Sunday, May 1, 2011

Carroll Gardens Second Place Subway Courtyard Plaza Entrance

MTA workers were stringing wires down a manhole on Saturday, but it appears that the 2nd Place subway plaza is almost ready to open.

24-Hour Entrance Globe Pole on 2nd Place
The MTA took down an antique pedestrian street light on 2nd Place, which was like the ones along Smith Street, to install the familiar green MTA globes that signifies that the stations is open 24 hours a day. We got DOT to install that light during the Smith Street reconstruction in 1994, because the plaza was dark and needed more light. Hopefully the building will have enough exterior lights so it will not be needed.

Another 24-Hour Entrance Globe Pole on Smith Street

The planters are beautiful.

Hopefully the 3 black locust trees survived the construction.
There were originally 5 locust trees that Buddy Scotto's Carroll Garden Association had planted in the plaza in the 70s. The architect sought permission to remove all of them, but the parks dept. would only allow them to remove the two that were on their private property. The 3 that were in the courtyard, which is public property, were saved from the saw. I guess the architect thought that 2-inch calibur trees in scattered boxes would look more architectural.

It is great that the building worked with NYC DOT before the entrance opened to put in 4 bike racks on Smith Street and another one on 2nd Place.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Carroll Park and Parkhouse at Smith Street

Carroll Park at Carroll and Smith Streets, 4/17/1928. The first and second pictures are looking north on Smith Street from Carroll Street. In the background, on President Street near Smith, is the steeple of the St. Martin’s Protestant Episcopal Church, which was demolished for the construction of the subway.

The second picture is of the Carroll Street comfort station, a fountain, and park worker before it was filled in to create the parkhouse. According to records at the Parks Department Map File Division, there is a drawing dated 1935 for “alterations to the Comfort Station” that illustrates new walls and foundations in the center section between the restrooms. The floor plan labels it as a “Playroom.” The park received an overall redesign and renovation in 1935-36.

Smith and 2nd Place Backyards

2nd Place at Smith Street back yards taken on 6/21/1928 from the roof of 126 First Place. The 2 three-window buildings on Second Place and the Smith Street buildings on the left were removed for the construction of the subway.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

First Place between Smith and Court

137-139 First Place, taken from the roof of 132 First Place, which was also torn down for the construction of the subway, and is where Hannah Senesh Community Day School is now located.

Many beautiful Carroll Gardens brownstones, adjacent to Smith Street, were torn down in the 1930s, to construct the Jay-Smith Street Subway Line, including these brownstones at 137-139 First Place, near Smith Street, where PS58 The Carroll School now stands. PS58 was built in 1958, and recently celebrated their 50th anniversary.

According to, the four-track Jay-Smith Street subway is part of the Brooklyn trunk line that begins at the junction of two pairs of single-track river tunnels from Manhattan. Two tracks for the IND A & C subway lines, from downtown Manhattan, turn into Jay Street at High Street and continue as the two middle tracks of the four-track line through the Jay Street-Borough Hall station, and disembark passengers on the inside of two island platforms. This subway connects at Schermerhorn and Smith Streets with the Fulton Street (Brooklyn) subway, which extends easterly from this junction to Rockaway Avenue and Fulton Street.

Two IND F-Line subway tracks, from Rutgers Street in Manhattan, reach Brooklyn at the foot of Jay Street, and continue to the Jay Street-Borough Hall Station, and disembark passengers on the outer side of the island platforms. South of Schermerhorn Street, the F subway line becomes a double-deck structure with two tracks on each level. The upper deck is for the local train. The lower level was for an express train that is no longer in service. The double-deck profile is maintained through the Bergen Street station and for half a mile beyond, as Smith Street is only 60 feet wide.

At the approach to the Carroll Street station, property was acquired starting at Union Street, so that the upper-level tracks could spread out so that the two lower-level tracks could rise on a 3-per-cent grade until all four tracks were on the same level. From the junction of the grades, the four tracks continue through an open cut and on an embankment as it approaches the Culver Line Viaduct, the 91-foot-tall cement railroad bridge that crosses over the Gowanus canal.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Rear Extension, 124 First Place, Carroll Gardens

Is the rear extension at 124 First Place legal under the new Carroll Gardens Narrow Street / Wide Street Zoning Text Amendment?

As background info, the extension on 122 First Place was legal under the former wide-street rules in the NYC Zoning Text, and 126 First Place received a variance to continue their renovation under the old wide-street ruling, after the new Carroll Gardens Narrow Street/Wide Street Zoning Text Amendment rules went into affect.

I was on my roof today and noticed that 124 First Place was building a rear extension. I assume that they are balconies, but to my untrained eye, the structure looks more like a room addition than balconies? The balconies on 126 First Place (taller building in the background) are more what I would call a balcony - but I am no engineer or architect - so am looking for an expert's opinion to see if this is legal under the new text amendment regulation.

I also realize that it is hard to cantilever a balcony on to an old brownstone building, and that an outside structure may have been needed, but I have a problem with this, because a condo owner could easily fill in these structures, thus making an ad hoc rear building extension. Furthermore this structure is massive, and it goes out into the rear yard as far as what was formerly permitted under the old wide-street zoning regulations!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Gowanus Canal Bridges

The Gowanus Canal bisects the communities of Carroll Gardens, Gowanus, Park Slope, and Redhook, and extends 1.8-miles from to the Gowanus Bay Channel in the New York Harbor. Five east-west movable-bridges cross the canal starting with Union Street, Carroll Street, Third Street, 9th Street and Hamilton Avenue. The Gowanus Expressway (Interstate 278) and the IND Culver Line of the New York City Subway, an above ground section of the original Independent Subway Systems, pass overhead.

