The Curtain Comes Down on a Brooklyn Summer

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Final images from summer in Brooklyn. We thought you might want one last look. (Annette Konoske-Graf/The Brooklyn Ink)

Bay Ridge (Stephen Henderson/The Brooklyn Ink)

Bay Ridge (Stephen Henderson/The Brooklyn Ink)
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Eating hotdogs at Nathan’s. An afternoon workout at McCarren Park after a swim. Play-fighting on Clarkson Avenue. Fishing in the Narrows in Bay Ridge.

Final images from summer in Brooklyn.

We thought you might want one last look.

 

Interested in how Brooklyn’s fall is beginning? Read on.

 

 

Bay Ridge

By Stephen Henderson

A late August storm is approaching. It’s sweeping down from Manhattan, south to Brooklyn and Bay Ridge, where the Upper New York Bay meets the Lower at a 100-foot-deep channel called The Narrows. Then, perhaps, it’s off to the sea. Up above, the twin decks of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge are packed with cars, and a few filter down to Belt Parkway.

 

Here in Shore Park, a man stands by the rocks with his feet spread and shoulders taught, and pricks a hook into a squirming worm.

“I’ve been out of work for four months now,” he says. “This is so much better than being cooped up at home.”

Then, catching the line with one finger, he steps back, extending his arm and heaves hook and weight into the current.

“They usually bite more when it rains,” he says. “We’ll see what happens.”

He sets the pole against the railing, and the drops start to fall.

 

Brownsville

By Jon Campbell

There’s a spray of sunflowers against a chain link fence at the northern edge of Brownsville, just before you reach Bed-Stuy. It looks a little out of place. If you get right up to the edge of Phoenix Community Garden, you’ll see the sunflowers aren’t alone — there are also neat rows of cabbage, corn, beans, collard greens and unruly tomato plants, bending under their own weight. There’s hardly a bare patch across the 19,000 square feet of growing space, shoehorned into a narrow wedge of land at the corner of Somers and Fulton Streets. As the days get shorter and fall approaches, every bit of it is ripe for the picking.

On a rainy Wednesday afternoon, the place is deserted. But on a weekday, you’re likely to see students sitting behind a folding table, piled with peppers and tomatoes, drumming up a little business from passersby. According to a website maintained by GrowNYC, the organization that runs Phoenix, the garden produces nearly 2,000 pounds of fresh produce every year. A portion of that bounty helps stock the shelves of a local soup kitchen. And the riot of color provides another kind of nourishment.

 

Bushwick

By Annette Konoske-Graf

The Bushwick Elementary classroom is empty.  The children are at lunch.  The linoleum floor gleams under florescent lights.  Nametags – Anthony, David, Freddy – are neatly tucked into the back of every miniature chair.  Dora the Explorer is popular with the kindergartners this year.  Among the characters on the new backpacks (in cubbies against the wall) she reigns supreme.

The classroom smells like paper, fresh out of the copy machine.  The rug has not been trod on – its United States of America outline is without tiny shoe prints.  Annastasia has been good today; the clothing pin that represents her behavior is placed on the green board.

The classroom is covered in inspirational quotes and phrases; students are reminded to “Reach” and “Calm Down.”  This is the Vassar classroom.  Each classroom is named for the alma mater of the teacher in the room.

“We are Vassar College.

We Are Here to Get Some Knowledge.

We Work Hard Everyday.

You’re Gonna Hear Us Say,

Go Vassar Go!”

The students quietly shuffle back into the classroom, in two lines.  They follow neon-colored arrows on the floor to reach their seats.  They sit down, look up, and wait for their teacher.  Class is in session.

 

Coney Island

By Miriam Wasser

The air smells like salt and fried food. Sometimes you get a whiff of sunscreen, but that depends on who walks by.

Coney Island at the end of summer: Nathan’s hotdog-holding dads in baseball caps tell their families, “I remember when my father used to bring me here!” Snaggletoothed game operators offer stuffed animals—but only if you can shoot the target, toss the ring, or bop something again and again. Down on the beach, “Nutcrackers, get your nutcrackers—mango, orange, lemon nutcrackers!” yells the man with the black plastic bag. He weaves between the towels and beach umbrellas, selling his homemade drinks. Bikini-clad teenagers and old men in Speedos nap near the water or drape themselves over the benches and railings on the boardwalk.

This is the end of the season, the last hurrah before school starts; before the sun begins to set at seven (then six-thirty, then six, then five…); before you always pack a sweater when you leave the house; and before the beachside boardwalk gates are closed and the smell of fried food fades.

