Het Dorp: A Virtual Tour of Bushwick Green

June 4, 2008 ·
Filed under: Greenpoint Magic, Williamsburg 

Thanks to my new (or would that be not-so-new) copy of History of Kings County Including Brooklyn, N.Y. I embarked on a little walking tour last weekend. My guide was the hybrid “map” depicted above. The map in white indicates the layout of “Het Dorp” or in English, “Bushwick Green”. The satellite map underneath of it comes courtesy of Google. As you can see, Bushwick Green was not in what we call “Bushwick” today. It was, in fact, located very close to Cooper Park. Here’s a brief introduction from the (rabidly anti-Dutch) History of Kings County:

The remains of ancient Bushwick, says Newtown Antiquary, Mr. Wm. O’Gorman, “cluster around the Dutch Reformed Church on the confines of North Second (now Metropolitan Avenue— Ed. Note) and Humboldt Streets, Brooklyn, E.D., where the animosity of Governor Stuyvesant planted them in 1661, to gratify his hatred against the English Kills of Newtown. On March 14th, 1661, he probably emerged from the old Conselyea House on Humboldt Street— irascible old man that he was— supporting a heavy dinner on his historic wooden leg, rather unsteadied from heavy lager, and pronounced and christened the new village ‘BOSWIJCK’, which the moderns have made Bushwick, the Low Dutch name for ‘heavy woods’…”

If you click on the above map you will be directed to my Flickr page where you can check out what I found as I walked through what was once “Bushwick Green”. Follows are brief descriptions of the landmarks (all culled from History of Kings County and long gone) to guide you on this virtual tour. Enjoy!

1. Bushwick Church: The old Bushwick Church was an octagonal edifice, standing on the site of, and facing the same way as the present one… The wrinkled and homely old one story town-house, and the school-house on the opposite side of the Wood-point road, which leads from the church to a point in the woods on the meadows, neat Van Cott and Meeker Avenues… In 1840 the old church was replaced by the present edifice. In 1846 Maspeth Avenue was opened to Newtown, and several houses erected upon it, this side of the creek.

2. Town-House: The old town-house (the settlement’s “seat of justice” — Ed. Note) yet stands and around it centre the memories of the ancient, civil, ecclesiastical and educational glories of Bushwick. In front of it (or more probably of its predecessor), contumacious John of Lyden was exposed to the public gaze, ignominiously tied to a stake, with a bridle in his mouth, and a bundle of rods under his arm and a label on his breast, stating he was a writer of lampoons, etc. Here, too, a thief was once punished by being made to stand under a gallows, with a rope around his neck and an empty scabbard in his hand; and here, saddest sight of all, a venerable clergyman of the town, who had incautiously married a couple without observing the formalities demanded by the law, was condemned to flogging and banishment; a sentence which his gray hairs, was commuted to that of exile form the town.

3. School House: The school house which stood near was occupied by a district school until within a few years past (1884 — Ed. Note)— latterly under the charge of the Board of Education.

4. & 5. De Voe Houses: From the old burial ground, and looking along the old Woodpoint road, the two venerable De Voe houses might be seen, standing (on either side of the old road) between Parker and Bennet Streets, near De Bevoise avenue.

6. Conselyea Houses: The venerable homestead of the Conselyea family stands angle-ways to Humboldt Street; with its front looking, as of yore, on old Bushwick Church, its rear to Jackson Street. It is worth a visit. Part of the building has been lately cut away. The last occupant of the name was “Aunt Katty”, widow of Andrew J. Conselyea. She died in 1873, and the family of Conselyea departed with her coffin through the old portals of the homestead never to return. A write of the day this describes the rooms left vacant: ‘The window sills are of sufficient capacity to seat three men comfortable, and are each one foot in depth; the window sashes are the same as were originally placed there, with nine small 6×7 panes of glass in each sash. The ceiling of this room is particularly worthy of notice. It is supported by five ponderous beams that measure 14 1/2×7 1/2 inches in thickness, and are twenty feet long. They are painted brown, and give the room a rather gloomy appearance… The old cupboard of 150 years ago was removed to Jamaica, and is now preserved in the house of John Conselyea, of that town ship; it was and is yet an ornamental piece of furniture.’

7. Old Bushwick Graveyard: In the sight of the church, and covering the present junction of Parker (Withers) Street and Kingsland Avenue, was the ancient graveyard of the original Dutch settlement, for many years unused and its few remaining monuments neglected, broken and almost undecipherable. In 1879 Isaac De Bevoise, grandson of Isaac, who here was buried, undertook the pious duty of removing such remains as were left. He collected seven large casket-boxes of bones, whose identification was impossible; besides a few remains which were identified by neither coffin-plates or headstone. He estimated them at 250 skeletons, and he remarked that all had sound teeth— save the one tooth which was used to hold the Dutch pipe. If you are wondering where these remains were re-interred, they are under the old church (in other words, the middle on Conselyea Street).

