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The top stories of 2021 from Brooklyn Paper!

The year of 2021 brought us many devastating stories about an ongoing pandemic, business closures, and horrific crimes — but Brooklynites also surprised us with countless uplifting tales of locals coming together as a community and lending a helping hand to their struggling neighbors. 

We here at Brooklyn Paper have been here to cover it all, from the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, to a wandering tortoise venturing across the Verrazzano Bridge only to be returned to his Bay Ridge home. 

So, as we wind down the year, and turn our weary eyes towards 2022, here are some of the top stories of the year from Brooklyn Paper:

JANUARY 

Mayor de Blasio promises to jumpstart vaccine push: Mayor Bill de Blasio kicked off his last year in office by committing to a large-scale vaccine push, promising to inoculate one million New Yorkers by the end of February. While he came up just shy of that goal, mostly due to supply shortages, the city would end the year with over 90 percent of residents having received the vaccine — far higher than the national average. 

Brooklyn Dems officially abolish party gender requirements: The leaders of the Brooklyn Democratic Party passed a new rule allowing transgender and gender nonbinary people to run for the lowest rung of the party’s elected offices — county committee. The change nixed gender requirements that previously forced seats to be evenly split among male and female members.

A feral cat colony at the Columbia Street Waterfront: A colony of more than 30 feral felines have lived in an overgrown lot at the Columbia Street Waterfront for some two decades, and local animal lovers have taken care of the roaming furballs ever since on a volunteer basis. 

Photo by Kevin Duggan

Brooklyn Dems vote to impeach Trump, Malliotakis votes no: Every Democratic legislator representing Brooklyn in the federal House of Representatives voted to impeach President Donald Trump for the second time, citing his part in the Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6. Meanwhile, the only Republican federal pol, Nicole Malliotakis, voted against impeachment, prompting protests in her district.

Locals fear food desert after Crown Heights supermarket evicted: The Nostrand Avenue Associated Supermarket was served an eviction notice after lease negotiations fell through, leaving neighbors concerned about the long trek to the next-closest grocery store.

Nets acquire James Harden from Rockets: The NBA’s Brooklyn Nets pulled off a trade for future Hall of Famer James Harden, adding him to the already-star-studded roster that included Kevin Durant and James Harden. The move solidified the team from Barclays Center among the best in the league. 

Cops arrest suspected Brownsville serial killer: Police arrested a suspected serial killer who was allegedly behind the murder of three elderly women in a Brownsville housing complex. Investigators cuffed suspect Kevin Gavin soon after his alleged third grisly murder in the Woodson Houses, a New York City Housing Authority complex on Powell Street. 

Gowanus Canal Superfund Cleanup barge sinks: A large barge loaded with more than 800 tons of polluted sludge from the Gowanus Canal sank into the fetit waterway. The boat, meant to be cleaning sediment from the canal bed of toxic materials, had been moored in Gowanus Bay and became submerged.

Southern Brooklyn sees low vax rates, high cases: Neighborhoods in southern Brooklyn throughout the year lacked the rest of the borough in rates of vaccination, as tests also showed the area consistently had higher numbers of COVID-19 cases, per capita. 

District Leader resigns after incendiary comments: District Leader resigns after boycott of Brooklyn Dems forum: Beleaguered District Leader Lori Maslow resigned from office after a string of racist comments the Marine Park elected official had made on social media against 

Report says state undercounted COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes: State Attorney General Letitia James issued a damning report on fatalities in New York’s nursing homes, finding that the Cuomo administration had undercounted deaths from COVID-19 while facilities failed to follow infection control policies.

FEBRUARY

Nor’easter brings over 13 inches of snow to Brooklyn: Winter-loving Brooklynites took to the frigid outdoors on Feb. 1 as the borough was blasted with a nor’easter that brought over 13 inches of snowfall. As the inclement weather approached, then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency in Kings County, as well as 43 other counties around the state.

City landmarks Downtown abolitionist house at 227 Duffield: The city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission voted unanimously to grant landmark status to the Downtown Brooklyn house where prominent abolitionists Harriet and Thomas Truesdell lived during the 19th century — marking a long-awaited victory for local history buffs and activists alike. The city later purchased the property.  

Dad builds Spongebob igloo for 3-year-old daughter: One doting dad made the most of this week’s nor’easter by building his 3-year-old daughter a gigantic Spongebob Squarepants-themed igloo — which, of course, she adored.

NYPD horses race through Midwood after breaking free: A rag of runaway NYPD horses made the streets of Midwood look like the Aqueduct Racetrack after escaping custody of the Boys-in-Blue.

