09/29/15 9:30am

Bell Boulevard -- Architectural and Culinary Mecca

Bayside, in northeast Queens, was first settled by the British around Alley Creek, the East River inlet now leading to Alley Pond Park, in the early 1700s. It was first named Bay Side in 1798 and by the time the one-word spelling appeared in the 1850s, it was a small but potent community, giving rise to governmental leaders and statesmen.

The neighborhood has always retained a small-town atmosphere centered around Bell Boulevard. The street is named for Abraham Bell, an Irish Quaker who was a partner in a shipping firm and owned a vast farm in the area, and has nothing at all to do with Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor who obtained the first patent for the telephone. The city, however, has added to the confusion by naming P.S. 205, as well as its playground at 75th Avenue and 217th Street (a couple of blocks from the boulevard), Bell Park and later, Telephone Park, in honor of the inventor. (more…)

08/26/15 1:00pm


The country and the religion are extremely intertwined. Biblical books such as Isaiah, Nehemiah and Ezra contain references to Jews in Persia (modern day Iran), and the Middle Eastern state is home to prominent religious shrines like the tombs of Esther and Daniel. With roots dating back to the sixth century BCE, the tight-knit Iranian Jewish community has retained its ethnic, linguistic, and cultural identity, while gathering fame for making gold jewelry and dealing antiques, carpets, and textiles.

On August 30, Bayside’s Kupferberg Holocaust Resource Center will unveil an exhibition on Jewish lives in Persia/Iran. Curated and researched by Rabbi Isidoro Aizenberg, who will talk at 1 pm on opening day, the show contains more than 40 historic, archival, and modern day images. The focus is on World War II, the period under the last Shah, the Islamic revolution, and recent struggles with anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial. (Iran’s Jewish population is the second largest in the Middle East, after Israel, but it has dropped from an estimated 100,000 in 1948 to around 9,000 today.)

This exhibition will be on display until December 14, and the Kupferberg Center will offer other enrichment programs on Iranian Jews this fall. More information and a photo are on the jump page.


07/20/15 1:00pm


What is Antonio to do? He’s a well-respected community leader, but through a complex effort to help a friend in love he owes a pound of his own flesh to a man who despises him.

And what about that pathetic Sir John Falstaff? He devised a get-rich-quick scheme that backfired big time. Now he’s being humiliated bigger time.

These two scenarios come to eight Queens parks in July and August (the Bronx, Jersey City, and Southampton, too). The Hip to Hip Theatre Company is back for its ninth year, providing free, family-friendly performances of Shakespeare plays. This summer, Woodside-based co-founders Jason and Joy Marr have chosen The Merchant of Venice, a dark drama about a 16th century merchant, Antonio, who defaults on a loan from a moneylender, and The Merry Wives of Windsor, a comedy about a flat broke, alcoholic aristocrat, Sir John Falstaff, who tries to bed the wives of two rich men. However, the women are not amused and respond with a series of practical jokes.

The fun begins on Wednesday with Merchant at the Unisphere in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. On Thursday, Merry Wives plays at Crocheron Park in Bayside. Then, the professional actors do 17 more productions in such neighborhoods as Forest Park, Fresh Meadows, Long Island City, and Sunnyside.

Click here for the complete schedule.

Photo by Hip to Hip Theatre Company

05/14/15 1:00pm


The “Mass for Troubled Times” or “Lord Nelson Mass” was composed by Franz Joseph Haydn over a six-week period in 1798. The symphonic work’s unusual orchestration — strings, trumpets, timpani and organ (no woodwinds or low brass) — creates a stark sound, capturing the fear and turmoil of the time in Europe as Napoleon Bonaparte had just won four major battles and the French military chief was threatening to conquer the world. (more…)

05/01/15 1:00pm


The hit 1993 movie A Bronx Tale tells the story of a young man named Calogero who gets involved with organized crime despite his father’s attempts to steer him toward a law-abiding life. The film is based on author Chazz Palminteri’s childhood memories of his largely Italian-American neighborhood in the Bronx.

Palminteri, whose given first name is Calogero, plays a mobster in the movie, but in 2007, he also did a one-man stage version of A Bronx Tale on Broadway, winning Outer Critics Circle Awards for acting and writing. On Sunday, Palminteri takes this same act to the Queensborough Performing Arts Center in Bayside as part of a national tour. (more…)

04/08/15 9:30am

Kris Seto

Some enrichment options head outdoors with such events as a carnival, a gardening extravaganza, and a guided walk. But with “April Showers” in mind, the borough also hosts indoor fun, such as comedy, live music, film, theater, photography, and some 3-D magic. Here’s the rundown. (more…)

03/27/15 11:00am

Named for an 18th century family who owned property in eastern Queens and not the credited inventor of the telephone, Bell Boulevard has developed over 150 years from a dirt trace to harboring some of eastern Queens’ more entertaining samples of eclectic architecture.

