04/27/15 11:00am

bsQ_0427_ridgeres_001

Yesterday, I was invited to come along on the Newtown Historical Society’s walking tour of Ridgewood Reservoir, which actually straddles the border of Brooklyn and Queens. Now, I’m sort of known for my explorations of a very different part of this border — Newtown Creek — so this was terra incognita for me.

Having never visited the spot, nor the New York City park, Highland Park, which surrounds it, attending this event was a no brainer. Lots of photos after the jump. (more…)

04/24/15 4:04pm

GI_exterior001_698x390_FitToBoxSmallDimension_Center

The Long Island City hotel boom just echoed again. Today, the Hilton Garden Inn New York Long Island City/Manhattan View opened for business.

Located just north of Queens Plaza at 29-21 41st Avenue, this new property boasts 183 guest rooms, four meeting rooms with about 1,410 square feet of space, and a presidential suite with views of the Midtown Manhattan skyline. According to statistics provided by LIC Partnership, this is the area’s 25th operating hotel and it brings the guest room count to more than 2,500.

Plus, another 25 hotels are planned for the neighborhood.

Photo: Hilton Garden Inn New York Long Island City/Manhattan View

04/24/15 9:45am

whitetower

The Orange Hut at Broadway and 54th Street still carries the outlines and contours of its former life as a White Tower hamburger chain restaurant. The last White Tower closed in Toledo, Ohio, in June 2008; the chain originated in 1926. There were about 230 White Towers at the chain’s height in the 1950s.

The restaurants have operated in at least 14 states, including New York, Illinois, Michigan, Connecticut, New Jersey, Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida.

The interior of the Orange Hut still contains some hints of its origins, such as swivel stools adjoining a counter. Here it is in its original incarnation, below. Pretty spiffy looking.

whitetower2

(more…)

04/23/15 9:45am

bsQ_042315_astoria1875_001

There’s a house in Astoria where I’ve always wanted to rent a room, so I could write a gothic horror novel while living there. It’s a Second Empire home with a turret and a porch. It’s seen better days — but more about that below.

The house is nearby one of those intersections that can only occur in Queens: 31st and 31st (street and avenue, respectively). These intersections twixt time and space are thoroughly modern, as in 20th century.

That’s 31-70 31st Avenue in the shot above, but back in 1875 when the house was built, 31st avenue was called “Jamaica Avenue.” And in 1919, it was known as “Patterson Avenue.” It’s simple to explain the confusion: In 1875, Astoria had newly consolidated into the municipality of Long Island City, and in 1919 LIC was newly consolidated into the City of Greater New York. In both cases, the streets were renamed to conform to the new and larger street grids.

More after the jump… (more…)

1939 World's Fair, sjsu.edu 1

A World’s Fair brought the nations of the globe together for a celebration of culture, technology and commerce. Like the Olympics, cities and countries would lobby and fight for the opportunity to host this international event. Architects and visionaries dreamed up buildings and spaces that would reflect the best that modern civilization could be.

Scientists and inventors, innovators and merchants looked forward to introducing new wonders, even new foods and entertainments. A World’s Fair could be a glorious event. Especially in a time of economic disaster, with the threat of war hanging over the globe. That was the setting for the New York World’s Fair of 1939-1940.

There have been many great World’s Fairs. One of the greatest was the Chicago World’s Exhibition of 1893, which introduced the world to the wonders and power of electricity. It also ushered in the White Cities and City Beautiful Movements, which brought classical architecture to cities and towns across the nation, and gave New York City such structures as the Brooklyn Museum and Grand Army Plaza, Penn Station, the Municipal Building, the Met, and approach to the Manhattan Bridge.

In 1935, in the middle of the Great Depression, a group of Manhattan businessmen decided to form a committee and lobby for a World’s Fair in New York City. They thought that a grand international exhibition could help lift the economy of the city, and perhaps even the country, out of depression. (more…)

04/15/15 11:00am

Prospect Cemetery, prospectcemeteryassociation.org 3

Queens has some of the oldest remaining homes in all of New York City. The borough’s history has a tangible footprint back to the 1600s, when the Dutch began the first settlements here. With that in mind, it’s also fitting that some of the oldest cemeteries are also in Queens.

For historians and descendants alike, one’s final resting place is almost as important as one’s dwelling place. How people lived, and what they were like as individuals and within the society can all be learned in a cemetery.

Cemeteries don’t tend to survive the urbanization of a neighborhood or city. A burial plot, whether it used to be in a churchyard or someone’s field way back when, can end up in the middle of a desirable building site, or even in the middle of the street, depending on how the neighborhood is laid out.

Final resting places are not always final, after all. Through the efforts of many, this one is, and has had quite a history (more…)

04/14/15 9:45am

lawrence3

General George E. Lawrence Square (actually a triangle), defined by Parsons Boulevard, Elm Avenue and 147th Street along 45th Avenue, can be found across the street from Flushing Hospital. It honors a St. Francis College graduate (my alma mater) who was a star quarterback at Penn, graduated with a medical degree and began his practice at Flushing Hospital, heading obstetrics and gynecology for many years.

Lawrence served with the “Fighting 69th” Regiment during WWI, receiving two Silver Stars for valor. He rose to Lieutenant Colonel at the end of the war and had risen to Brigadier General by World War II.

The square named in 1951 for Gen. Lawrence (1881-1949) was originally owned by the Flushing Garden Club, which allowed patients from Flushing Hospital to maintain the grounds.

lawrence_sq2

You may guess, though, the reason for my post today is the identifying sign, which probably goes back to the 1951 renaming. (more…)

04/13/15 1:00pm

jay-jay-billnjpac

How about a two-hour blast from the past? Hits from the late 1950s and early 1960s will be performed live — mostly by their original singers or heritage groups — in Auburndale on Saturday, when Holy Cross High School hosts its 17th annual Doo Wop Spectacular.

With Golden Oldies disc jockey Dennis “Dion” Nardone serving as the host, some of the genre’s most famous acts will take the stage with The CODA Band playing backup. Concertgoers can expect to see and hear Jay Siegel’s Tokens (above, “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,”), The Marcels (“Blue Moon,”), and The Orlons (“Wah Watusi,”), among others. (more…)

04/13/15 9:45am

bsQ_041315_wdsdaveeich_001

On Saturday last, Dr. Jack Eichenbaum — Queens Borough Official Historian — offered a walking tour of Woodside Avenue. Last time we visited with him, it was back in January when an icy tour of Willets Point was described.

It started on Northern Boulevard, at its intersection with Broadway and 54th Street nearby the R/M stop, and continued all the way to Elmhurst.

Dr. Eichenbaum was gracious enough to invite me, and you Q’Stoners, along for the walk so I made sure I and the camera were there early. After introductions, the group walked west along Northern Boulevard to Woodside Avenue, and away we went.

LOTS of photos after the jump. (more…)

04/10/15 1:00pm

Crocs

The crocuses are blooming, and the daffodils, hyacinths, and tulips are on their way. In other words, it’s time for a spring carnival in an apple orchard with sheep, chickens, and goats.

For the next two weekends, the Queens County Farm Museum will host carnival rides, midway games (with prizes), hayrides, and various forms of children’s entertainment. Plus, as the event’s focus is on youth fun, there will be a petting zoo, face painting, and chances to check out the farm machinery.

Dating back to 1697, this 47-acre parcel of Floral Park greenery is the longest continuously farmed site in New York State. It encompasses planting fields, gardens, a greenhouse, livestock, and the historic Adriance Farmhouse. More information and another image are on the jump page.

(more…)