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Day 1324




Everyone I saw in the water at the park today was fully clothed; the women at left are wearing hijabs.

The hill in the background is the old Edgemere Landfill.

Day 1324

Wading in

August 15th, 2015



Jamaica Bay is much more popular with boaters than bathers — in fact, I don't think I had ever seen a single person taking a dip in the bay before — but there were almost twenty people hanging out in the water today at Bayswater Point State Park.

If you zoom in, you can just make out the faint skylines of Lower Manhattan and Midtown in the distance.

Day 1324

Fishing at the Point(s)

August 15th, 2015



This is Motts Point in Bayswater Point State Park. You can see JFK Airport across the water (zoom in).

Day 1324


Day 1321




I find the Royal Kingbee making an appearance on the Centre-fuge art trailer.

Day 1315

Smith and 9th

August 6th, 2015



At 87.5 feet above street level, the Smith-9th Streets station, served by the F and G trains, is the highest subway station in the world, according to the MTA. (191st Street in Upper Manhattan, on the 1 line, is the city's deepest station, 180 feet below ground.)

From June 2011 until April 2013, Smith-9th was closed while it was being renovated (by a team of space aliens, it would appear). The station is open and functional now, but work on the exterior continues, as you can see.

UPDATE: The renovations are complete! Here's a look at the finished station.

Day 1315

Cough Triangle

August 6th, 2015



According to the Parks Department:

Cough Triangle is not, as some residents joke, named for pollution from the BQE, but after the streets that surround it. The C-O-U come from Court Street, which was named for the Kings County Courthouse, built in 1861 and designed by architects Gemaliel King and Herman Teckritz. The building was demolished in 1961. The G comes from Garnet Street, and the H comes from Hamilton Avenue, which was named after Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804).
Only former Parks Commissioner Henry Stern could have come up with such a weird name in such a weird way. (And, indeed, the Parks webpage quoted above confirms that this tiny triangle was turned into a green space in 2000, during Mr. Stern's second stint as commissioner.)

Having a good feel for his wacky and mordant sense of humor at this point, I feel comfortable saying, despite the Parks Department's claim to the contrary, that Mr. Stern was almost certainly thinking about the air pollution from the adjacent, traffic-clogged Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE) when he named Cough Triangle.

I can picture it now: He's looking at the triangle on a map, trying to come up with an interesting name. (He's never been one to settle for a run-of-the-mill appellation, not even for a minuscule piece of parkland like this.) After noting the site's proximity to the exhaust-spewing BQE and the "miasmic, fetid" Gowanus Canal, he turns his focus to the names of the surrounding streets, a common source of inspiration for him. Court, Garnet, Hamilton. Court, Garnet, Hamilton. And then, to his great delight, it hits him. Five simple letters that are not only an authentic product of the local street nomenclature, but also an oblique jab at the area's questionable air quality. COUGH! Chalk another one up for the maestro.

Day 1315

Happy Hookers

August 6th, 2015



The companies stationed at this Red Hook firehouse, Engine 279 and Ladder 131, have long referred to themselves as the Happy Hookers (Red Hook, hook and ladder — get it?). But the FDNY ordered them to drop the name in 2005, part of a department-wide push to clean up company nicknames following a pair of ugly incidents — a sex scandal and a firehouse brawl — involving companies nicknamed Animal House and Southern Comfort, respectively. (Other "unbecoming" company nicknames called out by a 2005 Department of Investigation report: the Nut House, the Harlem Zoo, 90 Proof, Clown College, and First at the Bush.)

Despite the FDNY's demands, the Happy Hookers refused to remove their nickname from their firehouse door. The name remained there (photo) until 2008, when the FDNY reportedly sent someone out to paint over it. It was long gone by the time I first walked by in 2012; not knowing the companies' nickname, I was puzzled by the accompanying image of two suggestively posed firefighters that remained (and still remains) on the door.

I don't know if the FDNY has loosened up in recent years or if the firehouse just decided to defy the higher-ups once again, but, as you can see, the Happy Hookers name is now prominently painted on the street in front of the firehouse, and it also appears on a pair of plaques honoring the 2013 centennials of Engine 279 and Ladder 131.

(Also visible above, near the middle of the photo, is 9/11 memorial #73.)

Day 1315

9/11 memorial #256

August 6th, 2015



The same images are painted on the other side of the entrance as well.

