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Photographer David Mandl has been snapping shots of dead ends in Brooklyn for 15 years. Now, while this may seem like a futile effort, the 125 pictures he’s accumulated tell a compelling story about the rough-and-tumble borough. The stillness and repetition in Mandl’s collection are surprisingly evocative.

Aaron Rothman describes Mandl’s work in Places Journal:

Occasionally, we catch a glimpse of urban activity — a canoe, a basketball hoop, a deer statue — but more often our view is obscured. The signs are posted in front of a guardrail, fence, wall, or screen of unkempt foliage that disrupts the continuous space of the city. The images frustrate the desire to know what lies beyond. In this context, the repetition of the word “END” (often centered in the frame) becomes unsettling. Is this a warning? A metaphor?

While the photos span every cranny and corner of Brooklyn, Mandl, a Bensonhurst native, was kind enough to share several that were taken in neighborhoods covered by Bensonhurst Bean and some of our sister sites. For example, the vivid image featured above was captured in Bensonhurst.

Below is a dead end adjacent to the Brooklyn Yacht Club in Sheepshead Bay.

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Here, a dead-end sign stands in front of an overgrown fence in Kensington. A faint building in the background is obscured by fog.

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Check out the rest of the series here. Also check out Mandl’s awesome photos of New York’s elevated subway lines. And, while you’re at it, check out his wonderful archive of old-school Bensonhurst nicknames.

Photos courtesy of Dave Mandl, used with permission.

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It was mostly a predictable day at the polls yesterday when it came to Southern Brooklyn races, including the reelection of two lawmakers currently facing federal charges.

The most high-profile race, of course, was that of the 11th Congressional District, in which incumbent Michael Grimm, who faces a 20-count indictment for tax evasion, staved off a challenge from Democrat Domenic Recchia.

Grimm came ahead with a 13-point lead, according to preliminary results provided by the Associated Press. He won 56,221 of the district’s Brooklyn and Staten Island votes, or 55.4 percent, to Recchia’s 42,786 votes, or 42.1 percent. A Green party candidate, Henry Bardel, picked up 2.5 percent.

Though the win itself was predictable – Recchia’s campaign gaffes became a national joke, and Siena polling showed Grimm with a 19-point lead in the days before the race – the margin is a significant victory for Grimm. In 2012, before the incumbent made headlines for the criminal charges, threatening to throw a reporter off a balcony, or having a romp in a bar bathroom, he had just shy of a six-point victory over then challenger Mark Murphy (the race was 52.6 to 46.4).

It appears the bad headlines has made Grimm even more popular among voters, or Recchia was just that much more unlikable than Murphy.

Once the dust has settled, we’ll take a look at how the vote broke down geographically to see just how much Brooklyn factored into Grimm’s reelection.

Sampson (File photo)

Sampson (File photo)

But Grimm was not the only Southern Brooklyn pol facing federal indictment to win re-election. After besting several challengers in the Democratic primary, State Senator John Sampson, who represents parts of Sheepshead Bay, Mill Basin and Canarsie, took in 86.1 percent of the vote in last night’s general election.

Sampson is facing embezzlement charges, accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from the sale of foreclosed homes. Just days before the election, the pol’s legal team practically admitted to the swindle in a pre-trial hearing, but argued that it occurred outside the statute of limitations. It apparently did not hurt his electoral prospects, as he took home more than 10 times the number of votes as the second place contender, Republican Elias J. Weir.

Source: Brook-Krasny’s office

Source: Brook-Krasny’s office

If there were any surprises in local races on election night, it might be the showing of Republican Stamatis Lilikakis, who challenged Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny. The district, which spans Brighton Beach, Coney Island, Dyker Heights and a sliver of waterfront connecting those neighborhoods, churned out a nail-biter as returns came in from poll sites. For the first half of the count, Brook-Krasny hovered between 50 and 51 percent. But as the night wore on, he took a dramatic lead, with 58.3 percent of the vote to Lilikakis’ 41.7.

This is another race we’ll be checking the geographic breakdown of, as it’ll be interesting to see which parts of the neighborhood snubbed Brook-Krasny.

