New Barclays Center Subway Stop Inspires Protest T-Shirt

By Leslie Albrecht on June 27, 2012 7:26am 

Designer Deb Goldstein created a T-shirt to protest the renaming of Atlantic Avenue-Pacific Street to Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center.
Designer Deb Goldstein created a T-shirt to protest the renaming of Atlantic Avenue-Pacific Street to Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center.
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Deb Goldstein

BROOKLYN — Talk about a fashion statement.

A local T-shirt designer upset that one of Brooklyn's oldest and busiest subway stops has been renamed for the new Barclays Center wants to keep the station's former name alive — in 100 percent cotton.

Deb Goldstein, owner of T-shirt design company Miss Wit Designs, has created a shirt emblazoned with the declaration, "I'm still calling it Atlantic Av-Pacific St" — a reference to the former Atlantic-Pacific subway hub in Downtown Brooklyn, which was quietly rechristened Atlantic Av-Barclays Center in May.

Some of the signs at the bustling station — where the N, Q, R, B, D, 2, 3, 4 and 5 lines converge  — have been changed, and its name was switched on the MTA's online subway map.

The new name is the result of a 2009 deal between the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Barclays Center developer Forest City Ratner Companies, who will pay the transit agency $200,000 a year for the next 20 years for the naming rights.

Barclays, a London-based bank, bought the naming rights to the new Brooklyn Nets arena in Downtown Brooklyn in 2007 for a reported $200 million.

Goldstein, a 15-year Brooklyn resident who now lives in Sunset Park, is selling the $14 T-shirts online and is looking for a local store to carry them.

She said the garment is a subtle, wearable protest against the controversial arena, slated to debut in September with a concert by Jay-Z, a co-owner of the Brooklyn Nets.

Goldstein, the sister of Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn co-founder Daniel Goldstein, has long been involved in fighting the arena and the surrounding Atlantic Yards development. She's put her sloganeering shirts to work for the cause in the past, getting garments made for Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn.

She became inspired to make the threads when she spotted the new Barclays Center signs at the subway station, which sits just a few hundred yards from the new arena at Atlantic and Flatbush avenues.

To Goldstein, the station signs seemed to be "commanding" locals, some of whom had fought passionately against the arena, to embrace the Barclays Center.

"It just feels like there's no control over anything that's happening," Goldstein said. "I have no problem with change, but change is something that evolves. You don't buy change, and that's what this feels like. It's just a reminder of the whole process of how [Atlantic Yards] happened. It was supposed to be about housing, and now a British bank has their name on a subway station."

Goldstein said she made the shirts in the spirit of the "I'm Still Calling It Shea" T-shirts that popped up when Citi Field opened.

Goldstein, 40, has been making topical T-shirts since 2003. On a whim, she designed a shirt for a few friends with the saying, "And I want to thank Harvey Weinstein" — a reference to how often the film producer's name was invoked during the 2003 movie awards season. When a reporter spotted the shirt and wrote about it, "it took off and had a life of its own," Goldstein explained.

In 2004, she created a shirt proclaiming, "Jon Stewart for President." It became "wildly popular," Goldstein said, and she sold a few thousand. Though she has a master's degree in social work, the T-shirt business is now her full-time occupation. Goldstein uses American Apparel T-shirts and works with printers in Bay Ridge and Red Hook. Aside from shirts with sayings, she also creates custom-designed shirts for nonprofit clients such as the Urban Meadow community garden in Red Hook and Queers for Economic Justice.

"I communicate through my T-shirts," Goldstein said. "I like to take things and break it down to a small idea that resonates."

Her biggest seller so far has been a shirt showing a visual mash-up of the logo for the hardcore band Black Flag with the Beach Boys.

Goldstein posted her homage to the Atlantic-Pacific station on Facebook on June 20, and she's gotten about a dozen orders so far, including one from a former Brooklynite who now lives in New Zealand.

The Atlantic Avenue station, the oldest part of which opened in 1908, is the first and only in the New York City subway system to carry a corporate name, said MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan.

It may be the first time the MTA received payment to put a coroporate name on a subway station, but corporate entities like Yankee Stadium, Lincoln Center, Columbia University and NYU — as well as places derived from corporate names, like Times Square and Herald Square — are on the current subway map.

The MTA declined to comment on the T-shirts.

But Donovan noted that it is MTA policy to maintain a geographic reference point in station names, even if they're changed as a result of naming-rights deals. That's why the station still has Atlantic Avenue in its name, so MTA customers can navigate, he said.

In some cities, naming rights completely change stations. Philadelphia renamed Pattison Station, a reference to a South Philadelphia avenue named after a former governor, to AT&T Station.

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