09/23/14 12:30pm

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The Spot: Brick Café, 30-95 33rd Street, Astoria.

The Deal: Brick Café, serving fresh Italian and Mediterranean cuisine, has been a mainstay of the Astoria community for 15 years but joined the Hells Kitchen Hospitality Group in July.

Despite the change in ownership, most of what has made this restaurant so enduring will stay the same. The staff, many of whom have been with the restaurant for at least five years, will still treat customers like family, and Chef Willie is still running the kitchen.

“We treat each other like family,” says Zoran, manager. “We know their names and families. People celebrate their special days here.”

Changes — such as a daily brunch and Wine Wednesday ($5 a glass and $25 bottles on select wines) — are designed to complement and not compete with the restaurant’s ethos.

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Read about Brick Cafe’s Signature Dish after the jump… (more…)

09/23/14 9:00am

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Every year, Open House New York comes around and opens up a bunch of amazing sites throughout New York City to visit and tour. Yesterday OHNY announced the sites for this year’s event — which takes place October 11th and 12th — and there will be plenty of things to check out in Queens. Among the highlights: the Great Hall of the New York Hall of Science, the 100-foot-tall space with no corners or straight segments built as a pavilion for the 1964 World’s Fair, will open for a public “sneak peek” during the weekend after its multi-year restoration by Ennead Architects, as well as the TWA Flight Center at JFK Airport (OHNY Weekend’s most visited site for the past three years). And on Factory Friday, a special event leading up to OHNY weekend, three different factories in Queens will open to the public.

Robin Lynn and Francis Morrone, authors of the Guide to New York City Urban Landscapes, will lead a tour called “Urban Landscapes Along the Water’s Edge in Long Island City.” And for the first time this year, OHNY announced it “is making its own mark on the built environment at the Welling Court Mural Project (WCMP) in Astoria, Queens.” One of the newest murals (pictured above) was commissioned by OHNY to celebrate this year’s event. Artists from Ad Hoc Arts, which organizes the WCMP, will be on-site during both days of the festival to lead tours of the area and discuss their work.

There are many, many more sites that will be open throughout the city. Reservations for events (which are required) can be made on ohny.eventbrite.com beginning at 11 am on October 1st — they tend to fill up fast.

09/19/14 11:00am

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The turn-of-the-century English Garden City movement of Sir Ebenezer Howard and Sir Raymond Unwin served as the inspiration for Sunnyside Gardens, built from 1924-1928 from Skillman Avenue north to the LIRR and from 43rd to 50th Streets. This housing experiment was aimed at showing civic leaders that they could solve social problems and beautify the city, all while making a small profit. The City Housing Corporation, whose founders were then-schoolteacher and future first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, ethicist Felix Adler, attorney and housing developer Alexander Bing, urban planner Lewis Mumford, architects Clarence S. Stein, Henry Wright, and Frederick Lee Ackerman and landscape architect Marjorie S. Cautley, was responsible for the project. Co-founder Lewis Mumford [the long-time architecture critic at The New Yorker] was also one of the Garden’s first residents. The part of Skillman Avenue that runs through Sunnyside Gardens has been renamed in his honor.

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09/19/14 9:30am

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The Silvercup West development, a proposed $1 billion expansion of Silvercup Studios just south of the Queensboro Bridge, is back on the table. Queens Courier reports that the developers filed for special permit renewals, since the plan is stalled. Community Board Two’s land use committee will review the application for development; it should move to the full board at the next public meeting on October 2nd. According to the Courier, “The permits are for various design elements in the project, including a proposed 1,400-space parking garage, which was granted three years ago, but has expired since.”

When Silvercup Studios first released the plan eight years ago — the proposal then was a 2,200,000-square-foot complex with eight sound studios, an office tower, residential, cultural and retail space — the community board, borough president and city council all approved. Holdups occurred due to the New York Power Authority generators on the site, which have to be decommissioned and removed. Silvercup has, however, been working to restore the old terra cotta building at 42-10 Vernon Boulevard. The folks at Silvercup do not anticipate this current process to take long since the approvals are in place. If CB2 gives its blessing, then the plans go back to City Planning for review.

Silvercup Studios Seeking Permit Approvals Again for Delayed Expansion [Queens Courier]

Rendering via Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners LLP

09/18/14 1:00pm

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Just another day at the office! In the above photo, a professional stuntman performs a “high fall” from a scissors lift near Kaufman Astoria Studios. Usually these daredevils do this kind of stuff for a living, but on Sunday, they’ll take risks solely for the public’s enrichment during New York on Location, a celebration of film production in the Big Apple. Presented by the Museum of the Moving Image, Theatrical Teamsters Local 817, and Kaufman Astoria Studios, this family-friendly, outdoor street fair will offer attendees the rare opportunity to explore more than 20 movie trailers and trucks and chat with movie professionals about what they do on set. Some trucks will feature star dressing rooms, while others will contain props, cameras, wardrobes, and special effects. More details and another image on jump page.

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09/17/14 11:00am

QCFM, jim henderson for wiki 1

The photo above with its rustic windmill and weathered farmhouse could be in Kansas or upstate New York. But if you look closely, in the background behind the windmill, high rise apartment buildings dot the landscape, not forests or other farms. We’re not in Kansas. We’re in New York City. The farm in the photograph is in Floral Park, Queens. This is a photograph of the Queens County Farm Museum. This is the largest tract of undisturbed farmland in the entire city, and has been a working farm continuously since 1697. Hard to believe, and even more astounding that not all that many people know about it.