Hit-and-runs run rampant on Brooklyn’s streets: Cops cuffed driver who fatally struck a 4-year-old boy and left another child in critical condition after dropping them off at a Bensonhurst school. Later in the month, a hit-and-run school bus driver killed a 6-year-old boy right outside his S. Fifth Street home in Williamsburg. Later that day, a driver fatally struck a man before leaving the scene near Carroll Gardens.

Dog stabbing shocks Fort Greene Park: A dog owner knifed a pooch in Fort Greene Park, seemingly out of nowhere, shocking the local community. Police later arrested the man, and luckily, the canine survived.  

A dog was stabbed (left) by a man (right).File photos

80 percent of Brooklyn businesses saw revenue decline in 2020: A report released in February found that around 80 percent of businesses reported a stark decline in revenue, and 85 percent had to lay off workers in 2020.

Bedford Union Armory renamed for longtime Brooklyn Rep. Major Owens: The Bedford Union Armory in Crown Heights was renamed in honor of Congressmember Major Owens — a longtime staple of New York politics who served central Brooklyn in the US House of Representatives for 24 years.

MARCH

Moonstruck House in Brooklyn Heights hits the market for $12.85 million: The 19th century Brooklyn Heights house featured in the 1987 film “Moonstruck” hit the real estate market for a whopping $12.85 million.

Brooklyn politicos call on Cuomo’s ouster from office: After three women came forward to accuse then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo of sexual misconduct, a cadre of local politicos began calling on the state’s chief executive to resign — or face impeachment. 

Andrew Cuomo.File photo

Good Samaritan rescues goat from highway: A good Samaritan brought Brooklyn’s 63rd Precinct an un-baaa-lievable delivery — a baby goat they found on the side of the highway.

City “looking into relocating” loved concrete animal statues in NYC playgrounds: The city’s Parks Department said they were looking for temporary new homes for animal statues across the city, including the beloved concrete dolphin in Cobble Hill Park, the eagles at Fort Greene Park, and the metal dragon at Prospect Park’s Imagination Playground, as they planned renovations.

State Parks ditches controversial Marsha P. Johnson mural following backlash: After widespread communal backlash, with locals criticizing the largely colorful concrete design, state park honchos overhauled their designs for Williamsburg’s Marsha P. Johnson State Park. 

Kings County honors late Brooklynite Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Following Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death, locals came together to honor the late Brooklynite with a series of monuments — including by renaming Coney Island Hospital and the Brooklyn Municipal Building, and by erecting statues at Downtown Brooklyn’s City Point and several other locations. 

Vaccines become available for all adults: All New Yorkers 16 and older became eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine starting on April 6.

Puff puff passed: ​​All but four of Brooklyn’s state legislators voted in favor of legalizing the recreational use of marijuana, which then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law in March. 

APRIL

Brooklyn community boards see surge in applications: Community boards across the borough saw a jump in applications in 2021, largely credited to meetings going fully virtual due to the pandemic. The number of applications increased by 58 percent compared to 2020, with over 1,200 applications received across Brooklyn’s 18 community boards, a number not seen since at least 2017. Northern advisory boards collected the highest amount of applications in the borough with community boards 1, 2, and 3 which cover northern half of the borough from Greenpoint to Bed-Stuy all the way to Brooklyn Heights and everything in between. 

Mayor expects to meet goal of vaccinating five million New Yorkers by June: Mayor Bill de Blasio announced in April that his goal of vaccinating five million New Yorkers by June was coming to fruition. The city had vaccinated over four million New York City residents in April and was expecting to receive another 77,000 doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine in the coming week, with much of the effort at that time being to inoculate homebound seniors and opening pop-up sites in houses of worship and community centers. 

Two diners shot at Peter Luger Steakhouse in Williamsburg: Cops arrested a 24-year-old man who allegedly shot two diners outside the Peter Luger Steakhouse after getting into an argument outside the restaurant. After a heated verbal argument, the shooter walked outside the restaurant and aimed a handgun at his combatants — but missed, hitting two onlookers instead.

Late skateboarder’s mom fights to bring “Brooklyn Skate Garden” to life: The mother of late skateboarder Pablo Ramirez pushed for the creation of a public greenspace to memorialize her son, who was killed in 2019 on his skateboard. The Brooklyn Skate Garden is planned to not just be a skate park but a place that can be used by everyone with designs featuring lush foliage and accessible walkways. The push for the skate garden began back in 2019, however had renewed hope in April 2021 when it was placed on District 39’s participatory budget ballot. 

Restored Concert Grove Pavilion in Prospect Park reopens after six-year closure: Prospect Park’s Concert Grove Pavilion reopened to the public April 7 after its decaying roof began to fall apart in 2014. The year-long restoration project also worked to correct a feature that improperly drained water from the roof that led to a lot of the damage from the roof that was last reconstructed in 1988. 

