Clinton Hill Celebrates Putnam Plaza With Dance Party

Last Monday, DOT workers laid down gravel and epoxy on top of the asphalt on a block of Putnam Avenue, transforming the area between Fulton Street and Grand Avenue from through street to public space. On Sunday, Clinton Hill came out to celebrate. The opening weekend block party was captured by local documentary maker Adele Pham, who distilled two minutes and 12 seconds of pure feel-good video.

“People can enjoy it now, and have been since about five minutes after the street was closed,” said Phillip Kellogg, the manager of the Fulton Area Business Alliance, which sponsored the plaza. Five minutes after the work crews left, he said, a skateboarder was trying out the new space. Immediately after tables and chairs were put out, locals brought out their chess sets. People escaped the heat of the laundromat and waited for their loads to finish out in the fresh air. “Everybody’s been giving it a thumbs up,” said Kellogg.

The plaza, still only a week old, has so far been the boon for business that the FAB hoped it would be. “Enhancing the pedestrian experience along Fulton makes it more appealing to walk on Fulton Street, to shop and come to our restaurants and get dinner or a drink,” said Kellogg. That theory was put to the test on Sunday and passed with flying colors, he added, convincing even the skeptical businesses that the plaza works, so far. “The deli sold a lot of soda and seltzer. The cafés were jam-packed, with lines out the door.”

Because Fulton cuts through the Fort Greene and Clinton Hill grids diagonally, said Kellogg, there are lots of underutilized triangular spaces created at three-way intersections. In addition to the Putnam plaza, which was built quickly with less permanent materials, FAB is also sponsoring the Fowler Square plaza, at the intersection of Fulton, Lafayette Avenue and South Elliott Place, which is going through the DOT’s formal plaza program and will be built with higher-quality materials. Right now, Fowler Square “is the kind of place where people just walk through on the way to somewhere else,” said Kellogg. “It’s really important that people realize that it’s theirs.”