08/22/14 11:00am

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While it seems at times that Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens are dominated by unimaginative street names… numbers, letters… in actuality vast swaths in all four boroughs are still dominated by streets named for real people.

I had always been under the impression that Stockholm Street in Bushwick and Ridgewood was so named in honor of a putative Scandinavian community that may have resided there. I was wrong, though; Leonard Benardo and Jennifer Weiss’ handy Brooklyn By Name states that Stockholm Street was named for the Stockholm brothers, Andrew and Abraham, who provided land on which the Second Dutch Reformed Church, built in 1850 and still standing at Bushwick Avenue and Himrod Street, was built.

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08/21/14 9:00am

546 51st Avenue

This massive, beautiful multifamily townhouse at 5-46 51st Avenue just hit the market for a cool $8,000,000. (Nope, that’s no exaggeration — check out the listing right here.) It’s currently configured as an owner’s duplex with four bedrooms, and two floor-through units on the first and the top floor. It’ll be delivered to the buyer vacant. The duplex unit, with its sleek modern kitchen and historically detailed living room, is quite beautiful. It looks like the rental units aren’t as fancy, but nice nonetheless. There’s also a backyard garden.

LIC Talk notes that the current owner was born and raised in the townhouse. The blog says that the owner and his wife “feel that LIC has become more like Manhattan and lost the flavor of the good old days and charms that they know.” But if this pad sells for $8,000,000, they’ll be able to move to Manhattan anyway!

$8 Million Townhouse up for Sale in Hunters Point [LIC Talk] GMAP

08/19/14 12:30pm

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The Spot: fresk’o, 31-19 30th Avenue, Astoria.

The Deal: The newest frozen yogurt shop in Astoria, which opened June 1st, is nestled between a Baskin Robbins and a 16 Handles on 30th Avenue. The independently owned fresk’o sets itself apart through owner Gus Prentzas’ dedicated search for the perfect frozen yogurt and Greek yogurt flavors.

Prentzas is from Greece, where his grandparents and great grandparents owned a farm with sheep and goats and yogurt was a staple on the dinner tables. He translated that love of fresh and wholesome flavors into a three-and-a-half-year endeavor to find the ultimate frozen yogurt flavor. Fresk’o even translates from Greek to mean “fresh.”

The Greek heritage also influenced the shop’s location in Astoria, considered the heart of the Greek community. The frozen yogurt shop has already generated a large Greek following. Café tables outside attract a crowd on a warm afternoon, and Prentzas is in full swing greeting customers. “When someone walks in, they’re a customer, but they leave a friend,” he says.

In addition to the traditional frozen yogurt shop set up with soft serve fro-yo and a wide selection of nuts, chocolates, and fruits (bought fresh daily) as toppings, fresk’o also serves up a creamy Greek yogurt made from a combination of cow and goat’s milk and served with olive oil, walnuts, or Greek honey. With Greek yogurt for breakfast and frozen for dessert, the two options fulfill the shop’s motto of “Once a day is never enough.” The shop’s 10 am to midnight hours mean there are plenty of opportunities to come multiple times a day.

As the temperatures drop, Prentzas plans on adding waffles and hot cocoa to the menu.

Read about the Signature Dish from fresk’o after the jump… (more…)

08/19/14 11:00am

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The former Queens County Court House (now home to the Queens Supreme Court) has been in this location since 1870, and sparked a political dispute that led to the creation of Nassau County.

Long Island counties, beginning in the late 1600s, were Kings, Queens, and Suffolk. Six towns in Kings consolidated in the late 1800s to create the City of Brooklyn, which was annexed (residents voted to consolidate it) to Greater NYC in 1898. Queens’ history is a bit more complicated. Queens originally comprised western Queens (the towns of Newtown, Flushing, Jamaica and in 1870, Long Island City) and what is now Nassau (Hempstead and Oyster Bay; North Hempstead was created in 1784). The eastern towns began agitating for “independence” from Queens County beginning in the 1830s, when a dilapidated courthouse in the Mineola area was to be replaced. Factions from the western and eastern parts of Queens vied for the new courthouse, which was ultimately built in Long Island City at the present Court Square in 1870. Differences, political and cultural, between the east and west ends of the vast county were accentuated during the debate. In the 1890s, proposals for Greater New York did not include Queens’ eastern towns.

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08/19/14 9:00am

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Could the tiled Passive House at 45-12 11th Street, in Long Island City, get any more attention? We don’t think so. Yesterday the New York Times profiled the rowhouse architect, Thomas Paino. This isn’t the first time Paino has made the papers — earlier this year he defended his unique design to the Daily News. The home before Paino’s renovation boasted a terrible facade, and wasted tons of energy. Paino wanted an energy-saving building with a design that would catch the attention of neighbors. As for the critics: “I don’t really care what people say, so long as they’re talking about the house and the environment,” he told the Times.

His original plan was to restore the facade to its former glory. But because the home is in Zone B — the second-lowest flood plain — the city forced him to either keep the garden apartment empty or raise the building three feet. He raised the building and renovated it to Passive House standards, also adding a green roof and solar-powered water heater. He says his total budget was in the mid-six figures. The blue facade was inspired by the clouds and 18th-century Portuguese facade work. As the Times says, “Outside, the house looks like something dropped from the heavens. Assuming God was really into Legos.”

