street scenes

What will $11 mil get me in Brooklyn?

Posted by Steve on Fri, 05/03/2013 - 2:18pm


It's a question that probably doesn't get asked very often, but here's an answer ready for it: the locally revered landmark "Gingerbread House" at 8820 Narrows Avenue in Bay Ridge, about a mile south of Brooklyn Row House.  Not for nothing but this is a bargain compared to the unanswered 2009 asking price of $12 million.  Nevertheless, it's quite a bit more than the "under $1 milliion" that the current owners paid for it in 1985, which should give an indication of property valuations in this neck of Brooklyn over the past 20 years.

http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/real-estate/piece-brooklyn-storybo...
 


"This time for sure!"

Posted by Steve on Sat, 03/06/2010 - 2:48pm


The old Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon show had a series of interstitials with Bullwinkle attempting, and failing, to pull a rabbit out of a hat and Rocky increasingly skeptical that he would ever succeed.

FlyerAs tortured an analogy as that may be, it's how the Bay Ridge community has regarded announcements of the opening of the prodigal Key Food supermarket on Bay Ridge Ave (69th St).    It was almost two years ago that the neighborhood was buzzing with rumors that Key Food was negotiating to take over the two large buildings formerly owned by Harry's furniture store.  Yet, only a couple of months before that, Key Food announced that it was closing its well-patronized 95th St supermarket.  So this latest scuttlebutt left much to be skeptical about, especially when the new location wasn't exactly ideal for a large supermarket.

For one thing, there was no parking lot.  There was a single-story building across the street that was the old Harry's annex which at one point in its history might have served as a garage of some sort.  But with the pillar obstructions I remembered seeing in the old Harry's annex and the nonexistent driving skills of Bay Ridge SUV pilots, they couldn't honestly be thinking about letting soccer moms and cell phone jockeys park their own land barges in there.  It would be a day-long fender bender.  You could construct bleachers and sell tickets!

Then there was the issue of 69th Street itself: a narrow two-lane road that already has serious congestion issues from being forced to service avenue-level traffic.  Both local and express buses use 69th Street as do trucks and emergency vehicles.   Worse, there's a kitchen wholesale business on the block and their semis often stop traffic for several minutes while the driver threads the needle with his 18 wheeler and the narrow loading dock.


The Return of Tony Manero

Posted by Steve on Tue, 10/21/2008 - 9:55pm


You forty and fifty-somethings will undoubtedly remember the 1977 anthemic film about the disco era, Saturday Night Fever. What you may not know is that it put my neighborhood on the map. "Fever" was about the disco days and the lives of several blue collar kids in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.

I love talking with my neighbors about those days. They say the movie was an accurate depiction of what life was like here, at least for the disco heads. In 1977, I was a hardcore jazz poser at Berklee College of Music in Boston so I missed it all, geographically and socially.

The disco portrayed in the movie, 2001 Odyssey, really existed and was only a few blocks from here. In fact, it didn't shut down until 2005, although by then it had become a seedy gay bar. But it still had that famous lighted dance floor.

After "Fever", Bay Ridge's glory as a nightlife destination gradually disappeared. Brooklyners began migrating to trendy gentrifying Manhattan neighborhoods for their late night fun at clubs like The World, Infinity, Kamikaze, Tunnel, Limelight, Danceteria and music venues like CBGBs, Mudd Club and The Ritz. I lived in the center of that though. We referred to those people (now, people like me) as "the bridge and tunnel crowd".

This would make an awesome train set.

Posted by Steve on Fri, 08/29/2008 - 9:42pm


My older brother was the model train buff. Me, I always liked the real thing. As a little kid growing up in Japan, my friends and I used to sneak across the mulberry fields and sit by the train tracks to Yokohama. But the local koban police always took notice of the little white kids and hauled us back home with a stern warning never to do it again. As if.

Bay Ridge is in south Brooklyn, on lower New York Harbor. One the benefits of living here is dozing off to fog horns and big ship engines in the harbor. But I was always curious about one horn I'd hear occasionally that sounded like a locomotive. It was months before I realized that I had a small rail yard only three blocks away. In my defense, you have to climb up on a cement wall on a bridge overpass to get this shot.