1697- that’s 317 years. For America, that’s the equivalent of medieval times. While this may be a tourist attraction and an anomaly now, this is what vast portions of Queens looked like, right on up to the turn of the 20th century. For some parts of Queens, this farm is typical of life up until after World War II. Queens was the breadbasket of New York City, the borough of farms. (more…)

09/16/14 9:00am

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That’s a wrap for TF Cornerstone on the Long Island City waterfront. Yesterday, the developers reported that their sixth and final building, 4610 Center Boulevard, is 100 percent spoken for. According to the press release, “To date, more than 6,000 people call the TF Cornerstone buildings on the LIC waterfront home, occupying 2,615 rental units and 184 condominiums on Center Boulevard.” 4610 Center Boulevard, at 26 stories, held 584 studio, one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments. When the building launched in April, prices ranged from $2,160 to $5,330 a month. The development hit the 50 percent mark in June.

TF Cornerstone purchased its 21-acres of waterfront property along Center Boulevard from PepsiCo in 2003. Says Sofia Estevez, Executive Vice President for TF Cornerstone: “The lease-up of 4610 Center Boulevard is an incredible milestone for both Long Island City and TF Cornerstone. We’ve spent the last 12 years not only building and leasing buildings along the LIC waterfront, but also immersing ourselves in the community and growing to love the neighborhood just as much as our residents do. The lease-up of this building is a true testament to the vibrancy of this area, and we look forward to our next chapter of development in LIC.”

All 4610 Center Boulevard coverage [Q'Stoner]

09/15/14 12:00pm

84-62-beverly-road

The borough’s only Anglo-Japanese-style home, located at 84-62 Beverly Road in Kew Gardens, has just hit the market. This property has an interesting history, and in more recent years sadly fell into decay. According to this article in Queens Chronicle, “The building was constructed by Joseph Fleischmann, a florist who became a millionaire after developing a flower shop franchise with stores in Chicago and Washington DC, for his daughter to live in.” The exact construction date isn’t known, but it’s believed to be before 1928. The lower half of the home is white stucco; the roof features curves reminiscent of Japanese architecture — just gorgeous. This Forgotten New York article calls the building in its present state a “near ruin,” with hostile handmade “Stay Away” signs on the door. Our guess is that the interior is a mess.

The listing markets this property “as is.” And the asking price is going to raise many eyebrows at $1,387,777. It would be wonderful to see a new owner come and fix this property up, but we unfortunately don’t think it’s going to happen at that price.

84-62 Beverly Road [Realty Depot LLC] GMAP

09/15/14 11:00am

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Before the consolidation of the City of Greater New York, the center of the world in Queens was in Hunters Point. This was where the docks were, and where the LIRR ferries discharged passengers coming from Manhattan. These passengers would ostensibly board the east bound trains, but an entire industry of saloons, bars, and hotels had sprung up in the area around the LIRR yard to keep them in the neighborhood. Now… remember that we’re talking about the 1870-1900 period here. Your best point of reference, from a modern point of view, for what such such establishments offered is fictionalized in Cowboy movies and the Boardwalk Empire television series. There was gambling, women, and lots and lots of liquor. This was, in effect, a frontier town – one which was ruled over by a clique of politicians whose antics would have made Boss Tweed blush. Notorious even amongst his fellows, the last Mayor of Long Island City was Patrick Jerome Gleason. He was called Battle Ax Gleason by friend and foe alike.

Gleason was personally responsible for the construction of the exquisite P.S. 1 school house pictured in the next shot, a terra cotta masterpiece which nearly bankrupted LIC – amongst other imbroglios. Dogged by claims and accusations (and at least one conviction) of corruption – Gleason used to sit in a barber chair outside the Miller Hotel – known today as the LIC Crabhouse – and hold court with constituent and passerby alike. This was his favorite spot by all reports, directly across the street from the LIRR train and ferry terminal.

He instructed those he met to avoid addressing him as “Mayor,” instructing them to instead to “Just call me Paddy.”

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Long Island City, which existed as an independent municipality that stretched from the East River to Woodside and from Newtown Creek to Bowery Bay for just 28 years, was hardly a candidate for the good government award prior to Gleason. For some reason, he raised the ire of press and political player alike. Remember – this is during the golden age of Tammany Hall over in Manhattan. Bribes and graft were a matter of fact in this era, a part of doing business. Liquor and gambling were commonplace, along with prostitution, and this turpitude raised the ire of do gooders all over the state and nation.

Enter the assassin of joy.

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09/11/14 1:25pm

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Oil on Newtown Creek is an old story, but when there are fresh rainbow colors like you see in the shot of Dutch Kills above, there’s nothing historic about it. That’s newly released material, and it’s been a big problem all summer.

First, for those of you unfamiliar with the place, Dutch Kills is Long Island City’s own tributary of Newtown Creek. Its junction with the main body of the Creek is found roughly .8 of a mile from the East River, and it terminates at 47th Avenue – just a block or so away from the Citigroup building on Jackson Avenue at Thomson.

Throughout the summer of 2014, reports of fresh oil sheens have been reported along Newtown Creek. My colleague in the Newtown Creek Alliance, Greenpoint’s Will Elkins, has documented this event, and interacted with NYS Department of Environmental Conservation investigators to determine the point source from which this material is emanating.

Yesterday, the DEC found that point source on Dutch Kills, and probably found the polluter who has been illegally dumping literally thousands of gallons of oil directly into the water all summer.

More after the jump… (more…)