Archive for the tag 'ocean parkway'

This home was on the market for $14 million last year, the borough’s highest price tag. (Source: Rich Caplan/

People with very deep pockets are shelling out serious dough to buy homes in Gravesend, breaking records for the most expensive properties in all of Brooklyn. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that homes in the community are sought out by observant Jews looking to live close to the neighborhood’s synagogues and community centers.

Gravesend, which has traditionally been a diverse, middle-class neighborhood, is seeing whopping spikes in some home sales, with some selling for more than $10 million. The Journal accounted for the huge price tags on homes and why it is happening now:

Brokers said prices hinge not only on how big a house is, but also on its proximity to area synagogues and Jewish community centers. They say it isn’t uncommon for buyers to purchase relatively modest or outdated houses in order to tear them down and build new residences that allow for easy walks on the Sabbath.

At present, the highest-priced listing in the area, according to real-estate listing website, is a seven-bedroom house on Ocean Parkway with an asking price of $8.99 million. The house was initially listed for $14 million in 2012, and if it had fetched that price it would have been one of the most expensive homes to ever sell in Brooklyn.

A number of homes in Gravesend have already been among the most expensive to ever sell in the borough: One house on Avenue S sold for $10.25 million in 2011; another on the same avenue sold for $11 million in 2003; and one on East 2nd Street went for $10.26 million in 2009.

Avi Spitzer, the executive director of the nonprofit Sephardic Community Federation, explained the phenomenon in an email to the Journal.
“Today Gravesend is the heart of the largest Sephardic Jewish community in the United States. The community has grown because we have built schools, synagogues, facilities and social service agencies to serve the community’s needs,” Spitzer said.
The Journal also elaborated on the history of how Gravesend became a hotspot for the Sephardic Jewish community and what the most in-demand blocks are:
Mr. Spitzer said the city’s Sephardic Jewish community moved from Manhattan’s Lower East Side to Bensonhurst, which borders Gravesend, in the early 1900s, and migrated to Gravesend in the 1940s. Approximately 30,000 Sephardic Jews live in the neighborhood, he said, and many more live in adjacent neighborhoods such as Midwood.
The most in-demand blocks in the neighborhood are concentrated in a small, tree-lined enclave from Avenue S to Avenue U, between McDonald and Coney Island avenues.

Ocean Parkway is the main thoroughfare running through the area.

While some price tags are skyrocketing, the median price for homes in Gravesend, $465,000, is still below the Brooklyn median, $495,000.

Still, it is remarkable how factors unrelated to geographical beauty and the architecture and size of homes can have minimal importance in driving a dwelling into multi-million dollar status.

Photo by Allan Shweky via

Photo by Allan Shweky via

Trees damaged and left rotting by Superstorm Sandy have finally led to a full response by the Parks Department. The New York Daily News is reporting that the Parks Department is planning to inspect and cut down thousands of trees, not only because they are dying, but because they are endangering residents.

We have previously covered the scores of dead and dying trees left in the wake of Sandy. The prevailing thought is that salt water flooded the root systems of thousands of trees across Southern Brooklyn and other parts of the city, effectively killing them. We recently noted that the Parks Department has already begun the process of removing the damaged trees across Southern Brooklyn including areas along Ocean Parkway, Shore Parkway and the Belt Parkway.

The Parks Department has laid out greater details for their plan to deal with all the salt infected trees. They plan to cut down 2,000 trees of the 45,000 they have inspected earlier in the year. They also plan to re-inspect another 4,500 in the fall. As for replacing the trees, the Parks Department said they would wait until spring’s planting season before gauging their plans. Meghan Lalor, a Parks Department spokeswoman, listed higher priorities before they launch a full scale re-planting.

“In the interim, we have been and will continue to remediate soil, as necessary, with compost and gypsum – both mitigate salt damage – to encourage the return of healthy biological functioning,” Lalor told the Daily News.

Chuck Reichenthal, the district manager for Community Board 13, covering Coney Island and Brighton Beach, was sad to see the trees go but said it was important nonetheless.

“It is a very sad time because these trees have been here for so long, but it is a necessity for safety,” Reichenthal told the Daily News. “Everybody is hoping they make replacements because this is still Brooklyn, and this is where trees are grown.”

