Waterfront Museum, Red Hook, Brooklyn
[Updated 2007.03.14: Added links to Related Posts.]

The Waterfront Museum was one of the highlights of yesterday’s walking tour of Red Hook, Brooklyn, associated with the Historic District Council's 13th Annual Preservation Conference. Myself, I could have spent two hours there alone. The story of the barge, not to mention the people and characters involved in saving and restoring it, is fascinating. I want to go back when the water is warmer!

It was also visual overload. I couldn’t capture everything. Here’s what I got.

Related Posts:
HDC Red Hook Walking Tour

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FROGG (Friends and Residents of Greater Gowanus) is set to receive a grant award from the Preservation League of New York State. The award will be used to conduct a survey of  the Gowanus Canal Corridor for the Nomination to The National Register of Historic Places as an Urban Industrial District.


When: Wednesday, October 26th

What time: 12:00pm to 2:00pm

Where: Old American Can Factory is located at 232 3rd Street at the corner of 3rd Avenue

Governor's Island: What Might Have Been

Governor’s Island, Detail, 1911 New York Dock Dock Company Lithograph

When we bought our house about three years ago, one of the attractions was “old house romance.” The previous owner believed the house had been in her family since it was built in 1900. I’ve written previously about finding a 1911 lithograph of the New York Dock Company in the basement. Earlier this week, Peter Miller, the new owner of Freebird books in Columbia Waterfront/Red Hook, contacted me by email asking for permission to use one of my photos of it:

Anyone living in the neighborhood, particularly Red Hook, will be familiar with the New York Dock Company’s remnants—hulking gray warehouses that must make Dumbo-drooling Corcoran agents weak in the knees. Seldom however do we get a chance to see a bird’s eye view of their domain, which once sprawled over two and a half miles of waterfront. The lithograph provides a rare peek at the commerce that transpired along the banks of Governors Island and Brooklyn.
- December 28, 2007, Peter Miller, Freebird Books

Miller goes on to write more about the history of Governor’s Island, and how it was nearly lost to infrastructure development.
In 1898 (the year Brooklyn became a borough of New York City), an assemblyman proposed using the island as a center span anchor for a bridge between Red Hook and the Battery. Proof that real estate value has never been far from New York’s beating heart, the assemblyman argued that the bridge “would cause a phenomenal development in South Brooklyn.”

That cheap promise would be reprised forty years later when Robert Moses demanded the very same public works project—but on a far grander scale. Given wide-ranging powers by La Guardia in 1938, Moses tried to reallocate the money meant for a tunnel to build a monumental (in all senses of the word) bridge that would hopscotch across Governors Island.Today we have this view from Valentino Pier of both Governor’s Island and Downtown Manhattan.

This view was saved, in part, by opposition from community leaders in both Manhattan and Brooklyn, and, in part, by none other than Eleanor Roosevelt:
Moses’s threats and ultimatums cowed city and state officials into submission. All he needed was the federal government’s rubber stamp. But, unforeseen, Eleanor Roosevelt publicly questioned the bridge’s impact: “Isn’t there room for some consideration of the preservation of the few beautiful spots that still remain to us on an overcrowded island?” The bridge’s opponents had infiltrated the White House. FDR allowed the War Department to kill the project and favor a tunnel out of national security concerns (but more likely out of spite).Related Posts1911 New York Dock Company Lithograph
LinksFreebird Books, 123 Columbia Street (GMAP), Brooklyn, New York 11231


Knockin Boots:

A few years back, we had the awesome experience of living in the UK and frankly I was spoiled by the generic line at the local drugstore.  Fortunately for me, Target is now selling Boots products and you can also order from ShopBootsUSA.com.  The retro packaging leads to a very pretty bathroom and more money in your pocket book!

11231 I have not had a favorite color since I was seven (and a half)

The 20 lb comforter they shared for 10 years
Picked out particularly for and loathed by my father
(But he hated anything oppressive to him)

I ate an entire bag of cuties solo that weekend you first visited me
My saliva became so acidic I could see holes in the places I had kissed your body 

My chinese “I’m with stupid” XXL sweatshirt that I wear without underwear
that you remove from my body like a ballgown 

But if you are not cheating on me surely you can text me back

Typing Typing Typing
I would never send you that

The color of Berry Hawaiian Punch and Smirnoff

The hickey on my left ass cheek, the spirit color of our high school, 
the color of that nail polish you bought me as a stocking stuffer because it looked black

Sweet Tooth


The cap on my tooth 

I have never had a filling

Your comforter
The color of her low cut shirt she was wearing when we first met
“Callahan’s” sprawled across her chest, she always needed to belong to a man of power
The color of January
The color of that awful velour couch
The blood you spattered everywhere when you invaded me

Heather Gray
The color of a lie

The sound of receiving important texts while you are asleep
Signatures on Divorce papers
All the misplaced drunken court dates
Eyes that fall upon a victim

The sound of “no”

weird college thing that i never thought about until i got here #11231

  • weird noises at weird times like what the fuck are you people doing it’s the asscrack of dawn and it sounds like you’re moving all your furniture why

You said you were fine on nights like this

Video component of You said you were fine on nights like this / crocheting process in making the steel wool blanket. 

