Find us @

Feature

Park Slope gives Brooklyn a small-town feel to celebrate its centennial

Park Slope is hosting a block-long salsa dance party on Saturday. Come join in and mark the 100th Open Streets day by contributing to the community spirit.

Published

on

Park Slope is celebrating 100 days of its Open Streets program, and locals and business owners alike hope it will continue indefinitely.

Park Slope’s commercial district is declaring victory despite the challenges posed by the weekend closure of 17 blocks of prime real estate.

Park Slope’s version of the citywide Open Streets program has saved businesses from the pandemic, gotten residents out into public space, and given this busy Brooklyn neighborhood a small-town feel. This Saturday will be the 100th day of Open Streets in Park Slope since it first began in July 2020.

Park Slope has an open streets program, and pedestrians love it. /Erika Clark/

As many as a thousand people a day visit the area’s restaurants, shops, and other businesses during the program, which sees Fifth Avenue between Bergen and Fourth Streets transformed into a pedestrian paradise for 17 of the 30 blocks that make up the area’s Business Improvement District.

Advertisement

Brendan Byrnes, proprietor of the nearby bar The Commissioner, remarked, “The Open Streets just allowed us to meet so many new people.”

This year, the five boroughs will see Open Streets cordon off a combined 300 blocks, or 8 miles. The city issues authorizations and distributes funds in the form of grants. Communities take care of the rest.

In July of 2020, Park Slope started its Open Streets program. It was written by (Erika Clark/)

As Park Slope’s Business Improvement District Executive Director Joanna Tallantire explained to the Daily News, the initiative’s origins can be traced back to an effort to reduce panic during the pandemic and keep local businesses afloat while residents were quarantined. Open Streets quickly gained the support of nearly half of the 520 Park Slope BID member businesses, of which roughly 200 are located within the designated area.

It’s evolved into making a section of the Brooklyn neighborhood’s main drag pedestrian-only for one to two weekend days per week starting in the spring, and organizers hope this will be a permanent cul-de-sac closure at Fourth St. Besito Restaurant is hosting a salsa dance party between noon and 10 p.m. on the block between Dean and Bergen Sts. in honor of the 100th day.

Advertisement

Gallery: Check out one of the sustainable, multimillion-dollar mansion developments called “naturehoods” or “agrihoods” being built by real estate developers. According to (Business Insider)

When asked by The News how Open Streets had helped his business, Bricolage’s owner, Miro Gal, said that it had allowed him to expand from serving two or three customers inside to serving ten or fourteen at sidewalk tables.

Park Slope has an open streets program, and pedestrians love it. /Erika Clark/

“That meant the world,” Gal exclaimed. You could say, “We wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for that program.”

The success of Calexico, a chain of Californian-Mexican restaurants, ensured the viability of its four additional locations.

Advertisement

The company as a whole relies heavily on the income it generated from Park Slope, according to Amanda Scala, the GM. We were able to remain open throughout the whole pandemic thanks to this. All of our stores remained open.

Park Slope has an open streets program, and pedestrians love it. It was written by (Erika Clark/)

“It strengthened our relationship with High Dive, the dive bar next door,” Byrnes of The Commissioner said, adding that the two establishments worked together to schedule live music, offer similar beer options, and prevent their customers from occupying tables at nearby eateries. As a pair, we noticed a significant uptick in business.

“People loved it,” Byrnes exclaimed when the adjacent fish market began selling oysters for Open Streets. This is a win-win situation, as we could sell them wine and they could sell us oysters.

Families can now stroll safely along the street.

Advertisement

Feel safe. People are able to unwind and enjoy themselves. “There are no outside distractions,” Gal declared.

Tallantire, who also lives in the area, said, “I walk down and bump into neighbors all the time.” “It’s great; we wind up drinking margaritas or something,” the speaker continued.

Since “everybody’s out, rather than locked up in their businesses,” Gal explains, “we talk, and we form relationships, and we help each other,” the day’s spirit of community continues long after it ends.

It’s a massive undertaking, to be sure, and it has its detractors. Tallantire admitted that some people have grumbled about the lack of parking, but she was quick to point out that the parking on Fifth Avenue is metered and subject to time limits.

Volunteers maintain the cleanliness of the facility. Additionally, they deal with Con Ed and National Grid construction and maintenance. And, of course, there will always be those who ignore the city’s permit and try to drive through anyway by shifting the barricades.

Advertisement

In general, business owners have expressed a desire to maintain this pandemic custom.

Byrnes remarked that “Open Streets has strengthened the community, not only between the businesses and their customers,” but also between the businesses and the customers, neighbors, and residents. Because of this, the community has grown stronger and more vibrant.