The Concert Grove Pavilion.The Prospect Park Alliance

Brooklyn real estate prices rise, despite ongoing pandemic: Brooklyn real estate prices saw a jump the first quarter of 2021, despite the COVID-19 pandemic’s toll across the city. Prices rose over 5 percent from the previous quarter and saw a nearly 10 percent increase from the same quarter last year. 

Coney Island amusements reopen after lost summer 2020: April 9 was an exciting day on the Coney Island Boardwalk as fun-seekers, community leaders and the local amusement park owners joined together to reopen the Coney Island Amusment District for the first time in over a year. The first summer without amusement parks in the peninsula’s history led to soaring unemployment and business closures as foot traffic was at an all time low. 

New plaque draws attention to Revolutionary-era well in Boerum Hill: A plaque commemorating a well built during the Revolutionary War for a fort was installed at the corner of Bond and Pacific streets in April. The watering hole was discovered during a 2017 construction project and covered back up again. 

City relaunches sweeping $24m Fort Greene Park redesign, nixes trees: City greenspace honchos relaunched a recently stalled plan to revamp sections of Fort Green’s eponymous park, make it more handicap accessible and improve its drainage system. The plan combines two previously proposed that environment opposed for its classification as routine maintenance while it includes cutting down dozen of trees. 

Yang criticizes Adams for placard abuse at Cadman Plaza: Former mayoral candidate Andrew Yang held a press condference at Brooklyn’s Cadman Plaza to criticize his one-time opponent Eric Adam’s use of parking placards to allow his staff to park in illegal spots in the park. Yang never specifically mentioned the borough president, despite using his office as the press conference’s backdrop— claiming the location was chosen to support Councilmember Steven Levin’s bill to curb illegal parking. 

Classic chophouse Gage & Tollner finally opens in Downtown Brooklyn: The highly-anticipated reopening of the famed Downtown Brooklyn steakhouse Gage and Tollner arrived in April — 13 months after its relaunch was postponed due to the rise of the pandemic in March 2020. A trio of Brooklyn-based restauranteurs restored the nearly 150-year-old chophouse that opened in 1879 serving ritzy Brooklynites. 

Gage and Tollners.Photo by Caroline Ourso

Judge lifts temporary restraining order on Gowanus rezoning: The highly controversial Gowanus rezoning, which would make way for some 8,000 units to be built along the toxic Gowanus canal, was allowed to move forward under public review in April, when a judge lifted a temporary restraining order on the project. The plan had been held up in a monthslong court battle over the legality of virtual public hearings amid the pandemic. 

Hundreds join demonstration celebrating Chauvin conviction: Hundreds gathered outside of the Barclays Center to celebrate the conviction of Derek Chauvin, the Minnesota police officer who killed George Floyd in Spring 2020. The crowd paled in comparison to the thousands that marched in the streets after Floyd’s death, but the protestors expressed relief in April that a first step towards justice was served. 

Mayor announced composting will resume after nearly yearlong pause: Mayor Bill de Blasio announced at an April press conference that the city composting program will resume in the fall after nearly a yearlong pause due to budget cut onset from spending during the COVID-19 pandemic. New Yorkers who are interested had to re-enroll for the program through the online portal. 

Ex-councilmember Chaim Deutsch convicted of tax evasion, sentenced, expelled from City Council: In an unexpected turn of events, Sheepshead Bay Councilmember Chaim Deutsch was convicted of tax evasion after hiding thousands of dollars of outside income from his real estate business. A few days after the conviction Council Speaker Corey Johnson announced the southern Brooklyn councilmember was automatically expelled from his seat when he pled guilty to the charges, that he was later sentenced to three months in prison for. His office’s constituent services was shut down at the end of July leaving the 48th District without any representation. 

City starts construction on long-awaited 50 Kent park in Williamsburg: The city Parks Department started building Willamsburg’s soon-to-be newest park at 50 Kent Avenue in late April. The space one home to a manufactured gas plant will soo be a 2-acre lawn opened next spring. 

MAY 

Bay Ridge tortoise makes safe return home: A tortoise residing in the rolling hills of Bay Ridge safely returned home to her family after a 10-day journey to the far-away isle of Staten. Doris, a brown African Leopard Tortoise escaped from her home when the gate was left open for only 20 minutes, and was found when a concerned Staten Islander thought the reptile escaped from the Staten Island Zoo. 

Doris with her parents.Laura Torres

Subways return full-time to the city that never sleeps: Around-the-clock subway service resumed in mid-May after closing throughout the pandemic in the early hours of the morning to clean the trains. While the subways still operated through the rails when overnight service was paused, commuters were not allowed to ride. 

Two Charged for killing 1-year-old at playground: Two suspects were charged for the 2020 murder of 1-year-old Davell Gardner at a Bedford-Stuyvesant playground. The charges were part of a 63-count indictment that named 18 members of the Hoolie Gang. 

