Snowstorms, schools, and SUNY: Here are Brooklyn Paper’s top stories from February

people on snowy beach in Brooklyn in February
From snowstorms to schools, here are Brooklyn Paper’s top stories from February.
File photo by Erica Price

February might be the shortest month of the year (even on a Leap Year), but what it lacked in days it more than made up for in news. Over the past month, Brooklynites have rallied for their rights and much-needed local infrastructure, celebrated the culture of Kings County, and enjoyed their morning commutes a little more than usual, thanks to some much-needed subway station renovations.

But it wasn’t all good news — this month saw northern Brooklyn’s first traffic fatalities of 2024, and Bay Ridge residents got some bad news about a beloved local school.

As we bid farewell to February, here are some of Brooklyn Paper’s top stories of the month.

For Black History Month, local Black leaders discussed their careers, goals, and blazing a trail for the next generation

February is Black history month – and to celebrate, Brooklyn Paper sat down with some notable Black leaders in Brooklyn, like Atiba Edwards, president and CEO of the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, and Onida Coward Mayers, founding director of BRIC. They shared their experiences climbing to the top of their fields and talked about the importance of representation to young New Yorkers – and talked about how it feels to provide that representation for the next generation. 

A look at living history makers across Brooklyn's most notable institutes.
A look at living history-makers across some of Brooklyn’s most notable institutions.Photo courtesy of Onida Coward Mayers

Elected officials and healthcare union workers rallied against the closure of SUNY Downstate

In January, Gov. Kathy Hochul and SUNY announced they would create a “transformative” plan for the long-struggling SUNY Downstate, the only state-run hospital in the city — but it quickly became apparent that the plan would likely lead to the closure of the hospital. Earlier this month, workers from United University Professions and local elected officials went to Albany to protest the closure – worried it would leave patients without a reliable source of care and lead to staff being laid off.

Elected officials and union members rallied in Albany to halt SUNY Downstate Hospital's closure.
Elected officials and union members rallied in Albany on Feb. 6 to halt SUNY Downstate Hospital’s closure. Photo by Bridgette Alesci/Corning Place Communications

Workers at Nitehawk Cinema moved to unionize

Employees at the beloved dine-in theater Nitehawk Cinema moved to unionize, confronting management about unfair labor practices, health and safety concerns, and harassment. Workers said they are overworked and underpaid — especially during the holiday season, or during special movie events — when the “Barbenheimer” craze swept movie theaters this summer, bringing with it a huge uptick in ticket sales, employees said they did not benefit from the financial windfall. 

Visitation Academy announced it will close at the end of the school year

Parents and students were dismayed to hear that Visitation Academy, an all-girls Catholic school in Bay Ridge, will close at the end of the school year after 169 years in the nabe. Only two nuns remain at the Visitation Monastery, and the sisters decided they must end their sponsorship of the school. Locals immediately began to speculate that the property would be sold — which frustrated parents, who said their children are left facing an uncertain academic future. 

visitation academy
Visitation Academy, Bay Ridge’s all-girls Catholic school, announced it will be closing down permanently at the end of this school year. Photo courtesy of Google Maps

A Kensington artist painted 200 free portraits of southern Brooklynites

This month, artist Rusty Zimmerman completed his goal of painting 200 free oil portraits of Brooklyn residents — all while gathering oral histories from each subject. He gathered the finished project into one big free exhibit titled “We Are South Brooklyn.” The exhibition is the only time all the portraits will be on show together — when the show ends next month, each painting will be gifted to the subject. 

A Bay Ridge native announced plans to open a Brooklyn pop culture museum

Michael McLeer, a founding member of rock–hip-hop crossover group Lordz of Brooklyn who also goes by Mr. Kaves, told Brooklyn Paper this month that he plans to open a new museum, Brooklyn Pop, a sprawling tribute to the best of the borough’s art, music, film and sports scenes. When the museum opens at Industry City, it will feature memorabilia, an art gallery, and even recreated sets from Brooklyn-based films and TV shows. 

founder of Brooklyn Pop Culture museum
McLeer pictured with the Lenny’s Pizzeria sign. The pizza joint gained popularity after being featured in the film “Saturday Night Fever.”Photo courtesy of Micheal McLeer

A snowstorm left Brooklyn covered in snow — and sent Coney Islanders slipping and sliding

After a long snow drought, New York City received two snowstorms in one week. The second, which swept in on Friday, Feb. 16, dumped about nine inches of snow on Coney Island — and when locals headed out to enjoy the snowy beach the next morning, they discovered that the entrances to the boardwalk were snowy, icy, and treacherous. Multiple people fell, which begged the question — who’s responsible for cleaning up the beloved boardwalk?

snow on coney island boardwalk
Snowfall resulted in slips and trips for some Coney Islanders looking to enjoy a day in the snow. Photo by Erica Price

The Brooklyn Paramount is set to reopen next month

The historic Brooklyn Paramount theater, which was converted into a school gym in the 1960s, has finally been restored — and it’s nearly ready to open. Live Nation, who purchased the building, this month released renderings of the interior of the building — which has been transformed with lavish, 1920s-style decor and modern lighting and technology. Dozens of shows are already scheduled in the coming months, with musicians from Busta Rhymes to Belle & Sebastian set to take the stage. 

the brooklyn paramount
After years in flux, the restored Brooklyn Paramount theater is set to reopen next month. Rendering courtesy of Live Nation

The Fort Hamilton Parkway station got an upgrade

Windsor Terrace commuters walked into the Fort Hamilton Parkway station one weekday morning to find that it had been transformed, thanks to the MTA’s Re-NEW-Vation Program. During planned weekend service outages, crews scraped away old paint, deep-cleaned the station, replaced worn-out lights, and repaired broken tiles and cement. The agency plans to renovate at least 50 more stations this year, including several in Brooklyn. 

fort hamilton parkway subway station
The Fort Hamilton Parkway subway station got a fresh coat of paint and more upgrades as part of its “Re-New-Vation.” Photo courtesy of GeneralPunger/Wikimedia Commons

Northern Brooklyn saw its first three traffic fatalities of the year

After nearly two months without a traffic death, three people were killed by cars in northern Brooklyn in just a few days. 

On Feb. 21, 49-year-old Danielle Aber was hit by a truck driver as she crossed the street in Greenpoint. Days later, Aber died from her injuries. The driver was arrested and charged with failure to yield and failure to exercise due care. Then, on Feb. 26, 33-year-old Alex Caba-Gutierrez was killed when the car he was riding in ran a red light and hit a bus, ejecting him from the vehicle. Two other people — including the bus driver – were injured in the incident. 

Less than 12 hours later, a 64-year-old cyclist was run over at the intersection of Broadway and Lorimer Street in Williamsburg after someone in a parked car opened their door into him, forcing him into the next lane. 

The devastation drew outrage from local politicians and street-safety activists, who urged the city and state to make dangerous roadways safer and pass laws that would crack down on unsafe drivers.