This yard is between me and the Brooklyn Army Terminal. During WW2, 85% of the soldiers bound for Europe arrived on trains in this rail yard before being processed at BAT and boarding ships in the harbor beyond.

In the olden days, Brooklyn had lots of small railroads: the Sea Beach and Coney Island Railroad, the Brooklyn, Flatbush and Coney Island Railroad, the Prospect Park and Coney Island Railroad... it seemed like every Brooklyn neighborhood had its own rail line. After 1896, most were assimilated into the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Corporation (BRT). The NYC subway system would eventually make dinosaurs of most of them.

She Talked. This Happened.

Posted by Steve on Wed, 08/27/2008 - 7:45pm


Next up in my "Meet The Neighbors" series is one of the largest buildings in NYC, the Brooklyn Army Terminal. It's not large in vertical terms but as far as the footprint goes, there are few NYC buildings to match it.

BAT is located four blocks north of me. Surprisingly, for a complex of its imposing size few people around here know much about it. About the only information I could glean from the locals was, "The Army used to own it. It's something else now."

With its Pentagon-like utilitarian bulk, the closed-to-the-public perimeter security, the NYPD K-9 facility on premises and its roof cluttered with high-tech satellite dishes, the rumor was that it contained some super-secret CIA/NSA/Men In Black facility. I thought there might be something to that.

On 9/11, barely 90 minutes after the towers were hit, Doc Karen was summoned to work triage at Lutheran Hospital just down the street. As I drove her past BAT I was amazed to see that the entrances to the complex had been blocked by sand-filled DOT dump trucks. Wow, that was quick. What were they protecting? Not satisfied with these impressions though, I did some research.

Can This Be This?

Posted by Steve on Tue, 08/26/2008 - 6:56pm


This past Saturday I went pedaling around the neighborhood with my digital camera. I've been wanting to do a series of articles about the neighborhood so I needed to stock up on bad pictures. I'm from the Grateful Dead jam school of photography: just keep snapping crap and sooner or later you'll stumble on something almost interesting.

I live just south of one of NYC's oldest and most dilapidated industrial sprawls, on the western edge of an area called Sunset Park. I know, the name sounds like sipping Mai Tais on the veranda while watching the ocean swallow up the last fading rays of daylight. Well, in a way, the metaphor fits. The sun set on this place about 75 years ago. I'll get more into that later.

I Wanna Drive

Posted by Steve on Fri, 08/15/2008 - 10:42am


Last year, NYC DOT repaved several Brooklyn avenues. Last month, they began ripping up some cross streets, mine included. Even though my street was in good condition, people who have lived on the block for 40 years can't remember the last it was repaved. I figured this might make a good photo archive moment for my planned neighborhood blog.

When I saw the yellow signs pop up all over the street I thought it was going to be yet another annoying film shoot. Over the past couple of years Brooklyn has gotten to be a hot location with Hollywood.

You might even see me in the background of an Ashton Kutcher/Cameron Diaz flick, "What Happens In Vegas", which was shot earlier this spring in the park down the block. I guess they wanted someone walking dogs so the PA pulled me out of the crowd of rubbernecks and told me to walk slowly and not look at the camera. I obeyed but Auggie became obsessed with a squirrel and caused a scene so we probably got left for dead on the cutting room floor.

As promised: Dyker Heights Extreme Christmas

Posted by Steve on Mon, 11/27/2006 - 11:05pm


Forgive two blog posts in one day but I'll be off the air for a few days and I know that some of you are cursing the knots in your string of outside Christmas lights right about now. Prepare to be overwhelmed.

Dyker Heights is next to my beloved Bay Ridge here in Brooklyn. In most respects, it's pretty much indistinguishable from Bay Ridge except during the Christmas holidays, when you can spot it from the moon. I don't know what they put it in the water over on 11th Avenue but subtlety ain't it.



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