Brooklyn cop shot three times in Bedford-Stuyvesant survives: A cop from the 81st Precinct survived a brush with death after he was shot three times when stopping a 26-year-old near Saratoga Park in Bedford-Stuyvesant. The suspect also fired at the officer’s two colleagues when they approached him about acting suspiciously near the park. 

“Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” films in ‘Old’ Coney Island: Coney Island was transported back in time as stars of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” took to the historic Riegelmann Boardwalk to film scenes for the show’s fourth season. The series, created by Amy Sherman-Palladino of “Gilmore Girls” fame, is largely set in New York City, and has become known for reimagining the Big Apple’s streetscapes to mirror those of its past.

Brooklynites rally against vandalism of Bensonhurst church, Windsor Terrace church desecrated same day: Brooklynites gathered outside a Bensonhurst church to rally against the destruction of its house of worship the same day another vandalism took place at another Catholic Church in Windsor Terrace. Both incidents of vandalism were investigated and many fundraised to restore the religious monuments. 

Mayor pledges to fund fix for deadly McGuinness Boulevard after teacher killed in hit-and-run: Mayor Bill de Blasio announced he would redesign Greenpoint’s deadly McGuiness Boulevard after a teacher was killed in a hit-and-run crash. Five-lane McGuinness Boulevard has long been a treacherous speedway splitting the north Brooklyn nabe in half and some 200 residents, former students of Jensen’s and their parents, along with safe streets activists and elected officials demanded action.

JUNE

Big-money firm buys up Park Slope property as tenants organize:  ​​A private investment firm has been rapidly buying up real estate around Park Slope and jacking up rents — leaving dozens of cash-strapped tenants scrambling to find a solution. Activists and elected officials from Brooklyn and Texas then joined forces to launch a divestment campaign against the landlord, Greenbrook Partners. 

City bus crashes into Prospect Leffert Home leaving dozens injured:  A New York City Transit bus crashed into a townhouse on Bedford Avenue in Prospect Lefferts Gardens on Monday, injuring more than a dozen people. The building was declared no longer safe for occupation by the Department of Buildings and issued an order to vacate for all residents, who were provided with emergency housing while the investigation continued. 

Cute! Baby porcupine debuts at Prospect Park Zoo: Prospect Park Zoo’s new prickly resident, Barb, made her debut in June after she was born in February to Needles and Spike. As a newborn, the North American Porcupine’s quills are very soft but will harden as she gets older. 

Thousands raised for retired police officer killed in pizzeria altercation: Donations poured in after a retired NYPD officer was killed when trying to play peacemaker at a Kensington pizzeria, where a corrections officer was arguing with another man. A fundraiser launched in his honor saw $55,000 in donations just four days after its launch.  

Diocese unveils Mother Cabrini statue in Carroll Gardens: The Brooklyn Diocese unveiled a long awaited Mother Cabrini statue outside of a Carroll Gardens statue in June, after a yearlong battle to memorialize the saint after a statue of her was suggested for Chirlane McRay’s female statue initiative. 

The new statue of Mother Cabrini.Brooklyn Diocese

Family of ducks wanders through Park Slope, stops by bagel shop: A family of ducks were taking a stroll through Park Slope one June afternoon, and even wandered into a bagel shop for a quick bite. An onlooker said on Twitter the feathered family was helped across Fifth Avenue by kind-hearted Park Slopers, who stopped traffic to help them get to the other side safely. 

Gov lifts most COVID-19 restrictions as state hits 70 percent first dose vaccinations: Forsaken former Governor Andrew Cuomo lifted most COVID-19 restrictions as the state surpassed 70 percent of adults who received at least one shot of the vaccine. The lifted limits included capacity restrictions, social distancing, health screening, cleaning and disinfection protocols, and information gathering for contact tracing. 

George Floyd statue vandalized with white supremacist graffiti in Flatbush: Racist vandals desecrated a statue of George Floyd in Flatbush, spray painting black paint on the monument’s head and leaving behind the insignia of a notorious white supremacist group. The statue — a 500-pound wooden bust of Floyd’s profile at Flatbush Junction — was unveiled the weekend before as part of borough-wide Juneteenth celebrations. 

Brooklyn politicians sweep citywide roles in June primary: Politicians hailing from Brooklyn swept the citywide posts in the June primary, making them likely for victory in November. Borough President Eric Adams won his election for mayor, and Park Slope Councilmember Brad Lander will be the next comptroller. Progressive Councilmember Antonio Reynoso will serve as Brooklyn Borough President

JULY

Mayor, Council speaker celebrate $98.7 billion budget deal: Mayor Bill de Blasio and the City Council reached an agreement on a nearly $100 billion municipal budget, the largest in the city’s history. The budget deal, which is the last one for de Blasio and Council Speaker Corey Johnson, reversed many of the service cuts to city agencies seen during the pandemic, when cratering revenues threatening the city’s fiscal stability.

