Brooklyn Heights Blog » News Dispatches from America's first suburb Wed, 15 Jul 2020 13:08:56 +0000 en-US hourly 1 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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Alternate Side Parking Rules Suspended July 5th through 12th Sat, 04 Jul 2020 16:12:20 +0000

The New York City Department of Transportation has announced that alternate side parking rules will be suspended tomorrow — Sunday, July 5 — through next Sunday, July 12. Parking meter enforcement remains in effect.

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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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The King of Staten Island Has a Brooklyn Heights Connection Thu, 11 Jun 2020 18:13:19 +0000

Unfortunately, it’s one that proved tragic. In an interview by Spectrum News NY1’s George Whipple with Saturday Night Live cast veteran Pete Davidson (photo), co-author and star of The King of Staten Island, along with co-author and director Judd Apatow and co-star Marisa Tomei, it’s described how the life of movie’s central character, Scott Carlin, played by Davidson, to an extent parallel’s Davidson’s own. Both had firefighter fathers who died when they were seven. Davidson’s father, also named Scott, was part of Ladder Company 118, based on Middagh Street. He was one of eight firefighters from the Middagh Street firehouse who died in the attacks of September 11, 2001.

Another part in the movie is played by Steve Buscemi, a former firefighter and Brooklyn native who in 2011 gave a speech in front of the Middagh Street firehouse opposing then Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s plan to close Engine Company 205, which shares the firehouse with Ladder Company 118.

The King of Staten Island will be available for home viewing on demand starting tomorrow (Friday, June 12).

Photo: Greg2600 / CC BY-SA (

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BBC America News Covers Brooklyn Heights Businesses’ COVID-19 Travails Sun, 07 Jun 2020 17:24:12 +0000

BBC America Reporter Laura Trevelyan (see video clip below) interviewed James Weir Floral’s (photo C.Scales for BHB) Estela Johannessen and River Deli’s Andrea Mocci about the challenges they are facing and their concerns — and hopes — about the future. At 2:49 you can see your correspondent crossing Hicks Street at Montague.

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Thousands Gather for George Floyd Vigil at Cadman Plaza Fri, 05 Jun 2020 03:11:16 +0000

Brownstoner reports that thousands – perhaps as many as ten thousand – gathered in Cadman Plaza Park this afternoon for the vigil honoring George Floyd presented by his brother, Terrence Floyd, a Brooklyn resident. While the event was scheduled for 1:00 p.m., speakers did not arrive until about 2:00. Your correspondent was there to get some photos.IMG_3504There was much call-and-response chanting:IMG_3506“No justice!” “No peace!”

IMG_3515“Say his name!” “George Floyd!”

IMG_3521“Say her name!” “Breonna Taylor!”

As the Brownstoner story notes, a number of local elected officials spoke. Mayor de Blasio was booed, which led to an announcement that the event was to honor the memory of George Floyd, not to make political points. Terrence Floyd said he was “proud of the protest” but not “proud of the destruction” that had coincided with earlier demonstrations. Today’s was entirely peaceful.

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Brother of George Floyd to Lead Memorial Vigil at Cadman Plaza Park Tomorrow. Wed, 03 Jun 2020 19:55:14 +0000

abc7NY reports that Terrence Floyd, a Brooklyn resident and brother of the murdered George Floyd, will lead a peaceful vigil in memory of his brother tomorrow, Thursday, June 4. It will begin at 1:00 p.m. in Cadman Plaza Park. Reverend Kevin McCall, an advocate for civil rights, will address the vigil. Afterward, there will be a march across Brooklyn Bridge to Foley Square. Governor Cuomo, Mayor de Blasio, and Police Commissioner Shea have all been invited.

Photo: The All-Nite Images / CC BY-SA (

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Simon, Kavanagh Promote Legislation to Identify, Fine Overweight Trucks Using BQE Sun, 31 May 2020 17:15:49 +0000

The Eagle’s Editorial Staff reports that Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon and State Senator Brian Kavanagh

have introduced legislation to establish a pilot program that uses mobile or stationary weigh-in-motion systems to enforce restrictions on overweight trucks on the BQE in Brooklyn.

