16 January 2007

Finally, Winter Shows Up

Tuesday 1/16, Run #110: Bedford-Stuyvesant & Crown Heights

Distance: 9.06 miles
Time: 1:10
Pace: 7:44
Temp: 40
Wind Chill: 32
Weather: cloudy & windy

click on image for interactive map

Unique Miles Today: 8.61
Total Unique Miles: 857.12
Percent of Brooklyn Run: 49.19

For the complete route, click here

Notes: After holding off long enough that more than a few local trees and flowers were starting to bud already, winter is making a comeback today via dropping temperatures and some gusty northwesternly breezes. (And it's supposed to get even colder over the next fewe days.) But even though I was careless enough to plot a route that left me running the last three miles or so almost directly into the wind, I still finished up in good spirits -- due in good part, no doubt, to the knowledge that I've only got two modest runs left before reaching the halfway point. I don't mean to make such a big deal about this -- I do realize, of course, that after I take a short break I've essentially got to do everything I've done up to this point all over again -- but for whatever reason it's providing an somewhat unexpected and not entirely unwelcome psychological boost which I'm only too happy to embrace.

Looking last night at all the orange lines I've drawn the "big map" thus far, I couldn't help but notice that there was a sizeable gap in the middle of the borough where I hadn't run at all yet. It's hard to believe, but true -- there it was, a square roughly a mile and a half on a side, centered on the eastern half of Crown Heights and bounded by Stuyvesant Heights to the north, East Flatbush to the south, and Brownsville to the east. In an attempt to rectify this unintentional oversight, of course, I decided I needed to head down that way today. Still, I didn't want to spend all morning on the train (or worse, freezing on a platform somewhere), so I devised a relatively simple course in which I'd start the run just five subway stops from home, head south for a couple of miles, spend another few in the southeastern corner of Crown Heights, and then continue back north to a point only four stops to home. And, I'm happy to report, it worked out just fine.

Crown Heights is an interesting area, brimming with recent immigrants from the Caribbean and parts of Africa and Asia but also home to the world headquarters of Lubavitch Hasidim. Unfortunately, the name of the neighborhood is linked in many minds with the rioting and violence that erupted in August, 1991, exposing not only local ethnic tensions but deeper currents of racial antagonism in the city. It's still something of a contentious issue (when doing a little background Googling it quickly became evident that accounts of the riots vary significantly, often depending on whether they are being related by African Americans or Hasidim, cops or reporters, locals or outsiders), but this 2001 article from the Times provides something of a starting point, as well as some details about the changes that had taken place (and, alas, those that had not) during the ensuing decade.

A few pictures:

church, crown heights
Corner of Crown Street and Utica Avenue

houses, crown heights
Houses along the north side of Crown Street

library, bed-stuy
Brookly Public Library branch on De Kalb Avenue

arthurine's, crown heights
Restaurant on Kingston Avenue

mitzvah tank, crown heights
Mitzvah tank parked just west of Kingston Avenue

church, bed-stuy
Mt. Pisgah Church on Tompkins Avenue


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