The Phoenix roller coaster rises in Coney Island: The Phoenix, Coney Island’s newest roller coaster, opened to the public this summer, symbolizing the amusement district’s rise from the ashes after a season lost to the coronavirus pandemic. The 68-foot coaster sends riders spinning at a top speed of 34 miles-per-hour, all while dangling in a seat suspended below the track.

Hometown Heroes! New York City’s essential workers honored with extravagant parade: The city celebrated its essential workers, aka “hometown heroes,” in a long-promised ticker-tape parade down Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes, after a long and exhausting year ensuring the city stayed the course. Queens nurse Sandra Lindsay, the first person in the US to get the Pfizer vaccine, served as Grand Marshal.

Photo by Dean Moses

Outdoor dining another year: The state voted to legalize outdoor dining for another year, extending the pandemic-era policy that has served as a crucial lifeline for the city’s restaurants. The City Council had previously voted to make the program permanent in April, but the necessary zoning changes and a formal, permanent program are still in the works.

Rank Choice voting participation: Ranked-choice voting (RCV) had far more benefits than drawbacks for New York voters in the 2021 primary, according to an analysis released Monday by the good government group Citizens Union.

The report concluded that RCV did what it was designed to do when voters approved the system in a 2019 ballot referendum: increase voter interest and participation; reduce “wasted votes;” eliminate costly and sparsely-attended runoffs; and pave the way for a city government that better represents the Five Boroughs’ demographics.

Netflix opening new East Williamsburg studio in September: Lights, camera, Brooklyn! Netflix opened a new production studio in Brooklyn in September, in a massive space where it will produce films and TV shows. The 170,000 square-foot space in East Williamsburg boasts six sound stages for content production.

DA moves to vacate over 3,500 marijuana cases, virtually clearing docket of Brooklyn weed charges: Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez asked for, and a judge granted, a motion to clear over 3,500 marijuana cases from the borough’s docket, scrubbing almost all weed-related cases, including warrants and guilty pleas, from the record books.

Ample Hills founders start anew with The Social: The founders of beloved scoop shop Ample Hills Creamery have started anew, opening up The Social in Prospect Heights over the summer. The new shop is a fresh start for the owners, couple Brian Smith and Jackie Cuscuna, who sold Ample Hills after the beloved parlor filed for bankruptcy in 2020.

AUGUST 

City to mandate proof of vaccination for indoor dining, fitness, entertainment: The city announced its first COVID vaccine mandate in August, a sign of things to come. The first mandate, dubbed “Key to NYC,” required businesses to verify at least one dose of the jab before being allowed to participate in indoor dining, fitness, or entertainment like movies or theater. This and other mandates profoundly shaped the city’s political, economic, and social climate going forward.

Mayor unveils plan to prop up crumbling BQE until 2040: The city wants to extend the lifespan of the dangerously-decaying Brooklyn-Queens Expressway at the Brooklyn waterfront by almost 20 years, giving officials nearly two more decades to come up with an actual plan for what to do with the ailing highway, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced. While ultimate plans for the roadway and eyesore are being left to future administrations, the mayor’s plan has included reducing the number of lanes in each direction and enforcing weight limits for heavy trucks.

Most expensive apartment lease in Brooklyn history signed: A deep-pocketed New Yorker signed a $27,000-per-month lease for an under-construction penthouse in Downtown Brooklyn, the most expensive apartment lease in Brooklyn history. The steep rental contract falls slightly short of the most expensive residential in Brooklyn history overall, which belongs to a townhouse in Brooklyn Heights which rented for $30,000 in June.

Park honchos call on locals to kill invasive spotted lanternflies: Parks stewards called on New York City residents to do their civic duty by killing the dreaded Spotted Lanternfly, an invasive species that took the city by storm this summer, posing threats to native plants

Violent crime falls in NYC, reversing a months-long trend: Crime began to trend back downwards at the beginning of August, reversing a monthslong trend that came to define the Democratic primary for mayor. Overall, the summer of 2021 was significantly less violent than was the summer of 2020.

Andrew Cuomo resigns as governor: Gov. Andrew Cuomo resigned from office in August, capping off a stunning fall from grace for the three-term governor who had been widely celebrated early in the pandemic for his response, but saw his fortunes turn after being accused by multiple women of sexual harassment and misconduct. Cuomo’s final year in office was defined by scandal, including sexual harassment, misreporting COVID deaths in nursing homes, and using state resources to write a book that netted him $5 million. The disgraced former chief executive, now embroiled in legal trouble over his conduct, was replaced by the lieutenant governor, Kathy Hochul.

