Happy spring, everyone! I’m finally sorting through all the documentation of Brooklyn Makes. I’m very excited to share this video, especially for those who could not attend. It both documents the event and includes short clips from each of the videos, as well as a description of what went down. Please enjoy and feel free to pass it around.
Thanks to Rachel Messer & Pilar Ortiz for shooting!
The Gentrification of Brooklyn show at MoCADA is up until May 16, with additional special events in the coming weeks. BRIC Community Media (coincidentally the same folks with whom I will soon begin a teaching artist residency) created this news segment at the opening. You can get a taste of the show and see me, other artists, MoCADA director Laurie Cumbo and curator Dexter Wimberly talk about the show. Enjoy!
The Gentrification of Brooklyn
80 Hanson Place // Brooklyn, NY
Wednesday-Sunday, 11am-6pm, until May 16
The 2, 3, 4, 5, B, and Q stop at Atlantic Avenue.
The D, M, N, and R stop at Pacific Avenue.
The C stops at Lafayette Avenue.
The G stops at Fulton Street.
I’m reposting from Manhattan User’s Guide, who linked my video in their post about Fillmore Place. Thanks to whoever chose to include it!
I do think The Times story mentioned below is an interesting example of how Williamsburg has been cast throughout the years. I wonder, for example, Where were the street cleaners at that time? And why are the residents cleaning the street seen as a futile effort to address the shortcomings of their neighbors, rather than an attempt by citizens to do a job that is normally performed through the city infrastructure? Of course, the story is never black or white, but is at least more gray.
This weekend, two more of my dwindling groups of friends who live in a ten-minute radius are moving because their rent skyrocketed when their lease ended. While historical designation is part of a larger effort to preserve livable neighborhoods in Brooklyn, I really hope to see some momentum in the larger movement to promote equity and ecomic diversity in places like Williamsburg, so that these beautiful neighborhoods are a resource for all city residents.
Fillmore Place is having its moment, again.
The one-block street is now under consideration to receive Historict District status from the Landmarks Preservation Commission, thanks to the efforts of the Municipal Art Society and the Waterfront Preservation Alliance of Greenpoint and Williamsburg. It would be Billburg’s first residential historic district.
The street came into being during an earlier Williamsburg boom, when Alfred Clock and Ephraim Miller began construction of the two dozen or so three-story, brick row houses in the 1850s. Twenty-one survive.
It was another Miller, though—Henry Miller—who gave Fillmore Place its modest fame. Miller grew up in a house at the corner of Fillmore and Driggs, and in Tropic of Capricorn, he described Fillmore Place as “the most enchanting street I have ever seen in all my life.”
By the 1970s, much had changed in the feel of the street. The Times reported on those changes in a 1972 article called A Community Where Family Togetherness Is a Thing of the Past. It detailed the seemingly futile efforts of the residents to maintain the area, noting “Every week, Mrs. Hasiak, who is a paraprofessional at P. S. 19, and a neighbor sweep Fillmore Place and spray its gutters with Lysol.”
It’s a different story today. No one, as far we know, sprays the gutters any more, but Fillmore Place once again has a very Brooklyn, very appealing vibe. The concerns aren’t a flight to the suburbs, but rather, insensitive development of the borough. Sarah Nelson Wright captures life in this small corner of the world beautifully in her four-and-a-half minute mini-documentary, which you can watch here.
I finally got my video portrait of Colonial Glass, one of the few remaining manufacturers thriving in Williamsburg, up on my site. It will also be on Comment Williamsburg shortly. I’m still working on a director’s statement, but would love to hear feedback or ideas for screenings. Thanks to Prof. Michael Gitlin for his feedback and also to the folks at Colonial for welcoming me into their workspace, especially Zach Weiner. I look forward to screening it for you all.
Just wanted to acknowledge Gowanus Lounge (a great blog about real estate & development in Brooklyn) for reposting my Fillmore Place video. Also, if you’re interested, check out some of the comments about the block on Brownstoner — pretty harsh!
It does go to show that you can’t really know a place without being there. Fillmore may not look like the brownstone mansions of Park Slope, but the community feeling on the block is certainly worth preserving, and has an intimate relationship to its history, the buildings, and the scale.
The Waterfront Preservation Alliance of Williamsburg & Greenpoint (WPA) is working on the effort to landmark Fillmore Place. They posted my video about Fillmore Place on their site. There’s more information about the history of Fillmore Place there.
I am also working on collaborating with them to track the buildings they hope to preserve on my Comment Williamsburg site. It’s great to be able to contribute some of the projects I’ve been working on in school to applications in the real world.