09 November 2007

Hey Tough Tony: They're Boarding Up Your Home!

There's been a lot of talk lately about the potential future of 340 Court Street, the large property and largish building which sits near Union Street. It was recently sold by Long Island College Hospital to the Clarett Group, which paid $24 mil and could, with all legality, erect a 21-story building on the site if it wanted to (and don't developers always want to?). Last we heard—and this from the mouth of Assemblywoman Joan Millman back in August—Clarett hadn’t even hired an architect for 340 Court, and didn't intend to construct a building out of context with surrounding buildings.

There was some activity at the address today, with a couple workman armed with a whole mess of plywood boarding up the ground level of the modernist building, window by window. On the front doors were two notices saying the interior had been baited with rat poison. Maybe the workers are just making sure some eager passersby don't enter the building and help themselves to a fistful of tasty rat bait. Don't know.

I also noticed, with a jolt, the sign above the door that reads "The Anthony Anastasio Memorial Wing—Brooklyn Longshoremen's Medical Center." Now, if memory serves, this sign was covered up for some years by a LICH placard. Sorry if I'm slow on this, and the old sign was uncovered some weeks ago, but this is the first I noticed it. Staring at it was a chilling reminder of the nabe's vicious past and how much South Brooklyn was once in thrall of the Mob. Anthony "Tough Tony" Anastasio was a union boss who ruled the Brooklyn docks with an iron hand and the threat of reprisal by his mad brother, Albert Anastasio, head of Murder, Inc. He was no sweetheart and I can just imagine that, back in the day, that sign served as a reminder to locals to stay in line.


Barbara L. Hanson said...

"Remind the locals to stay in line"? Did you grow up here? Anyone in Brooklyn was happy to live on a block with Mafia connections, safest place in the city. Cosa Nostra was also very big on looking out for their communities. Vicious in their work, certainly, but I went to a school full of little Meadow Sopranos, and I can assure you that those of us who weren't connected were just fine with that.

Brooks of Sheffield said...

Barbara: I understand all about the Mafia making a neighborhood feel safe. I've heard it a million times in my 13 years in Carroll Gardens (no, I wasn't born here). But surely they only provide that "service" as long as no one questions the Mafia's control of the area. It's law or order via blackmail and coercion. Maybe I'm hopelessly old-fashioned and naive, but I find it impossible to defend the Mob in any way, shape or manner, not matter what positive residual effects they might have on a community. And I can only resent a building being named in honor of a known criminal.

Barbara L. Hanson said...

I wasn't condoning anything, just describing what the conditions were in the Brooklyn I grew up in.
Yeah, I hate buildings named in honor of criminals too...Nixon, Kissinger, Bush, Kerik.

Brooks of Sheffield said...

They took Kerik's name off that building they named in his honor. As for Nixon, I wonder--is anything other than his library named for him? And Kissinger! Let's hope no one's been stupid enough to names an edifice after that reprobate.