Upcoming: Breakfast Talk (Feb 27th) and Art Conference (March 27th)

  • February 27, 2015 – Breakfast Talk: CSI along the Waterfront
  • March 27, 2015 – Conference: Spaces and Places: Art along the Brooklyn Waterfront
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Breakfast Talk (2/27) CSI on the Waterfront

The first BWRC Breakfast Talk of 2015 is with Eymund Diegel on Friday, February 27 at Citytech in A632 from 8:30am to 10:00am:

on the Waterfront

Urban planner and citizen-scientist Eymund Diegel has used kites, helium-filled balloons, and inexpensive cameras for the aerial photography that has helped him chart the environmental history of the land and the people of his neighborhood along the Brooklyn waterfront.

Diegel is a board member of the Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science (Public Lab), a loosely organized community that practices “civic science.” He will speak about some of his discoveries, the tools that were employed to make them, and the way these discoveries can be used to improve the environmental conditions of his Gowanus neighborhood.

Eventbrite - Citizen Science Investigations (CSI) on the Waterfront

Support provided by Title V: A Living Laboratory


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2015 Conference: Spaces and Places Art Along the Brooklyn Waterfront

Spaces and Places: Art along the Brooklyn Waterfront

A Conference to Be Offered March 27, 2015 at Brooklyn’s Borough Hall
by BWRC and the Brooklyn Historical Society

Artists and their work have played and continue to play a pivotal role in the resurgence of the Brooklyn waterfront. James Rodgers of the Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition wrote in the book that accompanied the coalition’s first “Open Doors” event in 1996 that, “Proximity to the mega art market systems of Manhattan and the generally more generous building sizes along…the waterfront go a long way in explaining why artists decided to settle here.” While that may have been true almost thirty years ago, the scene has shifted into a higher gear. In fact, this past spring, Martha Schwendener wrote in The New York Times that upon entering Brooklyn, “you’ve entered the belly of contemporary art. It’s our 19th-century Paris or 18th-century Rome, with one of the largest concentrations of artists in the world. Here, you’ll find both commercial galleries and nonprofit and artist-run spaces — and thousands upon thousands of places you can visit during open-studio weekends scattered throughout the year.” Brooklyn no longer looks over its shoulder to any place, especially across the East River. But there is more to this transformation.

The Brooklyn Waterfront Research Center, in partnership with the Brooklyn Historical Society, will present a conference that will explore the evolution of the way art has been made, shown, and sold along the Brooklyn waterfront. The conference will first offer an historical overview of art in the borough over the centuries, taking us to the recent past. It will then use panels to open a discussion among artists, gallery owners, art distributors, and those who, in one way or another, make spaces available for the “process of art.”

The focus of the conference’s three panels will be on the places where the process of art occurs—the making, showing, and distributing of art. The first panel will examine and discuss this central question: Where can artists practice their art? This question will lead the panel to explore the historical evolution of art spaces and what the future might hold. The second panel will look at the places—both public and private—where art can be shown. The third panel will examine the places art is distributed, through sales and other means.

While this conference cannot answer all questions, we hope to provide an atmosphere where questions about what Brooklyn waterfront art will look like, where this art will happen, and how can art, artists and art spaces survive – will be central to the day’s conversations. Not only the speakers, but all of us have a stake in the answers to these questions.

Printable Version of the Conference Description

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Walking New York City’s Waterfront Neighborhoods

Prof. William Helmreich gave the Brooklyn Waterfront Research Center a colorful breakfast talk on his experience walking all 6,000 miles of New York City streets that he recorded in his book, The New York Nobody Knows. After he described his travels throughout the city, Prof. Helmreich told stories about his walks along the Brooklyn waterfront. His next book will have him revisiting the streets of Brooklyn for a book tentatively titled The Brooklyn Nobody Knows.

helmreich6 helmreich1 helmreich3 helmreich2

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Tarry Hum Discusses Global Immigration and Development in Sunset Park

On October 24, 2014, Professor Tarry Hum gave a BWRC Breakfast Talk discussing Power Plants, Sex Shops, Industrial Zones, and Open Space: The Politics of a Sustainable Working Waterfront. This talk discussed how globalization has affected the jobs, buildings and people in the neighborhood. This has included the infusion of capital from China to the increasing number of residents from China and Mexico. Also, she detailed how the re-development of Times Square by global corporations resulted in the relocation of the ‘seedier’ Times Square enterprises to industrial sections of Sunset Park. Professor Hum explained how Sunset Park remains one of the contested neighborhoods along the fast developing Brooklyn Waterfront.

