Calling all loft dwellers! This rental comes from the Pistilli River View East co-op in Astoria, at 19-19 24th Avenue. It fits all the loft requirements: 18-foot ceilings, large factory windows and a lofted second floor. It’s a total of 2,333 square feet with three bedrooms and two bathrooms. Take the location into account — directly across from Astoria Park — and you’ve got a pretty nice apartment indeed. The monthly rent of $3,300 seems very reasonable to us, do you agree?
For a few years, I lived on one of the many blocks occupied by yellow brick row houses, here in Astoria. The block pictured above is 44th street between 30th and 31st avenues, for the curious. It’s the same block that Robert Deniro shot part of “A Bronx Tale” on. These are “barbell tenements” essentially, six railroad units on three floors with an air shaft in the middle.
This particular stretch of Matthews Model Flats in Astoria is just over a hundred years old (1911), as is a lot of the building stock in an area which I’ve been told was once called “the German Section” – “back in the day”. Model tenements are what they were built as, the affordable housing of its time, and while walking my little dog Zuzu one morning I began to ponder those bricks.
Those yellow bricks, with the little specks of glittery iron in them.
Everywhere you go, from Ridgewood to Maspeth to Astoria – you see those yellow bricks. Realizing that I had never thought about where bricks come from led to a bit of primary research about the history of brick manufacture in these United States, but don’t worry, that’s not what this post is about.
The first bricks in the English colonies in North America were probably made in Virginia as early as 1612. New England saw its first brick kiln erected at Salem, Massachusetts in 1629. The Dutch colonists in New Amsterdam imported yellow bricks from Holland, which imparted a Dutch character to the architecture of the city. The excellent quality and abundance of local clays in the colonies made it unnecessary to import bricks from across the Atlantic. Brick-making centers developed in Fort Orange (what is now Albany), New York; near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Burlington and Trenton, New Jersey, as well as along the Raritan River.
This is a more evolved form of the Matthews Flats, found over in Maspeth.
A Flushing-based company just picked up two adjoining warehouse sites right outside of Hallets Point. The first property is 30-05 Vernon Boulevard (pictured left), an 8,050-square-foot lot that cost $3,000,000. The second property, which backs up to the first one, is located at 11-22 Wellington Court. That lot is larger — 10,500 square feet — but cost less, $2,700,000. Both are zoned for commercial and residential use, so it’s quite possible this is a future site of a very large residential build. According to PropertyShark, both lots combined allow as much as 55,650 buildable square feet.
It’s hard to believe, but in 1872 there were 171 piano manufacturers in New York City alone. The piano had gone from conversational furniture piece for the rich, to a necessary component of the refined middle class home. New York’s piano manufacturers were turning out all kinds of instruments; from cheap “thump boxes” to fine musical instruments suitable for the finest concert hall. The latter half of the 19th century saw pianos and other musical instruments become one of New York’s top manufactured products. Astoria is famous for the Steinway Piano Company, but that neighborhood was home to other piano makers as well. Although not a household name today, except to musicians, the best of the other companies was Sohmer & Company, Piano Makers. Like Steinway, they too made the move from Manhattan to a large factory on the shore of the East River, in Astoria, Queens.
Sohmer & Co. was founded by German piano maker Hugo Sohmer, who lived from 1845 to 1931. He immigrated to New York in the 1860s, and apprenticed with several other piano makers before setting up his own company in 1873. While the Steinway Company was establishing itself as a maker of fine grand and baby grand pianos, Sohmer decided to specialize in upright pianos, or “verticals,” which took up much less room and were more popular in the average home. Like Steinway, he made excellent quality instruments. Sohmer pianos were one of the finest pianos made in the United States.
Pianos were not only a source of entertainment for a population that lived before radio or motion pictures, they were a symbol of refinement and taste; and by extension, and so were its players. It’s rather ironic that while 95% of the composers in the 19th century were men, women and girls were the pianists in the home. The ability to play the piano was seen as a mark of culture. It was expected that most upwardly mobile girls could sit down and play a few simple tunes. If they couldn’t play the classical repertoire, then hymns and sentimental popular songs were certainly acceptable. Every gathering and soiree included some poor soul being made to play a few tunes, often accompanying the inevitable sing-along. (more…)
Queens Buzz reports that the Steinway Mansion is now under contract with a private buyer, although many details about the possible sale remain unclear. The home was on the market since 2010, asking $1,900,000 this past summer. In the past, the listing price has been as high as $4,900,000. The Friends of Steinway Mansionworked hard to raise $5,000,000 to purchase the landmarked Astoria house and preserve it as a museum. The mansion, built in 1858, comes on a one acre parcel of land (it originally sat on 440 acres!) and the Friends of Steinway Mansion didn’t want the parcel divided any further. A rep from the Greater Astoria Historical Society tells us that an official statement from the neighborhood preservationists will likely be issued soon.
