07/22/14 11:00am

In Queens, there are worlds within worlds. Over the last three years I have been at loose ends, occasionally working freelance jobs when I can get them, still hoping for a fulltime job with benefits, a Holy Grail of sorts for someone in their 50s who has never been in management. I spend some of the time at the Greater Astoria Historical Society, which is located on the 4th floor of the Quinn Funeral Home at 35-20 Broadway, scanning photographs and researching material for a new book; the Society and I collaborated on the Forgotten Queens Arcadia Publishing entry, released in December 2013.

Desiring relief from boredom and some needed exercise, I took a different route to the subway after leaving GAHS one day and turned right on Broadway onto 37th Street. I knew about 37th Street from its role in world industrial history (see below for that) but I wasn’t completely prepared for the sheer variety of architecture that greeted me in the single block between Broadway and 34th Avenue. Much of Astoria features blocks of apartment buildings, handsomely constructed, but seemingly turned out by photocopier (another hint). Some blocks, though, betray their age, with buildings of a century or better pressed up against the newest architectural stylings that will look dated and of their time in what’s likely a mere twenty years.



07/22/14 9:00am

Astoria-cove-rendering (1)

After pressure from local residents, pols and Community Board One, Alma Realty decided to up the number of affordable units at its massive Astoria Cove development. (In June, CB1 denied the 1,698-unit development proposal on the grounds that the developers weren’t offering enough.) Now DNAinfo reports that the number of units, previously 295, is up to 345. That’s a total of 20 percent of the entire project — still less than the 35 percent requested by Community Board One. Other housing advocates requested as much as 50 percent affordable. The developers are applying to include the proposed 345 units in the city’s Inclusionary Housing Program.

The developers are now in the midst of a public review for a zoning change, and Borough President Katz, who was also concerned about the affordability of the project, should issue her recommendation by July 30th.

Astoria Cove Project Will Include 345 Affordable Units, Developer Says [DNAinfo]
All Astoria Cove coverage [Q'Stoner]

07/18/14 3:00pm


Earlier this summer, the new owners of the Steinway Mansion filed a demolition permit for a one-story frame house located on the expansive property. Here’s what that frame house actually looks like. Friends of the Steinway Mansion posted the photo, which was taken back in 2011, on Facebook. The home was constructed in 1910, is 16 feet tall, and is a total of 522 square feet.

The new owners, who paid $2,600,000 for the historic site, promised to preserve the actual mansion although it’s landmarked anyway. What this demolition may mean is that they break up the one-acre property and start selling parcels for development. However, there’s no confirmation on those plans.

All Steinway Mansion coverage [Q'Stoner] GMAP

Photo via Facebook

07/17/14 10:00am


Both the Daily News and the Wall Street Journal published stories on the mega Astoria Cove development, which is currently in the midst of its public review process. Each article has a different angle: WSJ talks about the community’s demand for affordable housing here (Community Board 1 denied the proposal on the grounds that the developers weren’t offering enough) and the Daily News writes about the push for union labor. (more…)


The borough of Queens has seen its share of homeless shelter controversies as of late. Now here’s another. On Monday, Congressman Joseph Crowley, Councilman Costa Constantinides, New York State Senator Jose Peralta, and Assemblymember Aravella Simotas wrote to the commissioner of the Department of Homeless Services concerning recent developments at the Westway Motor Inn at 71-11 Astoria Boulevard, on the border of Astoria and East Elmhurst. Earlier this month, the DHS approved the conversion of the Westway Motor Inn into a permanent shelter for over 100 homeless families, effective immediately. The shelter is now operated by the social services provider Woman In Need. Local pols and residents are most upset that no one in the community was notified or consulted beforehand by DHS. (Picking up on a trend here?) As the letter to DHS stated, “While we appreciate that DHS is legally required to provide shelter for the homeless, the agency’s failure to provide any notification to the people currently living in the area who are impacted by its implementation is unacceptable.”

This isn’t the first time DHS proposed a homeless shelter for this location. Back in 2012, the Daily News published a story on community opposition to opening a full-time shelter here. (At the time, the hotel housed homeless families in need of emergency housing overnight.) The DHS shelved the plan after overwhelming community opposition.