Here are some photos:

tarry-hum1 tarry-hum2 tarry-hum3 tarry-hum4 tarry-hum5 tarry-hum6

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Walking New York City’s Waterfront Neighborhoods Breakfast Talk is 11/14

The next BWRC breakfast talk with William Helmreich is on Friday, November 14th at CityTech in Namm 119:

Walking New York City’s Waterfront Neighborhoods


Sociologist William B. Helmreich walked virtually every block of all five boroughs – an astonishing 6,000 miles. His epic journey is the focus of his latest book The New York Nobody Knows: Walking 6,000 Miles in the City. This journey lasted four years and took him to every corner of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island. The walk included the waterfront communities of all five boroughs. We asked Prof. Helmreich, as a pedestrian, did he find something distinctly “Brooklyn” about Brooklyn’s waterfront communities – and what was it? Come hear his answer.

Helmreich walking, credit to Neville Elder-crop
Photo: Neville Elder

William B. Helmreich is professor of sociology at the City University Graduate Center (CUNY) and the Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership at the City College of New York. His many books include What Was I Thinking? The Dumb Things We Do and How to Avoid Them. He is a native New Yorker.


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Power Plants, Sex Shops, Industrial Zones, & Open Space: The Politics of a Sustainable Working Waterfront Breakfast Talk is Friday October 24

The BWRC is proud to announce our first Breakfast Talk of the semester with Tarry Hum on Friday, October 24, 2014 at CityTech:

Power Plants, Sex Shops, Industrial Zones, and Open Space: 
The Politics of a Sustainable Working Waterfront 


Sunset Park’s waterfront remains one of the city’s largest industrial clusters. Scarred by the Gowanus Expressway and various noxious uses, the waterfront is now undergoing a renaissance centered on creative industries and artisanal manufacturing. This talk will discuss how Sunset Park’s waterfront revitalization is a testing ground for Mayor de Blasio’s vision of an inclusive urbanism.


Tarry Hum is a Professor of Urban Studies at Queens College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York. She is an urban planner with a Master’s Degree in City Planning from MIT and a PhD in Urban Planning from UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs. She’s the recent author of Making a Global Immigrant Neighborhood: Brooklyn’s Sunset Park. The title is Chapter 6 of this book.

Eventbrite - Power Plants, Sex Shops, Industrial Zones & Open Space: The Politics of a Sustainable Working Waterfront

Support provided by Title V: A Living Laboratory

Also, save the date for November 14th, the second Breakfast Talk of the semester on: “Walking New York City’s Waterfront Neighborhoods: Are Brooklyn’s Really Different?” with William Helmreich

BWRC Breakfast Talk 10_24_14

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BWRC: Summer and Fall

Welcome back to another academic year.

Save the dates for these Breakfast Talks both 8:30am to 10:00am at CityTech in Room N119:

  • October 24th – Tarry Hum, author of Making a Global Immigrant Neighborhood: Brooklyn’s Sunset Park
  • November 14th – William Helmreich, author of The New York Nobody Knows: Walking 6,000 Miles in the City

During the summer BWRC ran a children’s activity and outreach table at the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance’s City of Water Day. We engaged about 100 children in an art activity cutting out and decorating cardboard sea creatures found off the Brooklyn waterfront.

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Photos by Citytech Prof. Robin Michals, a volunteer photographer for City of Water Day.

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+ POOL Photos (and news coverage)

Thanks to everyone who came to the +POOL Breakfast Talk on May 9, 2014. Dong-Ping Wong and Carl Persak gave us an enlightening talk followed by an engaging discussion about their innovative, daring, environmentally friendly project.

News 12 Brooklyn was there as well and broadcasted a story about the project, including a brief interview with BWRC director Richard Hanley.

Here are some photos:

plus-pool2 plus-pool5-cropped plus-pool10 plus-pool16

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+ POOL Breakfast Talk is May 9th

The BWRC is proud to announce our + POOL Breakfast Talk. The event will take place on Friday, May 9, 2014, from 8:30am – 10:00am, at CityTech (CUNY): 300 Jay Street, Room A632


 + POOL: A proposal for the World’s First Water-Filtering, Floating Pool, along Brooklyn Bridge Park with Carl Persak, naval architect for the project and Dong-Ping Wong, a founding member of + POOL

The goal of + POOL is to build a floating pool in the East River along the Brooklyn Waterfront in Brooklyn Bridge Park that will filter East River water to be clean enough to swim in. Like a giant strainer dropped into the river, + POOL would make it possible for everybody to swim in clean river water right here in NYC. + POOL is designed to filter the very river that it floats in through the walls of the pool. The layered filtration system will incrementally remove bacteria and contaminants to ensure nothing but clean, swimmable water that meets both city and state standards. No chemicals, no additives, just natural river water.

Presently the + POOL is monitoring water quality to prototype a filtration system. The +Pool could be open in the East River along Brooklyn’s Waterfront as soon as 2016.

Carl Persak is a principal for Persak & Wurmfeld and has more than fifteen years of engineering, naval architecture and design experience. He holds a Professional Engineer’s license in New York and is a graduate of Webb Institute where he also teaches.

Dong-Ping Wong is a partner at Family, a design firm based in New York City with a focus on productive civic and cultural architecture. He earned his Masters of Architecture from Columbia University and his Bachelor’s from UC Berkeley.


pool_02 NIGHT

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