A big green sign that greets drivers from Manhattan coming over the Williamsburg Bridge reads, “Name It…We Got It!” Among the many things to which the borough can now lay claim: A dense grove of 4,000 redwood trees in the middle of Downtown Brooklyn‘s Metrotech Commons. It’s this unlikely juxtaposition that has brought the trees, with roots in prehistoric times and known to grow bigger than the Flatiron Building and longer than the Brooklyn Bridge, to this spot steps from Shake Shack. The mini-redwood forest is called “Lost Man Creek,” an art installation by Brooklyn-based artist Spencer Finch that opened on October 1. It’s a scaled-down (to one hundredth the size) replica of a 790-acre section of California’s Redwood National Park, planted in partnership with the Save the Redwoods League.
Mayor Bill de Blasio is set to make a proposal on Wednesday that will launch an initiative to transform Downtown Brooklyn into a community that will rival some of its brownstone counterparts. The area has undoubtedly grown significantly over the last decade with new restaurants and cultural institutions that have attracted an influx of residents. However locals feel that the area still feels a bit disconnected. De Blasio’s plan aims to create a greater sense of community in the neighborhood.
We’re thinking of becoming local college basketball fans — not necessarily because we love the sport, but because we’re dying to get inside this Long Island University gymnasium that was once the Brooklyn Paramount Theatre. Commissioned in 1928 by Paramount Pictures, with a sister theatre in Times Square, this regal venue was the largest movie theatre in Brooklyn, second largest in the city, and the first theatre designed for talking pictures. Noted theatre architects Rapp and Rapp designed the rococo-style palace with 4,084 burgundy velvet seats, a ceiling painted with clouds, a 60-foot stage curtain decorated with satin-embroidered pheasants, huge chandeliers, and tiered fountains filled with goldfish.
Movie houses struggled during the depression years, and by 1936 the Brooklyn Paramount Theatre had lost $1.5 million since opening. In 1950 Long Island University purchased the building, and twelve years later they renovated the auditorium as their gymnasium keeping the original, ornate details of the space intact. The LIU Blackbirds played their first game in 1963, and in 1975 a second renovation occurred thanks to funding from local businesses.
The city has officially approved a $3 million streetscaping plan as part of the overall plan to create a cultural district on the border of downtown Brooklyn and Fort Greene, according to Crain’s New York. The plan, which will transform public spaces along several streets including Fulton Street, Ashland Place, Lafayette Avenue, will include ripping up the existing sidewalks and replacing them with dark stone slabs embedded with a sprinkling of lights. There will also be new seating and landscaping along a number of blocks north of Atlantic Avenue where patrons of popular institutions like the Brooklyn Academy of Music and BRIC arts and media gather. The idea is to turn that area into a cultural epicenter in Brooklyn, much like Lincoln Center in Manhattan, but comprised of several independent entities.