A newly installed street corner kiosk accentuates the positive in Brownsville

Display Features Work of Local Photographers and Locater Map Showing Libraries, Parks and Murals

September 26, 2016 By James Harney Brooklyn Daily Eagle
A kiosk at the corner of Livonia and Rockaway avenues in Brownsville depicts a mural featuring locally produced artwork. Eagle photos by James Harney
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If you’re looking for the “best” in Brownsville, you might start at the northeast corner of Livonia and Rockaway avenues.

There, in the shadow of the Rockaway Avenue station on the elevated IRT No. 3 line, with towers of the Tilden Houses looming nearby, you’ll find a six-foot-tall, four-foot-wide sidewalk kiosk titled, on both sides, “Best of Brownsville.”

On one side of the kiosk are four mini-murals, one bearing the image of an elderly man, another of a young girl, still another with the message, in large pink letters, “Yesterday I was, Today I Am,” and the fourth imprinted with the words, “We Rise Together. I Am a Man.”

On the other side of the kiosk, to the left, is a subtitle, “Brownsville Destinations,” over text that reads,  “What are the qualities that make a neighborhood home? The answer is different for everyone. In Brownsville, we’re looking to showcase the very best of what we see in our neighborhood and give all of our neighbors a chance to answer this question through photography.”

Down lower, more text says “The Best of Brownsville Photo Project is a public art installation under the Livonia Avenue elevated train track. For 11 months, Brownsville youth working with the Brownsville Community Justice Center will curate photographs taken by their neighbors on a rotating basis and publicly display them as the central aspect of the installation.”

To the right of the text is a detailed map of the neighborhood, identifying both special points of interest and mainstay neighborhood sites, such as Betsy Head Park and Betsy Head Pool; The Stone Library/Brownsville Heritage House; the Project Eats Farm; the Brownsville Community Justice Center; the Van Dyke Community Center and the 3 Black Cats Café and Youthmarket.

On the map, the locations of neighborhood libraries are shown with an icon depicting a stack of books, the sites of public murals are identified with a paintbrush icon and local parks are labeled with a tree icon.

Also shown are the locations of local housing developments, including the Tilden Houses, Brownsville Houses, Seth Low Houses, Howard Houses, Langston Hughes Apartments, Glenmore Plaza, Van Dyke 1 and 2 and the Woodson Houses. They are displayed on a map of the Brownsville neighborhood roughly bounded by Newport Avenue, Grafton Street, East New York Avenue and Van Sinderen Avenue.

At the very bottom of that side of the kiosk is the legend, which says that the Best of Brownsville Photo Project is presented by The New York City Department of Transportation Art Program, the Brownsville Partnership, the Brownsville Community Justice Center and the Center for Court Innovation, ioby, a nonprofit organization, and New Yorkers for Parks.

“NYC DOT is proud to work with the Brownsville Community Justice Center and chose to support their project because it was community driven and uniquely responsive to the neighborhood corridor, providing … visual interest at the corridor’s key train stops,” said a DOT spokesperson. “NYC DOT Art facilitated the implementation of the temporary kiosks that will be installed until the fall of 2017.”

Despite its location beneath a heavily used subway station and at the corner of a teeming high-rise housing development, the colorful kiosk went largely unnoticed at rush hour one evening last week.

When she noticed a Brooklyn Eagle reporter examining the kiosk, one woman walked up and said, “I never looked at this thing until I heard about it [on a recent local newscast].”

When she was told that it actually showed some of the sites the neighborhood can be proud of, she took a closer look and said, “Now I see this could be a good thing. Like, if you want to know where the library is, boom, there it is!”

And when asked if he had ever taken a close look at the kiosk, a young man who said his name was Taheem admitted that he hadn’t, and said he first noticed it when just its white metal frame, minus the map and photos, was first installed on the corner.

“Now that it’s up and the pictures are in, I’ll go over and check it out,” he said. “Does it have the BRC (Brownsville Recreation Center) on it?” he asked. When told that the location of the center is in fact on the kiosk’s map, he smiled knowingly and said: “Yeah, that’s cool.”


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