On a balmy spring night, the party spilled outside and the crowd grew. The music could be heard from the sidewalk--the bands exited and entered via the door to the Backroom.
There was a lot of talk but virtually no overt protest. One guy from Park Slope--who told me he'd never previously protested--hung around with a sign saying "Welcome to Rat City."
Indeed, there were a lot of people who regulars didn't recognize, and one undercurrent of the evening was the recognition that had everyone who embraced Freddy's had firmly protested Atlantic Yards, there would have been a lot more resistance.
(At left, bartender Bleu Liverpool displays pyrotechnical artistry.)
The row houses next door--one of them still occupied by a family that will leave by May 7--looked pretty sturdy. Further down the block were buildings, long empty, yet to be demolished.
It raised the question not answered in the legal proceedings: why were Forest City Ratner and the Empire State Development Corporation in such a hurry?
(Daniel Goldstein, whose settlement April 21 was key, says it's because vacant possession was needed for Russian oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov to buy the team.)
The crowded future
With perhaps a hundred people on the corner, it was a bit boisterous for the residential neighborhood but a far cry from the likely vision in two or three years.
While most people would arrive at the arena from the northwest--the Atlantic Avenue subway hub--Dean Street would represent a secondary entrance for thousands coming from the Bergen Street subway and the enormous surface parking lot to the east.
The blocks to the east and south of Freddy have been, and will remain, a residential neighborhood. That's why Freddy's--now an institution with borough-wide and city-wide appeal--has always been a neighborhood bar, on a neighborhood block. And why the state must override zoning to plop a basketball arena on the site Forest City Ratner chose.
The view from the southeast corner of Dean Street and Sixth Avenue
Eric Reschke, Eric McClure, and Daniel Goldstein
The view from the southwest corner of Dean Street and Sixth Avenue
Manager Donald O'Finn
A packed house
Candace Carponter and Deb Goldstein
Busy behind the bar: Bleu Liverpool and Donald O'Finn
Fire artistry, by bartender Bleu Liverpool
Part of the fire ceremony
Eric Reschke and Scott Turner
Daniel Goldstein and Chris Owens