Brooklyn Heights Blog » Brooklyn Heights Dispatches from America's first suburb Fri, 23 Oct 2020 03:14:38 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Open Thread Wednesday Wed, 21 Oct 2020 11:38:55 +0000

What’s on your mind? Comment away!

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Brooklyn Women’s Exchange Open for In-Person Shopping During Limited Hours Sun, 18 Oct 2020 03:26:14 +0000

The Brooklyn Women’s Exchange (photo), which has been taking orders on line (and you may still do so) has now opened for in person shopping from 12:00 noon to 3:00 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. If you shop on line, you may now pick up your purchases curbside Tuesday through Saturday from noon to 3:00 p.m. During the Thursday through Saturday hours you may now come in (mask required, and limited number of customers allowed inside at any time) and browse their extensive collections of crafted items, many by local artisans. These include, among others, housewares, jewelry, kids’ and dolls’ clothes, toys and games, greeting cards, and delicacies, as well as books of local interest. The store is located at 55 Pierrepont Street, between Hicks and Henry.

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ArtWalk on Atlantic Avenue Begins Weekend of October 17-18 Tue, 13 Oct 2020 02:48:08 +0000

Starting this coming weekend – Saturday, October 17 and Sunday, October 18 – and continuing through Sunday, November 1, Arts Gowanus, along with the Atlantic Avenue BID and Atlantic Avenue LDC, will present Arts Gowanus ArtWalk on Atlantic Avenue, a “1.5 mile, self-guided, socially distanced ArtWalk” extending along Atlantic Avenue from the waterfront to Fourth Avenue (thus including the whole extent of Atlantic along the Brooklyn Heights/Cobble Hill boundary, as well as several blocks to the east). The event “will feature Gowanus artists displaying paintings, drawings, prints, photography, installation and sculptures and will be displayed on storefronts, roll down gates, and dining fences of 65 Atlantic Avenue businesses.” There will be “pop-up performances.” There’s more information here.

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Permanently Closed: Brooklyn Heights Businesses Lost To The Pandemic Mon, 12 Oct 2020 01:49:31 +0000

Seven months into the pandemic, most of our local small businesses are hanging on. With pure grit and ingenuity, restaurants turned parking spots into dining spaces, and retail stores went online until their doors could open again. Tragically, not all of the businesses survived the long shutdown, not to mention the loss of tourists and nearly half of the residents who left town for months. Here, we memorialize the Brooklyn Heights businesses that permanently closed since March 2020.

Jack the Horse Tavern (66 Hicks St.)

Jack the Horse Tavern (66 Hicks St.)

JtH Next Door (66 Hicks St.)

JtH Next Door (66 Hicks St.)

Five Guys (138 Montague St.)

Five Guys (138 Montague St.)

Amy's Bread and East & West Wellness

Amy’s Bread (72 Clark St.)

Chocolate Works (110 Montague St.)

Chocolate Works (110 Montague St.)

The Heights Salon of Brooklyn (136 Montague St.)

The Heights Salon of Brooklyn (136 Montague St.)

Scott J Aveda Salon (119 Montague St.)

Scott J Aveda Salon (119 Montague St.)

B.GOOD (141 Montague St.)

B.GOOD (141 Montague St.)

Heights Nail Salon (60 Henry St.)

Heights Nail Salon (60 Henry St.)

Le Pain Quotidien (121 Montague St.)

Le Pain Quotidien (121 Montague St.)

WMA Karate (67 Atlantic Ave.) (Classes moved online and outdoors -

WMA Karate (67 Atlantic Ave.) (Classes moved online and outdoors –

Blossom Poke Bowl (153 Remsen St.)

Blossom Poke Bowl (153 Remsen St.)

Cafecito (Clark St. Station)

Cafecito (Clark St. Station)

Emack & Bolio (115 Montague St.) (To close permanently on 10/31/20.) (Photo courtesy of BHB reader.)

Emack & Bolio (115 Montague St.) (To close permanently on 10/31/20.) (Photo courtesy of BHB reader.)

The loss of these small businesses is a blow to the community. Some are simply irreplaceable. What could possibly fill the void that Cranberry’s or Jack the Horse left behind? But we can find hope in knowing that there are already small signs of recovery and renewal. Here are three businesses that opened in the midst of the pandemic and by all indications, are fast becoming favorites of the neighborhood.

Cardinal Mkt (44 Henry St.)

Cardinal Mkt (44 Henry St.)

Vineapple (71 Pineapple St.)

Vineapple (71 Pineapple St.)

Ella Crown Bakehouse (149 Atlantic Ave.)

Ella Crown Bakehouse (149 Atlantic Ave.)

Support our local economy. Support our small businesses.

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Theater 2020 Presents Free Virtual Reading of New Play Mon, 28 Sep 2020 04:29:49 +0000

Here’s a treat for all theater lovers, and especially for Janeites; devotees of the writing of Jane Austen (image, Wikimedia Commons) of which I’m one. Theater 2020 is Brooklyn Heights’ own professional stage company. They are presenting, for free and by live zoom reading, a new play by Lynn Marie Macy, Theater 2020’s resident playwright, Jane Austen at Prinny’s Palace. The play, which features a multinational cast,

“is a comic exploration of the day Jane Austen was invited to the Royal Palace by Prince Regent for tour hosted by his overly admiring Royal Librarian, James Stanier Clarke. Despite her distaste for the dissipated lifestyle of England’s soon to be Monarch, this event marked the highest public distinction her work received during her lifetime.”

The play will be shown, in conjunction with Brooklyn Public Library, in two sessions, each forty minutes long. The first is on Saturday, October 3, starting at 2:00 p.m.; register here. The second is on Saturday, October 10, also at 2:00 p.m.; register here.

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Coming at Brooklyn Bridge Park Mon, 28 Sep 2020 03:08:31 +0000

Tomorrow evening – Monday. September 28 – starting at 7:00 there will be a virtual “Books Under the Bridge” event, presented in conjunction with Mil Mundos Books, with readings by, and conversation with, the poets Raquel Salas Rivera, Ricardo Maldonado, Andrés Cerpa, and Alejandra Rose. The event is free, but you must register here.