Horrific dog attack in Flatbush leaves 19-month-old boy dead: A rottweiler mauled to death a toddler, the youngest member of the dog’s human clan, at the family’s Flatbush townhouse in August. The youngster was only 19-months-old.

Brooklyn tunnel impresario, transit advocate Bob Diamond dies at 62: Bob Diamond, who discovered a long-lost subway tunnel underneath an Atlantic Avenue manhole, and provided tours to the public for years until the city squashed his enterprise, died over the summer at age 62. The ubiquitous transit gadfly also tried for years, in vain, to build a streetcar between Red Hook and Downtown Brooklyn. Though many of his efforts were unsuccessful, Diamond won the hearts and minds of Brooklynites fascinated by the history of how we move.

Bob Diamond shows off the tunnel he re-discovered.File photo

Brooklyn’s population increases by over 230k in 2020 Census results: Brooklyn’s population increased by over 230,000 people in the past decade, marking the biggest increase of any borough in New York City, and far outpacing expectations, according to 2020 Census data released over the summer.

The borough’s demographics are also changing, the Census revealed. Brooklyn’s Black population shrunk between 2010 and 2020, while the white, Hispanic, and Asian populations all grew.

City disapproves Botanic Garden-adjacent mega development: The city’s land use gurus formally put the kibosh on a proposed 34-story residential tower on Franklin Avenue, adjacent to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. The Botanic Garden long contended the proposed tower, which was supposed to be half-composed of affordable units, would block sunlight critical to the life of the beloved green oasis’ plant life, a point to which advocates and officials agreed.

The developer had threatened to build an alternate tower at the site that wouldn’t require a rezoning, and would not contain any affordable housing.

Coney Island’s Mermaid Parade canceled: Brooklynites had to return their decadent sea creature-themed costumes to the closet once again, as Coney Island’s famed Mermaid Parade was postponed for a second year due to COVID-19. Organizers had hoped to stage an in-person parade this year after 2020’s cancellation, and postponed it to September instead of the traditional June, but eventually elected to cancel the soiree owing to the Delta variant.

Reckless driver charged after killing 6-year-old girl in Dyker Heights: A reckless driver was charged with manslaughter and negligent homicide after hitting and killing a 6-year-old girl in Dyker Heights. The driver was indicted in October.

SEPTEMBER

Hurricane Ida pounds NYC: Hurricane Ida brought a massive torrential downpour to New York City, killing 13 city residents including two Brooklynites, flooding crucial infrastructure, and causing billions of dollars in property damage.

A bus navigates past abandoned cars on a flooded highway.REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

‘The Wire’ actor Michael K. Williams found dead in Williamsburg apartment: The actor Michael K. Williams, known for playing Omar on HBO’s “The Wire,” was found dead of a suspected drug overdose in his Williamsburg apartment in September, at the age of 54. Widely acclaimed for his performance as Omar, he was well-known for giving back to the community and was involved in local civic affairs in Brooklyn, particularly his native East Flatbush.

Brooklyn Bridge bike lane opens: The new protected bike lane on the Brooklyn Bridge’s Manhattan-bound roadbed finally opened in September, replacing the notorious hybrid bike path on the pedestrian walkway. Since then, cycling trips across the storied span have doubled, the city says.

Grand Prospect Hall bought, demolished: The Grand Prospect Hall was purchased for $30 million by a real estate investor, taking it off the hands of the Halkias family, who made all of Brooklyn’s dreams come true. The new owner sent those dreams down the toilet: he filed demolition permits and, after a last-minute bid to landmark the splendorous, century-old banquet hall failed, began to tear down the storied structure.

Driver charged with manslaughter, faces 25 years for Clinton Hill crash that killed 3-month-old: A driver is facing up to 25 years behind bars on manslaughter and assault charges after killing a 3-month-old girl with his car on a Clinton Hill sidewalk in September. The driver, Tyrik Mott, was driving at high speed in the wrong direction along Gates Avenue when he smashed his car into another vehicle, which then plowed into the infant, Apolline Guillemin, and her family. The mother suffered serious injuries. Mott had racked up dozens of speeding tickets over the past few years, enough to have his car impounded under a law passed by the city before the crash, but not yet implemented.

Robert Brennan was named Bishop of Brooklyn.Photo by Adrian Childress

Robert Brennan named Bishop of Brooklyn, replaces longtime Bishop DiMarzio: Robert Brennan was appointed as the new Catholic Bishop of Brooklyn, replacing the long-tenured Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, who weathered child sex abuse allegations near the end of his term. He assumed office at the end of November.

OCTOBER

Clark Street subway station closes for repairs, causing worry for businesses: The MTA announced that they would be closing the Clark Street subway station entirely for at least eight months as the agency repaired the station’s three ancient elevators. Business owners on the station’s mezzanine level worried about the future of their shops with most of their customers rerouted to other nearby stations.