Source: University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service

The racial diversity of Brookyn (Source: University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service)

It might be hard to believe but every single pixelated dot represented on the map above is a person living in Brooklyn in 2010 and the colors correspond to their race. Dustin Cable, a senior research associate at the University of Virgina’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service, created the interactive map using data from the 2010 census.

The zoomable “Racial Dot Map,” astonishingly places a different colored dot for everyone of the 308,745,538 people tracked in the last census. Incredibly, according to a report by National Geographic, if you zoom to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the location of the White House, you see can see 5 green dots (representing black Americans) signifying the first family and Barack Obama’s mother-in-law.

More locally, we can see how race fans out over Brooklyn. The predominantly white population (represented by blue dots) of Sea Gate abruptly gives way to the black, Hispanic (orange) and Asian (red) enclaves of Coney Island. The western section Brighton Beach is almost entirely white. A mix of Asian and Hispanic people are tucked neatly away in the land side of Brighton Beach, away from the more desirable waterfront, while the majority of Manhattan Beach is clearly made up of white people.

Sheepshead Bay is actually surprisingly integrated. It’s predominantly white but blended – especially as you approach Avenue U – with smaller pockets of Asian and Hispanic people lining the edges. We’re not particularly integrated when it comes to black Americans, though, which are appear confined to the greenish, orangish square of the Sheepshead-Nostrand Housing projects.

It’s quite the eye opener to see just how Asian and Hispanic the historically Italian neighborhood of Bensonhurst has become. Anecdotally, and through census numbers, we know the area has transitioned drastically over the years, but seeing it visualized like this brings it to life. Bath Beach and the Dyker Heights-Bensonhurst border are real bastions of integration, if only because it’s still in flux.

Surprisingly, based on the unscientific eyeball test, some of the most diverse neighborhoods in Brooklyn are Red Hook, Park Slope and South Slope (which we’re not entirely committed to recognizing as a real neighborhood yet).

Another interesting note is that the further you zoom out, the more you see the colors blend in ways that indicate greater diversity. Purple and teal colors signify great diversity and when the map is pushed back to reveal the entire tri-state area, it is clear that Brooklyn and New York City is mostly a purplish blob. This is evident in most metropolitan areas across the United States. Still, the closer you zoom in, the more you can racial divides, even on a street by street basis. Interesting stuff, indeed.

You can play around with the map by clicking here.

UPDATE (August 30 @ 3:32 p.m.): In response to a request from bill, in the comments, I’ve attempted to overlay district lines on the map above. It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty close and the best I was able to do:


It was actually a great suggestion that helps us visualize exactly how districts were shaped to either bolster representation of some ethnic groups (either to match requirements set by the Voting Rights Act or concentrate a voting base, depending on your perspective), and to diminish others.

Some examples? Looks like Bensonhurst’s Asian community was divided up among four different council districts. In Sheepshead Bay, the housing projects by Nostrand Avenue, once part of the 48th District, were drawn into the 46th, pretty much removing all of the black vote from the district and putting it safely in a minority-majority district.

This is probably one of the most politically enlightening maps I’ve seen yet, so thanks to bill for suggesting we put it together.

Photo by Allan Shweky via

Photo by Allan Shweky via

The city has begun the process of removing tress damaged by Superstorm Sandy. Sheepshead Bites reader Allan Shweky, who runs the Friends of Ocean Parkway posted a series of photographs on a new site of his, Screwed on the Boardwalk, showing Parks Department workers chopping down trees left dead or dying as a result of Sandy.

As we’ve previously reported, a scourge of dead and dying trees can be spotted in neighborhoods across Southern Brooklyn. The reason that so many trees died isn’t precisely known but experts have speculated that salt water dried out the roots once the summer turned up the heat.

Shweky’s photo collection shows Parks Department workers removing trees near the boardwalk entrance on Ocean Parkway and we’ve also had word that similar actions are being taken on Shore Parkway, along the Belt Parkway.

R.I.P. trees, and here’s hoping the city makes an effort to replant everything they chop down.