If you have the time this weekend, why not check out “Het Dorp” yourself? Unlike Greenpoint, there is still quite a bit of “green” there to be found!

Miss Heather

Digester Lighting Ceremony Post Script

June 4, 2008 ·
Filed under: Area 51, Greenpoint Magic 

As I wrote earlier today I attended the digester tank lighting ceremony last night at the Newtown Creek Nature Walk. Aside from being highly entertaining, it has been my experience that these events usually afford opportunities for free stuff. This was the case last night— and cake and coffee were not the only freebies in the offering.

As Mr. Heather and I were leaving the festivities, a woman was handing out these water bottles. As you can see it is emblazoned with the logos for the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Department of Environmental Protection. I proudly showed my new prize to Mr. Heather. He was sick with envy— that is, until we looked at the bottom of this bottle to ascertain what it is made of.

This bottle is clearly labeled “PC 7″. What is “PC 7″ you ask? Here is a little information from thegreenguide:

Not all #7 plastic is polycarbonate, nor are all Nalgene bottles made from polycarbonate. Unlike #1-#6,#7 is the official “other” plastics category. Nalgene makes several varieties of water bottle, made from different kinds of plastic, including polyethylene and polypropylene. Nalgene’s Lexan bottles are made of polycarbonate plastic (PC), a plastic known to leach the hormone-disrupting chemical bisphenol-A (BPA). This puts it in the company of two other plastics which studies have determined are prone to leaching and pose environmental and/or health concerns: 1) Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) which can leaches phthalates, a hormone disruptor, and dioxin, a carcinogen; and 2) polystyrene, which can leach styrene, a possible human carcinogen.

Does that mean Nalgene Lexan water bottles are unsafe? We cannot say categorically that Nalgene Lexan bottles are unsafe or even that they leach BPA, until the product has been properly tested. According to Our Stolen Future: “No tests on bisphenol-A leaching have been carried out specifically on Nalgene water bottles, to the knowledge of www.OurstolenFuture.org, nor were Nalgene bottles the brand used in the experiments demonstrating a link between polycarbonate and chromosomal aberrations. There may be some reason why Nalgene bottles do not leach bisphenol-A. This would be highly unexpected, however, given their chemical composition.”

What We Know

PC is a durable and heat resistant plastic, making it a popular material for food storage and laboratory equipment, including baby bottles, water bottles, petri dishes and animal cages. In the late 1990s, studies testing PC baby bottles found they leached low levels of BPA. After several tests of the same bottles the presence of BPA decreased dramatically. The studies suggested that while residual amounts of BPA may be present on some baby bottles, it would disappear after a short period of use. The studies concluded that the PC baby bottles currently on the market are not a health risk to children.

In 2003, a study, published in Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP), reproduced the same results as the earlier studies when new bottles were tested. However, after repeated washings and scrubbings, the levels of BPA leaching from the bottles increased significantly. The study concludes, “The increased migration levels may be due to polymer degradation.”

During the same year, two more studies were published in EHP, which came about after researchers traced BPA in lab mice to the PC cages in which the mice were housed. These studies share several of the same conclusions: 1) Polycarbonate exposed to harsh detergent is prone to leaching; 2) The older the polycarbonate, the more it leaches; 3) High temperatures cause higher rates of leaching. One study found that polycarbonate will leach into water at room temperature. Of even greater concern, the laboratory plastics studies were initiated by sudden abnormalities in mice egg cells after polycarbonate animal cages were mistakenly washed with the wrong detergent.

This is mildly disturbing. I guess I can always use this item as a time capsule or something. Thanks Department of Health!

Miss Heather

Greenpoint Photo du Jour: Wet Paint

June 4, 2008 ·
Filed under: Greenpoint Magic 

From Driggs Avenue.

Miss Heather

The Digester Tank Lighting Ceremony Experience

June 4, 2008 ·
Filed under: Greenpoint Magic, Long Island City 

Yesterday evening I received an email from my friend across the creek. Yes, I am talking about Queens Crap. The email was entitled “Eight Large Eggs, in a Hue of Blue”. Crappy writes:

You MUST get photos of this!

What is “this”, you ask? Very simple: as of 9:00 p.m. June 3, 2008 Greenpoint’s very own sewage treatment plant will take on an azure hue every evening. As you can imagine, I was already on the case. I replied:

You bet your ass I am going to this.

So at 8:00 p.m. sharp last night Mr. Heather and I headed to the Nature Walk where the “lighting ceremony” was to be conducted. Ma Heather (who was visiting at the time) elected to stay home. It’s a shame really. She missed an evening of Greenpoint hospitality at its very finest!

