New York City is a leading tech innovation hub (after Silicon Valley), and the Brooklyn Tech Triangle is taking charge to include a broad public, private, and academic backing to provide an environment, infrastructure, transportation, and workforce development to ensure that the area can accommodate the needs of the new economy. There are five key challenges to which the Brooklyn Tech Triangle Strategic Plan counters with five plan components. The five key challenges are:
Space: We are running out of appropriate commercial space for tech.
Workforce: The Tech Triangle could be—but isn’t yet—a new model integrating talent from local communities and universities with high-growth industries.
Transportation: It needs to be easier to get around the Tech Triangle.
Dynamic Places: Some parts of the Tech Triangle need an upgraded energy and vibe.
Tech Infrastructure: The “tech” in Tech Triangle should be apparent to all.
The 94 page plan include challenges and proposals that address them. We’re only touching on a small slice, so you may want to read the full strategic plan. More renderings after the jump… (more…)
New York City’s bike share program, called Citibike is expected to launch in May. The program will allow members to use one of 6000 bikes from 330 stations in Midtown, Lower Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn. The bike stations have been installed in the following locations in and around Dumbo:
North side of Old Fulton Street near Water Street – 41 bike docks
North side of Front Street near Washington Street – 30 bike docks
West side of Pearl Street near Water Street – 24 bike docks
South side of York Street near Jay Street – 27 bike docks
South side of Front Street near Gold Street – 23 bike docks
North side of Sands Street near Gold Street – 19 bike docks
East side of Cadman Plaza East near Red Cross Place – 27 bike docks
West side of Cadman Plaza West near Middagh Street – 23 bike docks
“Landmarks Preservation Commission says that the stations are just fine, since the landmarks law generally allows advertising in historic districts—including on street fixtures like bus shelters, pay toilets and newsstands. “We approved the plan for the installation of bike share stations in historic districts throughout the city because they have no effect on the historic fabric of those neighborhoods,” said Elisabeth de Bourbon, the commission’s communications director”
In a Brooklyn Eagle article, store owners on Front Street in Dumbo said they were not notified or consulted with before the bike stations were installed. Doreen Gallo of the preservation group DUMBO Neighborhood Alliance (DNA) said in the article, “DOT never contacted us and never brought it through Landmarks. It’s more visual clutter in the wrong spot. That’s a great open space and it should be an open piazza; but they keep adding more and more crap. It’s an inappropriate use of this great municipal space.”
The Front Street location (top photo) seems to be a tight fit for the traffic that goes by in the busy intersection where delivery trucks pass. Thoughts?
The L Mag’s annual 50 Best Blocks in Brooklyn was posted last week. Among the best included a few in Dumbo, one in Vinegar Hill, and Brooklyn Heights:
Best Urban Palimpsest: Plymouth Street, between Washington and Main streets, DUMBO “On one side are old Gairville warehouses, repurposed for start-ups and a (now out-of-business) restaurant; on the other, a mod Brooklyn Bridge Park playground. In the middle are belgian blocks cut through with decommissioned rails, driving over which you might spot an aughts-model sports car (as we did the other day).”
Best Honest-to-Goodness Alleyway: Howard Alley, DUMBO “Watch a Hollywood movie set in NYC, and you’ll likely see at some point a character dash down an alley. But truth is this city ain’t got many alleys, at least not anymore. (It’s the one thing Chicago has on us.) But this back-passage in DUMBO looks just like the genuine article—much cooler than nearby Fleet Alley, a glorified driveway—complete with a scary door at its end we’d dare never approach, let alone pass through.”
Best-Smelling Block: Front Street, between Adams and Washington streets, DUMBO “We walk down this street to work almost every day and are greeted by olfactory goodness. First the smell of freshly made juices from Foragers, then the toasted bread from the panini grill at Al Mar, and finally the scent of bacon-y goodness from Peas & Pickles. Then, of course, you cross the street and get assaulted by the mysterious sewage smell outside of West Elm and are forced to recognize that happiness is fleeting and garbage is always around the corner. Such is life.”
Cutest Private Street: Harrison Alley, Vinegar Hill “If you’ve never wandered through the strange few blocks that constitute Vinegar Hill, you really should. Like, just around the corner from the popular Vinegar Hill House restaurant is this alley, basically a driveway, long-since (always?) fenced off by the people who live in the house at its end. (A curious sculpture surrounds their mailbox on the public side of the fence.) Yet it still has an official city street sign, adorably hanging off a crooked pole.”
Best Bike Lane Block: Flushing Avenue, between Washington Avenue and Hall Street, Clinton Hill “Just in general, Flushing is one of the borough’s most reliable thoroughfares for cyclists, but the stretch along the Brooklyn Navy Yards, starting at Washington? Pure bliss. Here, there’s an actual cement barrier separating you and your bike from oblivious drivers. It’s almost too good to be true!”
