03/23/15 9:00am

long-island-city-clocktower

Awesome news for preservationists in Queens! This Tuesday the Landmarks Preservation Commission will decide whether or not to “calendar” the LIC Clock Tower — officially known as The Bank of the Manhattan Company Long Island City Branch Building — to be considered for landmark status. Located at 29-27 Queens Plaza North, preservationists have rallied around this neo-Gothic structure, built in 1927, which is not protected from demolition. And recently, news came out that the owners of the clock tower, Property Markets Group, planned to develop 830,000 square feet on the surrounding land. Property Markets Group paid $30.9 million for the clock tower building late last year. As Queens preservationist Michael Perlman put it, “If not landmarked, it may undergo demolition.”

It’s not too late to sign the petition urging for landmark protection. This building is absolutely worthy of landmark status — let’s not let it be replaced with another glassy LIC skyscraper.

All LIC Clock Tower coverage [Q'Stoner]

03/20/15 3:00pm

milk-and-pull-ridgewood

The cafe Milk & Pull is now open in Ridgewood, at 778 Seneca Avenue on the corner of Madison. Ridgewood Social shares tons of great photos and details on the space, which labels itself “an artisanal coffee and espresso bar.” The coffee beans come from Stumptown Coffee Roasters. The menu also includes pastries (including Dough donuts), snacks, bagels and sandwiches.

Here are some details on the space from Ridgewood Social: “It is amazing how they decorated the interior. The tin ceiling is painted charcoal black and there is a ton of space to find a seat. I love the spaciousness of it.” The photos do show off what looks to be a big, relaxed cafe. Hours are Monday through Friday, 7 am to 6 pm, Saturday 8 am to 7 pm, and Sunday 8 am to 5 pm. GMAP

Photo by Ridgewood Social

03/20/15 11:00am

Jamaica’s name has nothing to do with the Caribbean island country. The avenue, the neighborhood and the bay are instead named for the Jameco Indians, an Algonquian tribe that occupied the center and southern sections of what is today’s Queens County, for hundreds of years before the colonial era.

The Jameco name was Algonquian for beaver, which had been plentiful in the region; a remnant of this is Beaver Road, which ran beside the now-filled Beaver Pond south of the Long Island Rail Road. Native Americans used the trail, which connects to original trails that run from the East River to eastern Long Island, for trade with tribes spanning from the east coast to the midwest. After the Dutch settled the present day downtown area, known before 1664 as Rustdorp (“rest town”), Jamaica Avenue (as the Jamaica Plank Road) became a tolled highway for much of its length. The tolls were removed by the time of Queens’ consolidation with New York City in 1898.

Downtown Jamaica Avenue passes several buildings that went up during or just after the colonial period. It’s just north of Prospect Cemetery, which was established in 1668 immediately following the end of Dutch rule.

Today, though, I’m going to concentrate on a couple of buildings and items from the late 1800s into the early 1900s, known as the Beaux Arts period for its rococo architecture…

jamaica1

(more…)

03/19/15 2:00pm

Q103-queens-bus

After support from local pols and cultural institutions, the MTA plans to recommend permanently expanded service along the Q103 bus. The Q103 is the main route along the western edge of Queens and travels along Vernon Boulevard near Socrates Sculpture Park, the Noguchi Museum and the Brick House Ceramic Art Center. The MTA enacted expanded weekday service and weekend service in the summer of last year and it has been in effect on a trial basis ever since.

A press release from Senator Michael Gianaris states that the MTA Bus Company is presenting the Q103’s expanded span of service to the Board on Monday, March 23rd, and will recommend that the service expansion be made permanent.

“All of us in western Queens have known that the growing communities of Astoria and Long Island City deserve better bus service, so it was gratifying when the MTA began the trial expansion of the Q103,” stated Senator Gianaris. “Now the MTA has the opportunity to make this expansion permanent and I urge the board to do so immediately. Long Island City and Astoria, with our wonderful restaurants, parks and cultural institutions, are destination neighborhoods for New Yorkers from all five boroughs and the Q103 is a lifeline in terms of connecting these areas. We deserve weekend service and expanded weekday service, and we deserve them on a permanent basis.”

Local Pols Push for More Q103 Service [Q'Stoner]

Photo via subchat.com

03/18/15 11:00am

90-33 160th St. Jamaica, La Casita, CB, PS

Let’s face it, we may live in a time of great riches, but it’s not all that fabulous and posh anymore. Certainly not like the glamorous days of Hollywood and New York, when the swanky people got into their big cars and their fancy shiny silk gowns and tuxedos and partied the night away in nightclubs that often had exotic Latin names like the Copacabana, the Mocambo, and La Casina. “La Casina?” Ok, maybe not as swanky as other places, but in its day, it was quite the place.