 

Crown Heights

By Ashley Cusick

There aren’t any customers inside Frantz Photo Studio five days before Labor Day, but photographer Awni Mosah expects that to change soon. The Franklin Avenue storefront is small, with a cash register at the front and a studio space in the rear, decorated today with a rainbow backdrop and a red teddy bear. The walls are covered in samples of Frantz Photo’s work: family portraits, wedding photos, and one colorful image of women dressed in full Carnival regalia.

Labor Day will not be a day off at Frantz. The shop is a block past Eastern Parkway’s West Indian Labor Day Parade, so it sees many customers on the holiday. “Everyone comes in with their outfits,” Mosah says with a laugh. Frantz’s photographers use the same backdrop for each Carnival portrait—a circle filled with neon colors. For $20, customers get four posed images of themselves.

The week before the parade, the employees are enjoying the calm before the storm. Mosah can’t decide whether the Labor Day Parade is fun or stressful. “It’s everything,” he says.

 

Downtown Brooklyn

By Shanté Booker

The escalator slowly pulls me up and—quite aggressively—instructs me to “hold on!” and “keep your belongings beside you”. Blue and white lights emerged and the words “The Barclays Center” greets me at the top.

It is a rainy day, but to my surprise, the platform was filled with people: people chatting as they shielded themselves from the rain, three children playing what appeared to be tag and a woman dancing her heart out. Why was she dancing? I have no idea but as I stand there absorbing her graceful movements and the children’s laughter I couldn’t help but think, “this is what summer feels like.”

To my right is a farmers market, filled with fresh fruits and vegetables that seem to beam with color. Standing nearby was a young woman named Tali who tells me she is 27. What is the one thing that she will miss about summer I ask. “I am going to miss all of the sweet peaches and corn and tomatoes,” she says. “But I’m looking forward to apples and winter squash too, so it won’t be all bad.”

 

Dumbo

By Sharanya Haridas

It’s five days before Labor day and the Brooklyn Bridge Park is quiet—no weekend crowds or long lines for art and theater, outdoor screenings or the Smorgasburg flea and food market. Across from the Manhattan skyline,  Dumbo is a different planet with its cobblestones, erstwhile warehouses—glassbrickmetal monoliths housing cutting-edge tech start-ups; hipster boutiques, cafes and taverns with sky high rents.

The cubicles have sucked the streets empty in a post-lunch lull. But despite the mild drizzle, the jungle gym and carousel ring with the giggles of children and parents. Dumbo has no schools, Mollie, a salesgirl at a neighborhood children’s clothing store, tells me. The Dock Street Project, which aims to build affordable housing for local families, plans to build the first—eventually. The store’s loyal clientele is growing up. The owner is worried.

Locals agree that there seem to be few teenagers in Dumbo, only the established elderly and the yuppies with babies and pedigree pets. Once their children grow up, families tend to move.

“I’m really curious to see how it all works out,” Mollie says.

For now, Dumbo seems more commercial than residential- a place to visit, but not settle down.

Overhead, the traffic thunders on. The carousel spins on. Giggles replace giggles.

 

Flatbush

By José Luis Muñoz

As the summer of 2013 comes to an end, Brooklyn College’s campus in Flatbush once again came to life. For Sara Eletr, a 22-year old junior, the end of summer means the chance to come back to friends. “People call me the mayor of Brooklyn College because I’m basically friends with everyone on campus.” she says  “I’ve missed them all so it’s great to be back.”

Fatema Osman, a 20-year old senior, agreed with Sara but also says that, “back to school is basically back to stress.” For Fatema, the end of this summer is particularly stressful because it means she is only months away from facing graduate school applications and graduation.

Nada Elsawi, a 21-year old senior, takes a more relaxed approach. “I think I’m a senior, at least I hope I am. I’m still counting my credits, but I don’t stress too much.” she says “Now that the summer is over, I’ll figure it out.”

 

Fort Greene

By Nicola Pring

“Hut! Two, three, four. Hut! two, three, four,” a group of unaccompanied children chant as they march up North Elliot Place toward the free community pool at Commodore Barry Park in Fort Greene. It is a Tuesday afternoon in late August, and the kids join other children, young couples and families at the 75-foot outdoor pool. Children jump in and out, shrieking and splashing. A lifeguard in orange swim trunks looks on from a chair above the pool, his head resting in his hand.

Amy Lawday’s 4-year-old son, Oscar, has recently learned to swim, and he splashes around in the pool before Lawday swims laps. At 7 p.m. the sun begins to set, and another summer afternoon is over. The lifeguards blow their whistles. The swimmers climb out, dry themselves off and leave the park. Lawday will be sorry to see the pool close for the season. “If I had to pick my top three favorite things about living in Brooklyn, this would be one of them,” she says. “It’s the best gift the city could give you.”