On Wednesday evening, September 30 starting at 7:00 there will be a free workshop and virtual underwater tour of marine life along the Long Island shore by Chris Paparo, the “Fish Guy”, who is also Christopher Paparo, Southampton Marine Science Center Manager and an Expert for SUNY Stony Brook. More information and register here.

On Thursday, October 1 from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy will present a “Conservancy Day of Celebration” honoring the Environmental Center’s fifth anniversary and in person activities returning to the Park. It “will feature live, online educational programming and in-person fitness opportunities in the Park.” Activities schedule and free registration here.

This coming week – Monday, September 28 through Sunday, October 4 – there will be open registration for in-person fitness classes – all requiring masks and proper social distancing – in the Park. There’s a complete list of events and dates here.

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Brooklyn Women’s Exchange Plans to Re-Open Soon; Meanwhile, You Can Shop On Line Tue, 22 Sep 2020 00:28:03 +0000

This window, at the Brooklyn Women’s Exchange earlier this year, promised better days ahead. COVID-19 forced the shop, at 55 Pierrepont Street, to close. For a time the Exchange could only take orders by phone or email. Now they are able to take orders on line; you may shop here.

The Exchange hopes to be able to open its door to shoppers soon, subject to the usual and needed restrictions regarding mask wearing and limiting the number of customers in the shop at any time. We’ll keep you up to date on developments.

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NYC Schools Delayed Again Fri, 18 Sep 2020 13:16:04 +0000

Just four days before NYC school children were supposed to begin in-person learning, Mayor DeBlazio announced further delays to the school year.

  • Monday, September 21st: Pre-K and children in special needs D75 schools begin school
  • Tuesday, September 29th: K-5 and K-8 schools open
  • Thursday, October 1st: Middle and High Schools open

The Mayor explained the delay would enable the City to address staffing shortages. However, this 11th-hour change leaves parents scrambling to adjust their work and childcare schedules and sends teachers back to the drawing board to revise their teaching plans.  It also calls into question Mayor’s entire handling of the situation.

In addition, the City has also backtracked on providing students with live instruction during remote sessions.

If you’d like to ask the Mayor about his thought process, call into the Brian Lehrer show on WNYC at 10:00 am for Ask the Mayor.

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Brooklyn Heights – Tree Heaven? Tue, 15 Sep 2020 03:20:04 +0000

We lost a few in Tropical Storm Isaias, but Brooklyn Heights retains and maintains a healthy population of street, park, and garden trees. In her Eagle story, Mary Frost tells of the history. Before the 1940s the Heights, like most of Brooklyn, had few trees. This is why Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (!943) could consider the event remarkable. Then the Brooklyn Heights Association went on a tree planting binge, planting, according to the Eagle story, 1,081 trees in the 1940s, and 46 more since. The Eagle quotes BHA president Erika Belsey Worth as noting that some blocks, for example, Clark street between Willow and Columbia Heights, have lost many trees, and that many other Heights trees “are at maturity and beyond” and need “tender, loving care.”

The Eagle story also quotes former BHA executive directors Judy Stanton and Peter Bray about programs organized during their terms in office. Ms. Stanton recalled two “tree census” projects to examine the conditions of street trees, in one of which your correspondent participated. Mr. Bray supervised a program to enlarge tree pits, many of which were strangling trees’ roots. Current BHA executive director Lara Birnback wants to extend the tree pit survey, and also to recruit “block captains” to monitor the condition of trees and report any problems, as well as caring for newly planted trees.

Finally, the Eagle story notes that BHB friend Peter Steinberg, whose al fresco nuptials on Grace Court Alley I blundered onto in 2009, has created a website “that tree fans can use to easily record tree pit data. All people need in order to participate is a tape measure and a smart phone.” Unfortunately, the Eagle doesn’t give a link to the site. I’m sure Peter will give us one. Update: Here are the instructions:

Reach out to and tell them what block(s) you’re interested in — they will email you the link and off you go!

By the way, the process really is dead simple — you just need a phone and a tape measure. I was able to measure all of Grace Court — both sides — I’m under two hours. And that was with an 8 year old as my assistant.

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Bluegrass and Books on Line from Brooklyn Bridge Park Fri, 11 Sep 2020 02:17:16 +0000

This Sunday, September 13 from 3:00 to 8:00 p.m., the Brooklyn Americana Music Festival, in conjunction with Brooklyn Bridge Park, will present on line the “Women’s Stage” portion of its 2020 “Long Distance” festival, featuring a diverse group of women musicians with styles “spanning traditional and modern Country, Folk, Blues, Old Time, Bluegrass, and Jazz.” The opening act will be Nora Brown, a young Brooklynite who is a stellar banjo artist, having been taught by the late Shlomo Pestcoe. The photo, which I took at the 2018 Brooklyn Folk Festival, shows her at age twelve. The Festival is free; there’s more information here.

Another of Brooklyn Bridge Park’s traditional outdoor events, Books Beneath the Bridge, goes virtual this year and will begin this Monday, September 14 at 7:00 p.m. with an event presented by Cobble Hill’s Books are Magic that will feature a group of poets and prose writers reading poetry that will “navigate themes of protest poetry, migrant voices, gender-queer perspectives, the richness and resilience of black girl culture, modern-day parenting, and more.” There will be a question and answer session with the readers. If you wish to participate, please register here.

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Poll on Closing Montague Street for Outdoor Dining Fri, 04 Sep 2020 13:05:02 +0000

Update: the survey resulted in Montague being kept open to car traffic on weekends. Our friends at the Montague Street BID and at Brooklyn Community Board 2 have alerted us to a poll being run by the BID asking whether Montague Street should be closed to auto traffic on Fridays from 5 to 10 p.m. and on Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 10 p.m. to allow restaurants to serve diners outdoors as part of the City’s Open Streets and Open Restaurants program. Responses are requested before this coming Tuesday, September 8. You may cast your ballot here.

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EMERGENCY: Cat Stolen From Our Cat Cafe Wed, 02 Sep 2020 02:11:34 +0000

Update: Good news! Felicia has been found, and is safe.

On Tuesday evening, Felicia was stolen in her carrier from outside the Cafe on Montague Street.

The man who took her was “older” and headed down Joralemon Street towards Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Please contact the Cafe at  (347) 946-2286 if you see her or her carrier.