Here’s how the rest of the races in Southern Brooklyn shook out:

Congressional

  • Congressman Hakeem Jeffries took home 91.9 percent of the vote, to Republican Alan Bellone’s 8.1 percent. Bellone did not actively campaign.
  • Yvette Clarke took home 89.5 percent to Republican Daniel Cavanagh’s 10.5 percent. Cavanagh did not actively campaign.
  • Jerrold Nadler won 87.6 percent of the vote to Conservative Ross Brady’s 11.9 percent.

State Senate

  • Senator Martin Golden had a strong showing against Democratic challenger James Kemmerer, with 69-to-31 percent of the vote. That’s significant growth compared to results in 2012, when Democrat Andrew Gounardes pulled in 41.9 percent to Golden’s 58.1 percent.
  • Senator Diane Savino did not have a challenger.
  • Senator Simcha Felder did not have a challenger.

State Assembly

  • Sheepshead Bay’s Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein took in 87.3 percent of the vote to Conservative challenger Sura Yusim’s 12.7 percent.
  • Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz bested his challenger, Ben Akselrod, with 54.4 percent of the vote to Akselrod’s 42.3 percent. This is the fourth race in a row that he’s defeated Akselrod, after winnin in both the 2012 primary and general (Akselrod ran as a Democrat, then as a Conservative) and this year’s primary and general (he ran as a Democrat, then as a Republican).
  • Bensonhurst Assemblyman Bill Colton beat Republican challenger Joseph Baranello 71 to 29 percent.
  • Borough Park and Midwood Assemblyman Dov Hikind defeated Republican Nachman Caller 78.4 to 21.6.
  • Assemblyman Peter Abbate, representing Dyker Heights and Bensonhurst, received 76.2 percent of the vote to Republican Henry Lallave’s 23.8 percent.
  • The 59th Assembly District, representing Sheepshead Bay, Marine Park and Mill Basin, and vacant since Alan Maisel resigned to take a seat in the City Council, was secured by Democrat Roxanne Persaud, who bested Republican Jeffrey Ferretti 73.8 to 26.2.

For all results from last night’s general election, check out WNYC for AP results.

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Really, people. Is it that hard to hit the garbage can?

This poor tree was just hanging out on 86th Street and 20th Avenue when someone decided to turn it into a personal trash bin. It was stuffed to the brim with empty water bottles and coffee cups when we visited two weeks ago.

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When we checked back today, someone had generously cleaned out the tree. But either they didn’t do a very good job, or more callous jerks wandered by, because now there are  empty coffee cups all over the ground.

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Then, on the same corner, there is this lovely junk-filled newspaper stand. At least the trash is free, right?

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And the most ridiculous part is that there is an actual trash can 20 feet away!

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What’s the deal with folks leaving trash where it doesn’t belong anyway?

Throw out your trash, people. Let’s keep the neighborhood looking pretty.

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Halloween may be over, but spooky friends are still skulking around the neighborhood.

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When it comes to commercial real estate, Southwest Brooklyn is booming, and is about to get even bigger.

According to a report set to be released this week by Massey Knakal Realty Services, building sales in Southwest Brooklyn are expected to rise by 57 percent in the next year.

The Commercial Observer reports:

While neighborhoods like Sunset Park, Bensonhurst, Bay Ridge and eight other areas within southwest Brooklyn don’t receive the same hype as other areas such as Williamsburg or Downtown Brooklyn, the southwestern portion of the borough have accounted for 25 percent of the total buildings sold and 18 percent of the total sales figures for the borough, figures from the report say.

One reason for this growth, Massey Knakal’s vice president for research Adrian Mercado told the Commercial Observer, is the growing Asian-American populations in Sunset Park and Bensonhurst, that has attracted Asian investments.

Earlier this month we wrote about the massive hotel and mall planned on 6208 Eighth Avenue, on the border of Sunset Park and Dyker Heights, and a Cropsey Avenue nursing home which will be turned into a 24-story condo tower–both by Chinese developers.

Here’s a graph illustrating the dramatic rise in building sales:

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Annual southwest Brooklyn sales transactions. (Massey Knakal)

But is the impending real estate boom good for Bensonhurst? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Election Day

Bensonhurst appears to have had a strong turnout at the polling booths this morning, thanks, in part, to sunny skies.

There were folks out campaigning for Assemblyman Peter Abbate, and Democratic candidate James Kemmerer,  Congressman Michael Grimm and State Senator Marty Golden. A dog (and his owner) even trekked out from Windsor Terrace to lobby for the Democratic ticket.

