04/10/15 9:45am

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Until a few years ago, an unassuming two-story brick building with a porch painted red in West Maspeth held a key to Queens’ past, before the cartographers decided to number all the streets in the 1920s to make things less (?) confusing.

Until the 1920s, Queens street names trended toward the tried and true, with plenty of presidents, governors, spruces and elms, but further east, in what would be the Juniper Park area, 78th Street was Grieffenberg Street, 81st was Thew Street, and 84th was Gwydir Street. Even further east, proposed streets east of Queens Boulevard in the Forest Hills area that now are a thicket of 60th drives and 62nd roads were mapped in alphabetical order, carrying odd, otherworldly names like Meteor, Nome, Occident, Thupman, Uriu, Yalu and Zuni. The only remnant of this scheme is Jewel Avenue, the “J” street in the sequence. (more…)

04/09/15 1:00pm

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There’s a youth movement in Queens. On Sunday, the Queens Theatre will host two performances of Alexander and The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. Based on the popular children’s book of the same name, this musical gets the audience laughing and singing along with the main character who gets up on the wrong side of bed…literally.

He wakes up with gum in his hair then proceeds to trip on his skateboard and drop his sweater in the sink. Then things really go downhill. Details on the other great children’s event and another image are on the jump page.

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04/09/15 11:00am

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Since the weather has warmed up, I’ve found myself walking through and around Queens Plaza quite a bit of late. The construction boom under way in this section of Long Island City is staggering, and you’d be hard pressed to turn your head in any direction and not see cranes and concrete trucks at work. The biggest change to the horizon is actually over in Manhattan, with 432 Park Avenue now visible from everywhere in western Queens and possibly the entire eastern seaboard.

The City people always have to show off, don’t they? 1,396 feet, really? An apartment building 150 feet taller than the Empire State? Woof.

More after the jump. (more…)

04/09/15 9:30am

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Just in time for the warm weather, LeFrak City managers, local elected officials, and campus residents participated in a joyous ribbon-cutting ceremony on Wednesday to announce a complete revamp of a recreation area.

Located partially over an underground parking garage in Corona, the West Courtyard now features a 39,200-square-foot space with two courts that can host a wide range of sports, especially basketball and tennis. The facility, which is connected to a new campus-wide security system, also contains paved walkways, benches, picnic tables, and newly planted trees and shrubs.

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04/06/15 1:00pm

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It all began in 14th century France, when the Black Plague was raging. A desperate monk decided that the best remedy was to “let them die laughing,” so he jaunted through devastated villages with a red-nosed group known as “God’s Zanies,” providing his version of sacred relief.

This Peter Barnes play, Red Noses, was first produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1985. This month, it comes to Queens, but Nicu’s Spoon Theater Company will set this Olivier Award-winning drama in modern day New York City with a score featuring contemporary music.

Directed by Stephanie Barton-Farcas, performances will begin with a special opening night gala on April 8th at The Secret Theatre in Long Island City, and they will continue through April 19th. More information and another dramatic photo are on the jump page.

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04/06/15 9:30am

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The Borough of Queens, long suffering, is always trying to tell us her hidden history. You just have to learn how to listen to her.

Case in point: 50-67 43rd Street at the border of Sunnyside and Blissville. This house is in a strange spot, just a few building lots away from the elevated Long Island Expressway and Brooklyn Queens Expressway interchange clover leaf, and at the end of the block is a local streets approach way to the Kosciuszko Bridge.

All of these modern roadways date back to the Robert Moses era in the late 1930s. The street itself, 43rd Street, is an ancient passage, and was known in the Colonial era. It was one of several paths through a swampy upland that were paved with crushed oyster shells, and it connected directly with modern day Laurel Hill Boulevard on its way toward Newtown Creek.

Calvary Cemetery and industrial West Maspeth (formerly Berlin) are on the other side of the highways and Bridge. At the start of the 20th century, you would have told people that you were going to visit either Laurel Hill or Celtic Park if this was your destination.

The building is two stories tall, and as you’ll notice in the shot above, sits considerably lower in its lot than a similar building next door. That’s the important part, and if you listen, you can hear Queens talking.

More after the jump. (more…)

04/03/15 1:00pm

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Youngsters love to build things. They also enjoy vacations from school. Enter Bricks 4 Kidz spring break camp! To take place at Flushing Town Hall next week, specially trained teachers will guide children (ages 4 to 14) in serious, creative, and fun play with such Lego Technic pieces as gears, axles, electric motors. Beginners will participate in Junior Robotics, while the advanced campers will plan, script, stage, shoot, and produce their own mini-movie using Stop Motion Animation with Lego components. More information and another enterprising photo are on the jump page.

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04/03/15 11:00am

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Last night, I attended an event produced by the Queens Economic Development Corporation at the Museum of the Moving Image over on 35th Avenue in almond-eyed Astoria. It was a celebration of entrepreneurs who are doing interesting and positive things in the borough. The group announced winners in their eighth annual Queens StartUP! Business Plan Competition, which is organized by the Queens Economic Development Corporation and  Citi Foundation, with help from Queens Library. (more…)

04/02/15 9:30am

Little Neck and Douglaston are sister neighborhoods in the far northeast of Queens. The border between what were two tiny towns on the north shore of Long Island in the colonial and postcolonial eras, before they were absorbed into Greater New York along with the rest of Queens in 1898, has long been a puzzlement. Some chroniclers say it’s Marathon Parkway, which stands in for 250th Street. I think that allows way to little territory to Little Neck, however, and you’ll forgive me for being partial: I have been a resident of Little Neck since 2007, and reside an Eli Manning touchdown pass, or Geno Smith interception return, from Nassau County.

Despite the fact that the neighborhoods are adjacent, easy entrance and egress between them has long been difficult. There are only two roads between the two neighborhoods near the shoreline: Northern Boulevard, the mother road of Long Island, and a twisting road running between Douglas Road and Little Neck Parkway called by its residents Sandhill Road in its western section and 39th avenue in its eastern part. The city’s Department of Transportation cannot decide between the two and so has a sign on the Douglaston end calling it “Bayshore Boulevard.” Its eastern end is not on city maps at all and so the city disdains posting a street sign.

I’ve discovered a new way to get to Douglaston from Little Neck, though, and it’s all due to a short wood bridge that the NYC Parks Department built just recently.

 

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Taiwan’s biggest bubble tea maker has chosen Flushing as an entry point into the Western market. This morning, La Kaffa Group signed a contract with F & T Group to open a flagship store at One Fulton Square, a mixed-used development at the intersection of Roosevelt Avenue and Prince Street that is currently under construction. Specializing in tea, coffee, desserts, and entrees, La Kaffa currently has more than 450 locations with distinct popularity in Asia and the Middle East. Meanwhile, One Fulton Square, which will have a floor area of approximately 330,000 square feet, will include retail space, 22 office units and 43 residential units. A rendition of the planned venue is below.

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Top photo: It’s in Queens; bottom photo: One Fulton Square