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The internet is abuzz this morning after the big-budget debut of the reenvisioned Cosmos series last night, starring Neil deGrasse Tyson.

The original series aired in 1980 and was accompanies by a book of the same name. It’s perhaps the most lasting work by cosmologist Carl Sagan, oft-hailed as the best communicator of scientific concepts in the 20th Century.

Sagan was born in 1934 and lived with his family in Bensonhurst. Around the time of the airing of the original series, he returned to the neighborhood for a video segment in which he reflected on his first childhood thoughts about the stars and the broader universe.

“I knew my immediate neighborhood intimately; every candy store, front stoop, backyard and wall for playing Chinese handball,” he said in the video. “It was my whole world.”

The video has some fantastic shots of 86th Street and the elevated subway in the 1980s. Sagan himself lived on Bay 37th Street, and, later, Bay Parkway. The family took frequent outings to Coney Island and “old photos show Carl lolling on the beach,” notes a biography of the famed astronomer.

The video above tells an abbreviated account of what happened next – the occasion that sparked his life long search of the cosmos. But he previously shared a more detailed account:

[The stars] seemed to me different. They just weren’t like everything else.

And so I asked other kids what they were…. They said things like “they’re lights in the sky, kid.”

I could tell they were lights in the sky, but what were they—little electric bulbs on long black wires? … I asked my parents, they didn’t know. I asked friends of my parents, they didn’t know.

[His mother suggested:] “I’ve just gotten you your first library card. Take the streetcar to the New Utrecht branch of the New York Public Library and find a book…. [The answer] has to be in a book.”

I went to the library. I asked the librarian for a book on the stars. She came back and gave me a book. I opened it. It was filled with pictures of people like Jean Harlow and Clark Gable.

I was humiliated. I gave it back to her and said, “This wasn’t the kind of stars I had in mind.” She thought this was hilarious, which humiliated me further. She then went and got the right kind of book. I took it—a simple kid’s book. I sat down on a little chair—a pint-sized chair—and turned the pages until I came to the answer.

And the answer was stunning. It was that the Sun was a star but really close. The stars were suns, but so far away they were just little points of light…. And while I didn’t know the [inverse] square law of light propagation or anything like that, still, it was clear to me that you would have to move that Sun enormously far away, further away than Brooklyn [for the stars to appears as dots of light]….

The scale of the universe suddenly opened up to me. [It was] kind of a religious experience. [There] was a magnificence to it, a grandeur, a scale which has never left me. Never ever left me.

You can read more about Sagan’s childhood in this excerpt by Sagan biographer Keay Davidson.

Whoa. Abstract. Kind of like the concept of undisrupted subway service citywide. (Source: diaper/Flickr)


From 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., Monday to Friday, there is no D service at 34 St-Herald Sq, 42 St-Bryant Pk, and 47-50 Sts. D trains are rerouted and operate in two sections:

  1. Between 205 St and the 2 Av F station. Local via C between 145 St and W 4 St, then via F to/from 2 Av.
  2. Between Stillwell Av and the W 4 St station.

Beginning 8:30 p.m., Monday to Thursday, Manhattan-bound D trains run local from 36 St to Dekalb Av.


All times until October 2014: there are no N or R trains running between Court St, Brooklyn and Whitehall St, Manhattan. Late-night N (11:30 p.m. to 6 a.m.) and weekend R trains operate via the Manhattan Bridge. No service at Jay St-MetroTech, Court St, Whitehall St, Rector St, Cortlandt St, and City Hall. Use alternate service and stations on the 2, 3, 4, 5, A, or C instead.

Beginning 8:30 p.m., Monday to Thursday, Manhattan-bound N trains run local from 59 St to Dekalb Av


All times until October 2014: there are no N or R trains running between Court St, Brooklyn and Whitehall St, Manhattan. Late-night N (11:30 p.m. to 6 a.m.) and weekend R trains operate via the Manhattan Bridge. No service at Jay St-MetroTech, Court St, Whitehall St, Rector St, Cortlandt St, and City Hall. Use alternate service and stations on the 2, 3, 4, 5, A, or C instead.