From the NYC Landmarks Designation Report:

“Until the last decades of the nineteenth century, Bayside was primarily farmland. The property on which the house stands was acquired by Abraham Bell in 1824. A shipping and commission merchant operating in lower Manhattan, his firm, Abraham Bell and Company was involved in the cotton trade and in transporting immigrants from Ireland during the potato famine of the 1840s.

“His son, Abraham Bell 2nd, became head of the firm around 1835 and the company changed its name to Abraham Bell and Son in 1844. The Bells had homes in several locations: Bayside, Yonkers (where Bell Brothers operated a money-lending business) and in Narragansett Pier, Rhode Island.

“The Bell property covered approximately 246 acres and  extended from near the site of the current Bayside station of the Long Island Railroad at 41st  Avenue to Crocheron Avenue (35th  Avenue) and from Little Neck Bay to 204th Street. An unpaved lane, known as Bell Avenue (now Bell Boulevard) bisected the farm.The east section, closer to Little Neck Bay, was called the lower farm, and the west section, the upper farm. Near the center of the property, along Bell Avenue, the Bells built a house in 1842. It is likely that it was occupied by Thomas C. Bell and Eliza (Jackson) Bell, who married in 1840. The house was demolished in 1971.”



03/18/15 1:00pm

JVP on stage 1_0

He ain’t afraid of no ghost. James Van Praagh is one of the world’s most celebrated spiritual teachers. Known as a “survival evidence medium,” the Bayside native writes books, gives speeches, and generally teaches about communication with the dead. He has appeared on TV shows such as Oprah, Larry King Live, and 20/20, but he got his big break with the CBS mini-series Living with the Dead, which featured Ten Danson playing Van Praagh. He also worked on The Dead Will Tell with Eva Longoria and Ghost Whisperer starring Jennifer Love Hewitt. Currently, Van Praagh has a streaming show, Spirit Talk, and a radio program, Talking to Spirit. On Saturday night, he returns to Bayside. More information on the jump page.


03/04/15 9:00am

151-45 6th Road-whitestone

There have been reports of a new developer stepping in at 151-45 6th Road, a massive 13-acre property along the Whitestone waterfront. This site has a rather lengthy history of failed development so far. The land was zoned for manufacturing until the developers Bayrock Group bought the site for $25.75 million in 2005. The company then proceeded to rezone the area for residential use, proposing a multi-million dollar plan for 52 single-family houses (rendered above). Bayrock ran out of money, letting the property descend into foreclosure, and there were concerns of illegal dumping at the construction site. In 2012, Barone Management swooped in and paid $11.3 million to buy up the land, with plans to follow through on the previously-approved plan for single family homes. That never happened. Keeping track?

Sources tell us that this property was recently purchased by a new developer, although nothing has hit public records yet. Department of Building documents don’t offer any clues, either.

Although there are no set development plans in place, Senator Tony Avella has already released a statement regarding inappropriate development on vacant lots in Whitestone. Another property he expressed concern over is a vacant lot on 150th Street near 5th Avenue slated for foreclosure. He said of both, “I have continued to monitor these properties over the years and believe, along with the community, that building single-family homes makes the most sense. Now that both are potentially moving forward with construction, it is imperative that the developers do not stray from doing what is best for the community. Whomever decides to purchase and develop these areas must do so in a way that will not damage the character of the surrounding low-density residential neighborhood.”

02/19/15 10:00am


Yesterday, State Senator Tony Avella announced two multi-million dollar projects planned by the State Department of Transportation for repairs along the Clearview Expressway. The nine-mile thoroughfare runs from the Bronx to Hillside Avenue, through the Queens neighborhoods of Bayside, Auburndale, Oakland Gardens, Fresh Meadows and Hollis Hills. It’s known for its dangerous, pothole-ridden conditions.

All that’s about to change, as the DOT allocated $6.25 million to repave the entire expressway in both directions. The agency will also spend $20 million to repave various exit and entrance ramps, including the 73rd Avenue exit. The DOT plans to kick off work in early 2016 and finish both projects by the end of 2017.

Here’s what Senator Avella has to say about the news: “With the severe lack of public transportation options offered to eastern Queens, many residents rely solely on our roadways to get them where they need to be. Therefore, it is vital that these roads be properly maintained. The heavily-traversed Clearview Expressway has suffered decades of wear and tear that takes a toll on the daily commutes of thousands of people who use this highway. These repairs by the State Department of Transportation will help alleviate congestion due to poor roadbed conditions and create an easier travel experience by helping traffic flow more smoothly.”