BWRC Mourns the Passing of Sunny Balzano

Richard Hanley (BWRC), James Reid (CityTech), "Sunny" Balzano and his wife Tone (Sunny's Bar) gather after the screening of "Sunny's Rennaissance"
Richard Hanley (BWRC), James Reid (CityTech), “Sunny” Balzano and his wife Tone (Sunny’s Bar) gather after the screening of “Sunny’s Renaissance”

BWRC joins the Red Hook and Brooklyn communities in mourning the passing of Sunny Balzano, patron of the arts and owner of the beloved Sunny’s Bar in Red Hook. The subject of a recent book, Sunny’s Bar had been long been in the Balzano family, serving food and drink to longshoremen and other waterfront workers for decades before reinventing itself in the 1990s as a speakeasy and haven for artists, musicians, and anyone who happened to stumble across the isolated Red Hook outpost and its endearing, affable owner. 

Back in 2013, BWRC was fortunate to have Sunny attend a screening of the film “Sunny’s Renaissance,” directed by Prof. James Reed. The original post from that event follows below.

On March 13, 2013 we filled a room to capacity for a showing “Sunny’s Renaissance: Raw Hospitality on the Waterfront” for our preBar series. James Reid (Hospitality Managment) presented his documentary about the history and rebirth of Sunny’s Bar in Red Hook following Superstorm Sandy.

The warmth of Sunny and his eclectic bar shown through quite palpably in the documentary, which made it all the better when Sunny and his family made an unscheduled appearance at the end to say hello and answer questions.

Thanks to James, Sunny, Tone and many others for such an enjoyable evening with the BWRC!

The New Coney Island: Who gains, who loses? Breakfast Talk on Nov. 13th

November 13th, 8:30am at the New York City College of Technology, come hear Neil DeMause speak about how Coney Island has been changing.

Coney Island is in the midst of one of the biggest overhauls in its century-plus history: a redevelopment plan that’s involved over a decade of battles between city officials, amusement operators, developers, local residents, and, at times, protesters wielding amputated mermaid tails. This has been a transformation where much has been gained and lost. What is the future of America’s Playground? And whose vision of that future shapes public policy?

DeMause is a contributing editor for City Limits magazine, a frequent contributor to the Village Voice, and a former op-ed columnist for Metro New York. He is co-author of “Field of Schemes: How the Great Stadium Swindle Turns Public Money Into Private Profit” (University of Nebraska, 2008) and is currently at work on “The Brooklyn Wars,” scheduled for publication in early 2016. You can find him on Twitter @neildemause.

The event is Free and Open to the Public. However, Reservation strongly encouraged.


November 13th, 2015 – 8:30am

New York City College of Technology
Namm Building, Room 119
300 Jay St, Brooklyn NY


Bikes and the Brooklyn Waterfront Conference Schedule

Here’s a sneak peak at our March 22 conference line-up!

8:30—9:00     Welcome & Introductions

  • Richard E. Hanley, director, Brooklyn Waterfront Research Center
  • Camille Kamga, director, University Transportation Research Center
  • Sean Scanlan, New York City College of Technology

 9:00—9:30     Brooklyn and the Bicycle

  • David Herlihy, author of Bicycle: The History (White Paper)

9:30—10:00      How Does Brooklyn Fit into New York City’s Bicycling Plan?

  • Hayes Lord, director of the Bicycle Program, NYC Dept of Transportation
  • Steve Durrant, principal, Alta Bicycle Share / CitiBike

10:00—10:30     Engineering Bicycles and Bike Lanes

  • Charlie McCorkell, owner, Bicycle Habitat
  • Ted Wright, Bicycle and Pedestrian Projects, NYC Dept of Transportation


 11:00—11:30      Bicycles as Agents of Environmental and Social Change

  • Milton Puryear, co-founder of the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative
  • Ben Shepard, City Tech professor and community organizer
  • Mike Lydon, principal, The Street Plan Collaborative

11:30—12:00      Bringing Cyclists to Brooklyn: Tourism, Recreation, and Sport

  • Chris Wogas, president, Bike and Roll
  • David Trimble, director, Red Hook Criterium

12:00—12:30     Screening of “Racing toward Red Hook,” Jessica Scott, director

2:30—4:00      Optional Bike Tour Limited bikes available courtesy of Bike and Roll OR bring your own bike 

  • Bike tour of the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway, led by Milton Puryear.