From 11:45 p.m. to 5 a.m., Monday to Friday, there are no R trains in Brooklyn between 59 St and 36 St – take the N. R trains run between Bay Ridge-95 St and 59 St.


From 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., Monday to Friday, F trains are rerouted via the E between W 4 St and Roosevelt Av, in both directions.

From 12:30 a.m. to 5 a.m., Tuesday to Friday, 179 St-bound F trains make local stops at 36 St, Steinway St, 46 St, Northern Blvd, and 65 St.

Source: Ibagli via Wikimedia Commons

Source: Ibagli via Wikimedia Commons

The campaign to pressure the Metropolitan Transit Authority to expand the multi-trip discount toll discount plan on the Verrazano-Narrows bridge to Brooklynites has kicked up a notch, with Senator Marty Golden and Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis launching a petition and website to that end.

The petition is hosted at, It reads:

In 2012, in response to public outcry, the Port Authority created a bridge discount program, providing Brooklyn residents traveling over the Goethals Bridge, Outerbridge Crossing, and the Bayonne Bridge three times or more a month with a 58% discount.

Senator Golden has proposed that the MTA provide the same plan for Brooklynites who frequently use the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. Assemblywoman Malliotakis has joined him to create this petition to help residents facing skyrocketing tolls when crossings the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. Under the plan, residents traveling over the Verrazano Bridge would receive a 58% discount from the $15 cash price to be applied to EZ-Pass holders who travel over the bridge 3 or more times a month. This means that an EZ-Pass holder would see their toll price reduced from roughly $10.50 to $6.30.

Residents can sign the petition by visiting the website, or one of the elected officials’ district offices.

In February, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a deal giving Staten Island EZ-Pass holders a toll break on the Verrazano Bridge. The plan grants Island commuters the discount laid out in the Golden-Malliotakis petition, but denies it to residents of other boroughs.

Area pols immediately criticized the deal, calling it unfair that Brooklynites were left out. Golden, Councilmember Vincent Gentile, State Senator Diane Savino and Borough President Eric Adams all spoke out against it. Gentile later introduced a resolution to the City Council calling for the MTA to give Brooklyn residents a matching deal.

Golden and Malliotakis launched their petition Friday.

“The rising cost of the Verrazano Bridge toll has become prohibitive not only for Staten Island residents, but for Brooklyn residents as well,” said Golden in a press release. “Even though people who live in my district are going the opposite way of those who live in Staten Island, the cost is the same, and therefore, the discount should be the same.”

On the news of the petition’s launch, Gentile and Adams released a joint statement praising the effort and calling for unity in the fight for toll equity:

We thank State Senator Golden and Assembly Member Malliotakis for joining our community’s fight to address disparity in the new tolling plan for the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. We cannot stand for the unfair penalizing of Brooklynites that work, go to school or have family members on Staten Island, Brooklynites that use this bridge every day. In this spirit, we are jointly introducing a City Council resolution calling on the Metropolitan Transit Authority to consider the impact of the current pricing scheme on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge on both the residents of Brooklyn and Staten Island. Both boroughs, as well as the elected officials who represent them, need to stand in unity on this issue. That is why we will be proud to be among the first to sign the new petition calling for toll relief for Brooklynites, and that is why we look forward to furthering our efforts to achieve a truly ‘fair fare’ on this thoroughfare.


The Blacklist will be filming on McDonald Avenue today, between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Parking between Avenue X and Avenue Y will be suspended during those times.

The Blacklist is an NBC crime drama that debuted this past fall, starring James Spader and Megan Boone. It follows a former government agent-turned-fugitive who has mysteriously turned himself in with an offer to cooperate in taking down criminal networks – so long as he gets to choose his rookie partner. From there, bad guys fall, intrigue follows, blah blah blah…

Photo and reporting by Elle Spektor. 

Source: canihazit/Flickr


6:45 AM to 7 PM, Saturday, Mar 8
205 St-bound D trains run express from Bay Pkwy to 9 Av.

12:01 AM Sat to 5 AM Mon, Mar 8 – 10
D trains run local in both directions between 34 St-Herald Sq and W 4 St.