Photo via Google Maps

07/15/14 4:00pm


Most of us missed out on visiting the World’s Fair in person, but here’s the next best thing. The Greater Astoria Historical Society is hosting an evening of “Worlds Fair in 3-D.” This Thursday, July 17th they will run a stereoscopic projection show packed with full-color, Kodachrome View-Master 3-D images of the 1939-40 New York World‘s Fair, the 1964-65 New York World‘s Fair, and additional images of the aftermath along with a tour of the ruins of the Aquacade and New York State Pavilion. The show begins at 6 pm and lasts 75 minutes. Tickets cost $10, and 3-D glasses will be provided. Check out all the details right here.

Photo via the NYC Parks Photo Archive

07/15/14 2:00pm


We’ve tracked the progress of the new cafe under construction at Ditmars and 36th Street, and it looks like it’ll open very soon. The folks behind Brooklyn Bagel are opening this coffee and tea cafe, named 60 Beans. DNAinfo reports that the opening date is the first week of August.

During the day, the cafe will serve tea as well as hot and cold coffee and espresso drinks, with beans from the Boston-based company George Howell Coffee. In the evenings, there will be a pastry menu, food items, beer and wine. DNAinfo also adds that “the space will have free WiFi, outdoor seating along 36th Street as well as a stand-up counter along the front of the restaurant on Ditmars Boulevard with windows that open into the shop.” Some construction shots taken earlier this summer indicate that the interior will look pretty nice, too. Can’t wait!

Brooklyn Bagel Company Owners Opening Coffee and Tea House [DNAinfo]
Lots of Progress at Cafe Space on Ditmars [Q'Stoner] GMAP

07/09/14 2:00pm


Astoria’s getting a brand new bar: Judy & Punch, now under construction at 34-08 30th Avenue. Queens Courier reports that the establishment, run by three Manhattan bar owners, should open in August. The 25-foot-long bar will serve up 14 lines of draft beers, bottles and cans, cocktails and light snacks. The 13,000-square-foot space also includes a dining area and small backyard patio, and the owners plan to host lots of events here.

The bar’s name comes from the puppet show “Punch and Judy.” According to the Courier, “This will also lead to a small carnival theme for the bar’s look and menu.” Check out more in-construction photos over at Facebook.

New Astoria Craft-Focused Bar Set to Open in August [Queens Courier] GMAP

07/09/14 12:00pm

25-11 37th ave

How much would you pay for a small single-family home in Astoria? This property, at 25-11 37th Street, is asking $685,000. There’s a total of three bedrooms and 1,404 square feet. There are some charming details and a detached garage, but it does look like the interior needs upgrading. The biggest downsides, as far as we can tell, are the tiny bedrooms and the pinkest bathroom we’ve ever seen. What do you make of this one?

25-11 37th Street [Keller Williams] GMAP

07/08/14 1:00pm


Is it possible to create twins via cloning? Because that’s the only way to enjoy all the top-notch live music in Queens this Thursday, when the Metropolitan Opera, the New York Philharmonic and the country’s best Beatles tribute band come to town.

At 7 pm, the Met — in association with SummerStage and City Parks Foundation — will host a concert in Socrates Sculpture Park featuring Mary-Jane Lee (soprano), Ginger Costa-Jackson (mezzo-soprano), and Yunpeng Wang (baritone), accompanied by Dan Saunders (pianist). They will perform arias and duets from a variety of operas. At 7:30 pm, Strawberry Fields (above), a group that former President Bill Clinton praises in his book Giving, will take its audience on a Magical Mystery Tour through the Fab Four’s biggest hits as part of the Central Astoria Local Development Corporation’s 2014 Waterfront Concert Series. Then at 8 pm, the New York Philharmonic, which is the county’s oldest symphony orchestra, will venture away from Lincoln Center to give a free concert with Strauss, Smetana, Tchaikovsky, and Alan Gilbert as the conductor in Cunningham Park.

Opera details: Metropolitan Opera Recital, Socrates Sculpture Park (below), 32-01 Vernon Boulevard, Long Island City, July 10th, 7 pm, free. 

Beatles details: Strawberry Fields, Astoria Park Great Lawn, Shore Boulevard between Hell Gate Bridge and Astoria Pool, Astoria, July 10th, 7:30 pm, free.

Orchestra details: New York Philharmonic in the Park, Cunningham Park, 193rd Street near Union
Turnpike, Fresh Meadows, July 10th, 8 pm, free.