03/20/14 9:00am


The single-family townhouse located at 21-33 45th Avenue, in Hunters Point, just sold for a noteworthy price: $2,150,000. It first hit the market in August 2013 for $2,100,000. The interior (currently configured as two duplex apartments) really is lovely, with exposed brick, wooden ceiling beams and a fireplace. There is also a landscaped garden. It’s located on a landmarked block lined with similarly charming townhouses.

This comes in as the second highest townhouse sale for the neighborhood. First place goes to 531 51st Avenue, which set the record over the summer after it sold for $3,000,000.

21-33 45th Avenue Listing [Warburg Realty] GMAP

03/17/14 11:00am


A big part of being involved with the Newtown Creek story is attending an endless series of meetings.

There’s a Newtown Creek Monitoring Committee over in Greenpoint that provides community input and problems to DEP about the sewer plant, the Newtown Creek Alliance which spans and advocates for both sides of the Creek, and a Kosciuszko Bridge Stakeholders Committee as well. There’s a bunch of other groups and organizations, but these are the three which I always pay attention to and publicly identify myself with. The good thing about these meetings is that I get to know what’s happening, and get my camera pointed in the right direction at the right times.

Today’s big news is that a dredging project, which is anticipated to last around six weeks, is beginning on Newtown Creek. I’m afraid that I was unable to locate a live link to the pdf hosted at nyc.gov, but this is the official story as received. Here’s the text of the NYC DEP announcement.

From NYC Department of Environmental Protection:


Beginning the week of March 17, 2014 and continuing for approximately 6 weeks, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will be dredging Newtown Creek. The following is a brief overview of the work scheduled and potential community impacts and mitigation measures.

WHY IS THIS WORK NECESSARY? The Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant is the largest in the City and operates, like most plants, through an activated sludge process. In order for this treatment process to work, waste sludge must be removed every day. Presently, waste sludge is piped to a storage tank near the East River in Greenpoint and then transferred to a sludge vessel (boat) for delivery to Wards Island for further processing. DEP needs to demolish the sludge storage tank to make way for new affordable housing. A new sludge dock has been built at Whale Creek, adjacent to the Newtown Creek plant, and sludge vessels will soon receive waste sludge there instead of the existing East River tank and dock. However, to navigate to the new dock, maintenance dredging must be done along Newtown Creek to remove sediment and debris which accumulates in the waterway.

HOW WILL THE WORK BE PERFORMED? Dredge operations are expected to start in Whale Creek and then move west along Newtown Creek towards the Pulaski Bridge to the mouth of Newtown Creek. Operations will be performed initially in 12-hour shifts, 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. As operations move into Newtown Creek, work will run 24 hours per day in order to minimize impacts to marine traffic. All work will be performed from barges located on the water with all required Coast Guard lighting and signage for safe boating.

COMMUNITY IMPACTS During the dredging operations, hydrogen sulfide gas trapped in the sediment may be released. This gas has a strong odor of rotten eggs. DEP will monitor for odor and take preventive measures to control the releases.

FOR MORE INFORMATION Please contact Shane Ojar, Director of Community Affairs at 718-595-4148 or via e-mail at sojar@dep.nyc.gov.


This is a shot of dredging equipment at work over on Staten Island’s Kill Van Kull, another industrial waterway found across the harbor, just to give you an idea what to expect. I can tell you that sound and smell are going to be a common complaint over the next six weeks, based on personal experience. The NYC DEP told us that anyone experiencing discomfort due to this necessary activity should report it to 311, so that they can take steps to alleviate the odors.

If you smell something, say something, and call 311.


Word has also reached me that a tree removal process will shortly be starting up in West Maspeth and Blissville, as well as parts of Brooklyn, in anticipation of the forthcoming reconstruction of the Kosciuszko Bridge.


02/27/14 4:00pm


Hunters Point Library — rendered above — isn’t being built anytime soon. And when it’s finally built, it won’t look much like the rendering, either. In response to the library’s delayed construction time, residents started a petition for mobile library services around Hunters Point. Here’s what they have asked for: “In lieu of a brick and mortar library, we request long-term book mobile service until the library is fully constructed, staffed, and operational. Hunters Point has been without taxpayer-subsidized public library service for far too long. While a stop-gap measure, book mobile service will provide the Hunters Point neighborhood with limited access to books, DVDs, and other library materials, as well as the chance to make use of the expertise of librarians and library staff.”

There are already more than 100 signatures in support, and the goal is to reach 200. If you are interested in signing the petition, just go here.

02/25/14 11:00am


The many-windowed Blanchard Building, its U changed to a V by stonecarvers under orders to make the “U” the Roman “V” to impart majesty and permanency, stands sentinel on Borden Avenue near 21st Street, the old Van Alst Avenue. Its upper floors look out on the noxious and noisome Newtown Creek. It’s one of the brick hulks around town that I ceaselessly admire, whether they are factories or warehouses (as almost all of them once were) or converted into residential apartments. In this part of Hunters Point, that fate is still largely unlikely, as the residential fever that has taken over the west side of the neighborhood near the East River hasn’t reached its business side. The Blanchard looks across the street at a Fresh Direct depot on Borden, one of the handful of main streets allowed to keep its name after many were given numbers in the early 20th century.

In a former life the Blanchard was a factory that made fireproof doors and shutters. Some years after a fire started in the Columbia Paper Bag company engulfed it in flames, Blanchard rebuilt, only to merge with the John Rapp Company, becoming the United States Metal Products Company.

Today the Blanchard hosts many businesses and offices, with a deli on the bottom floor. Its type of brick construction is timeless.

02/14/14 11:00am


Queens Boulevard is possibly the fastest and furious-est, most pedal-to-the-metal, grade-level road in Queens, other than an expressway. It roars from the tangle of elevated train tracks at the east end of the Queensboro Bridge through Sunnyside, Elmhurst, Rego Park, Forest Hills and Kew Gardens, finally petering to a close as a modest two-lane road at Jamaica Avenue after running ten lanes for much of its route and having acquired the nickname the “Boulevard of Death” for its pedestrian-unfriendliness.

Before the arrival of the Queensboro in 1909, Queens Boulevard was a modest country road known as Thomson Avenue and then Hoffman Boulevard, and before the coming of the white man to Queens it was likely a trail used  by the original residents. The bridge brought new residents to the borough, and finally the overwhelming popularity of the auto spurred its widening and redevelopment in the Roaring Twenties, development which was also applied to Trotting Course Lane (to become Woodhaven Boulevard) and Kings Highway in Brooklyn. The country lane became a 10-lane megaroad.

Between Hillside and Jamaica Avenues at the edge of Briarwood and Jamaica, Queens Boulevard is reduced to much the same condition as its ancestral roads, narrowing to two lanes. It’s mostly a nondescript stretch with collision and auto body shops.

There’s also a handsome apartment house, with Flemish-style steps on the roofline and a rounded corner, which would put it more at home on the Bronx. But an inscription on the Jamaica Avenue side makes it indubitably clear that we’re not in the Bronx.



… Queen’s House. Are we looking at a marvelous coincidence — was the building constructed before Hoffman Boulevard became Queens Boulevard? Or, was the house at the end of Queens Boulevard built and inscribed with an apostrophe the name of the boulevard doesn’t have?

The mists of time have obscured the answer.

01/16/14 1:00pm


In the early 1990s, John Healy was an English media sensation. Born in 1943 to Irish immigrants in London, he left school at age 14 and ended up living on the streets for 15 years, fighting and stealing to survive, while drinking anything that contained alcohol. During a prison stretch in the 1970s, he quit booze, took up meditation, became a rated chess player, and wrote the award-winning autobiography The Grassy Arena. Then he disappeared, fueling a wrath of rumors about his mental health and violent nature. Filmmaker Paul Duane followed those rumors and found Healy in 2006. The result is Barbaric Genius, a documentary that will screen at the New York Irish Center tomorrow. Duane will attend and participate in a Q&A about the film and Healy, a brilliant man who can be angry, articulate, paranoid, hilarious and incoherent at the same time.

Details: Barbaric Genius, New York Irish Center, 10-40 Jackson Avenue, Long Island City, January 17th, 7:30 pm, $11/$6 students, seniors unemployed.


