03/27/15 4:00pm

sunnyside-plaza

Both the Sunnyside Shines Business Improvement District and ReCreate Queens just launched a crowdfunding campaign to bring cultural programming to Sunnyside’s Bliss Plaza this summer. The plaza, which opened up last year, is located right under the 7 at Queens Boulevard and 46th Street. The goal of the campaign is to raise just over $5,000 by mid-April to kick off the performance series “Third Thursdays in Bliss Plaza.” The performance, planned to run between June and October, will provide residents with free concerts from different musicians and performers.

The performance series got its initial funding from Queens Council on the Arts, but additional funding is needed to carry the program through the summer. According to the Sunnyside BID, the first $1,000 of donations will be matched by the Neighborhood Plaza Partnership. As Rachel Thieme, executive director of Sunnyside Shines, says, “Bringing arts programming to Bliss Plaza helps create a more dynamic place and generates foot traffic and activity in the neighborhood, which benefits businesses, residents and visitors alike.”

If you’d like to donate, do so here.

Photo by Michael Rapp

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.”

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03/26/15 2:00pm

rockaway-taco

The very popular hipster destination Rockaway Taco is closing, reports Rockaway Times. Andrew Field, the man behind the taco joint, plans to open his own outpost, dubbed Tacoway Beach, on May 1st. The new location is at the Rockaway Beach Surf Club, where there will be an outdoor area to sit. The taco menu seems like it’ll be more or less the same, with alcoholic beverages added.

As for Rockaway Taco, Andrew Field’s former partner, David Selig, plans to build a “mobile shack” to take cross country. And according to the Times, “He also says Rockaway Taco will be back for the summer of 2016 (though where and in what form remains to be seen).”

Rockaway Taco Closing — Tacoway Beach Coming [Rockaway Times]

Photo by The Food Ledger

03/26/15 11:00am

bsQ_032615_QPmillst_001

A few years ago, local controversy in LIC and Astoria was centered around a pair of Dutch era artifacts known colloquially as “The Queens Plaza Mill Stones.” The mill stones date back to the 1640s and were originally part of Burger Jorrisen’s homestead. For most of the 20th century, the artifacts were embedded in a sidewalk in Queens Plaza. When the “Queens Plaza Improvement Project” began, the mill stones were uprooted and stored in a decidedly dangerous manner. The Greater Astoria Historical Society led the charge on protesting this, and there was quite a hullaballoo about the matter, one which ended up being fairly divisive.

In the end, Jimmy Van Bramer stepped in, calmed the warring parties, and arranged for the stones to be moved from the construction zone and stored at the Queens Library until the construction was done. The ultimate home for the things was always meant to be the new Dutch Kills Greens Park, the creation of which was the whole point of the ”Queens Plaza Improvement Project.” I was wandering around Queens Plaza last week and decided to check in on the Mill Stones, which ended up being a disturbing visit.

More after the jump… (more…)

03/25/15 4:00pm

weird-loner-queens

“Weird Loners,” a TV show about “four single 30-something underdogs” living in Ridgewood, premieres on Fox on March 3st. To celebrate, Ridgewood’s Queens Tavern, at 6869 Fresh Pond Road, is holding a viewing party. The event description is pretty darn funny:

Grab a beer and uncomfortably watch the first episode at Queens Tavern on their full screen! Be in awe of how large their indoor apartment is! Then ask yourself… “if that is considered weird by mainstream standards… what am I?” Make bets with your fellow friends on how long until this show gets cancelled!

P.S. The word “Quooklyn” is banned from the party.

Sarah from Ridgewood Social will be the host of the evening. Here are details on the event, which begins at 9 pm on Tuesday. See you there?

Closing Bell: “Weird Loners,” Set in Ridgewood, Will Premiere This Month [Q'Stoner]

03/25/15 9:00am

woodhaven-boulevard-select-bus-service

Yesterday, the Department of Transportation unveiled its final design concept for Select Bus Service on Woodhaven and Cross Bay Boulevards. This comes after a full year of meetings, open houses and workshops. The DOT ultimately selected Design #2 (out of three different proposals), which creates a “transit-oriented boulevard” where buses will travel along designated lanes in the main roadway. The design allows for faster and more reliable bus service, where buses travel freely from any turning or parking conflicts. The DOT anticipates that passengers will save 25 to 30 percent of travel time. There will also be new median transit stations with shelters, seating, and real-time bus information, as well as a full reconstruction of the 14-mile thoroughfare. NYC DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg called this “the biggest, boldest, and most ambitious design concept the City has attempted for Select Bus Service.”

Streetsblog also agrees, saying that the project “goes further than previous SBS projects to keep bus lanes clear of cars.” They report that the $200 million project will begin in 2017 and should take a year to complete.

Rendering via the NYC DOT

03/24/15 2:00pm

lic-clock-tower-calendared

At today’s Landmarks Preservation Commission meeting, the agency decided to officially calendar the LIC Clock Tower. That means that at a later (unknown) date, the LPC will discuss landmarking the building. The neo-Gothic structure, built in 1927, has been under threat of demolition since a developer purchased the site for $30.9 million with plans to develop directly around it.

This news is a great victory for the preservationists who recently rallied around the landmarking of the clock tower. There are now more than 1,400 signatures on a petition to save it.

All LIC Clock Tower coverage [Q'Stoner]

Photo by Michael Perlman

03/24/15 11:00am

You might think San Francisco and Flushing have absolutely nothing in common, but they do share something. Way over in the extreme western end of Flushing, between College Point Boulevard, the Van Wyck Expressway, the Long Island Railroad and the Kissena Park Corridor, there’s a cluster of small streets unnoticed except by their residents and the people who work there.

One of the north-south streets is called Haight Street, the same name as the anchor street of San Francisco’s counterculture mecca, the Haight-Ashbury District — more colloquially, just The Haight. The Forgotten NY camera recently investigated both districts, and the contrasts are as different as the West and East Coasts.

Come and see where the smell of incense fills the air and where the smell of the Flushing River suffuses the nostrils …

haight1928

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03/23/15 4:00pm

pulaski-bridge-bike-lane

Anyone who has ever walked or biked across the Pulaski Bridge will be thrilled with this news. The DOT announced that it is finally beginning construction to build out a dedicated bike lane across the Pulaski Bridge, which connects Greenpoint with Long Island City.

Tomorrow the work kicks off to the slight inconvenience of bridge commuters. Between 10 am and 2 pm, the DOT will fully close the bridge to vehicle, bicycle and pedestrian traffic three times for about 15 minutes each. The closure is associated with the beginning of contract work, which should last until the end of this year. The $4.2 million project will convert one southbound car lane on the bridge into a protected bike lane. The DOT will also add new markings and signage near the bike path entrance at Jackson Avenue, as well as more space for bicyclists to get onto and off the protected lane.

All Pulaski Bridge coverage [Q'Stoner]

03/23/15 11:00am

bsQ_032315_hphistdistr_001

A few things to get out of the way at the start of this post are that a) the intersection of 23rd Street and 45th Avenue in the Hunters Point section used to be part of the Van Alst family’s farming empire, b) the Van Alst land was purchased by Eliaphas Nott on behalf of Union College in 1861, and that c) it was purchased and developed by two fellows named Root and Rust in 1870. The predominance of buildings in the historic district are actually from the 1890s, and even in the 19th century this area was considered special – it was “White Collar Row” and home to LIC’s bankers and elected officialdom.

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More after the jump… (more…)