 

Gowanus

By Lene Bech Sillesen

On a broad, empty street in Gowanus, a small parking lot is lined with bright red and blue busses, a contrast against their surroundings of rusty metal and run-down brick buildings. It is late afternoon on a wet and cloudy day and the lot is quiet except for a radio, tuned to a Spanish channel.

The silhouettes of two men inside the parking lot’s garage show them cleaning and washing a sightseeing bus with an open-top deck. The roar of an approaching bus makes them hurry up – more work is coming.

The tourists don’t come here but the busses do, when their passengers are done hopping on and off and have spilled into livelier streets of New York. There will be fewer of them as the summer ends, but a constant stream of visitors to the city ensures that there’ll still be busses in need of a wash for months to come. It just won’t be the ones with an open top.

 

Greenpoint

By Alexandra Glorioso

It’s gray and drizzling outside at Vincent Abate Playground, in McCarren Park. A boy wearing only sneakers, glasses and jeans does inclined pushups at the base of the playground’s monkey bars, while two other boys count for him. “It’s the last set,” says a boy in plaid swim trunks. The boy doing pushups goes a bit faster, with more vigor. Two girls sit at the opposite base. The group might be in their late teens or early twenties. A younger girl calls from behind.

“Tuti, Tuti, do it again, Tuti,” says the girl, who is maybe five years old. She’s wearing a pink pastel suit with multi-colored striped shorts.

“¿Qué tú quieres?” says the girl in the purple towel. She’s talking to the short-wearing child with long dark hair. The child answers with no response.

“Tu-ti, Tu-ti,” the child sings. The boys laugh.

“Cá-ll-ate, cá-ll-ate,” the purple-towel girl sings back. (“Shut-up, Shut-up.”) The young girl in the asymmetric bathing suit runs over to the group. She hangs on the yellow monkey bars and directs her attention to the boys.

“Do a dance move,” she says. The boy in the plaid trunks complies. The rain comes down a bit harder.

 

Prospect Lefferts Gardens

By Sven Carlsson

A girl in her early teens hurries down Clarkson Avenue, tossing commands in the other direction: “Shut up!” But the group of kids she’s yelling at—convened in the entryway of an apartment building—doesn’t listen. One of them calls the teenager “ugly,” at which point she’s had it. “Do I know you?” I’ll make my brother cut your ass,” she yells, charging at the child, several years her junior, scaring him off into the lobby.

The building stands not 200 yards from where the children might spend their days once summer officially ends: Public School 141 on Parkside Avenue. José Lopez, a parent of six children, three of whom live in the building beyond the bustling entryway, watches the exchange. “These kids are always around here. They all know each other, and grew up together,” he says. “They’ll be in school by next week.”

 

Red Hook

By Siddique Humayun

One place that is glad to see the end of summer 2013 is Sunny’s Bar, a much loved neighborhood hangout that was destroyed in Hurricane Sandy and only opened its doors to business last week. How? With a party, of course.

A few dozen people stood on the road when the owners of the bar, Sunny Balzano and his wife, Tone Johansen, finally appeared. A frail old man in his late 70s, Sunny joined the celebrations by applauding his audience with his own clapping. The crowd cheered. Since the deluge ten-months ago, life had been all about fundraising, volunteer work, and in the words of Sunny, “living a nightmare,” but all that was over.

Music, drinks, cake and food was on the house, for local residents from Red Hook, news crews, a politician and a few volunteers, all inside a bar that was lit with lights that matched the old owner’s striking red shirt. Sunny had by now gone to the back of his bar meeting with close friends, who brought him presents and warm words.

After the hurricane, Sunny, Tone, and volunteers like Anica Archip raised thousands of dollars to help rebuild the bar. Local musicians played fundraiser concerts at the Bell House in Brooklyn or volunteered to light up the mood with their music at festivities dedicated to Sunny’s Bar. While Ms. Johansen sang with a local band to a cheering crowd outside the bar, inside, Sunny Balzano nudged my shoulder and said, “It isn’t Sunny’s Bar, it is our bar.”

 

Sunset Park

By Joanna Plucinska

On a sunny day, families gather around the playground in Sunset Park. The elderly rest on benches while teenagers play pickup basketball. The pool is full of youngsters and adults while children run through the sprinklers. The park fills up as soon as the morning sun appears, then thins once the evening falls.

Today, in the rain, the pool stands empty. The card players are absent from their positions at the tables next to the hill. The benches have few occupants. The playground glistens, unused. The basketball players remain, creating the only sound in the park.

The park’s main draw remains – the view that still brings some residents to the hill in the rain. The Manhattan skyline, even through the clouds, stands clear across the water.

 

 

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