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Source: Facebook/VillabateAlba

Source: Facebook/VillabateAlba

A woman was found unconscious in a parked sedan this morning in front of a bakery on the corner of 18th Avenue and 70th Street, from an apparent overdose, police said.

The woman, who was identified as Maria Raudino, 28, from Toms River, NJ, was found slumped, face-down in the front passenger seat of a gold 2003 Hyundai Sonata, police said. The car was parked in front of Villabate Alba, an Italian bakery located at 7001 18th Avenue.

Antonio Alaimo, the owner of the bakery, told us a customer first noticed a woman slumped over in the car outside. Police were called and detectives asked to see the bakery’s cameras. The footage showed that the car had been parked in the same spot since 1am the night before.

“No one actually realized the car was there overnight, until a random customer came into the store and asked to call the police” said Alaimo.

EMS arrived and pronounced the woman DOA at the scene. There was no trauma to the body, and police said they are treating it as an overdose.

An investigation is ongoing, and the Medical Examiner will determine the cause of death.

“It’s so sad, she was so young,” Alaimo said when he learned Raudino’s age. “It breaks my heart, to tell you the truth.”

Source: DCPI

Source: DCPI

Police are searching for a suspect who they believe snatched a teen’s pocketbook at a TJ Maxx store on 86th Street this month.

The female suspect is accused of taking the purse from a bench at the store, located 502 86 Street, at around 5pm on Saturday, November 8.

Police say the 15-year-old female victim briefly she stepped away from the bench, leaving her purse unattended, while she tried on a pair of shoes. The suspect snatched the purse and fled in an unknown direction.  She is described as a black female with long black hair, wearing a baby blue shirt and a dark colored sweater (see above photo). The purse contained a credit card, $40 cash, and assorted personal items.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website, or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) and entering TIP577.

verrazano-narrows bridge

Opened on November 21, 1964, the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge celebrates its 50th anniversary this week, so we’re honoring the occasion by looking at some of the statistics, quirks, and interesting bits of info that make up the massive crossing’s history. From parachuting off its tower, to a cameo in Saturday Night Fever, to nearly 22 dozen light bulbs, here are 25 things you may not have know about the bridge.

1. It could have been a tunnel, instead. The original discussion for crossing the Narrows began in 1888 — but that was for a tunnel. After a bridge was proposed and the design nixed, they went back to the tunnel idea, and actually began digging. The abandoned tunnels, which only went 150 feet but still remain, were nicknamed “Hylan’s Holes” after then-Mayor John F. Hylan, who championed the failed project. It went back and forth between tunnel/bridge until talk about a bridge, under the recommendation of Robert Moses, became serious in 1946.

2. It was built in five years. It took 16 years to build the Brooklyn Bridge (completed 81 years before the Verrazano), and one year and 45 days to build the Empire State Building (completed 33 years before the Verrazano).

3. It weighs 1,265,000 tons, making it the world’s heaviest bridge at the time it opened.

4. The cost to build the bridge, in 1964 dollars, was $320 million — which would be around $2.45 billion today.

Verrazano Bridge 1960 Brooklyn

Source: Matthew Proujansky via Wikimedia Commons

5. About 7,000 people were displaced in Bay Ridge to make room for the bridge, including dentist Henry Amen, whose office was leveled, but who found a new one nearby — he is still practicing there today at age 88.

6. The length of its central span, which made it the longest suspension bridge in the world when it opened, is 4,260 feet, the equivalent of just over 14 football fields. It lost that title in 1981, and is currently the eleventh longest in the world; but it’s still the longest in the United States.

7. About 12,000 men worked on its construction, and three men died in falls. Workers walked off the job for four days, demanding safety nets, which they got, and which, afterward, caught and saved three more workers who also fell. None of the workers were invited to the opening; instead they attended a mass for the three victims.

8. Nobody is buried in the structure’s foundation, like they claim in Saturday Night Fever. In the film, the bridge symbolizes freedom and a better life…in Staten Island. The film was released 20 years after the groundbreaking of the bridge — that year, 1959, the population of Staten Island was 220,000; by 1980, it was 352,000, so Tony wasn’t alone in these thoughts.