Felicia is in a carrier like the one pictured below.




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Montague BID Head Tapped to Lead Atlantic Avenue BID; Will Have Both Roles Mon, 31 Aug 2020 02:44:09 +0000

The Eagle has reported that Kate Chura has been named the new Executive Director of the Atlantic Avenue Business Improvement District (“BID”), of which she has been serving as interim Executive Director for some time. She has also served as Executive Director of the Montague Street BID for almost five years, and will continue to hold that post concurrently with that at Atlantic Avenue.

The Eagle story quotes Greg Markman, board chair of the Montague Street BID, praising Ms. Chura for her “marketing efforts”; her help in getting a “greenest commercial block” award, and her promotion of “events that brought foot traffic to Montague Street ….” He added that

“Over the past six months, the efforts of Kate and her team have helped some of our businesses remain open during the pandemic. I’m confident that she will help the businesses on Montague Street and Atlantic Avenue continue to navigate the new business landscape and thrive as best as they can.”

The only fly we can see in this ointment is: suppose, after the pandemic fades, there are (as we think there are likely to be) many vacant commercial spaces on both Montague and Atlantic. If rivalry develops over who gets new tenants, can she remain neutral?

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Brooklyn Folk Festival Goes Virtual Tue, 25 Aug 2020 00:43:09 +0000

Your correspondent has long been a fan of the Brooklyn Folk Festival. Until this year, it has been held in the spring, at St. Ann and the Holy Trinity Church. This year, it was announced that an indoor festival in the spring was impossible, but it would be re-scheduled for the fall. It has now been scheduled to be held on line on October 23, 24, and 25. All performances will be free, but donations will be gratefully accepted.

We will follow up with details as to performers and schedules when available.

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Citi Bike Stations in Brooklyn Heights to Expand Tue, 18 Aug 2020 01:29:49 +0000

The Eagle reports that the city’s Department of Transportation has plans to expand existing Citi Bike docking stations throughout Brooklyn (and the city), and to add new ones in an effort to expand availability and reach of the service. According to the list in the Eagle story, these are the Heights locations to be expanded: Columbia Heights & Cranberry Street will get 14 additional docks for a total of 37; Clark Street and Henry Street will get 12 additional for a total of 43; Montague Street and Clinton Street will get 19 additional for a total of 58; Court Street and State Street will get 9 additional for a total of 32; and Schermerhorn Street and Court Street will get 20 additional for a total of 59.

Photo: Chuck Taylor for BHB.

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Local Electeds Move Against City Parking Placard Abuse Mon, 17 Aug 2020 02:34:48 +0000

Kings County Politics reports that State Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon (photo) and City Council Member Stephen Levin are urging the city to enforce parking regulations, particularly with respect to abuse of city issued parking placards, in Downtown Brooklyn. As has been noted here before, this is a problem that extends into Brooklyn Heights, especially along Joralemon and Pierrepont streets.

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Virtual Events Coming at Brooklyn Historical Society Tue, 11 Aug 2020 03:37:58 +0000

The Brooklyn Historical Society is presenting virtual events, all of which are free, but for which registration is required. Tomorrow (Tuesday, August 11) starting at 6:30 p.m. Fordham law professor and political activist Zephyr Teachout, along with Federal Trade Commissioner Rohit Chopra, will discuss the ideas set forth in Ms.Teachout’s book, Break ‘Em Up, in which she advocates using antitrust law to break up incipient or existing monopolies like Facebook, Google, and the recently merged Bayer/Monsanto. More information and register here.

On the following Tuesday, August 18, also starting at 6:30 p.m., BHS, in conjunction with the Ms, Foundation for Women, will present “Women + Power: BODY POWER”, a discussion featuring Tressie McMillan Cottom, professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Barnard College professor and transgender activist Jennifer Finney Boylan, moderated by Ms. Foundation’s Raquel Willis. There’s more information and register here.

While the events are free, BHS needs support to keep going. If you’re not a member, you can join here.

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Cats In Covid Crisis Thu, 30 Jul 2020 23:56:00 +0000

Since mid-March, I’ve been delivering cats.

Not in the “giving birth” kind of delivery, but in the “ordering delivery” sense, when someone wants/needs something and someone else brings it to their door.

As people began working from home, they wanted a furry companion beside them, or they had the time to devote to a new pet, or they wanted to do something good at a time when everything felt awful.

So our beloved Cat Cafe was flooded with requests to foster cats and kittens, and I had the absolute pleasure of delivering the coveted felines to their humans.

Now, four months into our bizarre new world, the consequences of Covid are less pleasant.

    • In March, the ASPCA shut down its spay/neuter program, which provided free surgeries, testing, and vaccinations to rescue programs and certified TNR (trap-neuter-return) personnel–the program spayed/neutered hundreds of cats a day. During the four-month suspension of the program, a lot of cats that would have been rendered reproductively useless this spring have instead indulged the call of nature, resulting in a kitten explosion.
    • As summer approached, many (more) New Yorkers left the city, reducing the number of available people to foster/adopt.
    • The city animal shelter system, Animal Care Centers of NYC (ACC), which is required by law to take every animal brought to it, has drastically reduced intake since the beginning of the pandemic shutdown in mid-March and is referring the public to small, private rescue groups (like Brooklyn Bridge Animal Welfare Coalition, which runs the Cafe), usually run by single individuals or a few people, paying costs mostly out of pocket.
    • ACC has stopped doing spay/neuter surgeries, so rescue groups that pull animals from the shelter are having now to pay the costs themselves. There are limited private veterinarians that offer discounts and those that do have very limited appointment spots. Rescuers who were getting spay/neuter and vaccines for free are now paying $100 – $200 per cat, when they can get an appointment.

How has this affected the Cafe and BBAWC?

  • Through the end of June 2020, BBAWC and the Cafe took in 539 adoptable animals and adopted out 440. These numbers match the number of animals the organization helped in all of 2019.
  • In 2019, they were able to trap-neuter-return 239 cats; so far this year, they’ve been able to TNR only 86.
  • Their veterinary costs last year were about $75,000, a number they have already exceeded this year.
  • In 2019, nearly half of the 14,000 cats taken in by ACC were transferred to private rescues. Before COVID, all of those cats would have been spayed/neutered before being released to a rescue. Now, many are released to rescues intact.

