10/22/15 9:30am


The name Ditmars, or Ditmas, appears more than once in the NYC street directory. The Bronx has a Ditmars Street in City Island, while Brooklyn has a Ditmas Avenue through Kensington and namesake Ditmas Park, which turns into Avenue D and then continues as Ditmas through East Flatbush and Brownsville. (more…)

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…)

09/15/15 9:30am

Myrtle Avenue in Ridgewood, Queens

Ridgewood Theatre, 55-27 Myrtle Avenue between St. Nicholas and Putnam avenues

Myrtle Avenue, one of the lengthiest streets in both Brooklyn and Queens, runs for nearly 15 miles from Jay Street MetroTech complex in the heart of downtown Brooklyn, east to Jamaica Avenue at the former Triangle Hofbrau.

It was first laid out in 1835 from Fulton Street to as far as Cripplebush Road, an ancient Kings County track now largely replaced by Bedford Avenue. It was extended in 1839 to Brooklyn’s Broadway, and again in 1854 as the tolled Jamaica Plank Road out to Jamaica. (Most of NYC’s toll roads of this type were made “free” around 1890-1900.) (more…)

09/08/15 9:30am

Guide to Main Street Flushing

RKO Keith’s, Northern Boulevard and Main Street

Since the mid 1600s, the heart of Flushing (named by early Dutch cartographers Vlissingen, later bowdlerized to Flushing by the settling Brits) has been the T-shaped intersection of the present Main Street and Northern Boulevard. In its early years Flushing was a hotbed of religious conflict, as the New Netherland colony Director-General Peter Stuyvesant was intolerant of any other religion but the Dutch Reformed Church; the colonists’ burgeoning religious independence led to the creation of the Flushing Remonstrance, a display concerning which can be found at Flushing Library; and the travails of John Bowne, whose early-1660s home still stands on Bowne Street. (more…)

09/01/15 9:30am

Queens' Broadway walking tour

There’s a Broadway in every borough. The most famous runs the length of Manhattan and continues into the Bronx and Yonkers beyond that; another forms the border of Bedford Stuyvesant and Bushwick in Brooklyn; another serves as a spine of West New Brighton in Staten Island and runs past the Staten Island Zoo; and then in Queens, whose Broadway runs from Ravenswood to Elmhurst and serves as one of Long Island City’s key shopping arteries, joining Steinway Street and 30th Avenue.

Queens’ Broadway, which attained its present length only in the early 20th century, is an amalgam of a number of roads: Broadway in Ravenswood ran southeast to the now-demapped Ridge Road near Newtown Road; and the eastern part between Woodside Avenue and Queens Boulevard is the easternmost section of the colonial-era Hellgate Ferry Road, which connected Elmhurst and the East River; twisting Woodside Avenue follows most of its route today. The routes were joined in the years before the new IND subway was routed along a lengthy section from Steinway Street to Queens Boulevard in the 1930s.


08/11/15 9:45am


In a borough largely ignored by NYC’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, the magnificent garden apartments of Jackson Heights are a happy exception. Today’s Jackson Heights is a neighborhood of handsome six-story co-operative apartments, most of which surround a central garden.

They appeared — seemingly out of nowhere — beginning in 1914 when the entire area was not much more than a swampy meadow. The Queensboro Corporation and developer Edward MacDougall built now-landmarked housing along today’s 82nd Street; the area became known as Jackson Heights honoring John C. Jackson, who laid Jackson Avenue, now Northern Boulevard, out across the meadow beginning in 1859.

The boundaries of Jackson Heights proper are fairly well-defined, from the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway on the west to about 90th Street on the east, and from Roosevelt Avenue on the south to the Grand Central Parkway (and LaGuardia Airport) on the north.


08/04/15 9:45am


Last week, I showed BQ readers the highlights of my walk down the entire length of Metropolitan Avenue, from the East River waterfront all the way to its eastern end at Jamaica Avenue, with an emphasis on its Queens identity east of Newtown Creek. I only got us as far as 69th Street, just east of the last stop on the M train.

Metropolitan  Avenue is about 13 miles long, end to end, and today’s highlights cover a lot of territory from Middle Village to Forest Hills. If you’re not up to the challenge of walking the whole way, that’s fine: simply take the M to the end of the line and grab the B54 bus heading east, which runs nearly the entire length of the avenue with a detour into The Shops at Atlas Park.

The best way to see a neighborhood, though, is by putting one foot in front of the other; behind the wheel or the handlebars, there are other things to pay attention to, such as cars and traffic regulations.


07/21/15 9:45am


The community of Woodhaven lies just east of the undefended border between Brooklyn and Queens. It’s a fairly large neighborhood located between Forest Park on the north, Liberty Avenue on the south, Eldert Lane (the official boundary of Brooklyn and Queens) on the west and Woodhaven Boulevard on the east.

Visitors to Woodhaven can easily travel on the J train from Williamsburg, Bushwick and East New York to the Forest Parkway station; connections to the J can be made from the A and L trains at Broadway Junction.

From the 1830s to the 1850s, the area was known as Woodville. But this was an era before the invention of zip codes, and there was some Post Office confusion between New York City’s Woodville and another Woodville upstate. In 1853, residents voted to change Woodville’s name to Woodhaven. (more…)

07/14/15 9:30am


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…)

07/13/15 11:00am

rockaway-beer-queens-nycRockaway tumblers

Is Queens becoming the best borough for beer drinkers?

“While the indie beer scene is booming up and down New York State, Queens is leading the way in new microbreweries,” said Cat Wolinski, a New York City-based beer writer who curated the new Queens Beer Book, a bar guide and passport offering 30 beers at 30 bars for $30.

“Between 2012 and 2015, six new breweries opened operating businesses in Queens — SingleCut, Rockaway, Finback, Transmitter, Big Alice, and the LIC Beer Project, which opened just this spring,” Wolinski said. “And more are on the way, with Bridge and Tunnel Brewery and Queens Brewery both opening locations in Ridgewood later this year.” (more…)