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Source: katerha via flickr

Source: katerha via flickr

The first City Council hearing on a proposed mandatory fee for plastic bags at grocery stores and supermarkets took place yesterday, and it’s already proving to be one of the most divisive issues to come before the usually lockstep Council body.

Capital New York reports:

The bill, Intro. 209, is being championed by Council members Brad Lander of Brooklyn and Margaret Chin of Manhattan and would impose the fee on all plastic and paper bags issued by grocery stores, bodegas, liquor stores and the like in city limits. The intent is to cut back on the estimated 100,000 tons of plastic bags that find their way to the rivers, streets and trees in the city and encourage New Yorkers to use reusable shopping bags. Plastic bags constitute 2 percent of the city’s waste stream.

… Supporters maintained the 10 cents does not constitute a tax as no money would go to government coffers. Store owners would keep the 10 cents on each bag.

That, of course, hasn’t stopped opponents from describing it as a tax. One of the most vocal opponents so far has been Councilman David Greenfield.

The Daily News reports:

“Quite frankly, I’m ashamed to sit here today and talk about actually raising taxes on New Yorkers,” said Councilman David Greenfield (D-Brooklyn), who said he buys 30 bags of groceries for his family every Thursday night. “Now I’m going to have to pay three bucks extra a week.”

While proponents like Lander and Chin, who represent some of the city’s tonier districts, argue that such fees have successfully reduced the use of plastic bags in cities including Washington D.C., other elected officials say that it would unfairly hurt low-income families.

Councilman Chaim Deutsch is instead proposing a “recycling education campaign” to urge New York City residents to scale back on the roughly 9.37 billion disposable bags used in the five boroughs every year, most of which ends up in landfills.

“While our environmental goal should be to enhance programs which encourage recycling, the absolute wrong way to accomplish this worthwhile objective is by implementing a tax on plastic or paper bags,” said Deutsch in a statement. “I would rather support a recycling education campaign than support a tax, imposing an unfair financial burden on so many.”

Deutsch noted that though the bill’s provisions exempt food stamp recipients, not all of the city’s cash-strapped residents are on food stamps.

The de Blasio administration and Council speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito have not taken a position on the bill.

Source: Instagram/repdesign1946

Source: Instagram/repdesign1946

A shoemaker’s workspace in sepia. Located at 2810 Harway Avenue.

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Source: Krokodyl via Wikimedia Commons

Source: Krokodyl via Wikimedia Commons

A team of scam artists is targeting elderly Asian women in Bensonhurst and Bath Beach, police warned at the 62nd Precinct’s Community Council meeting yesterday.

On November 5, three woman approached a 74-year-old woman at a restaurant on 86th street and 24th Avenue and offered to bless her money and valuables to rid them of evil spirits, making off with $35,000 in cash as well as her jewelry, cops said. This incident matched a pattern of burglaries that occurred in 2013.

The Cantonese-speaking thieves would approach their victims, strike up a friendly conversation, and then warn them of bad fortune coming their way, cops said. The scam artists would tell their victims that the only way to rid themselves of the curse was to have their jewelry and money “blessed.” Victims would be told to go home and deposit all their valuable in a special bag, which would be handed over to the crooks and later returned filled with water bottles, newspapers, or food. Victims were warned not to open the bag for two weeks and by that time, the con artists were long gone.

Earlier this year, we reported that the Asian community in Bensonhurst was being disproportionately targeted by crime, with Asians accounting for 19 out of 20 burglary victims in the area.

If you or someone you know is approached by a person offering to bless your valuables, call the 62nd Precinct immediately (718) 236-2611.

Photo by Ellie Spector

Photo by Ellie Spector

Community Board 11 will hold its next meeting tomorrow, November 20 at 7:30pm at the Bensonhurst Center for Rehabilitation and Healthcare, 1740 84th Street.

The Board serves as a local conduit to the government of New York City, representing neighbors’ needs and concerns. If you have a problem with a city agency or quality of life issue, the Board exists to relay your concerns and spur action.

There will be time to hear residents’ concerns and discuss various committee reports, and elected officials may be in attendance.

For additional information, call (718) 266-8800.

Source: Flickr/shawnhoke

Source: Flickr/shawnhoke

I probably sound like a broken record at this point, but the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge is turning 50 on Friday, and there are anniversary parties happening all over the Brooklyn and Staten Island all week.

