07/14/15 9:30am

Hell_Gate_and_Triborough_Bridges_New_York_City_Queens

Astoria. Ditmars Boulevard. The subway signs on the R train advertised these outlandish, far-off locales as I boarded it in Bay Ridge, back when I lived there for the better part of three decades. But I never really thought to trouble this northwest section of Queens until I actually moved to the borough a couple of decades ago. (more…)

06/25/15 1:00pm

Flic

Bring your own popcorn. Actually, bring your own folding chairs, blankets, and beverages. The Queens World Film Festival and Jackson Heights Green Alliance will take care of the entertainment, while the city will provide the curb. On Saturday, this summer’s two FLIC NIC series, which show indie movies under the stars at two Jackson Heights venues, kicks off. They run until August 27.

The theme for FLIC NIC at Travers Park (aka 78th Street Plaza) on July 27 will be animation. Then only documentaries will show on July 25, while the August 8 event will screen the best works from the 2015 Queens World Film Festival.

FLIC NIC in Diversity Plaza is set for July 2, July 30, August 13, and August 27. Done in partnership with SUKHI NY and Friends of Diversity Plaza, these screenings will feature foreign cinema, including everything from Bengalase animation to Spanish love stories to Asian documentaries.

Details: FLIC NIC at Travers Park, 78th Street and 34th Avenue, Jackson Heights, June 27, July 25 and August 8, dusk, free.

Bonus details: FLIC NIC in Diversity Plaza, 74th Street and Roosevelt Avenue, July 2, July 30, August 13 and August 27, dusk, free.

Photo by Queens World Film Festival

06/22/15 9:45am

col.poppenhusen

The Poppenhusen Institute, built in 1868

There is no college in College Point, and hasn’t been since about 1850, when St. Paul’s College, whose site we will visit later in the tour, was converted into an elementary school and then a summer resort. The college was founded in 1835 as a seminary by the Rev. Augustus Muhlenberg. Communities known as Strattonport and Flammersberg united to form College Point in 1867.

Though the Lawrence family, a name familiar to Queens historians, were the first to settle in what is now the College Point area in the colonial era, it was an entrepreneur named Conrad Poppenhusen who built downtown College Point, to house his factory workers, and it is his legacy that shapes College Point to this day.

College Point today is about as fully realized as small town life gets within the five boroughs. It’s effectively separated from the rest of the city by the East River, Whitestone Expressway and the former Flushing Airport, and the Long Island Rail Road stopped running there in 1932. However, a number of city buses are routed there and College Point is well worth a day trip from “out-of-villagers.” (more…)

06/16/15 1:00pm

IrishDance

The 7 train has been horrible this year. Sometimes it skips stops. Other times, it terminates at Willets Point instead of Main Street. And every now and then, it doesn’t run at all. In fact, disgruntled riders have created a Facebook page to vent their frustrations.

But now there’s something to celebrate.

On June 18, Sunnyside Shines and ReCreate Queens will kick off a performance series at Bliss Plaza, which is located near the 7 train’s 46th Street stop off Roosevelt Avenue. A local group, the Street Beat Brass Band will present a multicultural program of brass- and street-based music from various parts of the world at 6:30 pm.

Then the series will re-appear every third Thursday over the following four months. (more…)

06/12/15 1:00pm

Wellington

The Welling Court Mural Project hit the scene in 2009 after residents of this Astoria microcosm invited Ad Hoc Art, a kind of think tank, to beautify their streets with urban images. The first unveiling took place in May 2010, with more than 44 murals of all colors, styles, and subject matter.

A tradition was born. Each year since, artists have come together to transform the area into a creative celebration and unique public art experience. (Organizers are quick to point out that it’s not graffiti because it’s commissioned.)
(more…)

06/09/15 9:45am

QBG1

Tucked close to Flushing’s bustling downtown and along fast and furious, pedal-to-the-metal Main Street is Queens’ own official Botanical Garden at 43-50 Main Street at Elder Avenue. It may be smaller than the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx or Brooklyn’s Botanic Gardens at Prospect Park (Brooklyn, just to be different, loses the -al) but it is no less beautiful.

QBG evolved from the “Gardens of Paradise” exhibit at the 1939-1940 World’s Fair, continued after World War II as the Queens Botanical Garden Society. It opened in its current location in 1961.

Among the original plantings from the 1939 site are two blue atlas cedars framing a tree gate sculpture at the park’s entrance. Today the park is a 39-acre oasis in one of New York City’s busiest neighborhoods. (more…)

05/26/15 9:45am

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The Shops at Atlas Park

Glendale is a well-kept small town in western Queens filled with local restaurants and dining options as well as one of New York City’s largest malls (constructed atop a former industrial park) and the vast Forest Park.

Glendale was formerly one of New York City’s most populous German-American bastions, and home to a number of restaurants specializing in German cuisine, such as Gebhardt’s, Durow’s and Von Westernhagen’s. Zum Stammtisch is the lone survivor, although it was the new kid on the block when it was founded in 1972 by Bavarian immigrant John Lehner at 69-46 Myrtle Avenue, just west of Cooper Avenue.

gd.zum1 (more…)

05/19/15 11:00am

stockholm1

You could call Ridgewood’s Stockholm Street the yellow brick road of Queens. The street’s main claim to fame is a charming landmarked block boasting 36 homes built with yellow brick from the Balthazar Kreischer kilns of Staten Island. The street itself  is constructed with red-brown brick from the same kilns — and it’s the only brick-paved street in the borough.

There are similar rows of yellow brick houses elsewhere in Ridgewood and in Long Island City, but only these have the added attraction of thin, Doric-columned porches.

It makes for one of the most distinctive parts of Ridgewood — an area that’s seeing an influx of newcomers arriving via neighboring Bushwick and other Brooklyn neighborhoods. It’s an area worth a visit for those thinking about following suit, or just exploring Queens. (more…)

05/15/15 1:00pm

Pyramid

The Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City was founded specifically to show large artworks in an outdoor setting, but even so, its next project is remarkably huge. On Sunday, Agnes Denes will unveil The Living Pyramid, a site-specific earthwork consisting of several tons of soil and planted grass that will span 30 feet at its four-sided base and rise 30 feet in the air by the East River.

The Budapest-born Denes has used pyramids to examine environmental priorities and social hierarchies for five decades. (more…)

05/12/15 9:45am

queens.plaza.dutchkillsgreen

Dutch Kills Green

Williamsburgers and Greenpointers curious about the vast territory above Newtown Creek need do no more than take the B62 bus to the end of the line — or walk or bike across the Pulaski Bridge and take Jackson Avenue to Queens Plaza — to take a look at one of Queens’ most interesting revivals in recent times.

Until a couple of years ago the east end of Queens Plaza, where Northern Boulevard begins a nearly 90-mile run (as Route 25A) to the end of Long Island, was home to a run of the mill parking lot called the John F. Kennedy Commuter Plaza. Its southern end, running along the elevated Queensboro Plaza station, was home to fast food restaurants and strip joints.

But a recent multimillion dollar, five-year restoration has  converted the once moribund spot into a green oasis replete with separated bike and pedestrian paths. (more…)