There aren’t any details about the buyer in question, and although Queens Buzz states that the home is under contract the article also notes this: “It’s not that Queens and NYC government officials haven’t had a chance to save it [they still do as the contract hasn't yet been signed].” It is unclear how close the mansion is to actually selling. Queens Buzz is encouraging residents to call the Borough President’s office and continue to push for preservation as a historic site.
Who needs Hollywood when there’s Mumblecore? Only a little over a decade old, this movement of DIY filmmaking is known for its micro-budgets, improvisation, naturalistic conversations in real places, single characters in their 20s and 30s and minimal soundtracks. Some movies are in black and white. This Saturday and Sunday, the Museum of the Moving Image will celebrate this genre with a six-film retrospective on one of its major figures, Joe Swanberg (above, left), who will be present for all screenings.
Details: Mumblecore, Museum of the Moving Image, 36-01 35th Avenue, Astoria, 0n March 1st, the films are Hannah Takes the Stairs, 2 pm; Nights and Weekends, 4:30 pm; and Silver Bullets, 7 pm; on March 2nd, the films are Art History, 2 pm; Uncle Kent, 4:30 pm; and All the Light in the Sky, 7 pm, free with admission.
Spring is coming! Spring is coming! One sign is that the Harvest Astoria CSA is accepting registrations for its 2014 season this week. We Heart Astoria shares details: “This year’s share includes approximately 22 weeks of fresh, organic vegetables straight from Norwich Meadows Farm, NY, with options for fruit shares and add-ons such as eggs, milk, free-range chicken and beef and more.” The CSA pick-up times are on Wednesdays from 5:30 to 8 pm, starting in June and ending in November. It costs $370 for a vegetable share. Registration times are tomorrow, Wednesday, February 26th, between 6 and 8 pm and Wednesday, March 26th at the Church of the Redeemer, 30-14 Crescent Street. All the details about the share are here.
There will be movies from around the world — and around the corner. On March 4th, the fourth annual Queens World Film Festival will kick off a six-day moving image rampage of everything from feature films to shorts. Attendees can check out a dazzling selection of foreign flicks from such exotic ports of call as Belgium, Iran, India, Spain, Kosovo, Switzerland and Vietnam and enjoy the work of 18 borough-based auteurs. Like-minded films will be blocked together and will roll at Astoria’s Museum of the Moving Image, The Secret Theatre and Nesva Hotel in Long Island City and PS 69 in Jackson Heights. The fun starts with an opening night party featuring the world premiere of the director’s cut of the of 2014 Academy Award-nominated documentary The Act of Killing. Directed by English-born Joshua Oppenheimer, the movie portrays his country’s national guilt potentially exhumed by a love of movies.
Welcome to the Q’Stoner food feature, Signature Dish! Once a week we check in with Queens restaurants and ask the owners about the all-time favorite dishes they serve. If you know of a dish you’d like to see featured here, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Deal: Pachanga Patterson isn’t just another Mexican restaurant. Sure, the dishes on the menu will be familiar, but the owner and Chef Peyton Powell have taken care to put their own spin using local ingredients. “Being influenced by traditional dishes and putting our spin on them by blending the seasonal farmer’s market produce of NYC, while not having your everyday American Mexican menu,” Powell says. “Since we’ve opened here in Astoria, there has been an influx of ‘New Age Mexican’ restaurants opening in NYC; we believe we differ by concentrating in the true flavors of Mexico’s rich food culture by introducing exotic ingredients and incorporating them in a casual seasonal restaurant in Queens.”
The ever-changing menu highlights the seasonal produce combined with new recipes Powell brings back from his frequent trips to Mexico.
The Dish: Cochinita Pibil could be described on another Mexican restaurant’s menu as a pork taco. At Panchanga Patterson, the pork taco borrows an ancient Mayan recipe for cooking pigs – the cochinita. The traditional preparation in the Yucatan peninsula is served with tortillas or on a torta with pickled habanero onions.
“Our spin includes pickled cabbage and habanero onions along with a creamy garlic honey aioli which we feel takes this taco to the next level,” Powell says.
Other dishes on the menu, such as the tamarind-glazed pork belly, combine traditional Mexican flavors – the tamarind – with New York-local produce – Long Island purple cauliflower.
Travel, experimenting, and experience allows Chef Powell to combine local and exotic flavors to create a taste that can’t be found at another Mexican restaurant.
This has got to be one of the more bizarre homes we’ve seen in awhile. It’s a stubby Colonial house with three bedrooms, a driveway and backyard. No pictures of the interior but we’ll take a wild guess that it’s cramped inside. Most of all, we can’t believe the ask of $899,000. Sure, this is a nice area of Astoria, but for this property that price seems like a reach.