(One of) Five Best Blocks to Live On
College Place, Brooklyn Heights “Love Lane is the one everyone knows, but it’s this side street off that side street that’s really where you’ll find some of the prettiest housing stock in Brooklyn. Get down to the end and it’s just ridiculously European—plus totally secluded, even though you’re a very short walk away from stores and subways.”
Belgian block restoration on Water and Washington Streets in Dumbo started in May 2009 and completed in September 2011. The NYC Department of Transportation installed a new 14″ thermal block bicycle lane in the center lane of Washington Street, a look that disappointed preservationists. Doreen Gallo told us (in November 2011) that most people are unaware of what is being sacrificed and what the difference is between restoring the Belgian block in an historic, authentic way and the recent execution on Washington and Water Streets.
Today, The New York Times published an article that the city “has offered to install new cobbles that are aged artificially, like a pair of stonewashed jeans, to appear more worn.”
“Somebody cut those things — thousands of people,” said Doreen Gallo, the executive director of the Dumbo Neighborhood Alliance, a residents’ group. “And we’re careless.”
The Transportation Department has pledged to save as many of the old cobblestones as possible. Some have been retained, but turned 90 degrees to create makeshift bike lanes, pointing in the direction of traffic flow — a visually striking intervention that the city “just made up,” Ms. Gallo mused, to promote cycling.
But many of the stones must be replaced, the Transportation Department said, in part because, according to the Americans with Disabilities Act, stones on a crosswalk or sidewalk must vary in height by no more than a quarter of an inch — far less a discrepancy than is found along the typical stretch of Belgian block.
Mindful of some community members’ disdain for the machine-cut cobbles that already exist on Washington Street, the department has promised an exhaustive search for the perfect replica stone. (Technically, cobblestones are rounded and irregular, but New Yorkers generally describe Belgian blocks as cobblestones.)
Andy Wiley-Schwartz, the Transportation Department’s assistant commissioner for public space said that in a citywide study in neighborhoods that retain their historic stones, including TriBeCa, SoHo and the meatpacking district, “…you see a much more uniform color and size of stone,” he said. “In Dumbo, there are a variety of colors and a variety of sizes.”
Residents from the Vinegar Hill Neighborhood Association have posted an online petition to preserve the original Belgian block streets in Vinegar Hill. Their letter states:
To: The City of New York As a resident or friend of Vinegar Hill, I oppose the use of mass-produced, modern cobblestones in Vinegar Hill.
Hence, when the planned sewer and water work on Water Street in Vinegar Hill are complete, I oppose the use of machine-made or machine-altered cobblestones of any kind or for any purpose in Vinegar Hill because they are incompatible with the designated historic character of our landmarked neighborhood, of which our Belgian blocks are a vital and irreplaceable component.
I also oppose the addition of a bike lane on Water Street made from anything but our own historic Belgian Blocks.
This measns infrastructure changes to Water Street (sewer work, water work, etc.) should faithfully restore in kind, not replace or redesign in any way, our historic Belgian block street surfaces.
Additionally, any planned changes to curbs and intersections should not include modern materials or designs. Sincerely, [Your name]
What do you think about the restoration of the streets in Dumbo?
The street mural on Water Street (at Pearl Street) in Dumbo was painted over yesterday. That’s the ephemeral nature of street art, and we’re suprised how long it’s been up. Over the years, we’ve seen various art on that wall. In 2007, Revok, Retna, Saber collaborated for their mural. In May 2008, a group of 15 visual artists called Concrete Alchemy replaced the mural with their colorful imagery. Then in September 2008, a project called The Monster Project painted a piece titled “eel goddess”.
From May 2009 until this week, Dumbo artist Craig Anthony Miller (“CAM”), with a group called 303 Collectives painted the now famous elephant mural. The new temporary paint job will be up until the developers demolish the building for new townhouses.
According to a Brownstoner post today, “Alloy, the firm that will be both designing and developing the townhouses on the site (and is also responsible for 192 Water Street and 182 Plymouth Street), confirms that his firm gave the building its new look.”
They told Brownstoner, “we wanted to put something up that spoke to the impact of CAM’s work over the past few years and also inserted some optimism at that particular spot. We view all our work as a contribution to the built environment, hopefully a positive one, and while certainly a change from the wall, we’re excited about what the townhouses might be able to add in this little pocket of DUMBO.”
CAM sent us a note of thanks to convey to the community:
The 303 Collective mural on Water street has come to the end of an amazing run, enduring almost four years. It was humbling to see so many people use the wall weekly for a backdrop. Videos, weddings, engagements, fashion shoots, Television Ads and hundreds of tourist visiting the neighborhood monthly. A mural with a message for a Brooklyn community and embraced by more. Dumbo is a place where change is expected and inevitable, and to be honest I did not think the wall would survive a year being such a popular canvas. The mural made a name for itself and within its own rights became synonymous with the neighborhood. Thank you to EVERYONE who showed love and support for the mural and most importantly thanks to Tom, Blue Barn Pictures and The 303 Collective… Coby Kennedy, John Breiner, TRON, and the last edition Sky Davison.