The Eagle story quotes Simon as observing that overweight trucks are a particular problem with respect to the condition of the cantilevered portion of the highway next to Brooklyn Heights.

If the bill is enacted, it would authorize the city’s Department of Transportation to enter into an agreement with its counterpart at the state level to allow the pilot program to proceed.


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River Deli is Open for Take Out and Delivery! Mon, 25 May 2020 22:22:21 +0000

We’re a tad late with this great news, but River Deli is now open for take out and delivery. The full Sardinian-Italian menu of antipasti, pasta, and main courses is available. Cocktails to go too.

How about a whole grilled orata and a river julep for a perfect summery meal? Or a papardelle and a negroni to give yourself a break from all that home cooking?


Tonno grigliato- grilled tuna steak with cherry tomatoes and garlic (Instagram @riverdelibrooklyn)

Tonno Grigliato- grilled tuna steak with cherry tomatoes and garlic (Instagram @riverdelibrooklyn)

Malloreddus alla Campidanese (Instagram @riverdelibrooklyn)

Malloreddus alla Campidanese (Instagram @riverdelibrooklyn)

Address: 32 Joralemon St.

Phone: (718) 254-9200

Hours: Mon-Sun, 5:30 pm – 9:30 pm

Menu available at

Cash only for takeout. ATM available inside.

Delivery via UberEats. Grub Hub soon.



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Willow Street Added to List of “Open Streets.” Sat, 23 May 2020 23:58:32 +0000

Our ever alert and helpful friends at Brooklyn Community Board 2 have notified us that, effective now, Willow Street between Middagh and Pierrepont streets (practically its entire length) has been added to the “Open Streets” program, described in Mayor de Blasio’s press release as follows:

Open Streets are simple closures of streets to vehicles and do not feature any programming, seating, or other elements that might encourage gathering. These closures may not be implemented on a bus, truck, or emergency route. Limited access to the street shall be maintained to allow for essential deliveries, emergency needs, and/or to retrieve a parked vehicle.

Willow joins  Joralemon between Hicks and Furman as Brooklyn Heights streets designated as Open Streets.

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Some Heights Residents Slow on Census Response Fri, 22 May 2020 03:36:27 +0000

Rob Perris, District Manager for Brooklyn Community Board 2, which includes Brooklyn Heights. has advised us that Census Tract 3.01, which is bordered by Pineapple Street on the north, Hicks Street on the east, Joralemon street on the south. and the East River on the west, to date has a census response rate of only 40-50 percent. This is well below the rate of neighboring tracts, such as the one above Pineapple; bravo, North Heights residents. Rob suggests this may be related to the flight of many Heights residents to supposedly more salubrious environs like the Hamptons, where you can get your link to the census, as can anyone else.. So, come on, Census Tract 3.01 residents, wherever you may be: go on line, as I did (although I’m right here in the Heights) and fill out your census forms. It only takes a couple of minutes.

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Brooklyn Historical Society Provides On Line Brain Food at Lunchtime Wed, 20 May 2020 03:24:06 +0000

The Brooklyn Historical Society will provide a series of five free lunch time on-line discussions about objects in the Society’s collection  The first of these will be this Friday, May 22, starting at 12:30 p.m. Here’s what’s in store:

Join us for lunch! Our lunchtimes series Bite-Size History begins May 22 with BHS historian Nalleli Guillen who will provide in-depth looks at intriguing objects in our collection. This Friday she and Project Archivist/Reference Associate Mary Mann explore the history behind the statue of a seated Native American that stood outside a Brooklyn Heights cigar shop for decades, and what this object tells us about art, indigenous history, and who controls historical narratives. Learn more over your Thursday dinner leftovers or a delicious snack on Friday at 12:30 pm!