For many of us in southwest Brooklyn, the bridge is a fixture our lives. It is a landmark, a major commuting artery, a photographer’s dream, and it can often be seen from the roofs of our homes.

Here’s a fun fact: the bridge was named for the Florentine explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano, who was the first European to enter the New York Harbor, but the extra Z got dropped off somewhere along the way. The Narrows is the name of the body of water between Brooklyn and Staten Island – hence the name Verrazano-Narrows. The bridge was built over five years and opened for traffic on November 21, 1964.

Turning 50 is kind of a big deal, so we’ve rounded up three of the best events happening this week to help you celebrate the Verrazano’s big day:

1. TODAY: Visit a statue of the original Verrazzano at John J. Carty Park

Here’s a chance to talk about the bridge’s namesake, learn a little New York history, and enjoy a brisk walk around the park. Best of all, it’s FREE.

The Parks Department unveiled a replica of a missing relief statue of Giovanni da Verrazzano and spruced up its old display at John J. Carty Park today.  The original statue of the explorer, sculpted by italian immigrant Albino Manca, was installed in 1964, but was stolen from the display in the 1980s. The relief was recast by Bedi-Makky Art Foundry, a historic, Brooklyn-based firm.

DATE: Wednesday, November 19, 2014

TIME: 10am – 1pm

LOCATION: Fort Hamilton Parkway and 95th Street

2. TOMORROW: Eat cake at Yellow Hook Grill in Bay Ridge

Join the Harbor Ring and the Merchants of Third Avenue at Bay Ridge’s Yellow Hook Grille tomorrow as they celebrate the Verrazano Bridge‘s 50th birthday.

Raise a glass to the history of the campaign for a Verrazano Bridge bicycle/pedestrian path and learn about the Harbor Ring’s new efforts to make it a reality.

Tickets will run you $25 a piece, but they get you unlimited beer, wine, soda, and hors d’oeuvres, and plenty of birthday cake.

DATE: Thursday, November 20

TIME: 7:30pm – 9:30pm

LOCATION: Yellow Hook Grille, 7003 3rd Ave

3. FRIDAY: Watch the MTA’s ceremonial canons and fire boat display from shore

We saved the best for last.

On Friday, as part of the MTA’s official Verrazano Bridge 50th anniversary ceremony, there will be a 50-shot cannon salute over The Narrows (25 shots from either sides of the bridge), plenty of politicians, and a spectacular fireboat display. Because there is limited room, the actual event is invitation-only, but the public is invited to view the cannon/fireboat show from Von Briesen Park near Fort Wadsworth or Shore Road Park in Brooklyn.

DATE: Friday, November 21

TIME: Cannon and fireboat display expected to begin at 11:45am

LOCATION: Von Briesen Park near Fort Wadsworth and Shore Road Park in Brooklyn.

Source: Flickr/haagenjerrys

Source: Flickr/haagenjerrys

Once again, the MTA has announced plans to raise fares and tolls – this time by 2 percent a year for the next two years. The 30-day MetroCard will definitely jump from $112 to $116.50, but the MTA is deliberating on whether to raise the price of the single ride MetroCard to $2.75, or keep it the same, effectively eliminating the bonus on the 30-day card.

Here’s a chart via Gothamist:


As you can see, both options kind of suck.

Fares on the LIRR and Metro-North will also see varying increases, as will bridge tolls – including the dreaded Verrazano-Narrows Bridge toll, which may jump a whole dollar. You can read more about that on the MTA website. The MTA plans to make a decision in March after hearing from commuters next month.

If you’d like to tell the MTA to take their fare hikes and shove it, be at the Walt Whitman Theater at Brooklyn College, 2900 Campus Road (near the Flatbush junction), on Thursday, December 11. Registration is open from 5pm to 9pm. The hearing begins at 6pm.

Comments can also be submitted online through the MTA website, or by letter to MTA Government Affairs, 347 Madison Ave., New York, 10017.

Source: Instagram/candi_cee_girl

Source: Instagram/candi_cee_girl

Some very arrogant street art. Spotted on 86th Street and 25th Avenue.

Take any photos in Bensonhurst recently? Send them to, or tag them #Bensonhurst on Instagram, and we’ll post them here.

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