Its real name is the “Bronx-Whitestone Bridge,” but most people simply refer to the span by the Queens neighborhood it touches. (i.e. “Traffic is steady on the Whitestone.”) Inaugurated by Mayor Fiorello H. LaGuardia on April 29, 1939, this suspension bridge, which spans the East River, is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. On April 13th, the Queens Historical Society will host a special lecture by Mary Hedge, an archivist for MTA Bridges & Tunnels, and Aris Stathopoulos, deputy chief engineer at MTA Bridges & Tunnels. They will discuss the history and unique aspects of the Whitestone, such as its ultra sleek design, and the many measures the MTA has taken to make it more wind resistant.
The maestro has met the MC… and they make great music together. On April 12th, Flushing Town Hall will host Wil B and Kev Marcus, the members of the revolutionary group Black Violin. These classically trained violinists — who say their influences range from Shostakovich and Bach to Nas and Jay-Z — have created a music genre that mixes the violin, which first emerged in Italy’s Bresica area in the 16th century, with Hip Hop, which evolved organically at block parties in the Bronx during the 1970s. Get prepared for rhymes, dulcet tones and some great stage antics.
Details: Black Violin, Flushing Town Hall, 137-35 Northern Boulevard, Flushing, April 12th, 2:15 pm, $12/$8 children. Buy two family shows and the third is free.
Bonus details: The Mark Wade Trio, Flushing Town Hall, 137-35 Northern Boulevard, Flushing, April 11th, 8 pm. $15/$10 students. Bassist and composer Mark Wade leads his dynamic trio in an evening of original jazz compositions.
I love this building. It has a wonderful sense of whimsy and joy to it, and is just a delight to behold. Unlike the usually dour and ponderous town halls of most cities and towns, the Flushing Town Hall is not trying to convince you of how serious and important Flushing is. To me, anyway, it says that the Flushing of 1862, which is when the building was finished, was a town reaching for higher and loftier goals. Considering it was built while the nation was embroiled in a horrible Civil War, that was certainly a good thing.
Flushing was originally called “Vlissingen” by the Dutch who founded the settlement in 1645. They named it after the city of the same name in the Netherlands, which was the port city of the Dutch West India Company. English settlers came soon afterwards, and “Flushing” is an Anglicization of the Dutch name. When the English took over New Netherlands in 1664, Flushing was one of the original five towns that made up Queens County.
Fast forwarding to the middle of the 19th century, Flushing had become a populous and popular area, due in part to its proximity to Manhattan. It was already spinning off separate neighborhoods such as College Point and Whitestone. The farms and fields of Flushing were quickly being developed into residential neighborhoods, with Northern Boulevard as the town’s main street. As the town grew, it became apparent that a centrally located town hall was needed for civic functions. (more…)
Borough President Katz set up a Flushing Task Force to help businesses though the $850,000,000 construction project at Flushing Commons. As the Times Ledger reports, there are still lingering questions for the neighborhood as construction starts up. The city does plan to establish a $2,250,000 program called the Flushing Small Business Assistance Program to help businesses during construction, but some business owners didn’t think the city offered enough details as to how the money would be spent. And business owners still worry that the massive construction project will deter people from nearby stores and restaurants. The Task Force plans to meet regularly to tackle these issues; the next meeting is scheduled for May.
The article also offered a handy construction timeline for the Flushing Commons project. Right now the developers are working on electrical work, changes to ramps and other internal updates necessary for excavation. Construction should start in late May or early June and this first phase will last until 2017. The entire project includes housing, commercial space, parking, a public park and a YMCA.
Portland’s A-listers are ready to rock Flushing Town Hall on April 5th. One Night in Frogtown is a multi-media musical based on a story by Emmy-winning author/composer Philip Pelletier (seen above with a few co-workers). This multi-faceted show celebrates multi-culturalism with different social groups of frogs that play different kinds of music — R&B, Classical, Jazz, Hip-Hop, etc. — while living in the same pond. The tale comes alive through beautiful illustrations, projected animations, live narration and live tunes by Portland’s best musicians. Pelletier, whose book won two National Gold Awards in Children’s Literature, handpicked the talent, which includes saxophone star Devin Phillips as lead character Tad, the jazzy tadpole. Attendance has some side benefits, too, as Pelletier will autograph books after the show and those present can enter a contest to win four tickets to Cirque du Soleil’s show Amaluna, which is currently running at Citi Field.
Details: One Night in Frogtown, Flushing Town Hall, 137-35 Northern Boulevard, Flushing, April 5th, 2:15 pm, $12/$8 children (buy two family shows and the third is free).
With many original species and more than 100 years of commercial cultivating experience, Taiwan is the world’s largest exporter of orchids with an estimated 86 countries buying types of this diverse, flagrant and flowering plant from the East Asian island. This Saturday, the Queens Botanical Garden and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office will celebrate spring by hosting Taiwan: A World of Orchids. As expected, a stunning display of blooming flowers and some tasty recipes from the homeland are in the mix, but the event will also feature children’s crafts (10 am to 5 pm or while supplies last), a Techno Prince Dancing Doll performance (12:45 pm), a garden tour (1 pm), a tea ceremony (1:45 pm) and a live musical performance (around 2 pm). The fun continues on Sunday with a plant sale featuring — what else? — a wide selection of orchids.
Details: Taiwan: A World of Orchids, Queens Botanical Garden, 43-50 Main Street, Flushing, April 5th, 9 am to 5 pm, free with admission ($4 adults/$3 seniors/$2 students with ID and children over three).
Forget the aspirin. Take two Queens concerts this weekend, and you will feel great on Monday morning. On Saturday, the Quintet of the Americas (below), a group of woodwind specialists with a South American sound, will perform tango songs with world-renowned pianist/conductor Pablo “King of the Zarzuela” Zinger in Flushing. Unique to its core, the quintet was actually formed 1976 in Bogotá by U.S. citizens who were principal wind players in the Colombian National Orchestra. The group relocated to Queens in 1979. On Sunday in its home neighborhood, the Astoria Symphony Orchestra and Choir (above) will perform German masterpieces, emphasizing the dichotomies of classical vs. romantic, choral vs. orchestral and Mendelssohn vs. Wagner vs. Mozart. Those who arrive 30 minutes before the show will be able to chat with Maestro Silas Nathaniel Huff, who will discuss the program, the musicians and other secrets.