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“The turnout has been pretty brisk and the weather has a lot to do with it,” said Steven Depace, voting coordinator at P.S. 186 on 19th Avenue. “During the primaries only 20 to 30 people came out, but now we have more than double that and it’s still the slow part of the day.”

Similarly, P.S. 205 on 20th Avenue saw a really strong turnout. By 10am, there was already a 175 percent increase in voters from the numbers the school saw during the primary elections, according to volunteer Elisha Petito.

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Some folks were still confused by the new fangled voting machines, though they’ve been around for two years, and at Brooklyn Studio Secondary School on 21st Avenue, two machines had technical difficulties and were not up and running until 9am. Luckily the crowds were pretty thin at that location and people weren’t waiting too long to cast their vote, according to one volunteer.

Still haven’t made it out to the polls? Here’s everything you need to know to cast your vote.

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An early afternoon fire destroyed the restrooms on the corner of Cropsey Avenue and Bay Parkway in Bensonhurst Park on Friday, October 31.

All units were called in to fight the blaze at 1:45pm, and the fire was under control by 2:09pm, said FDNY officials. The cause of the fire is under investigation. There were no injuries.

When we visited today, the restroom was boarded up and reeked of ash, but the main structure was still standing.

Here’s a photo of the fire sent to us by tipster Dutch Benendez.

Firefighters contain fire in Bensonhurst Park on October 31, 2014.  (Credit: Dutch Benendez)

Firefighters contain fire in Bensonhurst Park on October 31, 2014. (Credit: Dutch Benendez)

We’ve reached out to the Parks Department to find out about repairs, and will update when we hear back.

Colton led a similar rally in August 2012.

Colton leads a rally against the waste transfer station in August 2012.

Assemblyman Bill Colton filed a legal brief on October 22 challenging Supreme Court Justice Burt Bunyan’s ruling for the city to move forward with plans to build a garbage station near Ceasar’s Bay, arguing the decision was contradictory to the judge’s previous findings.

“We believe the Judge’s split decision, as written, is inconsistent with its own findings. Judge Bunyan found the [Sanitation] Commissioner’s decision to be rational in substance, but irrational in procedure,” Colton said in a statement. “How can a decision be rational if the procedure used to make that decision is irrational? Judge Bunyan’s ruling is clearly contradictory.”

The Gravesend community and environmental activists have been protesting the waste transfer station for health and safety reasons since 2012, drawing bipartisan support from pols. An 87-year-old cancer survivor even joined the fight, claiming the nearby toxins had contributed to her illness.

Toxins found in Gravesend Bay waters in 2013 supported arguments that the station might further dredge up pollutants and create health problems for the family neighborhood.

This summer, Gravesend community members banded together with residents from the Upper East Side to fight waste transfer station plans in each of their respective neighborhoods. The Upper East Side station is also still being contested.

Colton said he believes the community will be able to stop the garbage station from opening, and vowed to continue filing appeals until they achieve their goal.

voting

Tuesday, November 4 is election day, and polls will be open from 6am to 9pm. Here are some of the things you should know before casting your vote:

Find out where your polling site is with this locator.

• Enter your address to see a sample ballot here. City- and statewide races include governor and lieutenant governor, state comptroller, NYC attorney general, and judges, and locally you’ll be choosing a member of Congress, a state senator, and an assembly member. The New York City Campaign Finance Board has a voter guide.

There will be three questions this year, covering redistricting procedures, allowing electronic distribution of state legislative bills, and a measure that would allocate up to $2B to provide classroom technology and add pre-K classroom space. Gothamist has a look at those in plain language.

• Got a concern about your rights at the polling site? Here are some FAQs about issues you might encounter.

If you have any questions, visit the Board of Elections FAQ page, or contact them directly at 1-866-868-3692.

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Every year since 1976, the iconic Verrazano-Narrows Bridge has been the starting point for the New York City Marathon, which attracts runners from all over the world. On November 21, the bridge will celebrate the 50th anniversary of its opening, and to mark the occasion, MTA has released this riveting video. Seriously, you can’t look away.

This is the second consecutive year the MTA has released a breathtaking video documenting the race. Did you avoid the marathon this year? Maybe this video will inspire you to join the sea of sneakers next time round.

Enjoy!