Cortelyou Crocuses!

This morning I took a slight detour from my commute routine to check the tree pits along Cortelyou Road for blooming Crocuses. I was rewarded:

Cortelyou Crocus

It may not look like much, but this is only one of the 400 Crocuses neighborhood volunteers planted last fall in some of the tree pits along Cortelyou Road between Coney Island Avenue and East 17th Street.

It also has a companion blooming in the same tree pit:

Cortelyou Crocus

Until the rest of them start blooming, if you’re not looking for them, you’ll probably overlook them. Here’s how they appear in situ as you walk by the tree pit:

Crocus blooming in a treepit on Cortelyou Road, Brooklyn
Crocus blooming in a treepit on Cortelyou Road, Brooklyn

The Crocuses have been up for a month; these are the first blooms. The Daffodils are also emerging in several of the tree pits.

Someone’s (or someones’) been doing a good job keeping the tree pit fairly clear of garbage. Nevertheless, you can identify several fragments of urban street detritus, including chewing gum, bits of plastic straw, and um, organic material.

This morning I didn’t see any bags of garbage in the tree pits themselves. When I see this, I try to stop and lift the bags out to place them on the outside of the protective fences. But for the past few days I’ve also seen a bike locked to the inside of the fence, right where the bulbs are coming up. I want to make up some signs to put along all the tree pits to remind folks:


The bike locked up so it’s crushing the emerging bulbs deserves its own sign.

Over the next two weeks we should see a succession of different Crocus blooming. These yellow ones look like Crocus chrysanthus or something similar. Other may be purple, blue, or even white. I purchased “mixed” Crocus for this planting, so that’s what we should expect!

Related Posts

Cortelyou Road Crocus Watch, February 4
Tree Pits are not Dumpsters, November 18, 2007
The Daffodil Project Plantings on Cortelyou Road, November 4, 2007
1,000 Daffodils for Cortelyou Road, October 27, 2007
The Daffodil Project: Grief & Gardening #5, November 26, 2006


The Daffodil Project

Cortelyou Road Crocus Watch

Update 2008.03.06: The Crocuses are blooming!

Despite this morning’s brief snow flurry, Spring is nearly upon us. That means that the 1,000 Daffodils and 400 Crocus which dozens of neighborhood volunteers planted along Cortelyou Road last fall will soon bloom. The crocuses are already up and may bloom within the next two weeks.

This is a good time to remind businesses, building owners and managers, residents and visitors along Cortelyou Road that tree pits contain live plants. They should not put bags of garbage in them. This is especially important now that the plants are coming up.

Most building and business owners do not use the tree pits as dumpsters. I’ve only seen it done twice in the past two months. But all it takes is one thoughtless dumping of garbage, and the whole season of growth in that tree pit will be destroyed.

Beyond not damaging what’s growing there, any care that owners and businesses can take to keep tree pits neat and clean will make a big difference. Keeping the tree pits clear of litter is the single most effective thing they can do. Just like graffiti and broken windows, keeping after trash shows that people care for the area, and are watching out for it.

Over two dozen people turned out to help plant the tree pits last fall. That’s a big turnout for something that was organized very informally. This shows that residents value the new streetscape along Cortelyou Road. Studies have shown that people spend more time, and are willing to spend more, on commercial streets that have green, growing things. Keeping the tree pits clean and free of trash is not just neighborly. It’s good business as well.

Related Posts

Tree Pits are not Dumpsters, November 18, 2007
The Daffodil Project Plantings on Cortelyou Road, November 4, 2007
1,000 Daffodils for Cortelyou Road, October 27, 2007
The Daffodil Project: Grief & Gardening #5, November 26, 2006


The Daffodil Project

Resource: DCP’s Census Fact Finder

Map of Brooklyn Census Tract 520 returned by the DCP Census Tract Finder when searching on the Q Train Cortelyou Road Station.
Brooklyn Census Tract 520

At last night’s Workshop #2 of Imagine Flatbush 2030, they had something new: a brief slide show of orientation information, similar in content to that presented at the first workshop, plus some census data about the study area. You can see some photos of these by Frank Jump, who attended last night’s workshop and happened to be in my breakout group, on his blog, Fading Ad Blog.