Photo by Allan Shweky via

Only a stump remains. (Photo by Allan Shweky via

Source: via gothamist

Source: via gothamist

New Yorkers are born complainers. The tradition started in 1626 when the leader of the local Lenape Indians informed his people that he sold Manhattan Island for $24 worth of beads. You can only imagine grumbling as the Lenape packed up their things and headed for Staten Island. While someone could probably fashion a list of over a million complaints that New Yorkers assert on a daily basis, researchers at the Furman Center have boiled down the most frequently registered complaints issued by every neighborhood in the city.

By analyzing 311 data from last summer, the Furman Center produced the map seen above. While this map gives you a general idea of what New Yorkers are upset about, we thought it would be interesting to see what specifically people in our area have been griping about. Here is a break down for our local communities. Spoiler? People really need to stop blocking the driveways.

Sheepshead Bay, Manhattan Beach and Gerritsen Beach (lumped into one category by 311):

  1. Street Light Out
  2. No Access (blocked driveways)
  3. With licence plate (derelict vehicles; sometimes vehicles that appear abandoned or have parked in a space for too long)

Seagate and Coney Island:

  1. Loud Music/Party
  2. Vermin
  3. Pothole

West Brighton (a.k.a. Coney Island, from Ocean Parkway to the Steeplechase Pier):

  1. Vermin
  2. Broken Muni-Meter
  3. Water Supply

Brighton Beach:

  1. No Access
  2. Pothole
  3. Broken Muni-Meter


  1. No Access
  2. Vermin
  3. Sewer Backup


  1. Ceiling (this is a complaint against landlords [including the MTA, in the case of train stations] for crumbling ceilings)
  2. Fallen Branches
  3. No Access

Ocean Parkway South:

  1. No Access
  2. Fallen Branches
  3. Dead Animals


  1. Street Light Out
  2. Derelict Vehicles
  3. Pothole
Source: wheany/Flickr

Source: wheany/Flickr

I have already visited the beach at Coney Island many times this year and what has struck me the most is how much cleaner it appears to be than in years past. Previous to my many sojourns to the shore this year, I had last been two summers ago and my striking memory was how gross it was. Garbage littered the sands and the ocean. The experience was so bad that it kept me away for a long time.

But the question remains, how clean is the beach exactly? Well, Gothamist recently reported on a Natural Resources Defense Council study that yielded surprising (or unsurprising, depending on your level of cynicism) results about the beaches at Coney Island and Brighton Beach.

In the study, beaches across America are graded on a five-star scale, and the beaches between Brighton 6th Street and Ocean Parkway, and Ocean Parkway to West 8th Street - the area most people except scientists, apparently, refer to as Brighton Beach - received four stars , though this scoring was not uniform as you can see in the chart below.



In examining the numbers, the good news is tempered by stretches of the beach where the percentage of water samples exceeding national standards for cleanliness has increased over the past three years. Those areas? Coney Island.

Beaches cannot have more than three stars if they exceed five percent of the national average, which is the case from West 8th Street, heading west. If you’ve got a phobia of particle matter that may or may not be human waste or manufacturing waste or some other waste… your best bet is to stick to the four star areas between Brighton 6th and Ocean Parkway.

The biggest cause of pollution comes from sewage overflow. According to Gothamist, New York City experiences 30 billion gallons of sewage spillover each year. Superstorm Sandy accounted for five billion gallons of sewage spillover when it trashed the city late last October.

While that news is disgusting, Brighton Beach is still your best bet for summer ocean swimming as it was the highest ranked of all New York beaches with the ‘good stretch’ of it being no more polluted than any other beach in America. As for Coney Island, well, it could be worse – but, hey, this still ain’t bad compared to we might imagine water conditions to be after all of Southern Brooklyn’s trash and street chemicals washed into it in October.

For those wondering, by the way, there was no accounting for Manhattan Beach in the report.

Where do you prefer to take in some sun and brave the waters?

Photo by Steven Volynets

Photo by Steven Volynets

A car crash in Midwood turned fatal when Zahurul Alam lost control of his Lexus and slammed into a tree early Sunday morning. The New York Daily News is reporting that Alam lost his life and injured his two friends who were along for the ride.