Brooklynites raise thousands of dollars for 16 people injured in Sunset Park fire: After a late-night fire left sixteen people injured and several without homes, neighbors rallied and raised more than $10,000 on GoFundMe for medical treatment and housing.

A How-ly Day as Brooklyn’s pets get blessed: ​Catholics across the borough celebrated the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals and the environment, at the annual Blessing of the Animals. Pets of all sorts — and their owners — gathered outside churches to be blessed.

Thousands march across Brooklyn Bridge protesting vax mandate: Thousands of municipal employees and allies marched across the Brooklyn Bridge in protest of the city’s vaccination mandate. Marchers first gathered in Downtown Brooklyn for a rally, where they chanted their intentions to “hold the line” and not get vaccinated against the coronavirus even if that means losing their jobs.

Tarzian Hardware celebrates a century in Park Slope: The unassuming Tarzian Hardware store on Seventh Avenue celebrated one hundred years selling tools of all kinds to handy Brooklynites. Family-owned since its opening in 1921, the shop has struggled and succeeded as big-box hardware stores and online retailers like Amazon cut into their profits.

Dumbo gets a new library, Brooklyn’s first since 1983: The Adams Street Library represented two milestones for the Brooklyn Public Library: it was the borough’s first new branch to open in 40 years and is Dumbo’s first public library. The 6,5000 square foot library sits on the first floor of an old industrial building, and is primarily geared toward children.

Officials cut the ribbon on the new Dumbo library.Photo by Ben Brachfeld

Brooklyn drivers charged after killing pedestrians in particularly deadly traffic year: In the midst of a particularly dangerous year for bikers and pedestrians, two drivers were charged after killing pedestrians in Brooklyn. Tyrik Mott, a 29-year-old Crown Heights resident, was charged with assault and manslaughter after allegedly speeding the wrong way down Gates Avenue and crashing into another car and a family of three, killing three-month-old Apolline Mong Guillemin. Qiuhua Zhu, of Sunset Park, was indicted on charges of negligent homicide and manslaughter after pulling around a stopped car to make a left and killing six-year-old Tamy Hiromi Quema Guachiac while she crossed the street with her mother.

Mill Basin dognapper indicted on robbery, assault charges: ​​An East New York man who dragged a woman from her car in Mill Basin before taking off with her poodle was indicted on robbery and assault charges. Kamani Romain, 21, allegedly attacked a 73-year-old woman as she sat in her parked car and stole her car and nine-year-old poodle, Luna. Both car and canine were later returned unharmed.

De Blasio mandates vaccines for all city employees: Mayor Bill de Blasio said that all city employees — except corrections officers — had to have at least their first jab by the end of October or take an unpaid leave until they could show proof of vaccination. Corrections officers, who were largely unvaccinated and very in demand as the city struggled to staff jails and prisons, had until December to get their first dose. Employees who got their shot at a city-run site before Oct. 29 were eligible for a $500 bonus.

Environmental Protection Agency investigates state Department of Environmental Conservation: The federal Environmental Protection Agency launched a probe against the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation after a cadre of local groups accused DEC of violating part of the federal Civil Rights Act when they approved part of National Grid’s new pipeline.

Major Owens Health Center officially opens in Crown Heights: Elected officials, including outgoing councilmember Laurie Cumbo, cut the ribbon on the Major R. Owens Health and Wellness Center on Oct. 27, marking the official opening of the recreational facility in the Bedford-Union Armory building in Crown Heights. The controversial project was seen as a defining project for Cumbo.

Two Brooklynites enter the gubernatorial race, only one sticks around: Attorney General Tish James and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams both launched campaigns to succeed Gov. Kathy Hocul in Albany. James later chose to end her campaign and run for reelection as AG.

NOVEMBER

Election results unsurprising in Brooklyn and citywide: Three Brooklynites secured their spots in city government: Borough President Eric Adams won the mayor’s race by a wide margin, while outgoing council member Antonio Reynoso clinched his spot as new Brooklyn beep and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams handily won reelection. While progressives won big across the board, Republican Inna Vernikov trounced her Democrat opponent in a south Brooklyn city council race.

Local electeds celebrate their win.File photo

“Gravesend” cast save teen hit by car in Gravesend: The cast and crew of mafia thriller “Gravesend” saved a 14-year-old boy after he was hit by an out-of-control vehicle and trapped beneath it while walking his dog one evening. Brooklyn native Will DeMeo, the show’s star, helped lift the car off the teen before emergency services arrived on the scene.

“The Race to Deliver” explores quick-commerce grocery delivery apps: Cost, real estate, and labor rights took center stage as venture capitalist-backed grocery delivery apps exploded across the city.

