BWRC presented our first Breakfast Talk of 2017 with photographers Robin Michals and Nathan Kensinger. Robin is an associate professor in the Communications Design department at CityTech while Nathan is a filmmaker and curator who writes for CurbedNY. Both started shooting the New York waterfront in 2007, when residential development was rapidly replacing remnants of the industrial past. Robin’s initial interest in the city’s shoreline was sparked by concerns over sea-level rise. Her first collection of photographs, called Castles Made of Sand documented places that would one day be underwater. Nathan, a native of San Francisco, moved to Brooklyn in 2003, and began photographing the disappearing working waterfront. Both photographers have been exhibited widely in New York City, with shows in Brooklyn libraries, galleries and museums. Six of Nathan’s images of industrial Brooklyn are currently on view in the Atlantic Avenue-Barclays station.
In recent years Robin’s focus has shifted to development on the Brooklyn waterfront, while Nathan’s current work reflects a burgeoning interest in climate change. Each photographer gave a short presentation, with selected images from the last 10 years, and an explanation of what drew them to the waterfront. The overarching narrative was of waterfront regeneration, as Robin and Nathan chronicled transformative changes to Brooklyn’s formerly industrial shoreline. Images of the former Domino Sugar Factory, the old Greenpoint Terminal Market, and Todd Shipyard (where Ikea sits now) drew great interest from the audience. Robin and Nathan explained how their work has come full circle, since they began chronicling the Brooklyn waterfront. Robin’s recent work has focused on real estate development, whereas Nathan is examining the effects of climate change. The presentations were followed by a lively discussion about Brooklyn Bridge Park and current models for waterfront revitalization.
To view and learn about Robin’s work, please visit: http://www.e-arcades.com/
The historian, David Herlihy, came to the Brooklyn Waterfront Research Center on October 8. 2015 to present his recent research on the biking craze that hit Coney Island in the 1880s and lasted into the 1930s. His presentation touched upon the first organized bike ride to Coney Island and the building of America’s first bicycle path which was built along Ocean Parkway and led to Coney Island. He also recounted the exploits of racers in Coney Island’s velodromes and the Boardwalk act of “Bikers in a Basket.”
For his presentation, Mr. Herlihy was presented with a framed photograph of the Coney Island Boardwalk at dawn, shot by the BWRC staff photographer, Professor Robin Michals.
On February 27, 2015 urban planner and citizen scientist Eymund Diegel of the Public Lab gave an insightful breakfast talk on the various CSI techniques and tools he’s used to map and record the environmental history of his neighborhood including the Gowanus Canal. Diegel showed the various rudimentary tools he uses in his research from inexpensive cameras mounted on kites and balloons to using microphones to listen to the sounds of New York City sewer’s and sense where former steams once ran. The data he’s collected has been used to map a range of features from underground and still bubbling springs in and near the canal to finding the sources of various creeks who’s headwaters are in the canal and finding their sources in Prospect Park. Overall Eymund showcased the important work the Public Lab is doing to help the efforts to understand the ecological history of the Gowanus Canal.
If you missed his talk, download his Presentation with insightful notes on what he discussed. (Warning: Large PowerPoint File).
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.
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:
Shortly after Superstorm Sandy hit, New York City piloted a program to offer free government assistance to thousands of homeowners who lost their heat, power, and hot water. Between November 2012 and March 2013 more than 11,o00 homes were restored throughout the city. In Brooklyn the repair work was done by Skanska’s Heavy Civil Construction Group.
Larry Gillman, an Operational Vice President for Skanska offered an intimate look at this program recounting how his team raced the approaching winter, then worked throughout the winter to restored electricity, heat and hot water to more than 3,000 Brooklyn waterfront homes. Gillman shared the obstacles, problems, and triumphs of this under-told story at a November 8 Breakfast Talk at the Brooklyn Waterfront Research Center.
On October 17 CityTech’s Anne Leonard (Library) and Peter Spellane (Chemistry) presented their research on Using Old Maps and New Methods to Discover the Early Chemicals and Petroleum Industries of Newtown Creek in New York City. It was the inaugural event in BWRC’s new preBar series, a way for CityTech faculty and staff to share their research in progress about the Brooklyn waterfront.
The presentation of their research (portions of which have been published in the Journal of Map & Geography Libraries: Advances in Geospatial Information, Collections & Archives) was supplemented by historical maps from the New York Public Library
Below are some photos of this new way that BWRC is helping to support and promote faculty research at City Tech: