Brooklyn has hipsters. Queens has Hip-to-Hip. This theater company, which specializes in family-friendly productions, performs Shakespeare classics for free in various public spaces throughout the borough each summer. This year, Hip-to-Hip will put on the Bard of Avon’sTwo Gentlemen of Verona, an early slapstick comedy about love, friendship, betrayal, forgiveness…and a dog, and Cymbeline, a late romance/fairy tale about a king, his only daughter, an evil stepmother, and a forbidden love. The professional actors will perform in repertory, and 30 minutes before each performance, they will host “Kids & The Classics,” an interactive workshop for children of all ages.
Is it possible to create twins via cloning? Because that’s the only way to enjoy all the top-notch live music in Queens this Thursday, when the Metropolitan Opera, the New York Philharmonic and the country’s best Beatles tribute band come to town.
At 7 pm, the Met — in association with SummerStage and City Parks Foundation — will host a concert in Socrates Sculpture Park featuring Mary-Jane Lee (soprano), Ginger Costa-Jackson (mezzo-soprano), and Yunpeng Wang (baritone), accompanied by Dan Saunders (pianist). They will perform arias and duets from a variety of operas. At 7:30 pm, Strawberry Fields (above), a group that former President Bill Clinton praises in his book Giving, will take its audience on a Magical Mystery Tour through the Fab Four’s biggest hits as part of the Central Astoria Local Development Corporation’s 2014 Waterfront Concert Series. Then at 8 pm, the New York Philharmonic, which is the county’s oldest symphony orchestra, will venture away from Lincoln Center to give a free concert with Strauss, Smetana, Tchaikovsky, and Alan Gilbert as the conductor in Cunningham Park.
Opera details: Metropolitan Opera Recital, Socrates Sculpture Park (below), 32-01 Vernon Boulevard, Long Island City, July 10th, 7 pm, free.
Beatles details: Strawberry Fields, Astoria Park Great Lawn, Shore Boulevard between Hell Gate Bridge and Astoria Pool, Astoria, July 10th, 7:30 pm, free.
Summer is about to be in full swing… and it’s time for youngsters to work on their swings — and jumps, sprints and putts. On July 1st, the City Parks Foundation kicks off its free 2014 Summer Sports Program in 12 green spaces in Queens. CityParks Tennisprovides free tennis lessons to children, ages six to 16, and concludes with tournaments at the Central Park Tennis Center and Flushing Meadows Tennis Center in mid-August. CityParks Golfprovides free lessons and equipment to boys and girls, ages six to 16. CityParks Track & Fieldgives kids, ages five to 16, the chance to learn the basics of the sport, from hurdles and relay races, to long jump, shot put and javelin throw. Participants then have the opportunity to compete in an organized meet at Icahn Stadium on Randall’s Island. The Queens schedule follows.
The name “Fresh Meadows” derives from the same Dutch source that gave us “Flushing.” The latter is an English version of Vlissingen, a Dutch town whose name means “salt meadow valley.” After Flushing, originated in the 1640s, had been established for a while, colonists started to move to its southern reaches (but not as far as Rustdorp, the next town south, today’s Jamaica.) They found the area suffused with meadows and swamps fed by fresh, or salt-free, water springs, and so named it Fresh Meadows.
The same etymology applies to Fresh Pond Road in Ridgewood: when European colonists arrived, they found non-saline ponds and named a road for the largest one.
What had previously been part of the Fresh Meadows Country Club was purchased by the NY Life Insurance Company and the complex was finished in 1949. It was called by architecture critic Lewis Mumford “perhaps the most positive and exhilarating example of community planning in the country.” The project contains several privately owned dwellings but most of it consists of three-story buildings and some high-rises. There are 3,000 families and about 7,800 units.
One of the major east-west local routes through Fresh Meadows is 73rd Avenue, a road with an over-200 year old pedigree. In colonial Fresh Meadows the preferred method of marking property lines between farms was to place rows of blackened stumps along the boundary, and before the name Fresh Meadows caught on the area was called Black Stump. Fresh Meadows was thought to be a rather more welcoming name, and Black Stump Road was renamed in the 1920s as part of Queens’ renumbering system taking effect at the time. Today, it’s lined with handsome single-family Tudor homes.
Motor Parkway overpass, 73rd Avenue at 199th Street, Fresh Meadows
While making your way through the southeastern part of Fresh Meadows as you get close to Cunningham Park, you may spot the occasional white-painted overpass crossing the street. They’re not old railroad trestles or park paths… instead, they mark one of America’s very first parkways designed for automobile traffic.
In 1904, the auto age had arrived in Long Island and industrialist heir William Kissam Vanderbilt helped ring it in with a road race that became known as the Vanderbilt Cup Race. It was one of the very first auto races and attracted drivers from the world over.
The Cup Race was run in Nassau County on Jericho Turnpike, Bethpage Turnpike and Hempstead Turnpike–all now busy highways but in those days they were farm-to-market, unpaved roads.
At Pidgeon Meadow Road and Auburndale Lane along the southern edge of Flushing Cemetery is a remnant of the rural past: the Wesern Riding Club serving the Kissena Park bridle path. It’s surprising to see an active stable in any New York City neighborhood, but Auburndale remained semirural in character until well into the early 20th Century.
Unfortunately the century-old stables may not be in Auburndale much longer, as reports have surfaced that its owner has put it up for sale to local developers, who may build mixed-use residential and commercial buildings on the site. (more…)
Already in the second week of the US Open Tennis.com decided to pen a love letter to Louis Armstrong Stadium, the second-largest stadium inside the National Tennis Center. The stadium has its quirks:
The seats are cramped, the wind swirls inside, and there are no architectural or decorative touches to please the eye. Designed and built in minimalist, modernist 1964, it’s just a concrete bowl with enormous steel light fixtures towering over it… Armstrong has what city planners would now call “a circulation problem.” Outside of Rome, it may be the most restless tennis court in the world.
Louis Armstrong was once slated for demolition, but now plans call for a revamp, expansion, and a new retractable roof. (Because the stadium was built on a landfill, it never received a roof due to concerns that the soil couldn’t support the weight.) Former United States Tennis Association president Slew Hester first spotted the stadium back in 1977, when it was abandoned and covered with snow. The arena hadn’t been in use since the 1964 World’s Fair. The USTA had outgrown the West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills, so the move was made to Flushing Meadows. The rush to prepare the site for the US Open “explains why there were no bells and whistles in the design, as well as the jerry-rigged quality of its construction.” The appeal, of course, rests in the nostaliga of the building. As the author puts it, “Armstrong has a strange appeal, one that makes me wonder if memories and nostalgia don’t ultimately trump all questions of aesthetics and taste.”
Hooters is set to reopen in late August at 61-09 190th Street in Fresh Meadows under new management after it closed last October, the Queens Courier reported. The restaurant shuttered after a franchise agreement between the corporate parent and Strix Restaurant Group ceased. New operator Marc Phaneuf told the Courier that the location, near Fresh Meadows Shopping Center, saw good business. Strix had rebranded the location as Bud’s Ale House, but it wasn’t successful and it closed in April. Phaneuf plans on spending $1,000,000 to renovate the building and add three times as many televisions. It might also serve as a test location for the chain’s forthcoming new uniforms, he said. The location will hire about 100 staffers. GMAP