While the event is free, BHS asks you to register here. Funding for these events is provided by the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation.


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Zoom Chat with Brooklyn Heights Preservation Pioneers the Pearsalls and Preservation Advocate Anthony Wood Wednesday Afternoon Tue, 19 May 2020 02:18:18 +0000

Those of us interested in Brooklyn Heights history and architecture consider Clay Lancaster’s Old Brooklyn Heights an indispensable guide. Thanks to Brownstoner we’ve been alerted to an event coming up this Wednesday afternoon, May 20, starting at 3:45. This will be a conversation, available on Zoom, among Heights preservation pioneers Otis and Nancy Pearsall and preservation advocate Anthony C. Wood of The New York Preservation Archive Project, “about working with Lancaster and his larger legacy.” To get the check in details for the Zoom, please email

You may also see a slideshow of Clay Lancaster’s photos of Brooklyn Heights here.

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Did Brooklyn Heights Lose Over 40% of its Population Because of COVID-19? Sat, 16 May 2020 23:56:23 +0000

According to this story by Kevin Quealy in the New York Times, which has a very interesting map and graph, because of the coronavirus pandemic,

[r]oughly 5 percent of residents — or about 420,000 people — left the city between March 1 and May 1. In the city’s very wealthiest blocks, in neighborhoods like the Upper East Side, the West Village, SoHo and Brooklyn Heights, residential population decreased by 40 percent or more, while the rest of the city saw comparably modest changes.

As the next paragraph notes, “[s]ome of these areas are typically home to lots of students, many of whom left as colleges and universities closed.” The Heights does have a substantial student population.

The estimates of population loss by neighborhood were based on “an analysis of multiple sources of aggregated smartphone location data.”


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Get Your Clinton St. Barber Shop Hoodie or Polo and Make a Donation Sat, 16 May 2020 16:26:31 +0000

Clinton St. Barber Shop and Choo Choo Cuts have started a GoFundMe campaign and are offering hoodies and polo shirts for sale to raise funds. Hair salons and barber shops have been the hardest hit local small businesses.

The blog spoke to Sergey (Serge to all his customers) Isakov, owner of Clinton St. Barber Shop and Choo Choo Cuts.

Q. How have you been?

In general, I’m okay, grateful for health. But it’s very tough for the business obviously. The staff has been out of work almost two months. The business didn’t qualify for PPP (paycheck protection plan) because our barbers are self-employed. Most barbers and hairdressers are self-employed and “rent” their chairs in the shops.

Q. What do you foresee in the near future for your shops?

I paid rent in March and April, but maybe will pay half for May. For Clinton St., a big corporation owns the property and is not sure what they can do for us, maybe cut the rent in half or postpone payment of rent. For Choo Choo Cuts, they’re cutting rent 50%. The rent is very high on Montague St. and we were there just over a year and hadn’t built enough clientele yet. So we need to renegotiate the lease. To be honest, I’m not sure Choo Choo Cuts will stay in business. But Clinton St., I opened it 15 years ago, that’s my baby. I’ll do my best to keep it going. 

Q. How do you foresee reopening?

Well, the prediction is we’ll be open sooner than later, but I don’t see it before October/November. Graduation season would have been busy for us but that’s not happening. Back-to-school time too, but we’ll have to see. Training a staff and getting them motivated is tough, and we’ll have to have a new way of working. We have 250 square feet at Clinton St. and if we need distance, we would have to remove one of the three chairs. If we have to cut a staff member because we lose a chair, maybe we can have them work on sterilizing everything after every customer. It will be tough, but we’ll get through it.

–  –  –

People who get their cuts at Clinton St. and Choo Choo Cuts know that Serge and his staff are some of the nicest people in our local service industry. Clinton St. is a true neighborhood institution, so representative of Brooklyn that it appears in the very first scene of the HBO series High Maintenance, a must-see if you haven’t yet. Let’s support them during this difficult time. Donate at this GoFundMe link and buy one of their nifty hoodies or polo shirts by calling (718) 797-1247 or (718) 797-1221. Serge will be at the Clinton St. shop this Sunday to distribute the hoodies and shirts.