Because many of the big, well-funded shelters in New York City work only with adoptable animals, small rescues are fielding constant requests from people finding homeless cats and kittens in their neighborhoods, many of which are feral and unsuitable for adoption. These small, independent rescues rely on donations, fundraisers, and volunteers to do their work.

How can you help?

  • Of course, you can donate. All donations are fully tax-deductible.
  • Adopt!
  • Not ready for that commitment? You can foster, too.
  • Become a volunteer driver. It’s an easy, contactless way to help, and you get to explore neighborhoods all over NYC.
  • Share this post on your own social media channels.

The Cafe itself is still closed under Phase 4 restrictions, but you can keep up with its residents and needs on both Instagram and Facebook.


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Haves and Have Nots: Elite Brooklyn Private Schools Rake in Millions in Federal Paycheck Aid-DOE Budgets Slashed Wed, 22 Jul 2020 04:21:43 +0000

Gothamist reports elite Brooklyn Heights private schools are among institutions that received millions from the Federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Private schools are eligible for PPP because they are considered non-profit businesses. According to data released by the Small Business Association, St. Ann’s, Packer Collegiate, Brooklyn Friends, and Brooklyn Heights Montessori all received loans. This money is in addition to CARES Act funding.

While exact amounts are unavailable from the SBA, Packer, and St. Ann’s reportedly each received PPP loans of $5 – 10 million dollars each. Brooklyn Friends received $2 – 5 million in PPP and Brooklyn Heights Montessori School $1-2 million. The loans have a 1% interest rate and, per Gothamist, “are eligible to be forgiven if the money is used on payroll, interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities.”

DOE Budget Crunch

In contrast, NYC public schools got smacked with the short end of the financial stick. The DOE was slated to receive $717 million in CARES Act funding. However, recent changes proposed by U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos could cost NYC’s schools over $100 million. As a result, Gothamist reports, NYC has joined a lawsuit which “charges that the federal Department of Education is violating a federal education law called Title I.” On the Federal level, public schools are not eligible for PPP.

The pandemic has also saddled New York City with a $9 billion dollar overall revenue shortfall. Speaker of the Council, Cory Johnson described the passage of the 2021 Fiscal Year budget on June 30th as “heart-wrenching” and “full of impossible choices.” The Department of Education budget took a $462.9 million dollar hit with most of the cuts to “fall on classroom instruction, according to an analysis by the Independent Budget Office” reported ChalkBeat. For a complete breakdown of the DOE budget click HERE.

Special Needs Funding Squeeze  

Less widely known is that schools will also suffer a shortfall of Fair Student Funding, the monies a school receives per student based on their individual needs. Families waiting to have their children evaluated by the DOE as part of the IEP (Individualized Education Plan) process are in limbo and ultimately so is the funding they may be granted through the process.

The DOE halted all in-person during the shutdown. They cannot be conducted effectively online or by video. No evaluations mean no diagnoses. Without it and the subsequent IEP meetings with the School-Based Support Team (made up of teachers, social worker, school psychologist), a student struggling with learning challenges cannot receive their services.  As such, their school won’t receive the necessary additional funding to cover the costs for the coming academic year. Furthermore, most schools are not even funded 100% of their Fair Student Funding each year, to begin with.

It will be up to Principals and their School Leadership Teams (SLT) to determine how and where to cut expenses within the operating budget to ensure kids receive what they need. This places impossible pressure on individual schools, especially those in poorer, under-served neighborhoods. IMG_6915Inequities Magnified by Pandemic

The pandemic has laid the achievement gap bare within the DOE, the country’s largest and most segregated school system. NYC’s public schools serve 1.1 million children. According to Columbia University’s Bank Street Graduate School of Education, two out of five children in NYC live at or close to the poverty line.

The Return to School 2020 website lists greater equity among the DOE’s guiding principles. “We will not look away from the ways this virus has further magnified the effects of systemic racism in our communities. We will continue to explore opportunities to directly correct structural inequities—like closing the digital divide.” And, the blog will continue to report on how COVID impacts Education.

CORRECTIONS: This article has been updated to replace an incorrect link to Gothamist and reflect private schools are non-profit and not “for-profit” businesses.

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DeBlasio Announces Hybrid Back-To-School Plans For September Sun, 12 Jul 2020 02:41:22 +0000

Amid the reports of dangerous spikes of Covid-19 across the country, Mayor DeBlasio announced on July 8th NYC public schools will open in September on a “hybrid” schedule. The tentative plan entails three versions of staggered in-school instruction. Protocols include mandatory masks for children, teachers, and staff and nightly deep cleanings of school facilities.

In a letter to families meant to instill confidence in the City’s strategy, School’s Chancellor Richard Carranza introduced a Return to School 2020 resource page. There, parents can explore three programming models.  Digital education publication, Chalkbeat also does a good job of breaking this down. The DOE site explains, “Principals and school leadership teams [SLT’s] will compare the different programming models to the specific needs of their students and communities to select a best-fit model.” Families also have the option of choosing full remote learning. Governor Cuomo, of course, has the final say for opening day on September 10th.

As the pandemic continues to evolve, the DOE encourages families to check Return to School 2020 throughout the summer.

UPDATE 7/13/2020:

Family and Student Information Sessions

Throughout the summer the Office of Family and Community Engagement (FACE) will host a series of Family & Student Information Sessions to answer any questions or concerns that families may have. The first of these will be held on July 16, 2020, from 6:30 – 7:30 pm.  Spanish and Mandarin interpretation will be available.

You can join this event by registering at the Return to School 2020 Webpage.  Translated flyers will also be available for download there.



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Clark Street Elevator Repairs on Hold; MTA to do Borough Hall First Sat, 11 Jul 2020 02:31:11 +0000

We’ve seen some questions on Open Thread Wednesdays, and heard them in on line conversations with friends: when will the MTA proceed with replacement of the Clark Street elevators? Just this February the MTA announced that the Clark Street subway station would close for eight months while all three aged, breakdown prone elevators are replaced, although no start date was given. Then came COVID-19.