The accident happened at 2:45 a.m. Sunday, as Alam headed north on Ocean Parkway near Avenue J. Alam, who was 20 years old, died instantly, with witnesses saying that his body was barely visible in the wreckage.

“It was bad … You couldn’t even see the driver, he was killed right away … I don’t know if he was wearing a seatbelt,” witness Benny Uzilov told the Daily News.

Uzilov went on to describe the visible condition of the other passengers.

“The passenger in the back didn’t have a scratch. The guy in the front passenger seat was moving his legs a little but his head was back. (Responders) were talking to the guy in the back, but he was just looking around,” Uzilov said.

The friends of Alam were transferred to Lutheran Hospital in critical condition but have now been upgraded to stable.

Alam was believed to be speeding, according to reports.

Photo: Maria Danalakis

New York City’s Health Commissioner, Dr. Thomas A. Farley, sternly defended the city’s decision not to evacuate hospitals and senior centers before the advent of Superstorm Sandy, according to a report in The New York Times.

The health commissioner faced a litany of fiery questions from the City Council and argued that the decision not to evacuate the 6,300 patients to safer ground was based on information from the National Weather Service. In the time that an evacuation was capable of being executed, the NWS had reported that Sandy was headed for Long Island Sound. According to Farley, by the time it was clear that the storm would strike the heart of the city, it was too late to perform a mass evacuation.

“We couldn’t have accomplished the evacuation of everybody in Zone A before zero hour,” Farley stated at a council meeting, according to the Times.

Despite Farley’s insistence that the combination of inaccurate information and bad timing were the main cause of blame for the mess left in Sandy’s wake, City Council members wouldn’t let him off the hook.

“It was chaotic,” said Councilman David Greenfield, commenting on his own experience of observing barefoot seniors hurried out of Coney Island nursing homes, according to the New York Daily News. “It looked like a Third World country.”

The emergency evacuations that ensued following the storm were also poorly organized, leaving many family members in the dark as to where their loved ones were sent.

In the face of rigorous criticism, Farley insisted that, “due to the heroic efforts of many people, no one lost their lives in health care facilities because of the storm,” a fact that was not swallowed whole by Council members, according to the Times:

Some council members disputed that assessment, saying they believed that some deaths of old people that had been attributed to natural causes should actually have been ascribed to the storm. Dr. Farley said he was willing to look into any such deaths, but that the ultimate decision was up to the medical examiner, who had not confirmed those suspicions.

Correction (1/29/2013 at 10:41 a.m.): The original version of this article indicated the Councilman Greenfield witnessed barefoot seniors exiting Coney Island Hospital. That was an error. He witnessed them leaving Coney Island nursing homes, and the article has been amended to reflect this. We regret any confusion this may have caused.

Photo courtesy of MDanalakis via Flickr

Photo courtesy of Maria Danalakis

Authorities evacuated Coney Island Hospital and its emergency room yesterday, transferring patients to facilities in better-faring parts of the city following Hurricane Sandy.

Coney Island Hospital was in a flood zone and has been using generators since the hurricane caused power outages across Southern Brooklyn.

The evacuation began yesterday afternoon, according to a notice being posted on their website at 6:30 p.m. Additionally, the notice states:

Because of the urgent and evolving situation, family members may not be notified of a patient’s new healthcare facility location until after the transfer takes place. In addition, the hospital is experiencing problems with the phone system and is not able to receive calls at this time. Staff are making every effort to communicate with family members as patients are safely placed in the appropriate healthcare facility. Thanks for your patience and please check back for updates.

I know, I know – you’re all tired of hearing about last week’s National Grid gas outage along Ocean Parkway in Gravesend. And, after sounding off about the lack of coverage in other media, I thought we were pretty much done with it, too.

But, apparently, one more entity wants to make sure their voice is heard on the matter: National Grid itself.

The company produced a video on YouTube to help visualize the tremendous amount of resources deployed, not the least of which was 300 crews working around the clock for most of the week. It also shows some of the on-site and off-site planning and logistics that went into the effort. Clearly, it must have been an exceptional operation for National Grid to go out of their way to showcase it.

How do you think National Grid did in responding to the Ocean Parkway gas outage?

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