Many of Queens’ original roads from the 19th century and even earlier survive, although they are couched in the modern Queens numbering system. Rocky Hill Road originally ran from Flushing to what is now Queens Village, skirting the northern edge of Flushing Cemetery and following the routes of 46th Avenue, Bell Boulevard, Luke Place, Springfield Boulevard and Braddock Avenue, ending at Jericho Turnpike/Jamaica Avenue. Today, a very short stretch at 48th Avenue just west of the Clearview Expressway retains the old name.
At 46th Avenue and 218th Street, where Rocky Hill Road made a right turn, you’ll find one of Queens’ oldest memorials. It’s in a grassy area named Dermody Triangle, seen in the above photo taken during the summer.
You’ll never find these guys at a quickie marriage chapel in Las Vegas. Elvis impersonator Scott Bruce has a voice that sounds astoundingly like the King’s and the same droopy, bedroom eyes. He has the musical talent, too, and all the signature moves, including the swiveling pelvis. In fact, his resemblance to the young Elvis is so uncanny that one of his promotional photos has mistakenly been used for official Elvis memorabilia. On January 25th, Bruce will team up with Mike Albert, an expert on the later years, to deliver an experience with superb reverence and a chill-invoking purity at the Queensborough Performing Arts Center. Bruce (above) will open the show with his renditions of the early hits and the shake, rattle & roll. Then Albert (below) will take over with the older hits, dazzling jump suits and a passion that will soften the heart of even the hardest core Elvis fan.
It’s the oldest performing cultural organization in Queens — founded in 1927 before the 7 train was completed — and its members have sung in countless churches, synagogues and schools throughout the borough. The Oratorio Society of Queens will perform a holiday concert at the Queensborough Performing Arts Center on Sunday. This group, which features a 125-plus-member chorus under the direction of 40-year veteran Maestro David Close, will come alive with appropriate portions of Handel’s Messiah along with a healthy amount of Christmas and Hanukkah favorites by the chorus, soloists and special guests.
Details: Oratorio Society of Queens Holiday Concert, Queensborough Performing Arts Center, 222-05 56th Avenue, Bayside, December 22nd, 4 pm, $30/$25 for seniors and students with ID.
It’s never the same old song and dance with this group. Broadway’s Next H!t Musical, an improvised, singing comedy, comes to the Queensborough Performing Arts Center on Sunday. Every lyric, melody and pantomime is made up on the spot. Audience members write a few invented Broadway song titles on pieces of paper and drop them in a fishbowl. Then each cast member randomly draws a song and performs it as part of a mock contest for a “Phony Award.” With help from an always cheeky master of ceremonies, the audience chooses a favorite tune, and the troupe creates a fully staged, completely off-the-cuff musical comedy around the winner.
It resembles many of the homes in the area, but renovations over the years have changed the original appearance of the Cornell-Appleton House, which some have called Queens’ oldest private dwelling, at 33rd Road and 214th Place. A Queens Historical Society marker says it dates to 1790.
However, additional research places the houses’s construction in 1852 — venerable, but not as aged as, say, the Lent-Riker House in Jackson Heights or the Onderdonk House in Ridgewood. In 1905, the house was sold to Edward Dale Appleton, of the Appleton Publishing Company. Appleton’s wife and sister-in-law were on board the Titanic on the fateful night of April 15, 1912 when it struck an iceberg and sank. The two women were rescued and brought to NYC by the Carpathia.
It’s not nearly Queens’ oldest, but every house has some history, and this one has more than most.
All Saints Episcopal Church, 40th Avenue and 214th Street, looks strikingly different from any other building in Bayside. I used to be able to see its steeple from a window in the building on Bell Boulevard where I worked on the Bayside Times.
Local historian Joan Brown Wettingfield:
Built in 1892, this beautiful church is not only one of Bayside’s earliest, but contains local examples of reputed works executed by Louis Comfort Tiffany in his Queens studio located in Corona from 1893 to 1924. Over the altar (not shown on these exterior shots) is the triptych window attributed to Louis Comfort Tiffany. Though the Records of the Tiffany Studio are incomplete, church documents corroborate this claim. The window was a gift from a member of the Lawrence family.