Our friends at the Brooklyn Heights Association tell us that the MTA has put Clark Street repairs on indefinite hold, although funds for the repairs are in place and not threatened, choosing instead to do repairs to elevators at nearby Borough Hall instead. By “Borough Hall” we presume they mean, as well as the single elevator serving the 2/3 line from near Borough Hall, the two elevators at what’s designated the “Court Street” station on the N/R line. These elevators, as your correspondent can attest, have lately become as, if not more, unreliable than those at Clark. If they are taken out of service for some time, there will still be access to R and N trains from the Borough Hall station entrance at Montague and Court streets, by following a corridor to the left past the turnstiles, then down an escalator (or stairs if you’re a fitness fanatic) and one more short flight of stairs to the N/R platform.

There’s more information here.

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Part of Columbia Heights to be Closed on July 14, but What Part? Fri, 10 Jul 2020 01:38:16 +0000

Let’s see … Pierremont Street. Is that in Fort Greene? Vinegar Hill? Bushwick? Canarsie?

You’ve been forewarned.

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BQE Below Brooklyn Heights Being Resurfaced Tue, 07 Jul 2020 03:01:39 +0000

Our friends at the Brooklyn Heights Association have advised us that the City Department of Transportation, in an effort to reduce the problem of vibrations from the cantilevered portion of the Brooklyn Queens Expressway, has ordered the resurfacing of the BQE from Brooklyn Bridge to Remsen Street. The BHA’s announcement said that the reduction in traffic because of COVID-19 may have made the vibration problem worse because it allows trucks to move faster.

Your correspondent went looking for evidence of resurfacing work, and got the photo above, taken from the north end of the Promenade, showing the surface of the upper, Queens bound, level having been milled to a point just south of the bridge that carries Columbia Heights over the BQE. While the work is intended to reduce vibrations in the longer run, in the shorter one the milling and resurfacing may actually increase them.

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R.I.P. Martin Schneider, Brooklyn Heights Preservation Pioneer Mon, 06 Jul 2020 03:54:19 +0000

We are greatly saddened to learn, thanks to the Brooklyn Heights Association, of the passing of Martin Schneider. Marty, a TV producer and Heights resident, was, along with Otis and Nancy Pearsall and others, a strong participant in the battles to save Brooklyn Heights, first from plans to put the BQE through the Heights, then to stop Robert Moses from building a monolithic high rise along the east side of Henry Street from Middagh to Clark, that would block morning sun and invite only transient renters. He was a regular reader of, and commenter on, BHB. He joined with another BHB regular, Karl Junkersfeld, to produce a video about the struggle to preserve the Heights.

Photo: courtesy Bettina Schneider Stuart

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Cranberry’s Says So Long to Brooklyn Heights After 42 Years in Business Sat, 04 Jul 2020 15:37:53 +0000

After 42 years in business, the Montemarano family and Cranberry’s say so long to Brooklyn Heights. Cranberry’s posted the announcement yesterday on its doors, along with loving messages to its customers and employees, and photographs from its decades in business.

The message to customers reads:

Since 1977, Cranberry’s has served the Brooklyn Heights neighborhood with endless love and support. Whether it was pouring a fresh cup of coffee to start your day, serving delicious sweets to bring home after work, or anything-in-between – it has been our pleasure to be a part of your lives. As of July 2020, we have decided to close our doors and say farewell after 42 memorable years. Thank you for being with us during this journey, you will always hold a special place in our hearts. So long for now to our local New Yorkers and all of the other Cranberry’s customers across the globe!


To its employees, Cranberry’s said:

Since 1977, Cranberry’s has been blessed with many incredible, hard-working, and dependable employees. Without these essential workers, Cranberry’s simply could not have functioned. The employees who make up our Cranberry’s family came from many different parts of the world. Many of them left their families and countries to create a better life for themselves and to support their own families back home. As a result of the daily service they gave to our customers and the support they gave to us, they have truly become a part of our Montemarano family.

We are tremendously grateful to each member of our Cranberry’s family – after 42 years in business, there are too many to list. In these last days, we would like to honor the Final Four – Moises, Juan, Lourdes, and Pedro – for their dedication and support to Cranberry’s customers and, most importantly, to our Montemarano family. In the midst of the health challenges and life changes of the past couple years, they made Cranberry’s daily operations possible.

We may have poured our final cup of coffee, but our employees will always be a part of our lives. Our hearts are full of love and respect for everyone who has worked at Cranberry’s. Thank you for being a part of our family.

Cranberry's customers Victoria Rosner and Dorcas

Customers Victoria Rosner and Dorcas reading the news of Cranberry’s closing.

On Saturday morning, customers Victoria Rosner and Dorcas looked on wistfully at the farewell signs and photos. “My dog Apple and I would come here at 5:30 in the morning when they were opening up, and I would always get the first cup of coffee. I am devastated that they’re closed. During this pandemic, I’ve been so tired of making my own coffee and I was looking forward to my first cup of Cranberry’s coffee. We’ll miss them so much,” said Dorcas. Victoria added, “When I first moved to the neighborhood 4 years ago, Cranberry’s was the first place I stopped into for a sandwich. Since then, I’d come here everyday and I loved it. Everyone here is so warm. I speak to Jim, Nicole, Lourdes, Moises, and Pedro everyday. It’s so sad to me that those little interactions won’t be here anymore and to not see them everyday. It’s just so sad. When my dog passed away last year, Jim was so kind and gave me a big hug. It’s not just another store in the neighborhood. It was such a big part of the neighborhood – the heart and the flagship of the neighborhood.”

Reached by email, Jim Montemarano said, “It’s been an emotional quarantine deciding Cranberry’s future, but over the past 3+ months, my short in and out visits to Brooklyn were very sad. I had a good run, but my heart is saddened by what my fellow business owners are going through. I’m sure there are many sleepless nights and many unanswered questions as to where they go from here. Where do we all go from here is a bigger question. But we couldn’t be any more pleased about our 42+ years of being a part of this incredible neighborhood and we will miss everyone.”

Cranberry’s will be adding more photos and memorable stories to its new website: If you have any photos or stories that you’d like to share on the website, please send an email to

Update: After this post went up, the Montemarano family requested that the Spanish translations of their messages (also posted on Cranberry’s windows) be posted here.

