Williamsburg in Brooklyn

Wednesday, 3 May 2017 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, New York City
Reading Time:  7 minutes

Bedford Avenue © flickr.com - LWYang/cc-by-2.0

Bedford Avenue © flickr.com – LWYang/cc-by-2.0

Williamsburg is a neighborhood in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, bordering Greenpoint to the north; Bedford–Stuyvesant to the south; Bushwick, East Williamsburg, and Ridgewood, Queens to the east; and Fort Greene and the East River to the west. Since the late 1990s, Williamsburg has undergone gentrification characterized by hipster culture, a contemporary art scene, and vibrant nightlife. During the early 2000s, the neighborhood became a center for indie rock and electroclash, and has been nicknamed “Little Berlin”. Numerous ethnic groups inhabit enclaves within the neighborhood, including Italians, Jews, Hispanics, Poles, Puerto Ricans, and Dominicans. Higher rents have driven out many bohemians and hipsters to other neighborhoods farther afield such as Bushwick, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Cobble Hill, and Red Hook.

On May 11, 2005, the New York City Council passed a large-scale rezoning of the North Side and Greenpoint waterfront. Much of the waterfront district was rezoned to accommodate mixed-use high density residential buildings with a set-aside (but no earmarked funding) for public waterfront park space, with strict building guidelines calling for developers to create a continuous two-mile-long string of waterfront esplanades. Local elected officials touted the rezoning as an economically beneficial way to address the decline of manufacturing along the North Brooklyn waterfront, which had resulted in a number of vacant and derelict warehouses in Williamsburg. The rezoning represented a dramatic shift of scale in the ongoing process of gentrification in the area since the early 1990s. The waterfront neighborhoods, once characterized by active manufacturing and other light industry interspersed with smaller residential buildings, were rezoned primarily for residential use. Alongside the construction of new residential buildings, many warehouses were converted into residential loft buildings. Among the first was the Smith-Gray Building, a turn-of-the-century structure recognizable by its blue cast-iron facade. The conversion of the former Gretsch music instrument factory garnered significant attention and controversy in the New York press primarily because it heralded the arrival in Williamsburg of Tribeca-style lofts and attracted, as residents and investors, a number of celebrities. Officials championing the rezoning cited its economic benefits, the new waterfront promenades, and its inclusionary housing component – which offered developers large tax breaks in exchange for promises to rent about a third of the new housing units at “affordable” rates. Critics countered that similar set-asides for affordable housing have gone unfulfilled in previous large-scale developments, such as Battery Park City. The New York Times reported this proved to be the case in Williamsburg as well, as developers largely decided to forgo incentives to build affordable housing in inland areas.

Bedford Cheese Shop © flickr.com - LWYang/cc-by-2.0 Bedford Avenue © flickr.com - LWYang/cc-by-2.0 South Williamsburg © Jaspermaz/cc-by-sa-3.0 The Edge and Northside Piers with Seastreak ferry © Beyond My Ken/cc-by-sa-4.0 Williamsburg Bridge © flickr.com - Tomás Fano/cc-by-sa-2.0
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The Edge and Northside Piers with Seastreak ferry © Beyond My Ken/cc-by-sa-4.0
The Kings County Savings Institution was chartered on April 10, 1860. It conducted business in a building called Washington Hall until it purchased the lot on the corner of Bedford Avenue and Broadway. There, it erected its permanent home, now known as the Kings County Savings Bank building. It has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1980 and was the seventh building to be landmarked in New York City in 1966. “The Kings County Savings Bank is an outstanding example of French Second Empire architecture, displaying a wealth of ornament and diverse architectural elements. A business building of imposing grandeur, the Kings County Savings Bank “represents a period of conspicuous display in which it was not considered vulgar, at least by the people in power, to boast openly of one’s wealth. From its scale and general character there is nothing, on the outside, that would distinguish the Kings County Savings Bank from a millionaires mansion. The Williamsburg Houses were designated a landmark by the Landmarks Preservation Commission on June 24, 2003. The 23.3-acre (94,000 m2) site was the first large-scale public housing in Brooklyn.

The modern architecture buildings were designed by William Lescaze, whose PSFS Building in Philadelphia was the first successful International Style building in the U.S. The project, first proposed in 1934, was a collaborative between the U.S. Public Works Administration and the newly established New York City Housing Authority. More than 25,000 New Yorkers applied for 1,622 apartments and most units were occupied by 1938. The twenty 4-story buildings are angled 15 degrees to the street grid for optimal sunlight. The structures have tan brick and exposed concrete accented by blue tile and stainless steel. The buildings were restored in the 1990s by the Housing Authority, in consultation with the Landmarks Preservation Commission. In 2007 three buildings of the Domino Sugar Refinery were also designated New York City Landmarks. The original refinery was built in 1856, and by 1870 it processed more than half of the sugar used in the United States. A fire in 1882 caused the plant to be completely rebuilt in brick and stone, and those buildings remain, albeit with alterations made over the years. The refinery stopped operating in 2004. In 2010, a developer’s plan to convert the site to residential use has received support in the New York City Council. A new plan has since been approved for the Domino Sugar Factory, led by Two Trees Management. The plan replaces a city-approved 2010 plan with a new proposal that adds 60% more publicly accessible open space on a new street grid; provides for a 24/7 mix of creative office space, market-rate and affordable housing, neighborhood retail, and community facilities; and is an innovative form of open architecture that connects the existing neighborhood to the new 0.25 mi (400 m) waterfront.

Read more on TimeOut.com – Williamsburg, Wikivoyage Williamsburg and Wikipedia Williamsburg (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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