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All photos with permission and courtesy of Clinton Street Barber Shop on Instagram.


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Brooklyn Heights Wine Bar Opens for Takeout Thu, 14 May 2020 23:54:05 +0000

Brooklyn Heights Wine Bar is back! Check for updates on the daily menu on Instagram @brooklynheightswinebar, or call (718) 855-5595. Hours for now are 12 pm – 9 pm.

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Park Plaza Diner, Asya, and Curry Heights Reopen for Delivery and Pickup Thu, 14 May 2020 03:32:04 +0000

Three tried and true Brooklyn Heights restaurants reopened for delivery and pickup in the last week. Let’s support our local restaurants. Calling the restaurants directly to order is encouraged to help them avoid the hefty fees that third-party ordering services charge.

Park Plaza Diner is back with Chef Dimitri’s excellent barbeque menu, as well as the old diner standbys. A new plexiglass barrier has been installed at the counter for everyone’s safety. Check out the menu here and call (718) 596-5900.

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Not one but two Indian restaurants, Asya on Henry St. and Curry Heights on Remsen St., are back to serve you some spice. Asya is still offering its 50% off lunch menu, if you call the restaurant directly. Check out Asya’s menu here and call (718) 858-6700. Curry Heights’ menu and online ordering can be found here or call (718) 260-9000.


Screen Shot 2020-05-13 at 11.06.21 PMUnfortunately for Claude and many others, no neighborhood Chinese restaurants have reopened yet. We’ll be sure to update everyone when that happens.

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Starbucks on Montague Re-Opens Mon, 11 May 2020 21:21:39 +0000

The Starbucks on Montague Street, between Henry and Clinton streets, has re-opened for takeout and delivery only, and boy, do they want you to know. Your cold nitro brew awaits.

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Promenade’s Montague Street Entrance Being Cleared Mon, 11 May 2020 15:08:21 +0000

This morning a crew from Everest Scaffolding has been busy removing planks from atop the sidewalk bridge covering the Montague Street entrance to the Brooklyn Heights Promenade. The bridge is there to protect pedestrians from possible falling debris caused by inspection and repointing of Two Montague Terrace’s facade. Our surmise is that the work on the north facing facade been completed.  It appears they are leaving the bridge covering the sidewalk on the Montague Terrace side.

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Join TMH For Its Annual 4th Window Concert! Sunday, May 17th at 4pm Sat, 09 May 2020 20:18:42 +0000

Nothing will stop one of Brooklyn Heights’ favorite annual events, the 4th Window Concert! A message from The Music House:

Hello Everybody,

We just wanted to let you know that The Music House will be going virtual this year for the 11th Annual 4th Window Concert on Sunday, May 17th at 4PM.

We’ll be Announcing the concert Live on Instagram @TMHBrooklyn on Sunday the 17th at 4:00PM – Follow us there.

Then Watch the 4th Window Concert on YouTube. Search for ‘The 4th Window Concert 2020″ immediately after the Live announcement.

Take a selfie watching the 4th Window Concert on YouTube and post to Instagram #4thWindowConcert.

It will be great to see you all. We miss you.

Bill and Ellen

Here, the audience as seen from the window in 2017.

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And here’s another look back at the concert in 2014 with a fantastic video by Karl Jungersfeld.



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Brooklyn Women’s Exchange Taking Orders For Crafted Items; Offering Resources for Mask Making Sat, 09 May 2020 18:06:43 +0000

The Brooklyn Women’s Exchange has closed its store at 55 Pierrepont Street for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency, but is taking orders by phone – (718) 624-3435 – or by email – – for crafted items made by artisans who have consigned goods for sale at the store. There’s a more extensive list of crafters here.

The Exchange also offers links to instructions for mask making, as well as links to websites of crafters making mask material.

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