Breakfast Talk: Evan Hughes, Author of Literary Brooklyn

The BWRC is proud to present the first in its series of Breakfast Talks, featuring Evan Hughes, the author of Literary Brooklyn: The Writers of Brooklyn and the Story of American City Life. Hughes will be discussing the relationship that several of the writers he examines in his book–Walt Whitman, Hart Crane, Hubert Selbey Jr., Alfred Kazin, etc.–had with the borough’s waterfront. The talk will take place on Friday, November 18, at 8:30 am, in City Tech’s beautiful new event space, Namm 119.

The New York Times Book Review called Hughes’s work “lively,” noting that “Urban history and literary history often brush up against each other to profound effect,” while Luc Sante, renowned critic and author of Low Life, summed it up in this way:  “They say Brooklyn is the literary navel of the nation right now, but after reading Evan Hughes’s book you’ll ask, ‘Wasn’t it always?’ It’s a richly detailed, beautifully written history.”

Literary Brooklyn is Hughes’s first book, but he has already established himself as an accomplished critic, publishing pieces in the The New York Review of Books, the London Review of Books, The New York Times, The New Republic, and The Boston Globe.

WHEN: Friday, November 18, 2011 from 8:30 to 9:30 AM

WHERE: Namm Hall 119, New York City College of Technology, 300 Jay Street, Brooklyn.

For directions and a campus map, click here.

Please RSVP to: bomalley@citytech.cuny.edu

The event is free and open to the general public, students, and faculty. Coffee and a light breakfast will be served.

Waterfront Conference a Big Success!

We just wanted to thank all of you who came out yesterday for our first conference at beautiful Brooklyn Borough Hall! It was a big success, with a wide variety of panelists, as well as formal reports delivered by the BWRC’s first two research fellows, Sapna Advani, Director of Planning at Chelsea West Architects, and Jonathan Peters, Professor of Economic at the College of Staten Island.  You can find coverage of the conference by the Brooklyn Daily Eagle website here. UPDATE: visit our Events page for speakers’ presentations, maps, photographs, and reports.

If you’re in the neighborhood, please stop by later for a “Hangout Session” sponsored by the BWRC at reBar (not far from the Navy Yard) from 4 to 7pm today (Thursday, Oct. 27), and continue the conversations started at the conference.

Oct. 27: Let’s Talk Waterfront!

Brooklyn Waterfront in 1876, from the NYPL Digital Gallery

On Thursday, October 27, the BWRC will be sponsoring a “hangout session” mainly for faculty and staff at City Tech who are involved with the “Living Laboratory” grant, which involves revamping our General Education curriculum to make the Brooklyn waterfront our classroom. But we welcome and encourage anyone to stop by who wants to discuss relevant issues: economic development, gentrification, access, the effects of climate change, architecture and preservation, etc.

This will be the first of several gatherings over the course of the academic year. The first meeting will be the most informal, with the main purposes of gauging interest, gathering ideas for future sessions, and socializing. Future sessions may include some low-key presentations, panel discussions, or screenings–nothing too formal. The hope is that these events will become a regular forum to discuss scholarly work, teaching and curricular concerns, as well as general issues facing our borough’s waterfront communities.


  • Date: Thursday, October 27, 2011
  • Time: 4:00 – 7:00 pm
  • Where: reBar, 147 Front Street, Brooklyn, NY 11210 – http://rebarnyc.com/home

Please RSVP to: bomalley@citytech.cuny.edu

We Have a Winner!

The BWRC took part in City of Water Day on July 16 on Governors Island. We sought the public’s input on important issues facing Brooklyn’s waterfront and offered a prize for the best suggestion. Nancy Cardozo of Brooklyn submitted the winning suggestion:

Preserve existing working waterfront, grow and encourage industries that will need, train and hire skilled and unskilled workers, balance with recreation and environment. Piece of cake! Floating pools!

