verrazano-narrows bridge

Opened on November 21, 1964, the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge celebrates its 50th anniversary this week, so we’re honoring the occasion by looking at some of the statistics, quirks, and interesting bits of info that make up the massive crossing’s history. From parachuting off its tower, to a cameo in Saturday Night Fever, to nearly 22 dozen light bulbs, here are 25 things you may not have know about the bridge.

1. It could have been a tunnel, instead. The original discussion for crossing the Narrows began in 1888 — but that was for a tunnel. After a bridge was proposed and the design nixed, they went back to the tunnel idea, and actually began digging. The abandoned tunnels, which only went 150 feet but still remain, were nicknamed “Hylan’s Holes” after then-Mayor John F. Hylan, who championed the failed project. It went back and forth between tunnel/bridge until talk about a bridge, under the recommendation of Robert Moses, became serious in 1946.

2. It was built in five years. It took 16 years to build the Brooklyn Bridge (completed 81 years before the Verrazano), and one year and 45 days to build the Empire State Building (completed 33 years before the Verrazano).

3. It weighs 1,265,000 tons, making it the world’s heaviest bridge at the time it opened.

4. The cost to build the bridge, in 1964 dollars, was $320 million — which would be around $2.45 billion today.

Verrazano Bridge 1960 Brooklyn

Source: Matthew Proujansky via Wikimedia Commons

5. About 7,000 people were displaced in Bay Ridge to make room for the bridge, including dentist Henry Amen, whose office was leveled, but who found a new one nearby — he is still practicing there today at age 88.

6. The length of its central span, which made it the longest suspension bridge in the world when it opened, is 4,260 feet, the equivalent of just over 14 football fields. It lost that title in 1981, and is currently the eleventh longest in the world; but it’s still the longest in the United States.

7. About 12,000 men worked on its construction, and three men died in falls. Workers walked off the job for four days, demanding safety nets, which they got, and which, afterward, caught and saved three more workers who also fell. None of the workers were invited to the opening; instead they attended a mass for the three victims.

8. Nobody is buried in the structure’s foundation, like they claim in Saturday Night Fever. In the film, the bridge symbolizes freedom and a better life…in Staten Island. The film was released 20 years after the groundbreaking of the bridge — that year, 1959, the population of Staten Island was 220,000; by 1980, it was 352,000, so Tony wasn’t alone in these thoughts.

Continue Reading »

Source: katerha via flickr

Source: katerha via flickr

The first City Council hearing on a proposed mandatory fee for plastic bags at grocery stores and supermarkets took place yesterday, and it’s already proving to be one of the most divisive issues to come before the usually lockstep Council body.

Capital New York reports:

The bill, Intro. 209, is being championed by Council members Brad Lander of Brooklyn and Margaret Chin of Manhattan and would impose the fee on all plastic and paper bags issued by grocery stores, bodegas, liquor stores and the like in city limits. The intent is to cut back on the estimated 100,000 tons of plastic bags that find their way to the rivers, streets and trees in the city and encourage New Yorkers to use reusable shopping bags. Plastic bags constitute 2 percent of the city’s waste stream.

… Supporters maintained the 10 cents does not constitute a tax as no money would go to government coffers. Store owners would keep the 10 cents on each bag.

That, of course, hasn’t stopped opponents from describing it as a tax. One of the most vocal opponents so far has been Councilman David Greenfield.

The Daily News reports:

“Quite frankly, I’m ashamed to sit here today and talk about actually raising taxes on New Yorkers,” said Councilman David Greenfield (D-Brooklyn), who said he buys 30 bags of groceries for his family every Thursday night. “Now I’m going to have to pay three bucks extra a week.”

While proponents like Lander and Chin, who represent some of the city’s tonier districts, argue that such fees have successfully reduced the use of plastic bags in cities including Washington D.C., other elected officials say that it would unfairly hurt low-income families.

Councilman Chaim Deutsch is instead proposing a “recycling education campaign” to urge New York City residents to scale back on the roughly 9.37 billion disposable bags used in the five boroughs every year, most of which ends up in landfills.

“While our environmental goal should be to enhance programs which encourage recycling, the absolute wrong way to accomplish this worthwhile objective is by implementing a tax on plastic or paper bags,” said Deutsch in a statement. “I would rather support a recycling education campaign than support a tax, imposing an unfair financial burden on so many.”

