East Williamsburg

Photos: See the wide-open spaces of Bushwick Avenue while it was temporarily closed to traffic

March 31, 2020 Lore Croghan
Part of Bushwick Avenue was temporarily closed to provide open space for fresh-air seekers during the coronavirus lockdown. Photo: Lore Croghan/Brooklyn Eagle

Here’s Bushwick Avenue as you’ve never seen it before.

There’s nary a car or truck in sight — just wide-open asphalt, with intersections cordoned off by protective barriers and patient cops directing traffic.

This is Bushwick Avenue at the intersection of Flushing Avenue. Photo: Lore Croghan/Brooklyn Eagle
This is Bushwick Avenue at the intersection of Flushing Avenue. Photo: Lore Croghan/Brooklyn Eagle

An East Williamsburg section of the usually busy thoroughfare was closed to vehicular traffic for daytime recreational use from Friday, March 27 through Monday, March 30. Mayor Bill De Blasio chose this roughly half-mile-long stretch of Bushwick Avenue to be part of a pilot program of closing streets to provide safe spaces for New York City residents to get fresh air during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

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I took these pictures on Monday, after rain made Saturday and Sunday unsuitable for a photo shoot.

On the opposite side of the avenue from the Bushwick Houses, I noticed a locked-up security gate covered with a mural depicting a truck. This is ReUse America’s vintage furniture shop.

The building with the red truck painted on it is ReUse America’s vintage-furniture store. Photo: Lore Croghan/Brooklyn Eagle
The building with the red truck painted on it is ReUse America’s vintage furniture store. Photo: Lore Croghan/Brooklyn Eagle

The furniture sold there helps fund ReUse America’s mission, which involves giving donated home furnishings to families who need them.

The stretch of Bushwick Avenue that was shut down began at the intersection of Flushing Avenue outside NYCHA’s Bushwick Houses. It ended at the intersection of Johnson Avenue, where a partly built Slate Property Group development is located.

Some city parks have been crowded on weekends, making it difficult for visitors to maintain social distancing, which means staying at least six feet away from each other.


This Bushwick Avenue ghost bike honors the memory of Eliseo Martinez. Photo: Lore Croghan/Brooklyn Eagle
This Bushwick Avenue ghost bike honors the memory of cyclist Eliseo Martinez. Photo: Lore Croghan/Brooklyn Eagle

A portion of Bushwick Avenue that was not included in the temporary street closure runs through the neighborhood of Bushwick. It’s populated by beer brewers’ mansions, a 19th-century church and other historic buildings.

The pilot program involved a total of four street closures. The other traffic-free streets were portions of Park Avenue in Manhattan, 34th Avenue in Queens and the Grand Concourse in the Bronx, the New York Post and other media outlets reported.

While I was on Bushwick Avenue for my mid-day Monday walk, a couple cyclists wheeled their way down the empty thoroughfare, and a couple runners strode purposefully past me. They all moved too fast for me to flag them down and ask their opinions about the temporary street closure.

This flowering tree can be found at the Bushwick Houses. Photo: Lore Croghan/Brooklyn Eagle
This flowering tree can be found at the Bushwick Houses. Photo: Lore Croghan/Brooklyn Eagle

I photographed one of the cyclists on his way past the Brooklyn Public Library’s Bushwick Branch.

This facility at 340 Bushwick Ave., which opened in 1908, is one of Brooklyn’s Carnegie libraries. These historic buildings are referred to by this name because $1.6 million in grants from rags-to-riches philanthropist Andrew Carnegie funded their long-ago construction.

The Brooklyn Public Library’s Bushwick Branch opened in 1908. Photo: Lore Croghan/Brooklyn Eagle
The Brooklyn Public Library’s Bushwick Branch opened in 1908. Photo: Lore Croghan/Brooklyn Eagle

Brooklyn’s Carnegie libraries are typically made of red brick with limestone trim and situated on fenced-in corner lots. Some are city landmarks. Others, including the Bushwick Branch, are not.

At this moment, libraries throughout the five boroughs are closed to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.

At the intersection of Seigel Street, Bushwick Avenue has a concrete median strip punctuated with plantings. The daffodils were blooming on Monday, which added bright spots of color to the gray day.

Daffodils are blooming in the median strip on Bushwick Avenue at the intersection of Seigel Street. Photo: Lore Croghan/Brooklyn Eagle
Daffodils are blooming in the median strip on Bushwick Avenue at the intersection of Seigel Street. Photo: Lore Croghan/Brooklyn Eagle

On McKibbin Street steps away from the corner of Bushwick Avenue, a mural on the facade of a facility called Sure We Can was eye-catching. This non-profit recycling facility serves people who make a living by collecting cans and bottles.

A couple years ago, an acting troupe called Dzieci Theatre staged an adaptation of William Shakespeare’s tragedy “Macbeth” in a shipping container at Sure We Can.

Bushwick Avenue’s temporary street closure ends at the intersection of Johnson Avenue. Photo: Lore Croghan/Brooklyn Eagle
Bushwick Avenue’s temporary street closure ends at the intersection of Johnson Avenue. Photo: Lore Croghan/Brooklyn Eagle

At the intersection of Johnson Avenue, where Bushwick Avenue’s street closure ended, there was a considerable amount of vehicular traffic.

One Johnson Avenue building’s facade was brightened by a mural that was painted by a pair of graffiti artists who use the names Menace Two and Resa Piece.

Graffiti artists Menace Two and Resa Piece painted this mural. Photo: Lore Croghan/Brooklyn Eagle
Graffiti artists Menace Two and Resa Piece painted this mural. Photo: Lore Croghan/Brooklyn Eagle

The name of their artwork is “Believe in the Reality of Your Dreams.”

Follow reporter Lore Croghan on Twitter.


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