Brooklyn waterfront

From Hyperallergic:

Aerial view up the East River (May 27, 1960, photo by Theodore V. Donaldson)
Aerial view up the East River (May 27, 1960, photo by Theodore V. Donaldson) (all images courtesy NYC Municipal Archives)

The Brooklyn waterfront is radically changing. The Domino Sugar Factory in Williamsburg is transforming into residential and commercial space, both inside its hollowed-out brick building and outside with new glassy high-rises. Towers are pending for long-quiet Greenpoint. And Brooklyn Bridge Park is altering the former industrial area of Dumbo and Brooklyn Heights with green space and, naturally, condos. It’s from the perspective of that park that the NYC Municipal Archives examined the East River shore’s long history of change.

A Century on the Brooklyn Waterfront was one of the shipping container exhibitions at Photoville, held earlier this month in the Pier 5 Uplands in Brooklyn Bridge Park. Curated by Public Records Officer Quinn Berkman and Paper and Archival Conservator Cynthia Brenwall, the exhibition drew on the NYC Municipal Archives’ 221,000 cubic feet of material, particularly its collections on the WPA Federal Writers’ and Art projects (1935–43) and the Department of Bridges (1901–39).

“The ability to appreciate what parks were before they were public recreational areas is important, and the Brooklyn Bridge Park is so relevant because the transformation is so recent,” Berkman told Hyperallergic. Many of the photographs were printed from glass plate negatives, and date from between 1870 and 1974, revealing the rise of the Brooklyn Bridge, and the concentration of maritime commercial activity on the Brooklyn piers long before they were replaced with parks.

View of Lower Manhattan from the Brooklyn Tower of the Brooklyn Bridge (1890)
View of Lower Manhattan from the Brooklyn Tower of the Brooklyn Bridge (1890) (click to enlarge)

“I think it is important to remember that Brooklyn was the heart of the city’s import business,” Berkman explained. “What is now seen as real estate opportunity was once used purely for the ports and trade industry.” It was only in the 1970s that the area was designated as a landmarked neighborhood and the repurposing of warehouses began. “It’s pretty incredible because once the Brooklyn Bridge opened, this part of Brooklyn was considered Manhattan’s first suburb, however by the 60s it cycled back into an industrial zone and now it is back to being a residential neighborhood,” she added.

The NYC Municipal Archives has recently been making more of its photographs accessible online, from the documentation of the NYPD’s “Alien Squad,” which monitored potentially subversive political groups in the 1930s and ’40s, to the around 30,000 crime photographs from 1914 to 1975 released earlier this year. As the photographs were taken for municipal government use — during the construction of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway or the renovation of the Brooklyn Piers, for instance — some of the creators’ names are now lost. In addition to their original purposes, they now form an essential record of the city’s changing character.

“These photographs are not just ‘iconic’ images of old NYC, they are used to understand and preserve the history of the city,” Berkman said. “Photography is one of the best mediums to use to tell a story and send a message, which is also why it has just as complex of a history as New York does.”

View of the Manhattan Bridge from Jay and York Streets (January 4, 1912, photo by Eugene de Salignac)
View of the Manhattan Bridge from Jay and York Streets (January 4, 1912, photo by Eugene de Salignac)
Aerial view of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and Atlantic Avenue (September 19, 1956)
Aerial view of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and Atlantic Avenue (September 19, 1956)
Aerial view taken above Atlantic Avenue and the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. 1 Brooklyn Bridge Park was once home to the New York Dock Company. (September 19, 1956) (photo by Theodore V. Donaldson)
Aerial view taken above Atlantic Avenue and the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway.

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The Grand Neptune Ball

Open Bar. Live Band. High Seas. (A Fundraiser.)

A celebration on the historic Waterfront Museum Barge –  a boat and nonprofit that is raising funds for renewed arts and education programs after our Superstorm Sandy refit.

Join us for free local fare and spirits! And for the midsummer sunset! Come to dance to live jazz! Come as your most extravagant self! Come support arts and education aboard the historic barge!! Cocktail attire, and any a nod to the maritime 1920s, is encouraged. Music by Steve Oates and the Zac Greenberg Quartet.

