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Then & Now Thursday: Christmas in Grand Army Plaza

The history of displaying public Christmas trees in New York City began in Madison Square Park in 1912. The festive spirit caught on like wildfire, and by the 1920s just about every park and public space in the city decked out a tree with lights and ornaments around the holidays. Prospect Park's first Christmas tree, a 40-foot spruce, was lit in 1920 with 600 bulbs, and by 1926 the tree chosen was ten feet higher and boasted 1200 lights. 

The tree was moved out of the park and into the above position in Grand Army Plaza in 1934 (about where the JFK memorial is now), thanks to mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, and in recent years it's gone up directly under the arch. 

In 2006 and 2007, the arch's tree was completely artificial, but stunning nonetheless with 600,000 LED lights that glowed in a patchwork quilt of colors. Due to improper storage the tradition never took off, and this year's tree is of the more standard variety.


Coming Soon: Rachel's Tattoo & Beauty Salon

The prize for the Slope's most outlandish new signage goes to Rachel's Tattoo and Body Piercing Parlor, slated to open soon at 477 5th Avenue, between 11th and 12th. It's obviously handmade, and features a pair of scissors flanking the left side and a frightening-looking contraption that I'm guessing is supposed to be a tattoo machine on the right. To the best of my knowledge, this will be one of the only tattoo and body piercing parlors in the neighborhood when it opens.


Little Buddy Biscuit Company to Shutter

Little Buddy Biscuit Company, the year and a half old bakery on Fifth Avenue between 17th and 18th, will shutter by the end of the month, Brownstoner reports. I need to drop in one last time and stock up on their ridiculously good cheddar jalapeno biscuits (and so should you, if you haven't tried them). The full statement by chef/owner Pete Solomita is below:
"After six plus years as a wholesaler of baked goods and just about a year and half as a retail location, we regret to announce that, barring a miracle, we will be closing Little Buddy Biscuit Company on December 31, 2010... Perhaps one day we will re-emerge in another format or another place, so keep posted!"


Dog's Den Seized by Marshal After Kennel Cough Outbreak

This has been a bad month for Dog's Den, the doggie daycare center on Fifth Avenue between 12th and 13th. After an outbreak of kennel cough, a highly contagious viral infection, the center shut down on December 3rd to "decontaminate." Less than a week later a notice went up on the door saying that the premises had been shut down and possessed by the NYC Marshal. Now there's a sign up saying the storefront is for rent. 

Not positive if there's a connection between the outbreak and the eviction, but as it's the marshal's job to enforce orders from Civil Court, my guess is that they're being sued by the infected dogs' owners. An email has been sent to the owners; I'll update if I hear anything.


Atlantic Yards Coming Along

5th Ave goes off to the right
Love it or hate it, there's no way around the fact that the giant pit on Flatbush and Atlantic will some day be a massive arena that'll most likely send a shockwave through the Park Slope's north end upon completion (at least from a traffic standpoint). This morning Chopper 880 took some photos of the progress.

Photo: CBS 880