Archive for the ‘Brooklyn’ Category

Fri 15 Jan 2010 6:46 am   //   Posted in: Brooklyn, New York is different

Need a spot? What’s it worth to ya?

A few years ago, a study found that 45 percent of the traffic in my neighborhood consists of drivers cruising for a parking space. Still, this sight is unusual even by Park Slope standards:

SUV with a sign that says Need a spot? TXT Pam to 95495

This vehicle, badged with bright green posters, has been parked in various spaces around 6th Avenue for a few days. What do you suppose happens when you send a text to that short code? Probably, it returns in an option to pay a fee in exchange for “Pam” coming out of her building and moving her SUV. (I didn’t test it because, despite my burning curiosity about how much that space costs, I don’t want this parking squatter to capture my cell phone number.)

Enterprise trumps neighborliness!

Mon 11 Jan 2010 2:00 pm   //   Posted in: Brooklyn, Transit, Typography

Better fonts for a better New York

Sometimes I write posts for this blog, read them over, and then reject them because I think they’re too off-beat or boring. (That post about The Killers and Owl City almost didn’t make the cut.) Recently I wrote a draft of an essay about the signage in the new Flatbush Avenue Long Island Railroad terminal. After I wrote it, I decided it belonged in the round file. Deleted!

Then I got an e-mail from a reader named Amanda pointing out an error in one of my recent posts about subway signage. Based on a book I read, I have been calling the New York City Subway font Akzidenz-Grotesk. In fact, Akzidenz-Grotesk has been all-but-phased out in favor of a custom version of Helvetica. Some of the “buttons” (those colorful circles that represent the subway lines) are still set in Akzidenz-Grotesk, but most of the signage has been upgraded. Amanda even attached a graphic showing the difference between the two fonts…

Helvetica is on the top line and on the left button; Akzidenz-Grotesk on the bottom line and the right button. Note the differences in the cuts on the C and the e. Neat.

Anyway, this feedback convinced me that I’m not the only one who cares about subway signs. And so I dug up the blog post I had deleted earlier. Here it is:


Tue 15 Dec 2009 7:00 am   //   Posted in: Brooklyn, New York is different

Having the whole place to yourself


Compared to other East Coast cities, Brooklyn likes to sleep in. Seven a.m. in D.C. is rush hour. But here, most stores are just rolling open their metal doors and brewing coffee. The schools aren’t open yet. The few vehicles rumbling around are mostly delivery trucks. As we near the solstice, it’s barely light out at 7. The sun is just about to clear the horizon and touch the tops of the buildings, setting them aglow as steam rises from rooftops. Most mornings I press out into cold to walk half a mile to the gym before work. Even when I’m bundled up and hustling as I lean into the wind, my morning walks are a time of peace and solitude.

Sun 1 Nov 2009 8:15 am   //   Posted in: Brooklyn, New York is different, Photos

I love this picture


I recently worked on a booklet to commemorate my church’s 150th anniversary. While looking through some old stuff, we found this picture. We’re pretty sure it shows members of the congregation cleaning up after a fire seriously damaged the building in 1955. I can’t stop looking at it.

I don’t know what kind of camera was in use in 1955, but this photograph was printed wide; this scan is not cropped. The photographer focused on the four people in the middle ground, who are well illuminated by a flash. The two women on the left paused to look at the photographer, the two men on the right did not, and the man in the middle looks undecided.

These five earnest, concerned young adults wouldn’t look out of place in our neighborhood 54 years later. (With slight—but only slight!—wardrobe changes.) I love how Brooklyn can be such a “now” place, yet still be built on the hard work and history of people who came before us. We live in the same apartments they lived in, we wait on the same subway platforms they stood on, and we worship in the same buildings they worshiped in. Their ghosts are among us.

Sun 25 Oct 2009 7:56 pm   //   Posted in: Bicycles, Brooklyn, Photos, Travel

Abandoned hangars at Floyd Bennett Field

This afternoon I took one of my favorite bike rides—following the Belt Parkway out to Floyd Bennett Field, the decommissioned airport in Brooklyn. There’s a lot of stuff out there in a state of beautiful decay. Three pictures:



Sun 20 Sep 2009 6:50 pm   //   Posted in: Brooklyn, Food & drink, Music, Travel

Top New York day

Lonely Planet guides often begin with the author’s “top day” in a particular location. My brother was visiting this weekend, and I think on Saturday we achieved my personal top day in New York City.

Here’s what we did. I’m going to include Friday and Sunday, just for good measure.


Tue 1 Sep 2009 10:00 am   //   Posted in: Books, Brooklyn, New York is different

“Sentimental value”

I saw this sign recently near my apartment. I think it sums up the kind of neighborhood I live in:


Mon 27 Jul 2009 8:13 am   //   Posted in: Brooklyn, Movies, Music

Mighty good

This store cracks me up every time I walk past it:



Sun 12 Jul 2009 8:49 pm   //   Posted in: Brooklyn, Transit

G force


Everybody in New York has a different favorite train, but everyone has the same least-favorite: The G. Short, slow, infrequent, and weird, the G Train seems unworthy of New York. It goes through some rough or obscure places, and makes stops on streets you’ve never heard of unless you live there, like Classon Avenue. The G’s lazy, L-shaped route from Brooklyn to Queens makes it the only line in the whole system that never stops in Manhattan. This train is hard to love.

But nobody hates the G more than Park Slopers. Only we understand the frustration of standing in a packed F train at the end of a hard day, three stops from home, waiting for a G ahead of us turn around. Can’t they clear that train a little faster! We’ve got takeout and craft beer waiting in the fridge!

Some of the best stories happen when a group of established characters have to react to a sudden change in their environment. A week ago, the MTA extended the G route by five stops in Brooklyn. Like an unwanted kitten left on our doorstop, we in Park Slope have to claim the G as our own. We’re no longer an F neighborhood. We’re a F/G neighborhood. How are we supposed to react to this?


Thu 2 Jul 2009 9:43 pm   //   Posted in: Brooklyn, Photos, Weather

Rainbow over Brooklyn

The Brooklyn Bridge, photographed earlier today.