Late Summer Scene: Restoration Plaza

People in Restoration Plaza in Bed-Stuy.

Residents of Bed-Stuy congregate at Restoration Plaza on a cloudy summer day.

The sound of chatter and children laughing fills the air in Bed-Stuy’s Restoration Plaza.  Two boys weave in and out of steel chairs and tables that have recently been installed. A mother organizes a baby bag. Three black men pull up seats next to a table. They’re talking about the latest changes in the neighborhood.  Two of them, dressed in office outfits, have just gotten off work. One of them, wearing a black suit, lays a matching black fedora on the table.  Nearby, a man on an electric scooter pauses as he makes a phone call.  Others make their way to the Burger King next to the space.

The plaza, at the intersection of Marcy Avenue and Fulton Street, has just been resurfaced.  The concrete still has markers placed by workers showing gas, water and sewage lines. Dark stone steps lead to little patches of plants and trees, contrasting the gray of the concrete with nature’s green.  The chairs and tables are silver grey and still rust-free.

The intersection is filled with the sounds of cars and trucks making their way further into Bed-Stuy. The planes land at La Guardia, their engines temporarily blocking out the noise of anything else.  Once the planes pass, the sound of multiple conversations is audible once more.

On the other side of Fulton Avenue sits a two-story brown brick building sporting a Jamaican bakery on the ground floor.  An awning displays the name of the shop, Tastee Pattee, in maroon letters and provides the sidewalk with some cover.  A mural of the preamble of the U.S. Constitution and of black civic figures — Bruce Wright, Thurgood Marshall, and Paul Robeson — dominates the wall next to the Jamaican bakery.

The plaza gets busier as the day progresses.  Different crowds come by.  The three black men sit there for over an hour.  An aspiring artist shows up with a few friends. They shoot videos and photos in the plaza while he dons two necklaces featuring an action figure and a fake crocodile head. Tree-lined streets behind them provide people with some refuge from rain or shine, although on this day, the weather is cloudy but not raining. People talk, people eat, people watch the day go by.