Un mensaje a nuestros valiosos clientes:

Después 1977, Cranberry’s ha servido el vecindario de Brooklyn Heights con amor y apoyo ilimitados. Ya sea servir una tasa de café fresco para empezar su día, servir los exquisitos dulces para traer a su casa después del trabajo, o algo intermedio––nos ha dado mucho gusto ser parte de sus vidas. Hasta julio de 2020, hemos decididos cerrar las puertas y decir adiós tras haber pasado 42 años memorables. Les agradecemos a todos para estar con nosotros durante este viaje. Ustedes siempre tendrán un lugar especial en nuestros corazones.

Nos despedimos a nuestros neoyorquinos y a todos nuestros clientes de todo el mundo!

Durante los próximos meses, añadiremos fotos y anecdóticas a nuestro sitio: Si tiene alguna anecdótica para compartir del sitio, por favor nos envíe un email a

En honor de los empleados de Cranberry’s:

Después 1977, Cranberry’s ha sido bendecido con muchos empleados increíbles, trabajadores, y confiables. Sin estos empleados esenciales, Cranberry’s no podría haber funcionado.

Los empleados que forma nuestra familia a Cranberry’s han sido muy diversos y vienen de muchos lugares de la tierra. Muchos quedan sus familias y países para mejorar sus vidas y apoyar sus propias familias en sus países natales. Como consecuencia de las maneras a través sirvieron nuestros clientes y nos apoyaban, se han convertido en parte de nuestra familia Montemarano.

Estamos agradecidos a cada miembro de nuestra familia Cranberry’s––después 42 años de nuestro negocio, enumerarlos todos resulta imposible. En estos últimos días, deseamos honrar los cuatros últimos empleados––Moises, Juan, Lourdes, y Pedro––por su dedicación y apoyo a los clientes de Cranberry’s y nuestra familia Montemarano. En medio de nuestras desafíos sanitarios y cambios en nuestra vida, ellos hicieron que todas operaciones diarias fueran posibles.

Tal vez nos hayamos servido la ultima taza de café, nuestros empleados serán siempre partes integrales de nuestras vidas. Nuestros corazones están llenos de amor y respecto para todos que han trabajado a Cranberry’s. Les agradecimos por ser parte de nuestra familia. 

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Vineapple’s Grand Reopening Today! Thu, 25 Jun 2020 13:03:59 +0000

Vineapple is back, under new management. After being closed for nearly a year, new owners Aubrie Therrien and Zac Rubin are building out a whole new Vineapple. They will be offering food and wine, in addition to breakfast items and coffee in the morning.

Aubrie and Zac have lived on Pineapple St. for four years and had been daily customers of Vineapple. When it closed with no clear answers to if and when it would open again, they were heart-broken. “We discussed reopening Vineapple ourselves as a fantasy, but Zac ran with the idea and approached the owner,” said Aubrie. After some discussion, the deal was finalized in December 2019 and renovations started, but then Covid hit and paused the plans. But today, there’s a “sidewalk cafe” out front and the coffee will be pouring. Construction of a backyard dining space is also in the works.

Aubrie Therrien and Zac Rubin, new owners of Vineapple

Aubrie Therrien and Zac Rubin, new owners of Vineapple

The new Vineapple will be much more food and wine focused than the old Vineapple. Aubrie comes from a family that owned a restaurant in Little Italy in Manhattan for 75 years. So food is in her genes. “We plan on building the menu on fresh local produce with an Italian focus. The menu will have a wine bar feel, with items like paninis, salads, meat and cheese platters, and crostinis,” said Aubrie. Also in the plans are healthy vegetable dishes and pastas of the day, and brunch on the weekends. Aubrie’s mother is a chef and will be coming in to lend a hand and perhaps offer her famous lasagna.

The new Vineapple with interior intact, but with new lighting and more polish.

The new Vineapple with interior intact, but with new lighting and more polish.

Jen Sandella, also a Brooklyn Heights resident, will be managing the restaurant. Jen is a cocktail wiz and has won beverage competitions. “She made a cocktail for us called ‘pineapple basil daquiri’ that is amazing and I can’t wait for everyone to try it,” Aubrie said. Just in time for summer, they’ll be serving frozen cocktails, in addition to wine and other cocktails. Aubrie and Zac will be more involved in the beginning, but Aubrie will continue running Epic Players, a non-profit that supports people with autism. Zac will continue managing his soccer gear business, Upper 90, on Atlantic Avenue and in Manhattan.

Vineapple will welcome visitors today and tomorrow for coffee and treats, gratis. Also, check out their new website at

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Pastoring During a Pandemic: An Interview with Rev. Adriene Thorne of The First Presbyterian Church of Brooklyn Wed, 24 Jun 2020 21:30:08 +0000

Rev. Adriene Thorne says she’s not magical. But many in the community would disagree. Since moving to Brooklyn Heights four years ago to become Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Brooklyn, her mark on the community has been tremendous. Adriene tends to her congregation of 300 members, with a focus on faith as it intersects with justice and human rights, and with a call to spread love above all else. She is active in the Brooklyn Heights Interfaith Clergy Association and advocates for unity among the diverse faith communities in the area. She also volunteers on the School Leadership Team at P.S. 8 where her daughter Petal is a rising 5th grader, and co-chairs its Equity and Diversity Committee which aims to cultivate a diverse and inclusive environment at P.S. 8 and the community at large.

The blog interviewed Adriene about pastoring during this extraordinary time when the need to physically distance makes gathering at church impossible now and for the foreseeable future.

(Full disclosure: Adriene and the interviewer are friends, as are their children who are schoolmates at P.S. 8.)

* * *

How are you doing, really?

I’m exhausted [laughs]. Even on my good days, I’m exhausted. And it’s not even so much… it’s just sort of a mental exhaustion. I feel like I never stop thinking or worrying about something.

I totally relate. It’s been three months since First Presbyterian has been able to hold live worship services, how have you shifted to serve your congregation?

I think we’re one of the lucky churches. We’ve been live streaming worship almost since I arrived here four years ago. So the transition for us has been pretty smooth. So, instead of having 20-30 people on the live stream, we’re all on the live stream.

What does Sunday services look like now?