La Casina was in Jamaica, Queens, and like many nightspots of the day and on into today, was built as something else, and then transformed into a nightclub. The original 1904 building on this site was purchased in 1918 by Arnold Behrer Jr. and Clarence Behrer. They altered the building, turning it into a supper club on the site, and in 1932 leased it to Bernard Levy and La Casino, Inc. for four years. The lease specified that the building had to be used as a restaurant, cabaret, beer garden, casino or dance hall. They paid $1,800 a year for the space, and in four years, the rent would go up to $3000 a year. Any alterations to the space had to be approved by the landlord.

The La Casino Supper Club opened in 1933. (more…)

03/18/15 9:00am

21-21-44th-Drive-long-island-city

Rendered above is the eight-story, 88-unit condo building that’s coming for an old office site at 21-21 44th Drive off of 21st Street. YIMBY first published the rendering, designed by Goldstein Hill & West. There’s a total of 85,349 square feet, with 1,363 square feet of ground-floor commercial space. Apartment units should come in just under 1,000 square feet.

Developers The Carlyle Group and Slate filed for demo permits for the old 45,000-square-foot office building in the summertime. They signed a contract to pay between pay between $20 and $25 million for the site, but it doesn’t look the sale has hit public records yet.

Revealed: 21-21 44th Drive, 88-Unit Long Island City Condominium Project [NY YIMBY]
Office Building Has Sold Right Outside the 23rd Street Subway Station [Q'Stoner] GMAP

the-living-pyramid-socrates-sculpture-park

Check out this new, monumental sculpture coming to Socrates Sculpture Park! It’s by the New York City-based artist Agnes Denes and will be called The Living Pyramid. This large-scale, site-specific piece — commissioned by Socrates Sculpture Park — will span 30 feet at its base and rise 30 feet high. It will be created from several tons of soil and planted grasses.

The Living Pyramid will actually grow throughout its installation. It will be installed in April of this year, and the public is invited for a participatory volunteer planting at the site on May 17th from 3 to 6pm. According to Socrates, “As tens of thousands of seeds sprout into grasses and wildflowers, The Living Pyramid will continue to grow and evolve, with full assembly and completion this June.” It will be on display at the park until August 30th.

03/17/15 11:00am

I had made my way from Hunters Point east, hugging the Queens Midtown Expressway since I hadn’t used that route before (I won’t again; it’s boring) and drifting northeast, was edging through Sunnyside en route to the #7 train home. Once I got to 48th Avenue, I was met with a great deal of signage between 43rd and 45th Streets that wasn’t in English or even used Roman characters, and so the germ of a post slowly evolved in my brain.

I wish I could travel more, but when working, never have the time (I have had to settle for two weeks vacation per year throughout my working life) and when not working, don’t want to spend money traveling. Besides, I don’t want to do what the rest of the civilized world does on vacation.

On these couple of blocks on 48th Avenue, though, I can travel the world without bothering with airplanes, airport patdowns, or detainments by the Canadian authorities, which happened once in Vancouver when the authorities believed I had to be smuggling some kind of contraband. After all, all I had with me was a battered valise and an unshaven, long-haired appearance.

sunnyside.world1

A masjid, in Arabic, means ‘place of worship’  or a mosque, the word arriving in English from French and prior to that, from the Italian moschea, which is closer to the original Arabic. (more…)

03/17/15 9:00am

breweries-in-queens

DNAinfo has a great roundup of the brewery boom that has arrived in Queens. Queens Brewery — slated in open in September — is the seventh brewery for the borough. Others include SingleCut Beersmiths in Astoria, Bridge and Tunnel Brewery which has plans to open in Ridgewood, Rockaway Brewing Company in LIC, Transmitter Brewing in LIC, Big Alice Brewing also in LIC, and finally Finback Brewery in Glendale.

The boom is caused by the overall rise in popularity of craft breweries, combined with the affordable space that is more available in Queens than Brooklyn or Manhattan. And last year marked the first ever Queens Beer Week, which took participants on a brewery crawl throughout Long Island City.

Queens Brewery Scene Heating Up in Recent Years [DNAinfo]

Map via DNAinfo

03/16/15 10:30am

bsQ_031615_stmike_001

Last Tuesday, which you’ll recall as being one of the first days of tolerable weather in months, I decided to go for a little walk right here in Astoria. My destination was St. Michael’s Cemetery, which is found around a mile from HQ. Happily, there was still snow on the ground despite it being the balmy lower 50s – and happier still – it was somewhat overcast so I didn’t have to struggle to control an over abundance of light striking the reflective snow.

More after the jump… (more…)