Easy on the Environment, but Not Necessarily the Eyes [NY Times]
All 45-12 11th Street coverage [Q'Stoner]

Photo by New York Shitty

08/18/14 10:00am

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Earlier this summer the city announced that it wouldn’t include any funding for the Rockaway Ferry subsidy in this year’s budget. Rockaway residents, however, are fighting to keep this affordable and convenient link to Manhattan, which started after Hurricane Sandy. The Queens Public Transit Committee is holding a meeting to “fight for faster transportation and more opportunities” in regards to ferry service in the Rockaways. It is scheduled for this Wednesday, August 20th at the Knights of Columbus Hall on Beach 90th Street, from 7:30 pm to 9 pm.

Then, on Thursday August 21st, ferry advocates will hold a press conference on the steps of City Hall at 5 pm. Here are more details from the Transit Committee: “The people of Queens & Brooklyn will come together to fight for the ferry and for transportation equality. This is our chance to tell the Mayor to listen to the people and keep the Queens Rockaway Ferry to Brooklyn and Manhattan.” If you’re interested in attending, contact John Cori at (516) 509-8957 for more information.

All Rockaway Ferry coverage [Q'Stoner]

08/14/14 9:00am

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Yes, the horrible possibility could be true. First the MTA found bedbugs on the N line, now they are investigating reports of bedbugs on the 7. There’s a terrifying report on Business Insider from a 7 train rider, a commuter from Woodside to Bryant Park, who said, “This morning [yesterday], I noticed them coming out from under the seat to feed on people’s legs. I was on the 7 express train, which arrived at Bryant Park at 10 a.m. The cart I was in was one or two carts behind the center operator cart.” He spoke with the MTA, who wanted to see proof (he didn’t have any). The MTA plans to follow up and dispatch pest-control forces to trains and employee crew rooms.

If his report turns out to be true, this would be the third subway line to have a bedbug sighting in the past week, after the N and the 5. Simply put: Horrifying.

The MTA Is Investigating a Report of Bedbugs on a Third NYC Subway Line [Business Insider]

Photo by vanshnookenraggen

08/13/14 11:00am

81-45 Lefferts Blvd, Homestead, composite

Very often we move to cities, towns and neighborhoods that we know nothing about. If we are curious, we often walk around and come up on a building that makes us pause, for one reason or another. It may be sheer beauty or craftsmanship that stops us in our tracks, or the opposite – a building so ugly we can’t believe someone allowed it to be built. But more often than not, we see what is, and wonder who built it, who lived or worked in it, and sometimes we just have to wonder what in the world happened to it. What were they thinking?

Kew Gardens, like many of Queens’ residential enclaves, was the grand idea of a developer. (more…)

08/12/14 12:30pm

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The Spot: Bunker, 46-63 Metropolitan Avenue, Ridgewood.

The Deal: Sometimes, as they say, the best-laid plans just go awry. The original plan for the rather industrial location on Metropolitan was for a fish distribution company called Fish & Ship. Then Hurricane Sandy flooded the space. Then a business partner, and the fish connection, had to back out. So what to do with this address that TK Adam refers to as “the curse and the blessing”?

Fortunately Jimmy Tu, the executive chef, and Jacky Tu, the sous chef, had been sitting on an idea: “Quality Vietnamese food,” says Adam. “The exotic yet accessible flavors of Vietnam, the street food that they loved, but elevated with quality ingredients. Bunker was born out of belief and out of survival instinct.”

But where new ideas and delicious food goes, attention soon follows. Bunker first drew the attention of locals, and then the food blogs and then The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, New York Magazine, The Food Network and others.

“Through hard work, perseverance, sacrifice, and just plain luck, Bunker has been a destination spot for the better part of a year now,” Adam says. “We have a loyal, ever-expanding customer base willing to trek from all over to a middle-of-nowhere restaurant with nothing to entertain them within miles as they tough out torturous wait times. And for that, we are so grateful and so thankful.”

Read about the Signature Dish after the jump… (more…)

08/12/14 11:00am

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The quiet neighborhood of Glendale contains a number of anachronisms, including the passage of the Long Island Rail Road Montauk spur from west to east. This sleepy line now carries freight only, but it’s only been a year or two since at least one daily passenger train plied the tracks here. And, until March 1998 Glendale had its very own LIRR station, which in its final years consisted of a bare spot in the weeds alongside the tracks, on the right side in the above photo.

The Montauk spur, which was apparently named because it once served trains bound for Montauk, splits from the main branch in Jamaica west of the large Jamaica station complex and runs west to Long Island City on elevated, at-grade, and open cut portions. It once contained station stops in Richmond Hill, Glendale, Fresh Pond, Haberman (in western Maspeth, named for a local firm), Penny Bridge (named for the span the Kosciuszko Bridge replaced) and LIC. By the mid-1990s, patronage on the line had dropped to less than a dozen daily riders and, since new double-decked cars were being phased in that required high level platforms, the decision was made to close the stations rather than rebuild them. (more…)