All times until October 2014: there are no N or R trains running between Court St, Brooklyn and Whitehall St, Manhattan. Late-night N (11:30 p.m. to 6 a.m.) and weekend R trains operate via the Manhattan Bridge. No service at Jay St-MetroTech, Court St, Whitehall St, Rector St, Cortlandt St, and City Hall. Use alternate service and stations on the 2, 3, 4, 5, A, or C instead.


All times until October 2014: there are no N or R trains running between Court St, Brooklyn and Whitehall St, Manhattan. Late-night N (11:30 p.m. to 6 a.m.) and weekend R trains operate via the Manhattan Bridge. No service at Jay St-MetroTech, Court St, Whitehall St, Rector St, Cortlandt St, and City Hall. Use alternate service and stations on the 2, 3, 4, 5, A, or C instead.

From 11:45 p.m. to 8 a.m., Friday to Sunday, there are no R trains running between 59 St and 36 St in Brooklyn. Take the N instead. R trains run between Bay Ridge-95 St and 59 St.


From 11:45 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday, Queens-bound F trains run express from Church Av to Smith-9 Sts.

From 11:45 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday, Coney Island-bound F trains are rerouted via the A from W 4 St to Jay St-MetroTech.

From 12:30 a.m. Saturday to 5 a.m. Monday, F trains run local in both directions between Roosevelt Av and 71 Av.

The following is a press release from Councilman David Greenfield:

With one of the most challenging winters in recent memory finally coming to a close, Councilman David G. Greenfield is focusing on the condition of streets throughout his district and will work with the Department of Transportation to repair potholes and road surfaces that were damaged by this year’s harsh weather. To help facilitate this process, Councilman Greenfield is inviting the public to help identify the locations of potholes around Kensington, Boro Park, Midwood and Bensonhurst that are most in need of immediate attention, especially large craters that can damage vehicles or pose a safety hazard. Residents are asked to first report these potholes to 311, and to then call Councilman Greenfield’s district office at (718) 853-2704 and provide his staff with the specific location and the 311 reference number so that the request can prioritized.

“This was one of the harshest winters we have had in years, and there is no doubt that the constant freezing and thawing has wreaked havoc on the condition of our neighborhood streets. As always, I will be working closely with the Department of Transportation to make sure the worst potholes are filled in as quickly as possible and the worst streets are resurfaced this spring. Since residents know the community best, I am seeking the public’s help to identify which areas are truly most in need of attention so that any major hazards can be prioritized for repairs in the coming weeks,” said Councilman Greenfield.

Councilman Greenfield works closely with the DOT’s Brooklyn office each year to make sure that local streets most in need of resurfacing are included in the annual spring repaving schedule. During this process, priority is given to streets that are badly damaged and posing a safety hazard for drivers, pedestrians or cyclists, and to major thoroughfares with the highest volumes of traffic. Last year, this included work along 40th Street, New Utrecht Avenue, 48th Street, Ditmas Avenue, 17th Avenue, 65th Street, Avenue P, 66th Street and many others. Councilman Greenfield is also working closely with the DOT on the installation of traffic signals, stop signs, speed humps and pedestrian countdown signals around the district to improve safety and traffic flow.

Residents are asked to provide the 311 operator and Councilman Greenfield’s staff with as much specific information about the exact location of the pothole that needs to be filled, including nearby intersections or a street address. As the requests come in, Councilman Greenfield will coordinate with the DOT to ensure that the most urgent ones are promptly addressed based on the availability of city work crews.

“There is little doubt that this harsh winter is going to leave our local streets in horrendous shape, so it is important that we identify the stretches of roads that are most in need of repairs. That’s why I work closely with the Department of Transportation each spring, and why I am asking local residents to report the worst and most dangerous conditions to the city and my office for immediate attention,” added Councilman Greenfield.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

CompStat reports are produced by the New York Police Department on a weekly basis. We publish the week’s statistics for the 62nd Precinct reports every Friday. The 62nd Precinct is the police command responsible for Bensonhurst and Bath Beach.

The garden, before and after bulldozing. Source:

The garden, before and after bulldozing. Source:

The New York City Community Garden Coalition is suing the city on behalf of the Boardwalk Community Garden in Coney Island, which lost its city-owned land to make way for a seaside amphitheater.