Bikes on The Brooklyn Waterfront: Conference Registration is Open!

It’s official! Join us for a half day symposium on the history and impact of the bicycle on Brooklyn.

Eventbrite - Bikes on the Brooklyn Waterfront

Event Poster
Bikes and the Brooklyn Waterfront. March 22, 2013

March 22, 2013
8:30am – 12:30pm
at New York City College of Technology
300 Jay St, Room Namm 119

FREE with Required Registration

“Once you learn how to ride a bike, you never forget.” Brooklyn, however did forget- for a while. After an explosion of interest in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Brooklynites forgot about bikes until later in the twentieth century and now, in the twenty-first century, bikes are ubiquitous in Brooklyn, especially in its rapidly changing waterfront neighborhoods. There are bike lanes and bike paths; bikes are seen as an answer to transportation problems and as a solution for environmental troubles. In a half-day conference sponsored by the Brooklyn Waterfront Research Center (BWRC) and the University Transportation Research Center (UTRC) speakers will examine the issues raised by the history and ubiquity of bikes in Brooklyn.

The speakers will include:

The conference will include a screening of “Racing Towards Red Hook” with director Jessica Scott.

Continental breakfast will be provided!

An optional afternoon (2pm) bike tour along the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway will start from Fulton Ferry Landing
Eventbrite - Bikes on the Brooklyn Waterfront

Save the Date: Biking in Brooklyn Conference, March 22

BikingBMWtownie-00-PINP-thumb-500x333-3386 is booming in Brooklyn and we want to know why. On March 22 we will be hosting a half-day conference on the history, culture, and future of biking in our namesake borough. We will talk with local authors, business people, planners and advocates about what is happening on our streets and why it matters to Brooklyn and New York City.

More details to follow – so keep checking back here!

Update (2/19): Location and key speakers announced (see below). Registration to open up soon.

Save the Date! BWRC is hosting a conference on biking - March 22, 8:30am-12:30pm
Save the Date! BWRC is hosting a conference on biking – March 22, 8:30am-12:30pm

Double Your Impact

Did you know that any donation given to the Brooklyn Waterfront Research Center will go twice as far? Thanks to a generous grant, donations given to the BWRC will be matched, allowing their full value to fund our endowment, while sending another half to our operations. In short, a donation now helps us keep our day-to-day programs like our free Breakfast Talks, Hangout Sessions and Conferences up and running while securing our future as an entity for research and public engagement. Your help is important – the only way to unlock the matching grant is to receive your donations!

Now more than ever the BWRC could use your help. The catastrophe caused by Hurricane Sandy has revealed the vulnerabilities New York faces as it confronts it’s ever changing development. The BWRC operates at the confluence of environment, history, culture and infrastructure along New York’s waterfront – exactly the same issues that Sandy revealed. Rebuilding and recovery will be short shrift without the non-partisan, independent research that the BWRC produces.

Please Donate to the BWRC. Your donations are tax deductible, and eligible for your 2012 tax return if given by December 31, 2012.

Donate Now

Please note that at this time we are utilizing the City Tech Foundation to collect donations. When directed to their web page please select “Brooklyn Waterfront Research” from the Program Designation box to ensure your donation is directed to the BWRC.


Coffee Shots

The last Breakfast Talk was great! Check out the pictures below from our full room. Thanks to all who could make it and special thanks to Steven Jaffe for putting together such a good presentation.

A full house for our Coffee Talk!

Coffee from the Brooklyn Roasting Company was served

Even some big names in the New York Coffee scene made it

Steve Jaffe takes through the 19th Century Brooklyn Waterfront