Tuesday, December 21st, 2010
George Washington slept at the Van Cortlandt House in the Bronx, and probably caught a few uneasy winks at the Morris-Jumel Mansion in Washington Heights, which served as his temporary headquarters during some of the darkest days of the Revolutionary War. There’s no indication, though, that he ever made it to the Pieter Claesen Wyckoff House in Brooklyn, which was built in 1652 – 80 years before the father of our country was born.
The Billiou-Stillwell-Perine House rose in 1661 on Staten Island’s only road, Kings Highway. The yard near Queens’ Bowne House, an old Quaker meeting house, was the site of Flushing’s first sermon.
The five buildings have defied time, war and the elements to stand as testaments to the city’s history. Each is the oldest house in its borough – and the Pieter Claesen Wyckoff House holds the extra distinction of being the oldest house in the state.
Take a trip through living history, via the slideshow to the right.
Friday, December 10th, 2010
Old McDonald had a warehouse in Greenpoint: and on the roof, an urban farm.
Gardener and educator Annie Novak runs Eagle Street Rooftop Farm with the help of apprentices and volunteers. The 6,000-square-foot rooftop garden, above a warehouse owned by Broadway Stages, offers balcony-seat views of the New York skyline and provides a community supported agriculture program, a farmers market and fresh produce to local restaurants. The farm also hosts a range of educational and volunteer programs.
Novak, co-founder and manager of the farm, came out on a brisk late November day to clear crops for the winter and hold the final farmer’s market of the season.
Thursday, December 9th, 2010
Certainly, every Bed-Stuy resident has heard it at some point: “Allah u Akbar, Allah u Akbar” (Allah is Great). It is the Adhan – the Muslim call to prayer – and five times a day, it pulses over a loudspeaker, penetrating the ears of anyone within four to five blocks of its source.
For the Muslim owners of nearby stores on Fulton Street and Bedford Avenue, it signals closing time for an important religious observance. Others in the neighborhood call it a nuisance.
Thursday, December 23rd, 2010
Take the Coney Island-bound Q subway line to Kings Highway, transfer to the B31 bus and eventually you will arrive in the small, isolated community of Gerritsen Beach. In the heart of this community exists the last volunteer fire department in the borough – one of nine left in the city.
The Fire Department of New York has been protecting the lives and property of city residents since 1865. But before the establishment of the country’s largest paid fire department, New Yorkers relied on volunteer fire companies to protect neighborhoods. Some hard-to-reach neighborhoods still maintain volunteer departments.
According to the latest statistics from the National Fire Protection Association, some 72 percent of firefighters in the U.S. are volunteers – or vollies, as they call themselves. The vollies of Gerritsen Beach display a strong sense of community that has safeguarded the neighborhood since the department’s opening in 1922.
Doreen Garson, the assistant fire chief of the Gerritsen Beach Volunteer Fire Department, has been a vollie for 24 years. For her, volunteering is about giving back to her community.