Just days after the City Council approved a plan to make a 5,099-seat concert venue at the landmarked Childs Restaurant in December, bulldozers rolled onto the adjacent property and demolished the garden in a midnight raid.

But the outraged gardeners say that the city failed to do its due diligence, and that the West 22nd Street greenspace was legally a New York City park and the group had an agreement with the city to operate the garden, which should have at least delayed the demolition.

The city, though, previously claimed that the garden was decommissioned as a park in 2004, Brownstoner points out. The group says the city never told them that and let them continue to operate for years, according to NY1.

The gardeners are also suing over what they believe has been an insufficient environmental review, particularly when it comes to the requirements of their sewer system and flood protection. Brooklyn Daily reports:

“The city did not follow its own regulations,” said attorney Joel Kupferman of the New York Environmental Law and Justice Project, which is spearheading the suit. “You’re going to have thousands of people coming to a concert, and the sewers in Coney West cannot take that.”

Kupferman further alleged that iStar Financial, the company that will construct and operate the new hall as a permanent home for Markowitz’s summer concert series, did not do the proper studies when they designed the underground reservoirs that the company claims will combat flooding at the waterfront venue.

Attorneys for iStar say that the blueprints are perfectly in line with regulations.

The amphitheater is set to be the new, permanent home of the former Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz’s free summer concert series. It has been opposed by Community Board 13, but given the green light by the Department of City Planning and the City Council.

The following is a press release from the offices of the Community Education Council of District 21:

Last Thursday’s announcement regarding the continuance of charter co-locations at I.S. 96, Seth Low, and I.S. 281, Joseph B. Cavallaro, is a major setback for our community.  There was such hope that Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Farina would finally listen to the voices of parents and community members.  Many of us now feel only disappointment and frustration. In the fall of 2013, the Community Education Council District 21 passed two resolutions opposing both co-locations, we have rallied, gone to both PEP meetings and still our voices were not heard.  2014 had such potential for parents and yet again, we have been pushed to the side.  We have been given a promise that they will do things better in the future.  What about the children and their families that are already attending I.S. 96 Seth Low, and I.S. 281, Joseph B. Cavallaro, don’t they count too?  I understand that they based their decisions on families that applied for seats for September 2014 and the deadline was coming.  Our children’s educations should not be about deadlines.  We provide excellent educational opportunities for all children in this district and have seats in our traditional public schools for the children who have applied.  More time should have been taken to visit and speak to schools, families, and community members regarding the co-locations. There is no need to rush putting two more elementary schools in our district. We have and always will supply a high quality education for every child in our district’s traditional public schools.   Mayor de Blasio’s plan is to provide full day, high quality Pre-K programs to 53,000 students in 2014. With two elementary Charter school co-locations opening in 2014 in our district, what middle school space can the Chancellor guarantee will be available for these students in the future?

It’s time to come together once again as a community! Let our voices be heard loud and clear “We say NO to the co-locations decisions on I.S. 96 and I.S. 281, Joseph B. Cavallaro”. The Community Education Council District 21 calls on Chancellor Farina and Mayor de Blasio to reverse the decision to implement co-location plan for I.S.96, Seth Low and I.S. 281, Joseph B. Cavallaro.

The Community Education council of District 20 & 21 invites all community members to join them at I.S. 96 Seth Low to Rally on Friday, March 7, 2014 at 2:30 PM.

Source: Streetsblog

Officers from the 62nd Precinct, covering Bensonhurst, Bath Beach, Dyker Heights and parts of Gravesend and Borough Park, are warning drivers of an impending crackdown on double parking throughout the command.

Police have been distributing fliers about the crackdown, dubbed “Operation Move Along,” noting that fines for double parking violations are $115.

“When you double park, you obstruct the views of other drivers, pedestrians and cyclists; you impede traffic flow; you increase the chance of a collision,” the flier said. “Don’t be the cause of a collision or injury or death to somebody’s loved one. Please be considerate.”

The Bensonhurst precinct isn’t the only one to partake in the crackdown. Cops will also be writing tickets to double-parkers in Midtown Manhattan’s 34th Precinct, the Bronx’s 40th Precinct, Crown Height’s 77th Precinct, as well as two precincts in Queens and one in Staten Island.

The crackdown will last until March 16.