Work is on view at the Gowanus Showroom in New York until Thursday, November 13. 

Location: Gowanus Showroom 
460 Union St, New York, NY 11231

Other Gardens: Red Hook's Summit Street Community Garden

[2007.04.05: Corrected some typos.]
[2007.04.02 21:00: Updated with my notes from Saturday’s visit.]

Locations of Gowanus Nursery (red outline) and nearby Community Gardens (labelled light green areas) in Red Hook

A pleasant discovery when I visited Gowanus Nursery on Saturday is that there are three community gardens within one block of each other:
  • Summit Street Community Garden, at the corner of Summit Street and Columbia Street
  • Backyard Garden, at the corner of Hamilton Avenue and Van Brunt Street
  • Amazing Garden, at the corner of Carroll Street and Columbia Street
I was able to visit the first two gardens before and after, respectively, I visited Gowanus Nursery. This post is about the Summit Street garden. I’ll have another for the Backyard Garden.

Let me walk you around the garden, roughly in the order I experienced it.

The garden is surrounded by a simple and attractive green steel fence. A really nice inviting feature is the round, head-sized hole interrupting the vertical bars in the gates. Yes, I tested them; they really are head-sized. You can stick your head through and look around inside without the bars in the way. It’s a simple touch, a grace note, but it says, to me, at least: Sorry we weren’t here when you were. Please come back again.

Entrance Gate

But the gates were open when I got there. Just inside the gates is a dry-laid bluestone landing area, with dry-laid brick paths guiding you forward. The walls of the adjacent buildings ahead of you are at the North side of the garden. We’ll see the border there in a bit.

Entrance Path

I got to meet and speak with two of the gardeners, Kevin King and Claire Merlino. They explained that all the brick and stone used in the garden came from the buildings which used to stand here.

Note to all demolition sites: There is no excuse for throwing out brick and stone in dumpsters destined for landfill. Every garden wants brick and stone. Gardeners, community and others, have lots of creative uses for these durable and attractive materials.

The Rock Garden

To the right of the entrance is the rock garden. Whenever you have to clear a building site for gardening, you will have building debris which is unsuitable for paving, wall-building, and so on. This got piled up near the edge of the property, with the thought that it would eventually get cleared away. As time passed, it also got put to creative reuse, and became a rock garden.

Rock Garden

Rock Garden

Iris reticulata in the Rock Garden

Erica carnea, Spring Heath, in the Rock Garden

Community in the Garden

The garden got its start in late 1993. The first clean-up was in Spring of 1994. Trash and rubbish had to be removed, but they also needed cleanfill.

There are three building lots here. With the buildings collapsed, there was a large central depression which had to be filled. Gardeners used rocks to tag piles from the nearby Snapple warehouse excavation which they could use for fill in the garden. One of the workers on the site went one better and selected the darkest material he could find and delivered it to the garden; darkest, because it was contaminated with oil from the excavation site. With that teachable moment, the workers came back and removed the “good” stuff and replaced it with the real soil the gardeners had tagged.

Every community garden also needs to balance common and individual planting areas. I like these raised beds as a flexible solution for private planting areas. They’re rectangular with 2:1 proportions; I’m not sure if they’re 4x8 foot or 3x6 foot. Members can subscribe to a full- or half-bed. I also like that the beds are aligned but not on a regular grid, which creates interesting paths through the garden.

Planting Beds

Every community garden also needs to coordinate the needs of the garden with the availability of its members. To the left of the entrance is this sign-up station. The book and pencil are protected, and the stand itself is an attractive garden feature.

Sign-Up Station

The West Border

Along Columbia Street is the West Border, one of the common areas.

West border

Daffodils and Crocus

The North Border

Opposite the entrance on Summit Street, against the adjacent building, is the North Border.

The North border

Hellebores and Narcissus in the North border

There seemed to be hundreds of Iris reticulata in bloom when I visited. Claire said that there would have been more except that the squirrels considered them a delicacy and devoured most of what had been planted last fall.

Finally, Claire is looking for someone to adopt this Castor Aralia tree. Leave a comment if you or someone you know is interested.

Kalopanax septemlobus (syn. K. pictus), Castor Aralia

Step Into: Thanksgiving

Step Into: Thanksgiving ForChildren

The coming holiday may be associated with the turkey, but at this event, a goldfish plays a starring role. The group Play Me a Story, which does interactive tale telling with original music and homemade props, will present “The Magic Goldfish,” a fable about a fish that grants a man wishes in exchange for sparing its life. Visitors can also make autumn crafts and enjoy an interactive concert featuring Timbalooloo, the clarinetist Oran Etkin’s preschool music program.

Nov. 23 from 9 a.m. to noon Hannah Senesh Community Day School 342 Smith Street Brooklyn NY 11231. Tel: 718-858-8663 Price: $ 5 http://nytimes.com/events/forchildren/step-into-thanksgiving-22651.html
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