The Waterfront Barge
July 22, 2017 at 8-11pm
290 Conover St. Brooklyn, NY
Tickets $50 – $100 (Tax-deductible)

Tickets can be purchased here and at the door.

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or, The Whale
Lehigh Valley Barge #79, Waterfront Museum
Brooklyn , NY
“An ensemble of eight actors embody the beloved characters of Melville’s classic and take us on the epic journey that is said to carry the DNA of America in it. But with the “ungodly, god-like” Captain Ahab at the helm- who will live to tell of it?Join us for four performances aboard the Lehigh Valley Barge #79 docked in Brooklyn’s historic Red Hook harbor and home to the Waterfront Museum.

Threadbare Theatre Workshop illuminates epics in a simple way through the magic of resourceful storytelling; laying bare our humanity so we may thread more empathy into existence. Our inaugural season celebrates bold reimaginings of ancient myth- beginning with OR, THE WHALE on the Brooklyn waterfront this October.

Adapted & Directed by Kate Russell. Featuring *Paul Terzenbach, C Bain, Steven Hajar, Aniela Gonzalez, Andrew Langton, Nicholas Lazzaro, Jake Choi & *Keona Welch. Production Stage Manager: Kacey Gritters. Costume Design: James Veloria. Lighting Design: David Sexton.


~Once you board you cannot exit until intermission and once again when the play is finished.

~There will be NO LATE SEATING. Please leave ample time to travel to Red Hook, Brooklyn and navigate the waterfront’s parking and transportation.

~Suitable for ages 13 and older.

~Original Artwork by Jonathan Fetter-Vorm

*Actors appear courtesy of Actors Equity Association ”


Lehigh Valley Barge #79, Waterfront Museum (View)
290 Conover Street
Brooklyn , NY 11231
United States

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From Scoutmob.com:
One Very Modern Brooklyn Neighborhood’s Little Reminder of Yesterday
Once an area of giant warehouses and Jehovah’s Witnesses watching you from a tower, DUMBO has slowly become a haute destination for the well-heeled urbanite. And with the NY tech scene now narrowing its sites on this area “down under the Manhattan Bridge overpass,” hoping to turn it into the next Silicon Valley (complete with hot air balloons, naturally), it could be about to skyrocket straight into the 22nd Century.
But as the condos go up and the wifi signals boldly march into four bars, one corner of the ‘hood, pristinely located just under the Brooklyn Bridge, is joyfully holding its ground as a beacon back to a simpler, more bygone era. And it’s all thanks to Jane Walentas and her carousel.

A former art director for Estee Lauder and wife of real estate heavy weight David Walentas (who’s had a big hand in Dumbo’s transformation, conveniently), Jane purchased the carousel back in 1984 from an Ohio theme park and spent the next 20-plus years restoring it to its original glory. Just, yanno, a little pet project that slowly consumed her life.
From the free hand pin striping on the bridles, to the gold leafing with actual gold leaf, no expense was spared or detail overlooked when returning each of the 48 wooden horses back to show readiness.
Once you’ve settled in on your mighty stead, you’re treated to the HD tunes of real snare drums and pipe organ music as you casually ride by bucolic scenes of a simpler time, back when fishing skills far outweighed stock portfolios when it came to impressing the ladies.
But alas, as this is still Dumbo, what you’re seen in still holds weight. Luckily, the carousel sits inside of what is essentially a $9 million clear acrylic box, designed by French architect Jean Nouvel. Protecting the horses from the elements while giving it year-round accessibility and not obstructing panoramic views of the city, Jane’s Carousel can comfortably show its face at the block party.
Once she and her team finished restoring it, Jane actually donated the carousel to the city of New York where, for $2 a ride, you can find joy in the simple things again. So while the world swiftly builds up around it, and Dumbo moves along with NYC and the rest of the world in its bold march on into modernity, this jewel of of the city will sit proudly, happily accepting anyone who wishes to unplug and go for a spin. …

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