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Streisand at Barclays: no Carmageddon, but lots of idling limos on nearby streets, and noisiness/mess nearby as crowds exit

Also see 10/14/12 coverage after the second show, How Barclays Center operations rely on illegal, informal parking lanes on public streets; a cacophony of honking on residential South Portland Avenue

From the program
Brooklyn native Barbra Streisand made a triumphant return to Brooklyn last night for the first of two concerts, bringing the boldface names out in force (as the Barclays Center Twitter account was sure to tell us).

Celebrities included Katie Couric, Woody Allen, Rosie O'Donnell, Sting, Calvin Klein, Barbara Walters, and Mayor Mike Bloomberg. The Daily News's pop music critic was enthralled, as was the Times reviewer, who wrote: "Like few singers of any age, she has the gift of conveying a primal human longing in a beautiful sound." (More coverage: NY Post, Associated PressNY1, USA Today, WSJ.)

"Tawk amongst yourselves, I'm getting ferklempt," Streisand said at one point, cannily recognizing a pop culture meme.

The sold-out concert, filling the Barclays Center with 18,200 people--older and more suburban compared to the crowds that packed the Barclays Center for eight Jay-Z concerts--was expected to be a test for crowds flooding the area.

There was no Carmageddon, as traffic did flow, but as described below, reports filed before the concert's end that everything went fine were way premature: it was a mess on some nearby streets, and that could've been predicted by the significant number of idling limos.

See for example the tweet at right.

Moreover, the newbie drivers and even pedestrians relied on the flood of cops and traffic managers to keep things moving and avoid accidents.

At one point near or after the concert concluded, police shut down Pacific Street westbound between Carlton and Sixth avenues, since Sixth was becoming clogged.

The limos wait

Here's double-parking on South Portland before the event ended:

The luckiest people?

Still, even some in the press were starstruck. The Metro editor of the New York Times, Carolyn Ryan, tweeted her enthusiasm:
Barbra goes Brooklyn (and thanks Ratner)

The AP reported:
When she performed "You're the Top," Streisand changed the lyrics, namedropping fellow Brooklynite Jay-Z, who performed eight shows at the Barclays Center last week. She sang lyrics like: "You're a Brooklyn Net, on a private jet" and "it's an accent you can't drop."

From the program
No Carmageddon, but...

According to two reports filed before the concert ended at around 11 pm, everything was fine: the New York Daily News (Prospect Heights residents' fears of Barbra Streisand traffic snarls unfounded, no major jams near arena) and Transportation Nation (For Barbra, I’ll Take the Subway — Brooklyn’s Barclays Center Passes Second Traffic Test).

Not quite.

Yes, there was no gridlock, thanks to a good number of people taking public transit and careful management by police and traffic safety officers, plus--I suspect--staggered arrival times that meant many restaurants on Fifth Avenue in Park Slope were full.

Directions to parking lot entrance, Carlton Ave. @ Dean St.
Yes, the surface parking lot was perhaps three-quarters full, and Streisand fans I saw seemed orderly and not too loud--though staffers at the lot blew piercing whistles past midnight to direct cars out.

Yes, there were no huge lines to get into the concert, surely the result of the decision--Streisand's call, I was told--to eschew the metal detectors and have people wanded, which was accomplished outside the entrance.

(The singer may have wanted to spare her fans the indignity of a metal detector and/or recognized it would slow things down considerably, given the amount of metal guests might be wearing or relying on. Still, one fan complained, "The Barclays Center is a pain to get into and none of the staff know where anything is.")

The waiting limos

Yes, they did not shut down Atlantic Avenue to allow event-goers to flood the street as they crossed. Arena operators put up a row of metal fencing right outside the Atlantic Avenue entrance, forcing those exiting to turn right or left on the sidewalk rather than take the shortest path to the street.

But--and this surely had something to do with the boldface names--there were an enormous number of limos looking for riders, idling and parking illegally in the streets around the arena, parking in the arena lay-by lanes, and double- and even triple-parking on adjacent streets like South Portland Avenue in Fort Greene.

One commenter on the Daily News article wrote:
Uh... maybe before the concert, but at the end of the show, the streets were jammed, folks were beeping their horns and the crush to get into the subways was dangerous, with officials at times blocking the down escalators. This story is such a puff piece for Barclays and you had no reporters out there at the end of the concert to see the utter confusion on the sidewalks and the craziness in the streets. Shame.
A resident of South Portland Avenue in Fort Greene wrote me:
After the concert, the street was a mess. About 40 minutes of non-stop honking and backed up traffic. Two traffic police did show up at one point when the concert ended and told parked Limos they couldn't stand and made them move.

I don't know if Atlantic was blocked off again in front of arena for pedestrian safety [AYR: it wasn't], but at some point they will have to acknowledge that this only creates a traffic nightmare on side streets.
The city could make a FORTUNE if the actually wrote tickets to the limos and livery cabs breaking the posted $350 penalty for honking. One can only dream this becomes a reality.
Below, some of the honking on Atlantic after the event:

A commenter on Atlantic Yards Watch wrote, referring to St. Marks Avenue and Bergen Street:
Just on one block alone, tonight at 11PM, a casual walk around found limos parked and/or idling at EVERY hydrant and no parking/no standing zone.
More opportunities for the cops

Blocking the bike lane on Bergen Street between Sixth and Flatbush avenues, about 9:15 pm:

On Pacific Street, between Fourth and Flatbush avenues 9:45 pm:

Fort Greene Place above Hanson Place, 9:55 pm, limo parking:

The scene on Atlantic Avenue, 11:10-11:22 pm, as crowds begin to leave

Residential Dean Street, 11:35 pm, some crowds going to Sixth Avenue and north, others going east to surface parking lot:

More Ratner thanks

Some advice for the arena

Though there's a new subway entrance on the arena plaza, those exiting on the platform at Fourth Avenue and Pacific Street understandably go upstairs to the street rather than walk an up-down-up labyrinth underground.

Last night, numerous people arriving upstairs walked north a few strides on Fourth Avenue, next to the P.C. Richard store, and asked onlookers, "Where's the Barclays Center?" It was just around the corner. But some signs on the wall of the store sure would help.


  1. Anonymous10:19 AM

    It's funny how you can exit at Pacific and 4th and have no idea where the arena is. Great, so it's low slung and not as imposing on the neighborhood visually as it might have been. But you're right, they need some signage pointing people in the right direction at that exit. Also, the idling limos and party buses is a problem. It can be mitigated. Let's hope they do something about that. But the fact that nearby restaurants were packed and the downtown hotels saw an increase in Brooklyn is great. That benefits the locals who work at those businesses.

    1. There were lots of cops around, so it's possible to crack down. It may just push the problem of idling limos farther away.

  2. We went to dinner on 5th ave last during the concert rush. There were a lot of well dressed confused looking people that seemed desperate for a place to eat before the concert. Places like Melt that are not regularly full were packed to capacity. We were going to Alchemy which we eat at a lot. It was packed as well with brave people even eating in the garden. We were sat quickly next to two nice women who were complaining that their driver from NJ got very lost in BK. I asked how they came in and they said through the battery tunnel. By 8:20 when we left the restaurant it was back to it slower pace of regulars and spaces at the bar. Melt was empty as we walked back past it. But I did notice that livery cars and limos were everywhere.


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