The oldest bridge that crosses the canal is the Carroll Street Bridge that was built in 1887 and is one of the few remaining examples of retractable bridges in the U.S. The Ninth Street Bridge opened in 1903, and two more bridges appeared in 1905: the Union Street Bridge (rehabilitated 1962) and the Third Street Bridge (rehabilitated 1954). These bridges were originally built as bascule-type of draw bridges. The Ninth Street Bridge was replaced with a vertical lift bridge in 2000.

The IND Culver Line Viaduct, the 91-foot-tall cement railroad bridge that crosses the canal, was built for the Smith and Ninth Street and 4th Avenue subway stations. It is the highest bridge in the subway system, due to now-antiquated navigation rules for tall-mast shipping in the Gowanus Creek under the stations. It wasn’t until the construction of the Gowanus Expressway (I-278) in the early 1940s that the last two bridges over the canal were built. The Expressway spans over the canal and the Hamilton Avenue Bridge, the first canal crossing north of the Gowanus Bay. It was opened to traffic on August 27, 1942, and consists of two pair of bascule spans, each carrying four lanes of one-way traffic (one northbound and one southbound) and a pedestrian sidewalk.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Bergen Hill

The pinnacle of Bergen Hill was located at present day Court Street and First Place. (1)

At about 1800 the area was settled by the Dutch, and predominantly the Bergen family. Jacob I Bergen (2) built a farm house at Hoyt and Sackett Street. He and his family opened up the area ..The area consisted of large tracts of hills, woods, streams, creeks swamps and land which was turned into open fields. The property which was developed by Jacob I Bergen and his family extended from Hoyt and Sackett Street along Sackett Street to Smith Street , then it turned down Smith Street to about Third Street , then East to the Bond Street , then North along Bond Street to Sackett Street then west back to the house on Hoyt and Sackett Street.. These limits are not exact since the system of metes and bounds was not used to plot the land. Jacob Bergen’s son Iassac E Bergen .was born at the house on Sackett and Hoyt in 1810. Iassac Bergen grew up to follow his father an became a farmer.. Later Isaac moved and brought his own land on Shore Road near Bay Ridge.. Isaac E. Bergen passed away on September 5, 1898 (3)

In 1810 the area of Jacob Bergen’s farm occupied much of the land then known as Gowanus. This name is believed to have been derived by the early Dutch settlers from the name of a local Indian Chief named Gouwnaee. He was the leader or Sachem of a tribe of Lenape Indians who hunted and fished in the woods, creeks and marsh land known today as the Gowanus (4). In the 1830s , Court Street was graded and flagged for the convenience of the members of the Dutch Reformed Church. Bergen Hill, was capped by woods. It was locally known as a poplar resort for sport and mischief.

The height of Bergen Hill had to be cut down by a 130 feet in order to bring it down to grade with Court Street. After 1850 this area , including the area known today as Carroll Gardens , became known as South Brooklyn. This included all the land south of Atlantic Avenue. It was also part of the 6th Ward. It was a very different place. The area was very rural. It was a densely woody hilly area and had many open lots.

In 1846 the firm of Stranahan and Carmichael took the contract to cut away the hill . The section from Harrison Street (now Kane Street) to Hamilton Avenue including Columbia street was filled in with the material from Bergen Hill. V.J.F.

(1) The Columbia Historical Portrait of New York by John A Kouwenhoven p, 123. The view is entitled “View from (Gowanus) Heights near Brooklyn “ published in 1823. The engraving was done by John Hill from a watercolor by William G. Wall. The view was made from Bergen Hill since leveled and is near present day Carroll Park.

The houses of several members of the Bergen family made their homes in the area of Bergen Hill. the “The residence of Cornelius Bergen , a farmer, and Jacob Bergen, a surrogate of Kings County, were located at 108 and 110 First Place. These buildings still. exist. The area was known as Bergen Hill which was part of Bergen property”; South Brooklyn , Then and Now; Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Apr 16, 1886 p. 13 “ These buildings were finished in 1851 “ Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Apr 16, 1886 p. 14 …”Old Brooklyn Farm Lands”, Brooklyn Daily Eagle , July 19,1896 p. 20

(2) Jacob I Bergen was a descendent .of Hans Hensen Bergen.. He was originally from Bergen Norway. Hans was a shipwright or ship’s carpenter who moved from Norway to Holland. He arrived at Fort Amsterdam in April of 1638 with Wouter Van Twiler the Second Director General of the colony in the fleet of West India’s Company’s vessels the Salt Mountain, the Caravel St. Martyn and the vessel the Hope. In 1639 Hans Hensen Bergen married Sarah Rapalie, the first European women born in the colony. They started a family . Descendants of this family married and moved throughout the new colony. Many made homes in various parts of the colony including New Amsterdam, Long Island, New Jersey and the lower Connecticut valley; Uncle Tune; Brooklyn Daily Eagle, April 25, 1881 p 4 .

(3) Death of Isaac E. Bergen; Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Sept. 6, 1898 p. 1

(4) The Lenape Indians were nomadic indians who inhabited much of the lower Hudson River valley from the Nyack valley to Long Island. The Lenape Indians were a subset of the Canarsee Indians. This tribe hunted and fished and foraged much of the area of Long Island.. The Canarsee Indians were a subset or part of the larger Delaware Indian nation.

Recently the Staten Island Advance newspaper reported that than an artifact of a stone head of Lenape Indians origin was discovered on Staten Island and dated as at least 10,000 years old. (Staten Island Advance; Feb. 2009); The artifact is located in the Staten Island Museum .