuy, got some Signers as well as heroes of the Revolution and War of 1812 for their street names – Lafayette, Greene, Kosciusko, Decatur, etc.)

One of those signers was George Wythe, a delegate from Virginia and, yes, once mayor of Williamsburg, Virginia (more than 40 years before Williamsburgh, NY even existed on paper). As originally laid out, Wythe Avenue ran from Flushing to Division Avenue. Other avenues named for Signers were Chase (now Kent), Lee and Harrison.

The cross streets in East Brooklyn were also named for Signers – Thornton, Whipple, Bartlett, Gerry, Paine (now Wallabout), Walton, Gwinnet (now Lorimer), Middleton, Lynch, Heyward, Rutledge, Penn, Hewes, Hooper, Keap (sic, McKean), Rodney, Ross, Wilson, Taylor, Clymer, Morton, Rush and Morris.

Mckean penmanship

(Side note – You won’t find the name Keap on the Declaration of Independence. William McKean, though, was a signer. Someone in Brooklyn misread his signature as William M. Keap, and the rest is history. And to be fair, the penmanship is pretty bad.)

The Street names of East Brooklyn did not continue into Williamsburgh – the north/south streets there were numbered from First Street at the river to Twelfth Street to the east. When the two cities combined in 1855, there were efforts to get rid of duplicate street names and make connections between the avenues of East Brooklyn and those of the Eastern District.

But that unification of street names did not fully come to pass until 1886, when the numbered avenues of Williamsburg finally took on the names of the East Brooklyn Avenues. First Street became Kent Avenue, Second Street Wythe Avenue, Fourth Street Bedford Avenue, and Eighth Street Marcy Avenue.

Because the grids of the two neighborhoods did not line up there is a jog or offset wherever a named avenue met a numbered street at Division Avenue. And because of the odd clashing of grids, other Williamsburgh north/south street took on the names of cross streets – so Ninth Street became Rodney Street, Tenth Street Keap Street, Eleventh Street Hooper Street and Twelfth Street Hewes Street.

The numbered streets in Williamsburg that dead-ended at Division Avenue took on the names of locals. Third Street and Fifth Street became Berry and Driggs, named for former Williamsburgh mayors; Sixth became Roebling (who had no Williamsburgh connections) and Seventh became Havemeyer (after the sugar family, one of whom was a mayor of Brooklyn).

So – while Berry and Driggs are named for mayors of Williamsburgh, George Wythe had no local connection. He was mayor of Williamsburg, Virginia 40 years before Williamsburgh, NY even existed. But Second Street in Williamsburgh, NY existed for 40+ before Wythe Avenue in Brooklyn ever came to be. And it was about 40 years after then that Wythe Avenue was extended into Williamsburg, Brooklyn.


19 May 2022

Vice Stays Put in Williamsburg After Speculation About Dock 72 Move [✜]

Vice is not moving to the Navy Yard. They are consolidating on Kent Avenue, though - Refinery29 is subleasing its space on Broadway in Manhattan and has already moved (most of?) its people to the mothership in Williamsburg.

I guess Williamsburg is not dead.

12 May 2022

Photo Essay: Williamsburg in Time of Plague [✜]

Williamsburg in time of plague Covid 19 Brooklyn NYC Brian Rose

Havemeyer Street, 2020
Photo: Brian Rose via Untapped Cities

Some lovely photos by Brian Rose taken during the Spring of 2020, peak time of the shutdown. (It strikes me that many of the subject places he photographs are pretty empty during normal times.)

10 May 2022

Our Voices Exhibition Celebrates 50 Years of Activism in North Brooklyn: Sneak Peek [✜]
The end of May will see the premiere of Our Voices Seen and Heard: A First Hand Account, “an exhibit of artifacts from 50 years of protest, activism and victories in the communities of Williamsburg and Greenpoint Brooklyn.”

This should be very good - the organizers have been working on this for half a year or longer, and the source material is incredibly rich. Los Sures, El Puente, NAG (including in its original acronymic, Neighbors Against Garbage), GWAPP (including in its original acronymic, Greenpoint Williamsburg Against the Power Plant), and many more.

May 20th, mark your calendar.

Only 8% of Manhattan Office Workers Have Returned in-person 5 Days per Week [✜]

According to a survey by the Partnership for NYC, 62% of Manhattan office workers are working remotely on a typical day and only 8% are working in person five days a week. Which pretty much aligns with my firm's experience - only a very small number of people want to commute five days a week, though I think that on any given day more than half will be in the office in Manhattan. And not because of crime or homelessness, as the companies surveyed think - because it is a better way to work.

"The longer people worked remotely, the longer they wanted to continue to work remotely,” said Kathy Wylde, the CEO of the Partnership for New York City

Wylde is absolutely right, though obviously she thinks this is a bad thing. Not mentioned is what the rest of the New York City looks like - judging by street and restaurant traffic in Williamsburg, a lot of people do seem to be very happy working remote or hybrid. Maybe instead of making Manhattan the way it was we should figure out what it could be?

7 May 2022

There’s a War Raging Between Parents and Dog Owners at Cooper Park [✜]
The original poster then suggested that people who have kids should move to Long Island. Later, someone else opined that dog owners should move to Long Island. (No one from Long Island has weighed in yet.)

The joke is on all of them - they do live on Long Island.

6 May 2022

NH Investment & Securities Under Contract to Buy The Dime for $158M [✜]
Korean investment firm NH Investment & Securities is under contract to buy The Dime Residences in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, for $157.5 million, according to sources familiar with the transaction.

The sale does not include the retail (the landmarked bank building). This is the second big residential sale in Williamsburg in the past couple of weeks - given where rents are going, not surprising I guess.

5 May 2022

East Village Beerhall Zum Schneider is Back ... and in Brooklyn [✜]

Zum Schneider closed in 2020, but is now doing a "pop up" beer hall on Sundays and Mondays at Rosarito Fish Shack. I can't wait.