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Exhibit Dates: May 23 - August 26, 2007
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Turnaround

SECTION GUIDE

Turnaround | Media and City Attention | Winning "The Fire War" | Planning for Recovery | Beginning to Rebuild
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bushwick

Turnaround
By Adam J. Schwartz

The events of July 1977, however apocalyptic they may have seemed, were also a turning point for Bushwick. The neighborhood had been suffering out of sight for many years.

After the jarring week of looting during the blackout and the "All Hands Fire", the media came to Bushwick, and put it on the map.

Through the city's attention and the fire department's innovative fire prevention program Bushwick was able to begin the process of regeneration.
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Media and City Attention
By Adam J. Schwartz

The Daily News took the most active role in bringing these catastrophic events to the public's attention. In the weeks following the events of July 1977, reporters including Martin Gottlieb and Arthur Browne were sent to write in-depth articles on the state of the neighborhood.

“Our Dying Neighborhoods,” a four part series, became a classic example of crusading journalism. Under editor Sam Roberts’ direction, the Daily News organized a mayoral debate in the home of the Casusos, an influential family who were politically active in the neighborhood.

Ed Koch, Mario Cuomo, and others declared their pledge to never forget Bushwick.

The Daily News, with the help of the Casuso family, kept up the pressure and praise, reporting on the completion of Hope Gardens and other neighborhood improvements.

COMMUNITY VOICES
“'Our Dying Neighborhoods' caught a moment in the city. On this one block, in this one neighborhood, you had a microcosm of the challenges facing our city.”

Martin Gottlieb Associate Editor, The New York Times Former Staff Reporter,
Daily News In Interview 2/4/07
“After reading the articles in the Daily News, I realized how many people were suffering out there in Bushwick.”

Ed Koch
Former Mayor of New York City
In interview 3/12/07
“Ed Koch was the best thing that happened to Bushwick.”

Rick Casuso
Longtime Resident and Community Activist
In interview 4/15/07

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Winning "The Fire War"
By Adam J. Schwartz

During the same momentous period of late 1977, Mayor Beame and the city leadership faced the facts about arson and were willing to invest in fire prevention strategies. Most critically, the city’s fire marshals were expanded to create a new mobile force, called “The Redcaps”, for the worst hit areas like Bushwick.

“The Redcaps” were the first on the scene of a fire, even before actual firefighters, in order to investigate the fire’s cause with fresh evidence. “The Red Caps” successfully integrated into the community and gained the neighborhood's trust and respect.

Within months, the number of fires went down by 40% and never returned to their peak numbers.
Although small outbreaks continued to happen, “The Fire War” was over in Bushwick, and the residents had won.

COMMUNITY VOICES
“If we could stop the fire activity, stabilize the buildings, and broaden the tax base, it wouldn’t be better just for the people on these streets, but for the city as well. That was the idea behind "The Redcaps".

Charles Hynes, Brooklyn District Attorney
New York City Fire Commissioner 1981-84
In interview 4/12/07
"'The Redcaps' got to know everyone in the neighborhood, they got involved, they showed up for the block association meeting."

Rick Casuso
Former Resident & Community Activist
In interview 4/23/07
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Planning for Recovery
By Adam J. Schwartz

At the end of the 1970’s, Bushwick was a community in crisis. The events of July 1977 started a process of renewal that has continued to this day.

Beginning in 1978 with the Bushwick Action Plan and leading to the Bushwick II Urban Renewal Plan, the Department of Housing Preservation & Development (HPD) carried out the renewal plans with guidance on the local level by Community Board 4 (CB4), and on the city level from the Mayor’s office and the Department of City Planning (DCP).

The Action Plan outlined a vision of renewal that included public housing, parks and economic development. Later, the Bushwick II Urban Renewal Plan stated, block by block, what Bushwick would become.

COMMUNITY VOICES
“Under Planned Shrinkage, we had no resources to counter the destruction. So we listened, we studied, and we came up with something that could address the problems. The Bushwick II Urban Renewal Plan came out of that time.”

Elliot Yablon
Former director, Neighborhood Preservation Office Department of Housing Preservation and Development
In interview 2/20/07
“Bushwick is a good example of the positive things that government can do. People always mention government screwing things up, not asking the right questions, and not talking to residents. Here, there was a meaningful dialogue, both within the Community Board and between the Community Board and city.”

John Derezewski
Department Manager, Human Resources Administration
Former District Manager for Community Board 4, 1977-79
In interview 1/14/07
“Before Ridgewood Bushwick (RBSCC), you did not have a group that could [direct development].
That was why city government was so directly involved in the rebuilding of Bushwick."

John Derezewski
Department Manager, Human Resources Administration
Former District Manager for Community Board 4, 1977-79
In interview 1/14/07
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Beginning to Rebuild

Before There Could Be Housing
by John A. Derezwewski


Although the Koch Administration’s support for the Action Plan clearly brightened Bushwick’s prospects, the requirements of the capital construction process meant that it would still take years before this desperately needed housing could become a reality.

While the “insiders” could cheer every incident of “paper progress” as the projects advanced through the design and pre-construction phases, the actual landscape remained as abandoned and forlorn as ever.

For this reason, it was crucial to provide some immediate, concrete, signs of hope, particularly to the long-term residents of Bushwick who had withstood the worst. Three strategies addressed this concern:

Demolition
While the new housing could not immediately be built, the dangerous abandoned hulks that dominated all too much of Bushwick could be eliminated through an aggressive demolition program. To this end, HPD committed a disproportionate percentage of its demolition budget to address this issue. By the end of the 1970’s most of the land had been cleared. Although this was no substitute for new housing, it was far superior – and infinitely safer and less depressing – than the abandoned shells. The community strongly supported this initiative.

Tree Planting
As one of the first elements of the Urban Renewal plan, the City initiated a program through which several thousand street trees were planted in designated areas of Bushwick. This was to address a serious lack of street trees and to provide some valuable incentives to the solid residents of Bushwick. The plan, which was developed by HPD and CB4, especially targeted those stable and organized blocks that had withstood the onslaught of urban blight as well as those transitional areas that were especially vulnerable to further deterioration. This initiative was particularly successful in the stable blocks of southern Bushwick, where the trees were well maintained and provided a clear incentive to “keep up the good fight”. These are the blocks where the trees that were then planted now dominate the streetscape.

Parkland Development
Beyond its other problems, Bushwick possessed an extremely few parks. In framing the Action Plan, HPD and CB 4 identified a large vacant area at the juncture of Broadway and Aberdeen St., in Bushwick’s southern end, for recreational development. As it was situated next the Broadway “EL”, this was not considered – at least in the late 70’s - to be appropriate for housing. The site was ultimately allocated to the Parks Dept. and now, as the Thomas Boyland Park, provides active recreational services to the community.

In addition, a vacant block situated in close proximity to the new 83rd Precinct was converted to a baseball field that now, as Hope Field, hosts the Bushwick Little League and other recreational uses.

The development of recreation space has continued over the years and, in 1997, produced a new park next to PS 145 in northern Bushwick. Finally, many of Bushwick’s existing parks, including Maria Hernandez and Irving Square Parks and Hecksher Playground (which serves Hope Gardens), have been fully upgraded over the past two decades.
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