The Tiffany glassworks building was torn down just last year. Urban archeologists found discarded glass pieces in the rubble, which will be incorporated into a sculpture to be erected in the lobby of the new public school expected to open on 43rd Avenue and 97th Place in 2015.
The best of the 1990s and the 1790s will be on stage at the Queensborough Performing Arts Center this weekend. On Saturday, the Bayside venue will host a reunion concert featuring All-4-One and Color Me Badd. Dubbed the “Dukes of R&B,” All-4-One’s hit “I Swear” won a Grammy Award in 1995 and enjoyed an 11-week run at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 list. Discovered by Jon Bon Jovi and mentored by Robert Bell of Kool & The Gang, Color Me Badd dominated the pop charts in 1990 with “I Wanna Sex You Up.” On Sunday, the Hungarian State Folk Ensemble will perform. While wearing traditional costumes from various regions of the European country, these dancers will boogie to orchestras playing traditional Hungarian folk music.
Details One: Boy Bands Concert Reunion, Queensborough Performing Arts Center, 222-05 56th Ave., Bayside, November 16th, 8 pm, $45.
The image of the windmill plays a role in the history of New York City. Symbolic of Holland, a windmill appears on the official seal and flag of the City of New York; Dutch settlers in old New York used windmills extensively in industry. Surprisingly few old-fashioned windmills have survived in NYC, but in the Alley Pond Park Environmental Center there’s a reasonable facsimile.
The Alley Pond Park Environmental Center (APEC), entered on Northern Boulevard just east of Cross Island Parkway, features a variety of short and long trails around the 635 acres of creeks, wetlands and kettle ponds of the park. It was founded in 1972 and is a “learning laboratory” with exhibits on the natural habitats and inhabitants of the park, with over 30,000 schoolchildren visiting per year, but its serenity and separation from city clamor attracts thousands of adults as well. (more…)
Heavyweight boxer Jim Corbett was a Bayside resident. He was champion between 1892, when he knocked out John L. Sullivan in the first-ever bout using padded leather boxing gloves, to 1897, when he lost to Briton Bob Fitzsimmons. He fought 19 professional bouts, winning 11, seven by knockout. After failing in a ring comeback, he turned to vaudeville and the new medium of motion pictures.
In 1902, Corbett bought a luxurious home on 221st Street near 36th Avenue and resided there with his wife Vera until his death in 1933. A historic plaque was placed near Corbett’s home in 1971. Corbett Road, fronting Crocheron Park, was named in his honor some time after his death, and Errol Flynn starred in his life story in 1942. (more…)
The old Bayside Theatre on the northeast corner of Bell Boulevard and 39th Avenue opened in 1927 (as the Capitol Theatre) and was designed by prolific theatre house architect Thomas Lamb. According to Cinematreasures commenters, it was closed during much of the Depression, but reopened in 1941:
On November 7, 1941, it had a gala re-opening as the Skouras Bayside. Here’s a report from the Bayside Times: ‘Stars of stage, screen and radio attended the gala opening of the new Skouras Bayside Theatre, 38-39 Bell Boulevard. Among those who participated were Patti Pickens and Bob Simmons of radio and stage fame; Bob Douglas, NBC’s new singing star; Erik Rhodes, film comedian featured in many Ginger Rogers-Fred Astaire pictures, and others…The theatre has been completely rebuilt and decorated, with only the walls of the old structure retained. The lobby, auditorium and lounges have been furnished in keeping with present-day standards to create the most modern theatre on the North Shore…The new theatre will have complete changes of program twice each week, with special selected programs for children at 10 o’clock every Saturday morning.’
United Artists closed the theatre, which had deteriorated greatly from lack of maintenance, after the weekend of October 14, 2001; Zoolander was the final first-billed feature, along with Rush Hour 2 and a couple other unmemorable productions. The ground floor has been occupied by a bank or three for the past few years. (more…)