City scraps Sunset Park double bike lane, locals still call for more changes: City transportation honchos scrapped their plans to build protected bike lanes on both Seventh and Eighth Avenues in Sunset Park, opting instead to build a single two-way lane on Seventh, after locals expressed concern about the loss of parking spots. The new plan will also keep parking on Eighth Avenue, while still extending the sidewalk near intersections.

City makes Jay Street busway in Downtown Brooklyn permanent after one-year pilot: Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that after a successful one-year pilot program, the 0.4 mile bus-only throughway on Jay Street would remain permanently. Bus speeds improved significantly under the program, which banned car through-traffic on the stretch during peak hours.

Brooklyn Diocese ousts 86-year-old priest following credible abuse allegations: The Brooklyn Diocese ousted 86-year-old Rev. Peter Mahoney after substantiating 50-year-old abuse claims leveled against the priest. A lawsuit filed under the Child Victims Act said that Mahoney groomed and sexually abused a teen at a Brooklyn Catholic school.

Council votes to approve Gowanus rezoning after years of debate: The New York City Council voted nearly-unanimously to approve the Gowanus rezoning, officially setting the project in motion after years of planning and debate. The vote came after outgoing councilmembers Brad Lander and Stephen Levin successfully negotiated for key community demands.

DECEMBER

City set to begin construction on Gowanus retention tank as EPA frustration with noncompliance grows: The city’s Department of Environmental Protection planned to begin work on the Head End retention tank in Gowanus as the federal Environmental Protection Agency planned their response to the city’s failure to meet EPA-set deadlines for the project, which is part of the Superfund cleanup of the Gowanus Canal.

Former Congressmember Max Rose to run for old seat: Former Democratic Congressmember Max Rose announced that he is running again for his old seat, after losing it to incumbent Republican Nicole Malliotakis in 2020 following a single term in Washington. Rose narrowly beat incumbent Republican Dan Donovan to win the 11th Congressional District seat, the city’s only swing district, in 2018.

Leadership battle erupts among Brooklyn’s Republican party: An intra-party fight broke out within Brooklyn’s Republican Party, as conservative bigwig Stephen Maresca looks to usurp the leadership of the Kings County GOP — citing consistently “disappointing” electoral results, including in the 2021 citywide elections. 

Adams announces leadership for incoming administration: Mayor-elect Eric Adams appointed five women, all with extensive experience in local government, as deputy mayors as he prepares to transition to City Hall in January. The former Brooklyn beep also announced term-limited councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez as Department of Transportation commissioner and longtime educator David C. Banks as the chancellor of city schools. Come January, Adams will also launch the brand-new Office of Ethnic and Community Media.

Crowds, tour buses and vendors return for Dyker Lights’ first weekend: Fans of Brooklyn’s most festive neighborhood turned out en masse for the return of Dyker Lights, delighting in the twinkling lights splashed over hundreds of Dyker Heights homes after homeowners largely kept their displays packed away to keep crowds to a minimum in 2020. Tour buses and food and beverage vendors followed suit, helping to bring cheer to the end of a challenging year.

Brooklyn Bridge Park completed with opening of Emily Warren Roebling Plaza: The final stretch of the 85-acre Brooklyn Bridge Park opened with fanfare as the ten-year construction of the park was officially finished. Named after construction engineer Emily Warren Roebling, who oversaw construction of the Brooklyn Bridge in the late 1800s, the plaza connects the north end of the park, in Dumbo, and the piers.

The new Emily Roebling plaza.Photo by Alexa Hoyer

City Council grants non-citizen voting rights: Despite challenges to its constitutionality, the Our City, Our Vote Bill passed in the council, granting around 800,000 green card and work visa holders the right to vote in city elections. The bill was reviewed by Mayor Bill de Blasio’s legal team, several academic lawyers, revised three times and compared against federal, state and local law before it came to the vote.

Judge Ash convicted of obstructing US federal investigation of misconduct: Sylvia Ash, a New York State Supreme Court justice and former chair of the Board of Directors of Municipal Credit Union was convicted for conspiracy to obstruct justice, obstruction of justice and making a false statement to a US federal agent. Ash is expected to be sentenced next April.

Council approves River Ring on the Williamsburg waterfront: The City Council voted unanimously to approve River Ring, a massive new development on the Williamsburg waterfront, effectively bringing to a close the city’s lengthy land use review process and clearing the path for the two towers to move ahead. The mixed-use buildings will be among the tallest in the borough, and a soft-edge waterfront park is expected to house wildlife and defend the development and the neighborhood from flooding.

Omicron strains testing capacity as infections spike: The newest variant of the coronavirus, Omicron, sent positivity rates skyrocketing and thousands of New Yorkers out into the cold to wait for tests. The reportedly milder but very infectious virus upended holiday travel and has shuttered schools, theaters, and more as it ravages the city.

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