I could bore you with some dry recitation of what all I saw, heard and smelled— but that would be boring. You can go to the newspapers for that kind of thing. Rather, I have made this short film for your viewing pleasure*. Enjoy!

Rockefeller Center can keep its Christmas tree. Times Square can take that glorified bucky ball they roll out New Year’s Eve and shove it. People from the Empire State Building observation deck will be able to gaze upon our festively colored sewage treatment plant every night.**

Forever.

We have, my fellow Greenpointers, finally arrived!

Miss Heather

*Or if you do not have 10 minutes to spare you can check out my Flickr set by clicking here.

**Emily Lloyd (the Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection) really did point this out. Watch my YouTube video and see for yourself.

Studio B: The Intrigue Continues

June 3, 2008 ·
Filed under: Asshole, Greenpoint Magic 

As some of you might remember, I wrote a post recently stating that Studio B is seeking the green light for a cabaret license from Community Board 1. Well, I have learned today that it is a helluva lot more interesting than that! I have it from a reliable source that not only is the Department of Consumer Affairs (not the Department of Buildings) responsible for issuing such permits, but Studio B has been operating without one for TWO YEARS!

More (undoubtedly) to come!

Miss Heather

Manhattan Avenue: Then and Now

June 3, 2008 ·
Filed under: Greenpoint Magic 

Inspired by the brand new bus shelter gracing the intersection of Greenpoint and Manhattan Avenues, I am going to share with you, dear readers, another photograph of Greenpoint from back in the day.

From Straw Dogs to glass, steel and Shaken Iced Espresso. Greenpoint, you’ve come a long way baby!

Miss Heather

Chinatown Photo du Jour: Confucius Plaza

June 3, 2008 ·
Filed under: Area 51 

No shirt, no shoes, no Nirvana.

Miss Heather

Red Shed Garden

I have walked by this community garden (which is located just across Kingsland Avenue from the Greenpoint Hospital) many times. This weekend, however, I was lucky enough to swing by while their volunteers were busy beautifying north Brooklyn. They were also kind enough to let me come in and take some pictures. My complete set can be found over at Flickr. Here are a few highlights.

I’m not too sure what this chap, the littlest volunteer at the Red Shed Garden, was doing. But whatever it was it required the use of a plastic baseball bat. Doing a spot of weeding, perhaps?

The work these people have done is really impressive. I for one loved the use of a wheelbarrow as a planter.

This is the beginners’ garden. Interesting Garden Spot Fact: the land currently occupied by Mary D’s Housing For Seniors on Eagle Street used to be a community garden. When Mary D’s was built it was promised there would be a community garden on the premises. There isn’t one. The garden you see on Eagle Street is for Mary D’s residents only.

Here’s a nice shot with the old Greenpoint Hospital in the background.

And of course what would a post about the Red Shed Garden be without featuring its namesake? Anyone who is interested in volunteering at this beautiful oasis nestled in the heart of uglyass condoville should contact the folks at Red Shed via their brand-spanking new web site.

Miss Heather

Williamspoint Photo du Jour: Kingsland Avenue

June 3, 2008 ·
Filed under: Greenpoint Magic, Williamsburg 

This is without argument the best alternative use of those freebie newspaper dispensers (which are blighting my neighborhood at an alarming rate) I have ever seen.

Miss Heather

THIS WEEK: Mordred’s Mom, Sock Monkeys & Tequila

June 3, 2008 ·
Filed under: Greenpoint Magic 

There are a couple of rather nifty art events scheduled for this Thursday I simply must pass along. Here they are.

Many of you are familiar with Mordred the Greenpoint chihuahua. Well, it should hardly surprise you to learn that her “person”, Jocelyn Shipley, is an artist. What’s more, she’s having an opening for her show The Secret Life of Sculpture this Thursday, June 5, at Canada Gallery from 6:00 – 9:00 p.m.

CANADA Gallery
55 Christie Street
New York, New York 10002

(212) 925-4631

Next up, the very same evening fresh art will be throwing their annual fund raiser, Fiesta Mexicana, at Gallery HAI in SoHo. Tickets are a little pricey ($50.00 per person) but you get a lot of bang for your buck. Among the things promised are:

Fun, Silent Auction, Food, Art Exhibition, Dancing by Calpulli Mexican Dace Company, Live Music, Beer; Wine, Tequila, y mucho mas!

Naturally a vast assortment of sock monkeys will be offered for sale as well.

fresh art 2008 Fiesta Mexicana
June 5, 2008 6:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Gallery HAI
548 Broadway, Floor 3
New York, New York 10012
(646) 262-3273

Tickets can be purchased in advance at freshartnyc.org, nycharities.org or via telephone at the above-listed phone number.

Miss Heather