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Thursday
Jun162011

Then and Now Thursday: Fifth and Dean, 1914

I love these photos, because they show a close-up of street life in the far North Slope from nearly a hundred years ago.

In this photo, Iovino's barber shop and "electric massage" parlor shares an entryway with a seafood-oriented restaurant, which advertises boiled lobsters, clam chowder, and fish cakes. The sign above the doorway says "Take home a fry in a box." Beyond that, two people chat in front of a dry cleaner's and Isaac Seebol's paint store.

Pulling back a little, we get a better view of the intersection, looking southwest across Fifth from Dean Street. The elevated tracks would be a constant presence on Fifth until the 1940s, and across the street we can see Nyeboe's Hunte Pharmacy, and next door to that the Iona Dining Room.

The two storefronts pictured above are today the Anneris Beauty Salon, and the soon-to open Kulushkat falafel restaurant.

All of the buildings in the 1914 photos are still standing (including the barely-visible Immanuel Church further down Dean), but the ones that housed the pharmacy and dining room have been altered beyond recognition with a new facade of white brick. Triangle Sporting Goods peeks out from the far right.

Source: Brooklyn's Park Slope, Merlis and Rosenzweig. 1999.

Thursday
Jun162011

Mango Thai Not Closed for Good, Re-Opens After DOH Shutdown

Oops! Mango/ Remixed, the Thai restaurant on Seventh Avenue that for all intents and purposes appeared to have shuttered for good last week, re-opened this morning, none the worse for wear. Looks like it was shut down by the DOH last week, and cleaned up their act. Welcome back!

Thursday
Jun162011

Seventh Avenue Getting Lots of New Bike Racks

Bikers, rejoyce! The city is in the process of installing a bunch of new, "NYC"-branded circular bike racks all along Seventh Avenue in the North Slope. The design is reminiscent of the one that won the CityRacks competition a few years ago.

The worker above told me that eventually the racks will pop up all the way down the avenue. At the moment, I counted six that have been installed already (down to about Garfield), and foundations for many more are already in place.

Wednesday
Jun152011

Food Truck Fest to be Held Every Month, Business Owners None Too Pleased

After the success of last month's food truck festival in Grand Army Plaza, The Prospect Park Alliance has decided to hold one on the Third Sunday of every month, until October. We can expect many of the same trucks to show up, inclusing the Red Hook Lobster Pound. Great news, right? According to the Brooklyn Paper, however, some local business owners are fuming.

The owners of Naidre's and Sweet Melissa are both interviewed in the article, and the consensus is generally the same between them: They pay rent, and food trucks come along and take away their business. Personally, I'm in favor of as many dining options as possible, especially when it comes to food trucks. While they're certainly trendy, I doubt that they'll just end up being a "fad." The trucks will permanently become a part of the city's (and hopefully Grand Army Plaza's) landscape, and that's something that local businesses will have to adjust to. On the same note, there's a greenmarket in Grand Army Plaza every Saturday, yet the owners of Union Market don't seem to be concerned about losing business.

This isn't like a Starbucks opening up right next door to a beloved coffee shop, or a Duane Reade next to Neergaard. Food truck owners work hard just to break even, and oftentimes their offerings can't be found anywhere else nearby (especially in a setting like Grand Army Plaza). Competition is a good thing in a thriving neighborhood like Park Slope, and when it comes to food choices, the more the merrier, I say.

Wednesday
Jun152011

Good Old-Fashioned Coconut Water on 14th Street

There's a little blue tent on the corner of Fifth Avenue and Fourteenth Street, and every morning a friendly couple sets up an array of fresh fruits and vegetables under it, along with some fresh-pressed fruit juices. Next to the table, in a small box, you can usually find a pile of young green coconuts, which are well-known for one reason: coconut water.

Coconut water has become trendy in the past year or so, and it can now be found in nearly every convenience store in bottles or cardboard containers with field-tested names like Zico, O.N.E, and VitaCoco. None are superior to coconut water right out of the coconut, though, and I've been on an informal quest to track this down in the neighborhood. Your average supermarket or fruit stand won't sell it, because they need to be cracked open to order and it's a rather complicated endeavor.

I've finally found what I've been looking for, and I thought I'd pass along the knowledge to you. For four bucks these coconuts are carefully peeled, hacked open, and handed to you with a straw poking out. There's nothing more refreshing on a hot day, and it's full of electrolytes, even more than Gatorade (it's so good for you, in fact, that it's been used in IVs).

Don't toss it after you're finished, either; hand it back over and he'll cut the whole top open and stick a fork in it for you.