Visiting the Broken Angel of Clinton Hill
Tuesday 1/9, Run #106: Bedford-Stuyvesant, Clinton Hill
Distance: 8.08 miles
Wind Chill: 29
Weather: partly cloudy
click on image for interactive map
Unique Miles Today: 7.64
Total Unique Miles: 824.65
Percent of Brooklyn Run: 47.33
For the complete route, click here
Notes: Usually my routes are dictated by the geographic logic of the "big map," but today marks the first day I planned a run in order to see a specific place. This morning, I headed back to Bed-Stuy (or, to be a bit more precise, the fringe of Clinton Hill on its western border) in order to visit the Broken Angel, an impressive piece of "outsider" architecture and an oddly compelling part of the local streetscape whose origins and impact have sometimes led it to be compared to the Watts Towers in Los Angeles. Starting with an old building they picked up cheap in 1971, owners Arthur and Cindy Wood have continuously built up and out and onto, adding several stories as well as all kinds of ornamental detail. A fire last October led to quite a bit of local attention (with the best coverage coming from several Brooklyn-based blogs) and numerous questions about its future. According to Brownstoner and Gowanus Lounge, the Woods have been unable to raise the funds or hire the contracters necessary to bring the structure up to code (apparently, the city didn't give them a lot of time), and the property is now for sale. Click here to see a terrific set of photos (both interior and exterior) from the Woods' son, Christopher.
Anyway, I figured it was worth a trip to see the place before it gets torn down and replaced by condos or whatever other fate may be in store for it. It is indeed a very impressive and very cool-looking building, and it's easy to see why so many locals are worried about its seemingly imminent demise. And while I have virtually zero knowledge about architecture, homebuilding, or city codes (and thus can't really comment on the Broken Angel's safety or structural integrity), I think it's still kind of amazing that the city let the place stand as long as it has. But as of today it's still there, and however small the chance, maybe something will get worked out to let it stay.
Otherwise, today's run also had a lot going for it besides getting to see a storied piece of local color -- plenty of unique miles, lots of other stuff see (including a good number of small churches and groceries), and great weather (except for the pretty stiff wind). I'm still not feeling 100%, however, so I'll probably take tomorrow off before trying to run again on Thursday. See you then.
Update, 1/11: Broken Angel to be Saved, in a Way (from Gowanus Lounge)
Broken Angel pictures:
Looking north on Downing Street
The front (4 is the address on Downing Street)
The view looking west on Quincy Street
Church on Quincy Street
Stuyvesant Avenue at Quincy Street