Day 1315

Red Hook grain elevator

August 6th, 2015



The hulking structure looming above, blackened with age, is a two-million-bushel grain elevator opened here on the Henry Street Basin in 1922 as part of the New York State Barge Canal's Gowanus Bay terminal. The elevator was built to facilitate the transfer of grain from barges (arriving via the canal system) to ocean-going steamships.

While the canal system and the elevator were "magnificent works of engineering", according to an expert quoted by the NY Times's Christopher Gray in his piece about the elevator, they were also "magnificent boondoggles" that failed in their attempt to recapture grain and other freight traffic that had been lost to railroads in the years since 1880. The elevator was deactivated in 1965 and has been vacant for half a century now.

You can see an old photo of the elevator and its since-demolished conveyor structures here, and you can check out some current-day images of the abandoned interior here.

(Visible in the background [zoom in] is the city's first large-scale wind turbine, which generates power for the Sims Municipal Recycling facility in Sunset Park.)

UPDATE (Mar. 14, 2017): R.I.P. Christopher Gray, "the David Letterman of architectural history". Your Streetscapes column has long been an invaluable source of information and inspiration. Thank you for all that you've done!

Day 1315

R.I.P. Angel

August 6th, 2015


Day 1315




A feral cat condo on Hicks Street

Day 1315

1964-68 Sunbeam

August 6th, 2015



This is either a Sunbeam Alpine or a Sunbeam Tiger (the V8 version of the Alpine). I had never heard of these cars before, but they've had some impressive movie and television roles. The first James Bond car, as seen in 1962's Dr. No, was a blue early-'60s Alpine, and Maxwell Smart drove a red '65 Tiger during the first four seasons of the TV series Get Smart, including at the beginning of the opening credits for the first two seasons. An Alpine apparently had to stand in for the Tiger on Get Smart in some instances; because of its smaller engine, only the Alpine had enough room under the hood to accommodate the car's pop-up machine gun.

Day 1315

Found on the ground

August 6th, 2015



Note the loop attached to the end. Was someone trying to turn this shell casing into jewelry?

Day 1315

Merchant Stores

August 6th, 2015



Built in 1873, these two handsome brick warehouses on Pier 41 in Red Hook are known as the Merchant Stores. They once served as "a bottling plant for the Morgan Soda (later White Rock Beverage) Company", according to the AIA Guide to New York City, and are now home to such enterprises as a winery, a glass-bending shop, and a coffee-roasting collective.

Down at the far end, in what was previously used as the residence for the cast of MTV's The Real World: Brooklyn, is an event space called the Liberty Warehouse, presumably named for its proximity to, and view of, the Statue of Liberty. I took a look at the "Information" page of the venue's website and found this absurd claim: "The Liberty Warehouse is the only location in all of New York where the Statue of Liberty is face front as she looks on to France."

1) There is nothing special about the Liberty Warehouse's location in relation to the direction the statue faces. While you can certainly see her face from the warehouse, you're not particularly close to looking at her dead-on: the warehouse is angled more than 23 degrees off the centerline of her gaze. (This fact is conveniently illustrated by the big photo of the statue, presumably taken from the warehouse, that can be found alongside the text on the "Information" page.) If you want a direct look at the statue's face from the waterfront, you'll have to head over to the foot of 42nd Street in Sunset Park, about a mile and a half away as the crow flies.

2) While Lady Liberty was a gift from the French, she was not positioned to look toward France. In fact, she faces more than 90 degrees away from Paris. In search of another way to express how erroneous the website's claim is, I decided to figure out what country she actually is staring at across the ocean. Brazil? South Africa? Whatever it is, it would surely help drive home the fact that she's not looking anywhere near France. So I pulled up a map, plugged some coordinates into these handy tools, and discovered that after crossing the Atlantic, her gaze makes landfall in the nation of... France. Not the mainland in Europe, of course, but the overseas department of French Guiana in South America. So I suppose the "looks on to France" part of the website's claim is technically correct. Damn!

(The "Information" page mentioned above also claims that the warehouse was "constructed in the pre-Civil War 1850’s". I'm no expert on the subject myself, but I'd say the AIA Guide, which provided the 1873 date I gave above and specifically states that the Merchant Stores and other similar warehouses in the area were built after the Civil War, is a far more trustworthy source on the matter than the Liberty Warehouse people.)