Oakland Lake, at 46th Avenue and Cloverdale Boulevard, is the largest of a number of small “kettle ponds” left over from the passage of a glacier that stopped its southern progress in the middle of Long Island 15,000 years ago. According to the NYC Parks Department, it was once thought to be fully 600 feet deep, but the lake bottom was found to be just 20 feet in 1969. Similar to what was done with Kissena Lake, Oakland Lake was surrounded with a concrete lining and “citified” in the 1930s. After lean years in which the lake’s condition deteriorated, a revitalization effort was spearheaded by local resident Gertrude Waldeyer, whose Oakland Lake and Ravine Conservation Committee raised $1,000,000 to restore the lake to its natural state. It is now home to catfish, sunfish and carp. Oakland Lake has taken its place, along with other Alley Pond lakes such as Potamogeton Pond, Turtle Pond, Decodon Pond, Lily Pad Pond and Muskrat Pond as small glimpses of real wetland in the big city.
One of the great things about New York City is that somewhere in the five boroughs, you can find just about anything. When it comes to architecture, that is certainly true. It’s really not surprising that there is even a cobblestone house in the city, a vernacular style of construction that usually is found in more remote rural areas. This one is a city landmark, and stands in Bayside, at 35-34 Bell Boulevard. (more…)
Brooklyn has hipsters. Queens has Hip-to-Hip. This theater company, which specializes in family-friendly productions, performs Shakespeare classics for free in various public spaces throughout the borough each summer. This year, Hip-to-Hip will put on the Bard of Avon’sTwo Gentlemen of Verona, an early slapstick comedy about love, friendship, betrayal, forgiveness…and a dog, and Cymbeline, a late romance/fairy tale about a king, his only daughter, an evil stepmother, and a forbidden love. The professional actors will perform in repertory, and 30 minutes before each performance, they will host “Kids & The Classics,” an interactive workshop for children of all ages.
Build it higher, and they will come. The Bayside Village BID just received $20,000 to explore converting a municipal parking lot on the corner of 41st Avenue and 214th Place into a multilevel parking structure. A feasibility study, supported by city funds obtained by Council Member Paul A. Vallone, will identify issues, estimate expansion costs, examine local financial impact, analyze the supply and demand for spaces, and determine possible mixed-use options. The revamp would ease congestion mostly for Long Island Railroad commuters, Bayside businesses, and Northeast Queens residents. It would be a multi-year undertaking that would include public meetings with civic groups, advocacy groups, and Community Board 11.
“Nestled in the heart of my district, the Bayside Village BID on Bell Boulevard is a vibrant area filled with small businesses that serve my constituents. It is no secret that the popularity of this commercial hub makes parking difficult for those commuting via the Long Island Railroad and customers frequenting stores,” stated Council Member Vallone. “Potentially expanding the municipal parking lot on 41st Avenue could greatly alleviate parking concerns and ensure continued success for the businesses that call Bell Boulevard home. This study is a step in that direction.”
It’s time to hit the pavement. On July 6th, the 2014 Tour de Queens by Jamis will take bicyclists on a fun-filled, family-friendly trek through the borough. An estimated 20 miles, the route will begin in Flushing Meadows Corona Park and take participants through Flushing, East Flushing, Murray Hill, Auburndale, Bayside, Bayside Terrace, Beechurst and Whitestone with a rest stop in Little Bay Park. It’s not a competitive race–riders will pedal en masse at about 10 mph as a rolling parade with an NYPD escort. There are no street closures, but volunteer marshals will block (or “cork”) traffic intersections for safe passage. Details after the jump.
The Lawrence Cemetery is a quiet spot located in a shady corner of 216th Street and 42nd Avenue in Bayside. In fact, the Lawrence family used it as a picnic ground they called “Pine Grove.” But is it haunted? This Saturday, a paranormal investigation group will demonstrate and explain the tools and techniques used to discover paranormal activity and then perform an investigation. The Bayside Historical Society, which is organizing the event, has performed these ghost hunts before and assures that it’s not scary. Plus, the cemetery is a fascinating, landmarked venue where Cornelius Van Wyck Lawrence, who was NYC’s mayor from 1834 to 1837, is buried. It is also the final resting place of Colonel Frederick Newbold Lawrence, a Civil War veteran who went on to be president of the New York Stock Exchange from 1882 to 1883.
Details: Paranormal Investigation of Lawrence Cemetery, Bayside Historical Society, 208 Totten Avenue, Fort Totten, Bayside. Event is by reservation only at (718) 352-1548 and will be rescheduled in the event of rain, June 7th, noon, $10.
Founded in 1927, the Oratorio Society of Queens is the borough’s oldest performing cultural organization. This year, David Close, the artistic director and conductor, is celebrating 40 years with the community-based chorus. In other words, it’s time to sing. This Sunday, the society will offer its spring concert with Maestro Close conducting more than 125 people through everything from solo recitals to orchestral performances. Anton Bruckner’s Mass in F Minor will be the centerpiece, but attendees will also get to hear opera highlights and the best of the country’s musical heritage, reflecting a wide range of music that is the American choral experience.
The Clearview Expressway runs from the Throgs Neck Bridge south, terminating at Hillside Avenue (unusual for an expressway to terminate at a local-access thoroughfare). It was first proposed in 1955 and constructed between 1960 and 1963, mostly in an open cut featuring interchanges with the Long Island Expressway and Grand Central Parkway. It was built over community opposition, as many of the Robert Moses projects from the 1930s through 1960s were, and it necessitated the displacement of over 400 families.
I have taken the Long Island Rail Road past the Clearview for over 20 years, and noticed an unusual feature. The Clearview has a service road and walkway on both sides, and while the roadway is interrupted for the railroad crossing, the walkways aren’t.
The walkways on both sides are slung down toward the roadway and under the railroad, in an unusual arrangement. The usual method, I suppose, would have involved pedestrian bridges with steps up and down, or just forget the walkways and have people use the nearest streets that clear the railroad, Francis Lewis Boulevard or Corporal Kennedy Street. These were considered to be too far away, I suppose. The walkways feature both a steep downhill and uphill.
An interesting anomaly on the walkway is the presence of a State of New York Department of Works sign. The DPW was formed in 1876 as an amendment to the New York State constitution, and originally oversaw canal construction, though in later years it began to handle most construction in general. In 1967 it was merged with other departments into the New York State Department of Transportation.
It’s the appropriate show for the world’s most diverse county. Ty Tojo, a 15-year-old from Japan who holds three Guinness world records, juggles until the crowd’s jaws drop. Duo Guerrero, who hail from Portugal and Colombia, dance across the sky on a high wire. French flimflam fellow Pierre Ginet favors fusing comedy and crime, bewildering audiences with his shenanigans…and relieving them of their wallets, watches and jewelry. But patriots can rejoice, too, as US-born Jenny Vidbel (above) warms the heart with her adorable ponies and animated puppies. From this Sunday through June 15th, the Big Apple Circus will present Luminocity, its new gig celebrating vivacity, velocity and verve, in Cunningham Park. The travelling troupe will do 47 performances under an air-conditioned Big Top, where no seat is more than 50 feet from ringside.
Details: Luminocity, Cunningham Park, 196-22 Union Turnpike just west of Francis Lewis Boulevard, Fresh Meadows, May 18th through June 15th, click for schedule, the show’s running time is about two hours, including a 15-minute intermission, $20-$65.