It was a record-breaking year for Brooklyn in 2015 — the borough became home to the world’s oldest person, finally crowned a new hot-dog eating champion, and sent eight players to the World Series. As we begin yet another magical 12 months in the borough of Kings, we look back over the highs and lows of the year gone by.
Daring dip: Who needs Hawaii in January? Roving reporter Max Jaeger tested out Coney Island’s new New Year’s Eve celebration then chilled out with other bold beach buffs from the Coney Island Polar Bear Club, embrrr-acing 2015 with a frigid frolic in the waves off Coney Island. We promoted him to Deputy Editor as a reward.
DeBlasio dissed: The funeral of a murdered cop morphed into a political battleground as thousands of police officers turned their backs on Mayor DeBlasio’s tribute to their dead comrade. The officers cold-shouldered Hizzoner’s televised eulogy for Rafael Ramos who was slain alongside his partner, Wenjian Liu, on the weekend before Christmas as the pair sat in a patrol car in Bedford-Stuyvesant. The brush-off was due to DeBlasio’s endorsement of anti-police brutality demonstrations, said union officials.
Yikes, it’s a Yeti: Bigfoot in Prospect Park? A Fort Greene videographer claimed to have shot footage showing the legendary “Sasquatch” lumbering around a wooded area of Brooklyn’s backyard near the Prospect Park Zoo after a snow storm. The shutterbug was later revealed as a Fort Greene performance artist and attention-seeker who previously disseminated images of himself skulking around Green-Wood Cemetery dressed as a clown.
Fire sale: A massive blaze consumed a large waterfront storage facility in Williamsburg and reignited local activists’ calls for the city to purchase the property and turn it into part of Bushwick Inlet Park — a pledge it made a decade ago when rezoning the area to make way for luxury residential high-rises.
Return of the King: Flatbush’s dazzling Kings Theatre re-opened after decades of decay. The city leased the long-vacant auditorium to a theater-restoration outfit, which returned the venue to its 1929 glory before Motown maven Diana Ross brought the house down during the inaugural show.
Watering hole: A group of sea-faring entrepreneurs announced plans to launch a floating bar and eatery on a barge near Greenpoint’s Transmitter Park, making waves with locals who feared the buoyant tavern would bring trash and noise to the green space. The state granted Barge Bar a liquor license in June anyway — only for the hotly anticipated business to repeatedly delay its opening. It finally broke the Champagne bottle at the end of September, just catching the end of summer before shutting up shop for the cold weather in November.
Heeeeere’s Lenore: The Brooklyn Paper proudly debuted prolific columnist Lenore Skenazy’s new column “Rhymes with Crazy” — Sunday mornings at Brook
American idle: The mayor — a self-professed greenie — was outed as an eco-klutz for letting his taxpayer-funded motorcade idle outside while he works out at the Park Slope Y. Hizzoner gets in a lather about home fireplaces, Styrofoam cups, and plastic bags, but he isn’t breaking a sweat about his lolling tailpipes spewing poisonous pollutants linked to asthma, heart disease, chronic bronchitis, and cancer, claimed neighbors.
Bust a move: A group of rogue artists mounted a large bust of National Security Agency whistle-blower Edward Snowden in Fort Greene Park — only for police to remove the statue hours later. Authorities kept the effigy behind bars until the guerilla sculpters turned themselves in the following month, in exchange for the artworks’ release.
Tower play: The battle lines were drawn between the developer that bought the former Long Island College Hospital complex and Cobble Hill residents, after the real estate company unveiled plans for towering luxury housing high-rises on the site. Months of failed negotiations between the two parties followed, ultimately tearing apart the local civic association.
Super-centenarian: East New York woman Susannah “Miss Susie” Mushatt Jones received an early birthday present when she became the oldest living person on Earth — three weeks shy of turning 116. “I’m the oldest person in the world? No, I’m not!” Miss Susie reportedly said to her grandniece, Myra Simpson, 40, after discovering her new celebrity. She credited her long life to sober living.
Artisan politics: Facing rising rents, 25-year-old Boerum Hill bodega Jesse’s Deli staged a tongue-in-cheek “artisanal takeover,” re-branding products with yuppified names and inflated prices such as Slim Jims as $5.99 “Hand-Cured Salami Tubes” and Raid as $15.99 “Artisanal Roach Bombs.” It followed the stunt up in September by listing space in its front window on room-rental site Airbnb, advertising amenities including a “luxurious walk-in refrigerator” and “milk crate-furnished patio.”
Planks for the memories! The Coney Boardwalk’s storied wooden planks may knot be up to the Parks Department’s standards, but Europeans said they wood be happy to take them! Architects at the Italian World’s Fair used wood reclaimed from the Boardwalk after Hurricane Sandy to build — you guessed it! — a boardwalk at the Milan Expo 2015’s U.S.A. Pavilion.