I just discovered that the NYC Department of City Planning (DCP) provides online access to census data in their Census Fact Finder. The finder is tabbed to provide searches by:

  • Street address
  • Community District
  • Point of Interest (not enough “points” to be widely useful)
  • Subway station

Except for Community District, once you’ve identified a point, you can view census data by a single Census Tract, by neighboring Census tracts within a .1 to .5 miles range you specify, or by Community District.

At the top of the resulting report is a map showing the point or area you selected and the matching census tracts. A pink dot identifies the focus, the selected tracts are highlighted in blue, and all visible tracts are numbered. Associated with the map are the usual zoom and navigation tools. It also provides tools to select or exclude additional census tracts.

For example, the map at the top of this post is returned when selecting the Q Train Cortelyou Road Station as the focus of the map. The finder returned Census Tract 520, which news reports in 2005 highlighted as the most diverse Census Tract in the entire United States:

In 1970, Census Tract 520 in Ditmas Park [sic] was 92.1% white. Less than a quarter of the population was foreign-born, and most of them were Italian and Jewish. Today, the neighborhood is a miniature United Nations, with nearly two-thirds of the population coming from other countries.

Although Elmhurst and Jackson Heights have a larger percentage of foreign-born residents, the city’s demographer, Joseph Salvo, said it’s the convergence of racial and ethnic diversity that distinguishes Ditmas Park.
In a Diverse City, Ditmas Park Takes the Cake, New York Sun, May 26, 2005

Note, however, that Census Tract 520 is not in the historic district of Ditmas Park. It comprises the eastern half of Ditmas Park West, my neighborhood neighbor to the south, plus the blocks between Newkirk and Foster Avenues.

Below the map in the report is a table showing all the census data, aggregated for the selected census tracts. The table is tabbed for the major categories of data available:

  • Demographic
  • Socio-economic
  • Age
  • Income in 1999
  • Labor
  • Education
  • Housing Characteristics
  • Housing Costs

For example, to examine the claim that this tract is the most diverse, let’s look at the demographic data:

Demographic Profile Tract(s) Brooklyn New York City
Total Population 4,399 2,465,326 8,008,278
Single Race, Nonhispanic: (by percentage)
White 19.3% 34.7% 35.0%
Black / African American 29.2% 34.4% 24.5%
American Indian and Alaska Native 0.3% 0.2% 0.2%
Asian 22.4% 7.5% 9.7%
Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander 0% 0% 0.0%
Some other Race 1.3% 0.7% 0.7%
Two or More Races, Nonhispanic 7.8% 2.8% 2.8%
Hispanic Origin (of any race) 19.8% 19.8% 27.0%

The “most diverse” claim arises from the observation that the demographic category comprising the largest single group, Black / African American, only comprises 29.2% of the population. Across the city as a whole, there is diversity. Queens has the largest percentage of foreign-born residents of all five boroughs. But when you get down to the level of a few blocks, what you usually see is a predominant group.

At last night’s workshop, at each breakout group, the facilitators asked each of us to briefly identify our main concern, our main wish or goal for Flatbush in the years to come. By the time it got around to me, I’d had time to practice in my mind what I wanted to say, and wrote it down in my notebook:

Diversity Without Disparity

And I explained that I mean this “in every way I can think of.” This captures the asset of diversity we enjoy today, one which I think most of those who’ve participated in the workshops so far value as well. It also presents the challenge: how can we mitigate existing disparities, and keep the gap from widening. How can we avoid becoming the victims of our own success as a vibrant, interesting, developing community?

Related Posts

Imagine Flatbush 2030


Imagine Flatbush 2030 (Sponsored by the Municipal Art Society of NY) – Workshop #2, Brooklyn College, Frank Jump, Fading Ad Blog
Over 100 People Imagining Flatbush 2030, Brooklyn Junction
In a Diverse City, Ditmas Park Takes the Cake, Daniela Gerson, The New York Sun, May 26, 2005

Newkirk Avenue

Newkirk Plaza
Newkirk Plaza

This afternoon, Blog Widow and I had brunch at Picket Fence on Cortelyou Road, then strolled through Ditmas Park and Ditmas Park West. Yes, yes, there are beautiful houses there. But today it’s about Newkirk Avenue.

