Take Note

August 06, 2003 1 min read

End of an Era

The name-calling began as soon as New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg slapped the red “sold” sign on the front of the defenseless building in downtown Brooklyn.

The mayor compared the erstwhile headquarters of the city’s former board of education at 110 Livingston St. to the Kremlin during a July 8 news conference to announce its sale. Then Joel I. Klein, the city’s schools chancellor, likened the building to the catacombs of Rome.

Regarded by many critics as a symbol of the 1.1 million-student system’s inefficiency and bureaucracy, 110 Livingston St. is now slated to be reborn as residential condominium units.

Shortly after Mr. Bloomberg won control of the city’s schools last year, he moved the system’s main administrative offices into Tweed Courthouse, across from City Hall in Manhattan.

“Today marks both an end and a rebirth,” Mr. Bloomberg said during the news conference. “For years, this remarkable building was unjustly sentenced to life as the notorious Kremlin of the now- defunct board of education.”

After the $45 million sale becomes final this fall, private developers plan to renovate the office space into 245 condominiums. The board of education’s meeting room, where much political drama unfolded over the years, will become a performing arts theater.

Mr. Klein contended that 110 Livingston St. represented a district regime that focused too little on teaching and learning. Today, he said, the school system’s focus is on the classroom. Mr. Klein described the working atmosphere at Tweed Courthouse as “open.”

But at least one person is mourning the passing of the bureaucracy at 110 Livingston St.

Marty Markowitz, the Brooklyn borough president, said: “I’m still sad, I really am, that the education—whether you call it board or department—is not in Brooklyn any longer.”

—Karla Scoon Reid