Dog fight: Matt “Megatoad” Stonie became the new Nathan’s Hot Dog-Eating Contest champion, dethroning eight-time Mustard Belt winner Joey “Jaws” Chestnut in a gut-busting gobble-fest on July Fourth in Coney Island. Stonie returned for his sixth year to wolf down 62 dogs to Chestnut’s 60.
Grimm fate: A judge sentence disgraced former congressman and federal investigator Michael Grimm to eight months in the slammer as punishment for cheating on his taxes. Grimm hoped that his two tours of duty in the Marine Corps and his service as a Federal Bureau of Investigation agent and congressman would help lighten his sentence. But his service worked against him — the judge said he should have known better.
Car squawk: Controversial online cab service Uber waged war against Councilman Steve Levin (D-Brooklyn Heights) after he sponsored a bill to cap the number of new cars it could launch for a year. Uber dispatched a sortie of e-mails and ads to his constituents, demanding they thrash his chassis. The company then set its sights on Mayor DeBlasio, who eventually capitulated and dropped the fight.
Knit wit: We finally reached Peak Park Slope when a childrens’ clothing designer created a line of kids knitwear inspired by the Park Slope Food Co-op. The range included $70 egg berets, $100 asparagus scarves, and sweaters emblazoned with the word “kale.”
Boundary issues: The city announced plans to ease overcrowding at Brooklyn Heights’ tony elementary school PS 8 by sending future students from Dumbo to an under-capacity school in Vinegar Hill that has until now mostly served kids from nearby public housing projects. The proposal ignited a city-wide debate about racial and economic segregation in schools, as parents on both sides questioned the education department’s motivations and foresight.
Ooh-la-wha? A fancy Paris department store presented an expo dedicated entirely to Brooklyn’s hipster wares. Le Bon Marche — a 163-year-old emporium on the City of Light’s tres chic Left Bank — decked out part of its building like an exposed-brick loft and filled the space with artisanal goodies from around 100 Kings County brands, including I-heart-Brooklyn-emblazoned onesies, hand-made dog leashes, and kale granola.
Ship has ailed: Gowanus Bay Terminal owner John Quadrozzi, Jr. pitched his plan to toss a lifeline to the historic S.S. United States before the languishing ocean crawler moored in Philly is shipped off to the junkyard. The Red Hook business man wants to bring the boat to his dock and turn it into a business and entertainment emporium, but the scheme is now taking on water after struggling to secure backers.
Citi Yikes: A Greenpoint driver was on “stranded camera” when he returned to find his parked car displaced by a new Citi Bike dock. Baffled motorist Guilherme Gonclaves thought he was pranked, until he spent nearly an hour tracking his skedaddled sedan down the block from where he left it on Huron Street.
Mini Mets: Eight former Cyclones players made the World Series — but their best efforts were thwarted by team-mates who have never stepped foot in Brooklyn.
Steel mountain: Developers revealed plans to build Brooklyn’s first “supertown” Downtown — a 1,000-foot residential behemoth at Flatbush Avenue Extension at Fleet Street that will dwarf all others in the borough.
Historic election: Coney Island Democrat Pamela Harris trounced Bay Ridge Republican Lucretia Regina-Potter in a special election to fill the vacant 46th Assembly district seat, becoming the first black assemblywoman to represent the district spanning Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, and Coney Island.
Frea-K: The city announced plans to erect a new Gowanus pre-kindergarten on land where soldiers fought the Battle of Brooklyn more than two centuries ago, distressing local historians who don’t want 4-year-olds trampling the area where the bodies of hundreds of American heroes may still be buried.
Yo, Brooklyn, whassup? A colorful new sculpture in Brooklyn Bridge Park made a statement — or two — with a pair of super-sized letters. The artist behind the evocative “yo” sculpture said that Brooklyn’s front yard was the perfect spot for the fluorescent yellow sculpture. The catch? The eye-popping aluminum characters read a disappointed “oy” to those looking from Manhattan.
Green light: Two-wheel fans were on a roll about Councilman Antonio Reynoso’s (D–Williamsburg) bid to allow bicyclists to breeze through red lights and stop signs when there’s no auto or foot traffic. A whopping 87 percent gave their green light in a highly scientific online survey conducted by the Brooklyn Paper Roll-y Poll-y Bureau.
Book it in: Council members voted to approve a controversial plan to sell of the shabby Brooklyn Heights library branch to a developer for $52 million, who will replace it with a brand-new book-borrowing repository with a 36-story luxury residential tower on top. The green light capped off more than a year of heated community meetings as the proposal worked its way through the public review process.