Deutsch noted that though the bill’s provisions exempt food stamp recipients, not all of the city’s cash-strapped residents are on food stamps.

The de Blasio administration and Council speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito have not taken a position on the bill.

Photo by Randy Contello | RandyCPhotography

Photo by Randy Contello | RandyCPhotography

Photo by Randy Contello | RandyCPhotography

Morning Mug is our daily showcase of photographs from our readers. If you have a photograph that you’d like to see featured, send it to photos@sheepsheadbites.com.

Photo by Stephan Levine

Photo by Stephan Levine

A Lexus erupted in flames on the corner of Neptune Avenue and Cass Place this morning, prompting firefighters to rush to the scene.

The late-model Lexus RX350 became engulfed while making a right turn onto Cass Place, witnesses said.

Fire officials told us the blaze was called in 10:19am and put out by 10:55am.

Tipsters Stefan Levine and Giorgi Mchedlishvili sent us these dramatic photos:

Photo by Stefan Levine

Photo by Stefan Levine

There were no reported injuries and Mchedlishvili said he saw an “older”-looking man he believed to be the driver speaking to police.

“I was standing outside and heard a loud bang and black smoke. I walked towards it and saw two fire trucks, two police cars, but no ambulance,” Mchedlishvili said.

The totaled car was towed away by Ridge Towing.

Photo by Giorgi Mchedlishvili

Photo by Giorgi Mchedlishvili

Mchedlishvili sent us this footage of the blaze:

Source: Robert S. Donovan | Flickr

Source: Robert S. Donovan | Flickr

The next meeting of the Madison-Marine-Homecrest Civic Association will be held tomorrow evening, November 20, 7:30pm, at the Carmine Carro Community Center in Marine Park, Fillmore Avenue and Marine Parkway.

The meeting will feature a discussion and analysis on what the implications of the most recent election for Brooklyn mean, particularly in the southern end. Featured participants include Jerry Kassar, chairman of the Brooklyn Conservative Party and vice chairman of the New York State Conservative Party, and Lew Fidler, Democratic District Leader of the 41st Assembly District and former New York City councilman.

Additionally, Madison-Marine-Homecrest Civic is concluding its Thanksgiving food drive to help its less fortunate neighbors. Residents are being asked to please donate non-perishable foods, kosher and non-kosher, that you might serve on Thanksgiving to the following places: Michael’s Bakery, JoMart Chocolates, and Pronto Pizza (all situated on Avenue R at Nostrand Avenue); Tom’s Cleaners (2917 Avenue S); the Avenue U Fish Market (2704 Avenue U), G & S Pork Store (2611 Avenue U), T & D Bakery (2307 Avenue U), and the Roosevelt Savings Bank (2925 Avenue U). Food items and donations may be brought to the civic meeting on November 20 and checks to purchase turkeys, payable to “Madison-Marine Civic Assn.” can also be sent to: MMHCA, PO Box 432, Homecrest Station, Brooklyn, NY 11229.

For additional information, call (718) 375-9158.

Source: Flickr/haagenjerrys

Source: Flickr/haagenjerrys

Once again, the MTA has announced plans to raise fares and tolls - this time by 2 percent a year for the next two years. The 30-day MetroCard will definitely jump from $112 to $116.50, but the MTA is deliberating on whether to raise the price of the single ride MetroCard to $2.75, or keep it the same, effectively eliminating the bonus on the 30-day card.

Here’s a chart via Gothamist:

111714chart1

As you can see, both options kind of suck.

Fares on the LIRR and Metro-North will also see varying increases, as will bridge tolls – including the dreaded Verrazano-Narrows Bridge toll, which may jump a dollar. You can read more about that on the MTA website. The MTA plans to make a decision in March after hearing from commuters next month.

If you’d like to tell the MTA to take their fare hikes and shove it, be at the Walt Whitman Theater at Brooklyn College, 2900 Campus Road (near the Flatbush junction), on Thursday, December 11. Registration is open from 5pm to 9pm. The hearing begins at 6pm.

Comments can also be submitted online through the MTA website, or by letter to MTA Government Affairs, 347 Madison Ave., New York, 10017.

