Saturday, May 01, 2010

The last night at Freddy's: photos from outside and inside

I never made it into Freddy's Bar and Backroom for its closing night on Dean Street last night. Neither did a lot of people. But Tracy Collins did, and his photos (set) capture a flavor of the evening.

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.)

Sturdy buildings

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


A toast


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


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