We start the hour before with a bible study which we used to do and now we do that via Zoom. And worship pretty much looks like it looked before. Some of my colleagues have been doing a scaled-down service. We’re still doing what we call prelude to postlude. So we start with music; we do all the prayers; we have a sermon; we have solo singing. Everything you would experience in person, we’re doing online. The added benefit is that because we record everything in advance and stitch it together like a movie, we’re able to add images. One Sunday, we added a laugh track because it was Holy Humor Sunday. We couldn’t have done that in person. Anything you can do in a movie or TV setting, we can do now.

Rev. Adriene Thorne delivers a sermon from a safe distance at home.

Rev. Adriene Thorne delivers a sermon from a safe distance at home.

The church is renowned for its incredibly talented choir and musicians, who I understand are a tightly-knit group. How have they been now that they’re unable to practice and perform together in person?

Our minister of music Amy Neuner is very creative, and her husband Chris Neuner does the online worship production. Our choir typically rehearsed on Thursday evenings. Amy used to play music and from wherever we were joining her, we all would just sing, but of course we couldn’t see each other. What she has shifted that into, is choir members recording themselves singing, and then we show videos of that. That way, we can see each other and hear each other do solos or duets, and that’s been really great. This week, she’s going to pull from the archives and just show videos of the choir doing beloved songs from over the years. She calls it “going back to the vault.”

The First Prebyterian Church of Brooklyn Choir, B.C. (before Covid). (Photo courtesy of First Church.)

The First Prebyterian Church of Brooklyn Choir, B.C. (before Covid). (Photo courtesy of First Church.)

David Murray sings Amazing Grace with Matt Podd on the piano.

David Murray sings “Amazing Grace” with Matt Podd on the piano during recent virtual services.

Since we’re friends, I’ve known you to have a usual week packed with meetings with church staff and condolence calls to parishioners, not to mention all the special events you host at the church throughout the year, as well as all your volunteer work. How much has your regular schedule changed and how?

[Laughs] Well I do educate my child, although I wouldn’t say I’m actually educating. But I try to make sure she does some level of education each day. My schedule used to be to take her to school, go to the gym, and start working at around 10:00 a.m. Now I just block out my morning to exercise and then help jump start her educational effort. So I work much later into the evening now. I’m actually able to do more condolence calls, much more interaction with parishioners now than ever before, because I was always at meetings at Borough Hall or at P.S. 8. There are no meetings now. So I’m doing lots of phone calls, lots of hand-written notes. That’s the biggest shift and I actually love that much more than my typical schedule.

Places of worship are now allowed to hold gatherings of 25 or less people. Does the church have any plans to take advantage of that soon?

So, we’ve not had a formal conversation. We’ve only touched on it lightly. Probably when the elder leadership meets again this month, we’ll look at it more formally. But I’m not recommending that we do. Our community has close to 300 people and many of them have underlying conditions. Like a lot of churches, we also have a sizeable number of members over 65. Churches and communities of faith are probably the number one vectors of spreading the virus. We hug, we kiss, we sing, we eat together. I don’t think there is any way to do worship as well in person, with all of the restrictions we have to take, that will match what we’re doing online. So I don’t imagine we will be back before 2021. But that’s just my guess.

When the church finally opens to live worship, how do you envision services to look like in a congregation built on a close-knit choir and multi-generational memberships, and the passing of peace with people shaking hands, hugging and kissing.

In response to the President recently saying, “churches must reopen!” one of our members, Tracy Zamot, said on facebook, “my church never closed, we just moved worship online.” And I thought that was so correct and I was so proud that one of our church members said that. Because we didn’t close. Synagogues haven’t closed. Mosques haven’t closed. People are still being church. Church originally happened in people’s homes. We’re still together and we’re still doing church. It’s just hard to imagine gathering in person before there’s a vaccine. And I’m not slamming anyone who makes a different choice. But for our community, to do that before a vaccine, we’d be putting so many people that we love at risk. During a recent webinar with other church leaders, we discussed how singing is the worst thing, followed by playing woodwind instruments, because of how singing aspirates the virus. So we would be asking people to come and sit in an enclosed space and inhale what could potentially kill them. And I just can’t with good conscience do that to people that we love. So it’s hard to imagine live worship before there’s a vaccine.

I saw that there are bins outside the church front doors asking people to drop off what they don’t need and to take whatever they need. Have you seen a lot of activity there?

I put up a notice a few times on facebook and I’ve been incredibly heartened by how this neighborhood has rallied to fill those bins. People walk by and take photos. People come by with their own groceries and stock the bins. I just want to shout out the neighborhood for taking that to heart. I’ve always thought, and people have always said to me, “oh Brooklyn Heights, those people don’t need anything.” For one, I don’t think that’s true. I think there’s a great need in this neighborhood. I also think there’s a lot of sorrow underneath the surface. I also think this is a neighborhood of people who want to do good. And if they have the opportunity and we make it easy, they will step up and do good. So I just want to shout out the neighborhood.

What does pastoring mean now and what has been the most surprising change for you since the pandemic began?

I think like all of us, there are things that you knew before that are now just so much clearer in this moment. I think what’s most clear for me is that I’m not doing this alone. And the other thing they teach you at seminary is that you don’t have the power to save anyone. You always know it in the back of your mind, but I think a lot of clergy, just like parents perhaps, think we have a lot more power than we do. This virus makes it very clear that you are one of many trying to do the best you can to help people in your care. But you’re not Jesus, you’re not magical. You’re human and you have to sleep. All of those things have become very clear. So, I have to ask for help. I have to be able to say, “Can you call that person?” I have to take a break because if I don’t, I’m going to lose my mind.

You’ve been tasked with providing comfort and guidance during a time of tremendous uncertainty and anxiety, and you’re going through it as much as anyone else. So how do you care for yourself, so that you can care for everyone else.

I had five people that I cared about die in April. It’s been hard. I recently took a week vacation. That’s part of the care that I’m taking for myself. But I have to say my coach had to say to me, “you need to take a break.” Because I was just going-going like everyone else, and once things got less intense, I thought I was fine. But the minute she said, “you need to take time off,” all I could think about is taking time off. Because you’re just in shock. We’re all going through this trauma all at the same time. We all need someone to say to us, “you need to stop, you need to take a day off.” Sometimes we can’t see it until someone else says it. The other way I take care of myself, I always remind myself that I am limited in the number of people I can care for. So one of my most urgent jobs was making sure that the community was connected to each other, so they could take care of each other. As I said, we have almost 300 members in our community and they’ve got to start calling each other beyond what they had already been doing. They’ll check on each other, run errands for each other, and all those good things. So that’s been amazing.