12/03/13 12:30pm


Welcome to a new Q’Stoner food feature, Signature Dish! A few time a month we’ll check in with Queens restaurants and ask the owners about the all-time favorite dishes they serve. To kick things off, we spoke with the folks behind the LIC beer bar Woodbine’s.

The spot: Woodbine’s, 47-10 Vernon Boulevard, Long Island City.

The deal: Woodbine’s is a craft beer bar that recently opened on Vernon Boulevard, the heart of the growing Hunter’s Point community. The pub wants to be part of the community by having enough outlets to let people work and stay connected. The bar owners not only want to provide a variety of craft beers but develop exclusive brews with local breweries. Astoria’s Single Cut brewery has debuted a new partner beer, Burke’s Pale Ale, at Woodbine’s and its sister restaurants The Courtyard Ale, The Kent Ale House and Brickyard Gastropub in Queens, Manhattan and Brooklyn respectively.

The dish: The Signature Dish at Woodbine’s is the Scotch egg, the perfect complement to the craft beer selection. A Scotch egg is a hard-boiled egg encased in sausage and breadcrumbs and then served sliced on a plate with brown mustard. The $5 snack has quickly become the most popular dish because it is light enough to accompany any drink—beer, wine, cocktail or soda.

The snack menu is available at the bars and booths all day.

11/18/13 11:00am


Gaze in wonder upon the fabled Newtown Creek of the 21st century, as a tug of the Poling and Cutler towing organization wrestles a fuel barge in a westerly course toward the East River past the Vernon Blvd. Street end in Queens (right) and the Manhattan Avenue Street end in Brooklyn (left).

A phrase I routinely offer boldly states that “in the late 19th and early 20th century, Newtown Creek carried more commercial traffic than the entire Mississippi River.” This statement often causes listeners to roll their eyes.

It is inconceivable, given the modern appearance of the Creek and its banks, to believe this statement. Some ask me whether or not tugs and barges can even be observed operating along the Newtown Creek in this dystopian future we have all found ourselves living in. (more…)

11/06/13 11:00am

Gantry Park,airbornelawyer for wiki. 1

New York City is a pretty impressive place. When we are in the middle of it all, trying to get to work, or run errands, or just get from appointment to appointment, it’s hard to remember how impressive it is. Sometimes it’s good to detach from this amazing city, and look at it through the eyes of a tourist, or a newcomer. It can be an eye-opening experience to walk down the street and see things with fresh eyes. When I’ve had the opportunity to do this, especially in Manhattan, I’ve always seen new things that I’ve never seen before, and it helps me appreciate the complexity and beauty of this truly great city.

We all know that all kinds of industry built this burg, and all modes of transportation enabled people and goods to move through the city. I’ve always been fascinated by our industrial heritage, and the ingenuity it took, and still takes, to make the most of the topography that made building a city here in the first place such a great idea. The great natural harbor, one of the finest in the world, made shipping one of New York’s most lucrative and successful businesses. Shipping made everything else possible.

In 1861, the Long Island Railroad built a terminal on Hunters Point, directly across the river from what would become Midtown Manhattan. During the Civil War, this area became a great industrial hub, consolidating goods and produce from all parts of Long Island, for distribution throughout the Union. Following the war, the villages in the area consolidated into Long Island City, with the Hunts Point area just the beginning of the industrial zone that stretched all along the East River waterfront. By the dawn of the 20th century, Long Island City had the highest concentration of industry in the entire United States. (more…)

11/04/13 11:00am


One of the many corporate giants which distinguished Long Island City at the start of the last century was known as Waldes Koh-I-Noor.

Located at the corner of Anable Avenue and Creek Street (which is the modern day 27th Street and Austell Place), the firm was a manufacturer of dress fasteners (snaps, zippers and the like) and was known to produce all sorts of metallic devices — including war munitions, during times of national crisis. The building offers about 200,000 square feet of space and hosts multiple truck loading docks.

From Google Books:

Henry Waldes New York has leased the factory of the Klndel Bed Co Anable Avenue and Creek Street Long Island City NY comprising a four story reinforced concrete structure for the establishment of a new plant for the manufacture of small metal specialties The lease is for a term of years and aggregates $350,000.