She also had this to say:

Any place where water meets land fascinates me, and I find the way humans have modified that intersection of elements to meet their needs especially complicated and compelling.  I’m interested in restoration of screwed-up waterways, but  especially in noticing the ways that nature takes  back these post-industrial zones. 



Congratulations, Nancy! She and her guest will enjoy a Hidden Harbor boat tour of Newark Bay.

Oct. 26 Conference: The Waterfront – A Brooklyn Model for Preservation and Change

The Brooklyn Waterfront Research Center is excited to be co-sponsoring a morning conference at Brooklyn’s Borough Hall on Wednesday, October 26, that will feature a wide array of speakers on the theme of preservation and change along Brooklyn’s shoreline. The BWRC is co-sponsoring the event with the Steven L. Newman Real Estate Institute at Baruch College and the CUNY Institute for Urban Systems.

The Center’s two research fellows, Sapna Advani, who is director of planning at Chelsea West Architects, and Jonathan R. Peters, who is Professor of Finance at the College of Staten Island of CUNY, will present original papers based on the research that they have been conducting under the Center’s auspices. Advani’s paper will discuss the design opportunities and problems facing the borough’s waterfront in the present and near future, with a particular focus on the Sunset Park neighborhood. Peters’s paper will analyze the economic forces that challenge Brooklyn’s “working waterfront,” with an emphasis on the transportation issues that are crucial to the retention of waterfront industries. Both reports will be distributed in a joint Newman Institute/BWRC publication featuring photographs by City Tech Professor Robin Michals.

Other speakers include Nicholas Brooke, the chairman of Hong Kong’s Habourfront Commission; Richard Hanley, Director of the BWRC; Bonnie Harken, the co-chair of the American Planning Association’s Waterfront Committee; Roland Lewis, the president and CEO of the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance; Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz; Jack S. Nyman, director of the Newman Real Estate Institute at Baruch College; and Seth W. Pinsky, president of the New York City Economic Development Corporation.

For more information, see the Newman Institute’s page for the event here.

Register for a seat at this free event here.

The BWRC celebrated City of Water Day – were you there?

The Brooklyn Waterfront Research Center joined hundreds of other organizations and thousands of other supporters, fans and enthusiasts of NYC’s waterways on Governors Island this past Saturday for City of Water Day. We spent the day gathering fascinating stories and valuable input from dozens of people about their thoughts, hopes, opinions, and best anecdotes about Brooklyn’s waterfront. Thanks to everyone who stopped by our table to share your thoughts on the Brooklyn waterfront. The winner of our contest for the best suggestion on the waterfront will be announced later this week.

Have a suggestion, an opinion, a thought or an anecdote to share, or a favorite waterfront spot to reveal? Let us know in the comments!

Research Fellows and Program Coordinator Appointed

The BWRC is delighted to announce the appointment of two research fellows and a project coordinator!

Sapna Advani is our research fellow for preservation and urban design.  Sapna is currently Director of Planning at Chelsea West Architects and has over fifteen years’ experience designing and planning complex urban projects in New York City and internationally. She holds a Master of Architecture and Urban Design from Pratt Institute, and a Bachelor of Architecture from Sushant School of Art and Architecture. As research fellow, she will present an original paper on waterfront planning and preservation at the BWRC’s inaugural conference in October. Her paper will describe opportunities to create reinforced connections between diverse communities and industries along the waterfront’s frontage through programmatic, ecological, recreational and cultural insertions, creating a prototype for a truly holistic world‐class waterfront destination.

