Monday, February 4, 2008

A Blot On My Neighborhood.

Here, let me take you on a little tour of my neighborhood. Ft. Greene, Brooklyn is a landmarked neighborhood, which means within the landmark zone, you have to do any renovations or new construction in a way that fits in with all the other historic houses. That's nice.

Here's some pretty woodframe houses

And one of them has a pretty door.

Here's a typical row of Brownstones

And one of the old Mansions scattered here and there

At the end of this block, you can see the top of the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument that sits in Ft. Greene Park. Its a monument to those who died as POW's during the Revolution. The British kept them on ships in the Harbor under some fairly nasty conditions.

See? Historic. And pretty.

Ooh! Look! More Brownstones

More. Brownstones.

Even More Brownstones. We've got a lot of Brownstones.

And we have cute little Coffee Shops.

And some slightly bigger Coffee Shops.

And we have Churches.

Yes, Churches. Plural.

And Man. Have we got us some Restaurants.

Cute Restaurants!

Tasty Restaurants!

Restaurants with excellent Watermelon Martinis!

And stores where you can buy things like really fresh shrimp. Yum!

Or lamb chops!

And there's playgrounds for the kiddies.

Now, you only have to go a few blocks to be outside of the landmarked zone. In fact, I live six doors from the boundary. And once you've left the landmarked zone, you can build pretty much anything you want to with regard to design. And that's fine. I'm all for variety. It also makes the landmarked zone more obvious by contrast. Like I said. Fine. I like modern architecture too.

So about a year ago, they started building a new Six Story Condo a couple of blocks away from me. They put some pictures up. This is what they said it would look like. I think it looks nice. A welcome addition to the neighborhood, right?

What they didn't bother to tell anyone was that the building would stretch all the way from one block to the next, and that the pictures they had posted were for the central courtyard.

Nobody but the residents and their guests will ever get a look at the lovely courtyard. Guess what the rest of us will get to look at.

Take a gander at this blank metal facade.

Yeah, It's some kind of corrugated aluminum or something with window cut-outs. Feh!

I may never walk down that block again. Or the one on the other side. I hate this building.

Thank you for taking this little tour with me. Now I'm going to look at kittens.


Anonymous said...

Ewww, I agree! I prefer the older, more traditional stuff. It reminds me of London - lots of beautiful old buildings intermixed with big modern monstrosities. They have an excuse though... buildings knocked down by WWII.

Nathan said...

Well, this thing is outside the landmarked area I'm not upset over introducing modern architecture there, I just hate that on both streets, all you'll see is an ugly wall of metal with some windows and the only pretty part is in the middle, where I'll never see it.

Sort of like how New Jersey only gets to look at the Statue of Liberty's Ass.

And they didn't knock down anything great to build it. There was a one-story warehouse there before.

Shawn Powers said...

That was actually a really cool tour. :) There are so many movies and television shows with the "brownstones" that from here, it looks like you're showing pictures from a movie set!

Would you believe in my entire town there's not a single coffee shop? The closest one is 30 miles away. Sad, no?

Nathan said...

Poor Shawn.

Where do you go to Not Fool anyone?

Anonymous said...

It's like what the realtors are doing to the downtown Richmond waterfront, trying to make us look like Jacksonville or Annapolis - warehouse on the outside, pretty happy courtyards on the inside. Blight from the highway.

I feel you.

But, I have to admit, it's better than the crack dens and highway hell that were there before...

Though, economically speaking, those crack dens, etc., didn't go away. They just moved to the burbs like the rest of us. Maybe in a few years, the only drug-free places to raise our kids will be within the city?

Nathan said...


I actually don't mind warehouse renovations if they're done well. I don't even mind when they keep some interior treat for the residents. I just hate that this new building looks like its going to be horrid on the outside.

Maybe I'm wrong and they'll finish it off with something better, but that skin just started going up a couple of weeks ago and I hate it more every time I walk by it.

Oh, and welcome to the blog!

Nathan said...

stuff on our property

Are we talking about a couch on the front porch, or a car up on cinderblocks (thats been there so long that a tree has grown up straight through it)?

Fess up. :-)

Jeff Hentosz said...

Well done, sir. Cool neighborhood. Very interesting. Where do Ernie and Bert live?

You know, Chang's proposed ScalziFest in a Dayton cornfield is certainly an idea, but I think a much more hospitable event would be "NathanPalooza" in good ole Flatbush.* How many spare bedrooms you got?

* I learned that one from The Incredible Mr. Limpet. I always assumed it was a nickname for Brooklyn, but have no idea if it's real or not.

Nathan said...

Oh, Jeff, Jeff, Jeff,

I love it when you chime in because I know I'm either going to get a chance to laugh my ass off or pontificate or both.

1. Did you know that Bert and Ernie are an homage to "Its a Wonderful Life"? Jimmy Stewart (after breaking into what was his own home) to the cop and the cab driver:

"Burt, Ernie, Don'tcha know me?"

2. No spare bedrooms. One backyard that I suspect would make Tania feel right at home. :-)

3. Flatbush is a neighborhood and an avenue. The avenue bisects the borough running from the Manhattan Bridge all the way out to Marine Park. Its kind of the main drag among main drags.

In short, I'll be happy to host NathanPalooza, but you guys have gotta get rooms.

Nathan said...

Oh, and any reference to The Incredible Mr. Limpet gets my attention. Excellent obscurity!

Unknown said...

here is a link to a great article on architecture. It's a bit technical but it gives some insight into why modern architecture lacks "soul".

Unknown said...

here's an active link:

easy click

Steve Buchheit said...

Excellent photos, but real sucky ultra modern prison for everybody else, nice courtyard for those that pay kind of construction. And it would only have taken a little more money to make it look nice form the street.

So is it a zoning law that all restaurant names must start with "Chez"?

Nathan said...

Chez Oskar and Chez Lola are a few blocks from each other and owned by the same people. We're actually a little over-represented in the French Restaurant genre here, but both of those are excellent and photogenic.

Jim Wright said...

Cool. My neighborhood consists mostly of architecture that is somehow related to snow, retaining, removing, or covering up. And trees, lots and lots of trees. And moose.