A Butterfly Grows in Brooklyn

As I was walking home Wednesday evening, I came upon a rare sight: a caterpillar, dead center in the sidewalk, just below eye level.

Climbing caterpillar 1

Unfortunately, the little guy didn’t want to stand still for my photos – he was too busy making his way up his own silk. I’d guess he was climbing at about a foot a minute.

Climbing caterpillar 2

I soon realized a video might work better. Here he is, now safely above my head, wriggling and writhing his way toward the sky.

About 30 seconds after I stopped, a gentleman a few years younger than I also paused to marvel at the unique sight.

“That’s gonna turn into a beautiful butterfly,” he said after a few seconds of silence, before carrying on.

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Running Brooklyn: Marine Park

Marine Park run routeLast week, I took you on a running tour of Gerritsen Beach – but I left you hanging. The second half of that jaunt was through Marine Park, Brooklyn’s largest park, just to the east.

530 of Marine Park’s 798 acres are “Forever Wild” space, meant to protect the natural habitats of countless species. The main area of interest here is the salt marsh formed by the Gerritsen Creek.

And those 798 remaining acres are paltry when you learn over 1,000 acres were transferred to the National Park Service’s Gateway National Recreation Area in 1972.

Running Brooklyn Marine Park - 01Running Brooklyn Marine Park - 02

You might recall that to access Marine Park from the south, I had to go through a beach along Plumb Beach Channel. As it turns out, the sand never ends – only a few paths are paved, and most of those have been left to the weeds. Click to continue the run >>

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The “Secret Service” litmus test to anti-bike screeds

Last night, the Washington Post printed a piece called Bicyclist bullies try to rule the road in D.C. It’s a boilerplate example of the bikelash genre: driven more by feeling and fear than by fact, rife with internal inconsistencies and name-calling.

Unsurprisingly, it’s doing very well in terms of clicks, with 517 comments and counting as of now. As I’ve written about in depth, the New Journalism trades quality content for eyeballs.

I’ll leave it to others to debunk the blatant mistruths underpinning the piece and to speculate on columnist Courtland Milloy’s motivations for writing it. What concerns me most is the call to physical violence against cyclists.

In which I make a linguistic proposal >>

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Running Brooklyn: Gerritsen Beach

Before we get to a photo essay of a run through Brooklyn’s Most Patriotic Neighborhood™, allow me to share a long-overdue video: my second contribution to On the Run for the Brooklyn Half.

Last year, you might recall, I took host Karla Bruning to Dumbo, Vinegar Hill, Fort Greene, and Grand Army Plaza. This time around, I shared the history of Green-Wood Cemetery (cut here, unfortunately), Ocean Parkway, and a few spots on Coney Island, including Totonno’s, my favorite pizzeria in the city.

OK, on to the good stuff: Gerritsen Beach. Let’s go for a run >>

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What I learned at the Department of Buildings

Earlier in June, I wrote for The Wall Street Journal about the demolition of the Kentile Floors sign. Scaffolding had appeared in front of it, and another blogger had discovered that the Department of Buildings had issued permits for removal of a rooftop object.

What no one knew, however, was what the owner was allowed to do. The permit referred to an illustration, but none appeared on the virtual filing. My research would require a field trip.

The next morning, I went to DOB’s Brooklyn office near Borough Hall to locate the visuals. For some reason, I thought I could waltz into a huge government complex right at 8:30 if I showed up right on time. I was wrong; there was a huge line out front, one that snaked around the columns of the building.

Read about what I learned >>

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Prospect Park is a dump today

If you’re feeling nostalgic for the mess The Great GoogaMooga made in our crown jewel the past two years, fear not: our neighbors duplicated the feat.

Prospect Park Memorial Day trash 1

In several of the park’s open plains, Memorial Day partiers failed to clean up after themselves. It’s a classic case of the diffusion of responsibility.

The areas with the biggest garbage problems that I saw – the Long Meadow and the space south of the lake – are generally filled with people on weekends anyway, so it’s unlikely there were leaders who could urge their guests to take their refuse with them.

Prospect Park Memorial Day trash 2

Parks were created, of course, to provide a refuge from the noise and grit of the city. It’s great to see that they’re still being used as a place of relaxation and occasional revelry. With that should come some measure of respect; I don’t think it’s that hard to bring a bag with you to carry out what you discard.

Ultimately, the Park has to pick up the trash – and the tab. Visitors will have to put up with the stink and the eyesore until that’s done.

Prospect Park Memorial Day trash 3

We’ll see what happens with the pop-up picnic in late June. “After drinking and dancing for a good cause,” says one announcement, “the dinner guests will play a part in cleaning up before leaving as if nothing ever happened.” At least this event will have some necks on the line if things don’t go as planned.

And if you do want to go for a run, I highly recommend the recently bechipped trails near Lookout Hill. Untouched by the masses yesterday, they’re always a great place to watch the cares and worries of the city melt away.

Prospect Park Lookout Hill trail

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The Vignelli subway map of the future

In a post yesterday on Curbed, I re-worked several maps to incorporate planned – but unbuilt – subway routes. The inspiration came from Joseph Raskin’s book The Routes Not Taken: A Trip Through New York City’s Unbuilt Subway System, in which the author, the assistant director of government and community relations for New York City Transit, digs through old maps and newspaper articles to see what might have been. (Sound familiar?)

Of course, I used the Vignelli diagram for one alternative, showing the Second Avenue Subway proposal from 1948. It’s slightly different from the current plan: it extends to Grand Concourse in the Bronx, and heads over the Manhattan Bridge on its way south.

I had previously featured this bowl of rainbow spaghetti in my diagram showing only accessible stations, and I thought it would be fun to edit it again to show the actual planned future routes of our city: SAS, the 7 train extension to Javits Center, East Side Access.

I don’t have Metro-North going to Penn Station quite yet, since it’s not in the books; actually, that would take some serious editing, as “Metro-North” won’t fit in the space between the A/C/E and 1/2/3.

Enjoy!

Vignelli MTA diagram with future routes

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