Jonathan R. Peters is our Research Fellow in Economics for the BWRC. In October, he will present an original paper on current and historic economic conditions of Brooklyn’s industrial waterfront. Dr. Peters is a professor of finance in the Business Department at The College of Staten Island of The City University of New York and a member of the Doctoral Faculty in the Ph.D. Program in Earth and Environmental Science at the CUNY Graduate Center. He is also a Research Fellow at The University Transportation Research Center at The City College of New York. He received his Ph.D. in Economics from the City University of New York and his Masters in Economics from Hunter College. His work on public-private partnerships was published in 2006 by the New York State Department of Transportation. He has previously published in The Journal of Applied Finance, Transportation Quarterly, Business Horizons, Public Works Management & Policy, and most recently in the Transportation Research Record. He currently conducts research in the areas of regional planning, road and mass transit financing, corporate and public sector performance metrics, capital costs and performance management.
Dr. Peters grew up on the waterfront in New York City in a family with strong ties to both the recreational and working waterfront. His family has been active in the New York City Maritime Community for over 130 years. Dr. Peters is the brother, son, grandson and great-grandson of ship captains who work/worked in or out of the Port of New York. He currently serves as the Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees for the Noble Maritime Collection on Staten Island.

Brendan P. O’Malley is the BWRC’s program coordinator. Brendan is a doctoral candidate in the History Program at the CUNY Graduate Center. His dissertation examines the state agency that oversaw immigration into the Port of New York from 1847 to 1890, before the opening of the Ellis Island Station and the establishment of federal jurisdiction. He has given papers at several academic conferences, and recently organized a panel on state power and immigration that was accepted for the Organization of American Historians’ 2012 annual meeting. He has also delivered public talks at the New York Public Library and Brooklyn Public Library. He is co-editor of Home Fronts: A Wartime America Reader (New Press, 2008) with Michael S. Foley. As Program Coordinator at the BWRC, Brendan plans and promotes the Center’s events, facilitates outreach to relevant organizations and businesses, and assists the Director in cultivating the Center’s research agenda.

Welcome, Sapna, Jon, and Brendan!

Calls for Research Fellows

The Brooklyn Waterfront Research Center seeks applications for Research Fellowships that will begin on May 1, 2011. Each fellow will undertake a project that will include original research and result in the publication of a research paper and a presentation of that paper at a Brooklyn Waterfront conference on October 26, 2011. More information about the Brooklyn Waterfront Research Center is available here.

Research Fellow in Architecture, Preservation, or Urban Design
There is much to preserve and much that can be changed along Brooklyn’s industrial waterfront, and much is being preserved and much is being changed. The Research Fellow, focusing on issues of architecture, preservation, and urban design, will study and provide a detailed overview of the models of preservation and change that are occurring in this area. The fellow will look at industry/manufacturing, housing, open spaces/recreation, maritime  industries, and cultural initiatives. The fellow will explore the reuse of existing structures and the construction of new ones. He or she will study City plans and zoning and projects that are stalled, planned, or under way. The fellow should put Brooklyn’s development in an historical or international context and formulate a series of conclusions and offer topics or areas for further research.

Research Fellow in Economics, Economic History, or Development
Economic forces contributed to the need for the change that we see along the Brooklyn waterfront and that change has had economic effects. The BWRC fellow who receives this appointment will be asked to put the changes that are occurring along the Brooklyn waterfront in an historical context, showing how processes like the containerization of cargo or the globalization of manufacturing have had profound economic effects on the area.Alternatively, the fellow might examine how a convergence of other forces and circumstances resulted in change and how current economic conditions are affecting the shifts that have been under way in housing, industry, and recreation. Whichever approach is taken, it will be important to explore the economic effects, positive and negative, of preservation efforts along the waterfront. Here too, the fellow should put the Brooklyn waterfront’s development in an international context and formulate a series of conclusions and offer topics or areas for further research.

If you are interested in applying for one of the Center fellowships, please submit a two-page narrative explaining how you would approach the project. Narratives should be accompanied by a CV and one letter of recommendation. All materials should be sent to Center Director Richard E. Hanley at rhanley[at]citytech.cuny.edu.
These fellowships are open to faculty of institutions both inside and outside of CUNY. They are also open to accomplished scholars outside the academy. Non-CUNY employees will receive a $5,000 stipend; for CUNY employees, alternative compensation arrangements will be made.

Download this announcement as a PDF here.