Watching You
Watching You, Newkirk Avenue and East 16th Street
A half-block from the Newkirk Avenue subway station is this imposing array of surveillance cameras. I’m sure I’m recorded somewhere now, and facial recognition systems will soon match this suspicious character to my 25-year old blog profile photo, my identity revealed.

Christ My Sufficiency
Christ My Sufficiency, Brooklyn Foursquare Church, 603 Rugby Road
This is just south of Newkirk Avenue on Rugby Road. The sign caught my eye, as well as Blog Widow’s. He said I had to take a picture of this store-front church. He’s in the biz, so I assume it’s out of professional interest.

Of course, I had to ask him, “What’s a FourSquare Church?” It was founded by Aimee Semple McPherson in 1927. Which doesn’t explain anything to me. I’ll read the Wikipedia article later.

Markets and Grocery Stores
Kim's Market, 1521 Newkirk Avenue, Ditmas Park
SSC Market, 4 Newkirk Plaza
Rupali Grocery, 1408 Newkirk Avenue

MYSTERY SOLVED! Bitter Melon on Newkirk Avenue
Mystery produce, Newkirk Avenue
Frank Jump, neighbor and general cohort, identifies these objets as bitter melons. It looks like a hairy, warty cucumber. It just doesn’t say “Eat ME!” to me.

Two Guys
Two Guys, Newkirk Avenue
I was taking a photo of the Drupali Grocery on Newkirk Avenue when these guys told me to "Make it a good picture!"

Each said I should take a picture of the other guy. So I asked to take a shot of both of them together. This was the third and last photo, after I prompted them to "smile!"

Welcome in Eleven Languages
Welcome in Eleven Languages
This is the sign on the corner of the Newkirk Family Health Center, at the northeast corner of Newkirk and Rugby Road.

I don’t even recognize half of the alphabets, let alone the languages.
The first four are English, Spanish, Russian and French. I recognize Hebrew second from the bottom. I think the bottom one is Arabic script, and fourth from the bottom are Chinese characters.

Ditmas Park Garden View


I went on the Ditmas Park Garden View this afternoon. Here’s a sample of some of the photos. Many more available in the Flickr set from my visit.

During my visit I was surprised, and flattered, by the number of people wanting to meet me. One woman walked up to me and said “I’m looking for the Flatbush Gardener.” She later explained that she was checking everyone with a camera until she found me. A couple I met from Kensington said they’d heard about the event through this blog. Overhearing some of the event organizers, it seems that this year was one of the best-attended. I hope I had something to do with that.

When I checked in, I asked again about taking photos. I was asked to check with each owner at each stop, and not to publish any addresses. I tried to ask. I don’t know any of the owners. After the first two stops, the intended order of a guided tour broke down, and it wasn’t always possible to identify the owner at each stop. Several other folks had cameras out and were taking photos. So I took photos as best I could without identifying locations. If any owner reading this objects to photos of your property, please let me know and I’ll remove them.














Event, Sunday, July 15: Ditmas Park Garden View

Update 2007.07.16: Read about and see some highlights from the tour.
Update 2007.07.12: The assemble point/first garden view is at 544 East 18th Street.

East 17th Street, Ditmas Park Historic District, Brooklyn, November 2006.
East 17th Street
Announcement from the Flatbush Family Network.

Garden-loving neighbors near and far are invited to join this year’s Ditmas Park Garden View on Sunday, July 15. The strolling tour is from 4-6 pm, rain or shine, and will feature approximately a dozen gardens in private homes along East 16th to East 18th Streets, between Newkirk to Dorchester. The final garden stop will also include drinks and refreshments. A raffle drawing for three hand-held, battery operated sprayers (hot weather essentials) completes the event.

Suggested donation for the tour is $5.00 per person, and goes to support Keep Ditmas Park Green. Regretfully-but understandably-participants must be at least twelve years old.

For more information, or to secure a spot, contact Pamela at happihands at aol dot com, or Marion at ditlip at aol dot com.