08/09/16 11:07am
TKTK, founder of the New York African Food Festival. Photo: NYAFF

Ishmael Osekre, founder of the New York African Food Festival. Photo: NYAFF

For Ishmael Osekre, the founder of this weekend’s inaugural New York African Food Festival, the project was an experiment gone viral. ”Originally I wanted to do a small proof of concept in Dumbo for about 500 people” says, Osekre, who heads Afropolitan Insights. Ten days after its launch, the event site had 1 million views and 12,000 people interested in the Facebook event, all with ticket sales to match before there was even any sort of lineup for the festival. From there, Osekre moved quickly, moving it to larger quarters, recruiting chefs, bringing in experience architects, and curating a thrilling assortment of artists and vendors for New York City’s first immersive taste of Africa.

“African music and fashion have always had steady momentum and exposure in mainstream American culture; African food hasn’t” explains Osekre. So for two days Osekre plans to transform the Brooklyn Navy Yard into a celebration of African culture from all corners of the diaspora. Along with an Ethiopian coffee ceremony, shisha lounge, hair wrap demos, a queen’s lounge stocked with African designs, a photo booth designed by Beyoncé-approved artist Laolu Sebanjo, and live music, there will, of course, be food. (more…)

05/19/16 11:25am
A few members of the "Fly By Night" flock gather on a rooftop. Photo: Creative Time/Will Star/Shooting Stars Pro

A few members of the Fly By Night flock gather on a rooftop. Photo: Creative Time/Will Star/Shooting Stars Pro

“I missed Scandal for this?” The woman behind me was not impressed as we sat on risers and watched a small fraction of the 2,000 pigeons in the avian light show Fly By Night prepare for their Brooklyn Navy Yard debut. Her question made me wonder whether I had walked deep into the Navy Yard simply to watch pigeons fly. These, my feathered nemeses, were now the star of a show; it’s a free show, sure, but one with a waiting list and a great review in The New York Times. It was akin to hearing that a childhood bully had become a movie star.

Growing up in New York City pigeons were a nuisance, not works of art. While the city has long had a tradition of rooftop pigeon coops and pigeon fanciers, to which Duke Riley, the artist behind the show, is paying tribute, their charms never seduced me. In fact, despite watching one hatch on my parents’ balcony, I’ve spent most of my life in an avian cold war, never attacking them, but convinced that they would attack me if given the chance. Was detente finally here and and happening in Brooklyn? (more…)

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06/30/15 12:00pm

navy-green-townhouses-facade

Sponsored By Navy Green.

Navy Green is a brand new development of 3-4 bedroom townhomes starting at $1.8 million, directly across from the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

Created By BlankSlate

Navy Green is a new development in the historic neighborhood near the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Taking up almost the entire block where the Navy Brig once stood, bounded by Park, Clermont, Flushing and Vanderbilt Avenues, Navy Green is a village of townhomes and condos surrounding a 30,000-square-foot common green. Residents of the development will be able to enjoy this quiet neighborhood’s many charms, including the restaurants, bars and shops of Fort Greene and Clinton Hill, the nearby Brooklyn Greenway, Navy Yard attractions, and even a brand-new Wegmans supermarket.

The neighborhood adjacent to the Brooklyn Navy Yard—sometimes referred to as Wallabout, sometimes as extensions of Fort Greene and Clinton Hill—was once described by the founder of Columbia University’s Historic Preservation Program as an “outdoor architectural museum.” Belgians settled in the area as early as 1624, but Wallabout (from the Dutch Waal-bogt, meaning “a bend in the harbor”) remained largely rural until the opening of the Navy Yard in 1801. Many of the houses in the neighborhood were built for the people who worked at the yard, which was shut down in 1966 and gradually converted into the center for industry and the arts it is today.

Following are some of the best attractions in the neighborhood around Navy Green.

(more…)

10/08/14 11:49am
Belly up to four new bars during The Total Prospect Heights Immersion on Saturday. Photo: Alison Brockhouse

Belly up to four new bars during The Total Prospect Heights Immersion on Saturday. Photo: Alison Brockhouse

There are lots of adventures in store this week that will inspire you to break from your familiar haunts. Open House New York returns Saturday and Sunday, when you can take behind-the-scenes tours of famous homes, distilleries and architectural gems. You can also go on one of these Brooklyn outings, like a bike tour of the Navy Yard that will show you a greener side of the former shipyard. Our Prospect Heights Immersion on Saturday is another way to guarantee that you get out and explore spots you haven’t checked out yet, like Berg’n. The CBGB Festival may tempt you to intentionally visit Times Square to see DEVO and Jane’s Addiction for free. And next week, a group that commemorates the treasures hiding beneath New York waters is celebrating its five-year anniversary with oysters and beer.