* * *

Rev. Adriene Thorne is a mother, a Pastor, a writer, a certified life coach and disaster chaplain, and so much more. Her life before divinity studies included a career in the arts and performing with the Dance Theatre of Harlem and the Metropolitan Opera, among others. As a gifted dancer, Adriene also held the center spot on stage as a member of the world famous Radio City Rockettes.

All are welcome to join services on Sundays at 11:00 a.m. or listen to the choir’s recorded music at this link. You can also watch past services and listen to Adriene’s sermons at this link.

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A Day to Celebrate: Scenes from Day 1 of Phase 2 in Brooklyn Heights Tue, 23 Jun 2020 02:36:04 +0000

New York City has a lot to be proud of. Three months after we went into pandemic “PAUSE,” we made it to Phase 2. It was a tough road to be sure. Those who stuck it out in Brooklyn endured sirens blaring all day for weeks on end, each siren reminding us of the unthinkable. Many of us fell ill and recovered. Many of us lost loved ones. But we persevered, as New Yorkers do. There were no protests at the state capitol demanding our right to dine out and shop as we wished. The city that never sleeps stayed in and looked out for each other. As Governor Cuomo said, we didn’t just flatten the curve, we grabbed it and bent it. We went from being the epicenter of the pandemic to having the lowest infection rate in the country. Although many questions remain about the immediate future, today is a day to celebrate. Here, we share photos of our hard hit, local small businesses that dusted themselves off to welcome Phase 2 in Brooklyn Heights.

A neighborhood youth gets his first haircut in months at Choo Choo Cuts on Montague Street.


Mario Avila, stylist at Diva Salon on Henry St., said, “I’m so happy to be back. I was so excited about today that I couldn’t sleep at all last night. I needed to get back to work.”


James Weir Floral Co. on Montague St. had been open for delivery and curbside pickup only. Today, owner Estela Johannesen welcomed customers inside for browsing and shopping.


Tango on Montague St. also opened its doors today.


Mark Sgantzos, owner of Clark’s Restaurant, shows off a newly installed section of sidewalk seating on Henry St.


Long time Brooklyn Heights resident Jose Baide (far right) with friend Julio at the Clark St. side section of sidewalk dining. Jose said, “It’s great to be here after all the craziness, to just relax and have some wine with my old friend.”


Sidewalk seating at Lantern on Montague St. was hopping late afternoon today.


Custom House on Montague St. improvised by using as much of the adjacent sidewalk as possible for tables and chairs.


Park Plaza Diner on Cadman Plaza West prepares a section of Pineapple Walk for sidewalk seating.


Alas, Fortune House on Henry St. was not quite ready to open on Day 1, but come July 1st, it’ll open for takeout and delivery.


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“Juneteenth Grove” Installed at Cadman Plaza Park as NYC Parks Declares Solidarity with Black Communities Fri, 19 Jun 2020 19:07:24 +0000

Today, NYC Parks installed “Juneteenth Grove” at Cadman Plaza Park “in celebration of Juneteenth and to celebrate the homegoing of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and countless others.” The creation of Juneteenth Grove is also part of a plan to rename NYC parks in each borough in honor of Black Americans, which names will be announced on November 2, 2020.

The Juneteenth Grove installation includes 19 new flowering trees along the park’s entry path at Tillary St.

As the steward of nearly three million trees, Parks recognizes the Black community’s complicated relationship with trees—they represent thousands lynched and their roots symbolize the depth and connectivity the Black community has to this Nation. NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP, today announced that the agency stands in solidarity with the Black Community and the fight to end systemic racism, and is demonstrating its commitment by taking a responsive step at addressing related issues within the park system.


Commissioner Silver added:

In my six years as commissioner I have been committed to creating safe, inclusive spaces for staff and parkgoers, alike. Striking at the heart of this commitment, we must acknowledge at this time the history of our nation, recognize the inequities laid to bare in the course of the creation of our parks system, and recommit to be active agents for change, progress, and equity. NYC Parks believes Black lives matter—our review of park names and the planting of our Juneteenth Grove is only the beginning of our renewed efforts to address inequities in our system for the city and for our employees. We are doing this, if for no other reason than, our Black lives matter.

There are also newly designed banners marking the area, as well as temporary painting of 19 existing benches in the colors of the globally recognized Pan-African Flag.



– – –

What is Juneteenth? Henry Louis Gates, Jr. explains in a piece published in The Root that its origin came from a Union Army general’s order dated June 19, 1865 that proclaimed “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.” According to Prof. Gates, “When Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger issued the above order, he had no idea that, in establishing the Union Army’s authority over the people of Texas, he was also establishing the basis for a holiday, ‘Juneteenth’ (‘June’ plus ‘nineteenth’), today the most popular annual celebration of emancipation from slavery in the United States. After all, by the time Granger assumed command of the Department of Texas, the Confederate capital in Richmond had fallen; the ‘Executive’ to whom he referred, President Lincoln, was dead; and the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery was well on its way to ratification.” The blog recommends reading the entire piece for the full fascinating history of Juneteenth in The Root.

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Coming at Brooklyn Historical Society Wed, 17 Jun 2020 01:37:10 +0000

The Brooklyn Historical Society is continuing to provide public programs on line. This coming Friday, June 19 at 12:30 p.m. BHS will present the latest in its “Bite-Size History” programs — they supply the history; you supply the bites. This one will look at Muslim history in Brooklyn through the lens of a notable land deed. More information and register here.

On Monday, June 22 at 1:00 p.m. there will be a discussion, “Bridges Across America: The Impact of John Roebling and the Roebling Family.” While most of us know the outlines of the story of John Roebling’s design of the Brooklyn Bridge, his death during its construction, and how its completion was supervised by his son, Washington Roebling, and daughter in law, Emily Roebling, this will give more depth and perspective on that story. More information and register here.

These events are free, but registration is required; follow the links above. See here for updates on BHS’s response to COVID-19.

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