Source: Flickr/44551921@N04

Source: Flickr/44551921@N04

Middle school applications for the 2015-2016 school year are now available at elementary schools across the city.

How to apply

Students in 5th grade and 6th grade (for K-6 elementary schools) can apply to middle schools in their district, as well as certain boroughwide and citywide schools. Each student will receive a customized application that includes all of the middle schools he or she is eligible for. To complete the application, students should rank schools in order of preference and return the application to their guidance counselor. Private school students in 5th grade can fill out an application at a local enrollment office.

Before deciding on a school, it’s always a good idea for families to check out these middle school directories, contact schools of interest, and attend any open houses and information sessions that are offered. This middle school admissions checklist might be helpful.

Also check out the 2015-2016 Charter School Directory for information on the city’s 197 public charter schools.

Deadline

  • Applications must be submitted no later than Tuesday, December 2.

For more information see the Department of Education website.

Avenue U and Stuart Street, the scene of the accident. (Source: Google Maps)

Avenue U and Stuart Street, the scene of the accident. (Source: Google Maps)

Two women have been hospitalized and two police officers were injured after a routine traffic stop turned into a police chase yesterday, ending when the suspect’s van collided with another car on Avenue U and Stuart Street.

Officers stopped what appeared to be a white dollar van on Flatlands Avenue and East 42nd Street at approximately 3pm. They suspected the vehicle had been connected to a robbery pattern.

When the cops approached the vehicle, the driver slammed on the gas, clipping one officer and running over the other one’s foot.

Neither were seriously injured, reports CBS Local.

The outlet reports:

Police pursued the driver in the van for several miles, but the chase was called off. The driver ended up crashing into a civilian vehicle at Avenue U and Stuart Street in Marine Park, Brooklyn, police said.

Three women were in the small gray car – all from the same family, source said. They were pinned inside the vehicle and had to be extricated, according to the FDNY.

Police said two of them were taken to Kings County Hospital Center, and one of them – a 19-year-old who had been a front-seat passenger – was in critical condition.

The driver of the vehicle — the mother of the 19-year-old — was also hospitalized, while the back seat passenger was not injured, police said.

NBC adds that the driver of the civilian vehicle was an off-duty sergeant, and said his car was T-boned. Video sent to Sheepshead Bites by reader Jennifer Ginter, seen above, shows that the van jumped the curb and was partially in the grass of Marine Park after the accident.

Witnesses told ABC News that the suspect attempted to flee on foot after the crash, but was quickly apprehended.

Charges were still pending as of yesterday evening.

Photo by Lisa

Photo by Lisa

Photo by Lisa

Morning Mug is our daily showcase of photographs from our readers. If you have a photograph that you’d like to see featured, send it to photos@sheepsheadbites.com.

Hrm. I wonder why Avenue Y's overpass gets so messy. (Photo by John)

Hrm. I wonder why Avenue Y’s overpass gets so messy. (Photo by John)

The trash problem beneath the Brighton line subway overpasses in Midwood and Sheepshead Bay is finally going to get a little better after years of complaints from residents.

Councilman Chaim Deutsch is sending $15,000 in additional funding to the Midwood Development Corporation to expand its Project Sweep Program, which is now responsible for cleaning garbage, debris and graffiti from beneath all subway overpasses spanning from Avenue M to Avenue Z. The project will also send cleaners to Sheepshead Bay Road, the Holocaust Memorial Park and a handful of other areas known to be eyesores.

The group goes out twice a week to hit several of the spots, according to information from Deutsch’s office. Cleanups began in October and will continue until the end of June.

Project Sweep employs adults with developmental disabilities who work alongside job coaches to clean commercial strips. Since 1990, they’ve been tidying up other business corridors including Newkirk Avenue, Courtelyou Road and Avenue M.

“Graffiti and litter adversely affect our quality of life, and can even cause an innocent homeowner to incur summonses due to littered trash blowing onto their property. My goal is to enhance the beautification of our neighborhoods,” said Deutsch in a press release. “I am eager to work with the leaders and members of Project Sweep on this endeavor.”

If you’d like to report an area you want to see cleaned, contact Deutsch’s office at (718) 368-9176.

Similar cleanups are being announced in other neighborhoods, including funding from Councilman Mark Treyger to local groups for cleanup initiatives on Mermaid Avenue and Stillwell Avenue.