We’ve uncovered more awesome events for you this week, and have some suggestions for fun days ahead. Jonathan Lethem’s upcoming talk about the 1970s Brooklyn setting of his novel-turned-musical, The Fortress of Solitude, is halfway sold out. And make reservations now for a tour of a ship graveyard aboard The Water Table, the floating tavern that will return to departing and dropping off in Greenpoint next Thursday.  (more…)

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10/07/14 7:13am

It made sense during our unseasonably warm September to pretend that summer wasn’t over, but by now it’s impossible to deny: fall is upon us, in all its crisp, pumpkin-spiced glory. Which means it’s a great time to put on a comfy sweater, grab some intrepid friends, and spend a few hours really getting to know parts of Brooklyn you’ve never explored. Inspired by this weekend’s Open House New York, we’ve compiled a handful of terrific walking tours, plus one by bike, that will lead you through the borough’s nooks and crannies, from historic neighborhoods to a toxic waterfront.

During a self-guided tour of South Williamsburg organized by UnionDocs, you'll hear stories of neighborhood fixtures like the Puerto Rican man who sells piraguas. Photo: Shannon Carroll

During a self-guided tour of South Williamsburg organized by UnionDocs, you’ll hear stories of neighborhood fixtures like this man. Photo: Shannon Carroll

Williamsburg

Southside Walk: self-guided, so go whenever you’re ready

If you’ve ever wondered about the empty lot full of stuffed animals on Bedford and North 1st, or how much homes on South 2nd cost in the 1980s, this self-guided audio tour—part of UnionDocs’ multi-year, multimedia project Living Los Sures—will answer all your questions. The half-hour tour starts at the Bedford Ave. Dunkin Donuts and ends at the Caribbean Club on Grand St, the last remaining Puerto Rican social club in the neighborhood. In between you’ll hear stories of Hasidic women swimming, Bangladeshi families gardening, a Puerto Rican man selling piraguas (shaved ices), and many more past and present neighborhood denizens. Pro tip: Go on a Sunday evening when Toñita, the beloved owner of the Caribbean Club since the 1970s, makes a free dinner for everyone who comes in. (more…)

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08/25/14 5:56pm
Wonder if there moviegoers making a mad dash for lawn space at Bryant Park's summer film festival were aware the area adjacent the the New York Public Library was once a cemetery? Photo: Bryant Park

Wonder if these moviegoers making a mad dash for lawn space at Bryant Park’s summer film festival were aware the area adjacent the the New York Public Library was once a cemetery? Photo: Bryant Park

As we mentioned last week, the 238th anniversary of the Battle of Brooklyn is tomorrow, and for the past 106 years, part of the commemoration of this Revolutionary War skirmish, fought along the East River in Brooklyn Heights, has included a memorial service at the Prison Ship Martyrs monument in Fort Greene Park. I first learned of this time-honored tradition while researching this story two years ago on the Society of Old Brooklynites, the organization that’s overseen the tribute since President Taft was in office and dedicated the cylindrical stone  statue in memory of the 11,500 colonists who perished aboard British prison ships docked in New York Harbor in 1776.

Solemnity aside, the part of this story that really gave me goosebumps was the point when Ted General, a member of SOB (somehow I feel like that acronym was intentional), explained that the monument was more than just a marker–it was also a tomb. “Their bones were scooped up from Wallabout Bay along the shoreline there where the waves had exposed them after a while, and they were put into this crypt in Fort Greene Park,” is what the General told me at the time. I found this cemetery-within-a-city-park concept more than a little morbid–something I’m not opposed to in everyday life–but then I started looking, and it turns out, some of the city’s most popular places to read books, sunbathe, host birthday parties and let our dogs roam free, started out as potter’s fields.  (more…)

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06/17/14 9:52am
In honor of the Brooklyn Navy Yard being named a national landmark, we went digging for little-known facts and fodder from throughout its over 200-year-old history. Photo: BLDG92

In honor of the Brooklyn Navy Yard being named a national landmark, we went digging for little-known facts and fodder from its more than 200-year-old history. Photo: BLDG92

The Brooklyn Navy Yard has long been a local treasure, with its odd collection of buildings, including industrial spaces, former admirals’ quarters and an eerie decommissioned hospital, but as of last month, it’s now a national one, too. The U.S. Department of the Interior added the industrial park to its National Register of Historical Places on May 22.

Aside from adding to the prestige of a place—the Navy Yard now ranks up there with the Empire State Building and Statue of Liberty as historically significant spots in NYC—national landmark status tends to translate into federal funding, a point well-documented in earlier coverage. Rather than make this momentous occasion all about the benjamins, however, we decided to dig through the new digital archive of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle (which we wrote about in April) and the Navy Yard’s own archival info to find a few little-known facts about the country’s newest national treasure. Here are five things you might not know about the Brooklyn Navy Yard, which you can use to school your co-workers at the water cooler. (more…)

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07/24/13 10:30am

Sigal de-Mayo, Brooklyn Designer from Tara Bracco on Vimeo.

Brooklyn-based designer Sigal de-Mayo of Insiders1 has been creating bags and accessories for the past 13 years. Inspired by underground scenes in New York, de-Mayo created her line with a signature look–images of urban streetscapes on Italian leather. She also designed herbags and accessories from scratch, keeping in mind that customers who live in the cities her bags depict want carryalls that are useful, comfortable and stylish. Insiders1 products are made at a factory in the Brooklyn Navy Yard and are sold at New York markets, street fairs, and pop-up shops throughout the year.