05/28/15 1:00pm

Ayazama

There are many dress codes for this event. On Saturday, the Celebrate Astoria International Cultural Fest will fill Astoria Park with colorful costumes, beautiful music, and dazzling dances. The five-hour happening will perfectly demonstrate that Queens is a kaleidoscope, with performers from 11 different countries.

Scheduled entertainers — almost all of whom are local — include American Bolero Company, Ayazamana Ecuadorian Dance (above), Banatal Romanian Folklore, Bangladeshi Institute for Performing ArtsCalpulli Mexican Dance Company, Dahdoo Music of North Africa/Middle East, Filippo and the Songs of Italy, Issa Cabrera and her Brazilian folklore, Minbuza Japanese Folk Dance (below), Niall O’Leary School of Irish Dance, and Pontion Society Komninoi Dancers.

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05/27/15 1:00pm

saw

It’s a great place to talk shop. On Saturday, the 30th NYC Musical Saw Festival will take place in Astoria. Founded by local resident Natalia “Saw Lady” Paruz (above) in 2003, this periodic extravaganza brings together several dozen enthusiasts from all over the world — Germany, India, Japan, South Africa, etc — to promote, discuss, enjoy, and shape the future of a roughly 300-year-old art form: making music with a carpenter’s handsaw. (more…)

05/11/15 9:45am

Here’s my short list of three destinations in Queens worth visiting even if you live outside the borough. They all offer some great outdoor scenery, whether in the form of street art, architecture or beautiful green space. Two are parks.

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Welling Court Mural Project

Missing 5Pointz in Long Island City? That renowned graffiti spot may be no more, but you can get your fill of grassroots urban art at Welling Court, where the Ad Hoc Art Group has been curating public street art since 2010. There’s some fantastic stuff here, and it’s all free to enjoy. (more…)

05/08/15 9:45am

nb.astoria.village

12th Street near 27th Avenue, Astoria Village

Queens has been a county since 1683. Just as the USA originally had 13 states, the state of New York has 12 original counties: Albany, Cornwall, Dukes, Dutchess, Kings, New York (Manhattan), Orange, Queens, Richmond, Suffolk, Ulster and Westchester.

Nassau County, you say? It’s a Johnny come lately. In 1898, when four counties voted to become part of New York City, becoming Greater New York, half the county of Queens — the eastern towns of North Hempstead, Hempstead and Oyster Bay — chose to become independent, and in 1899 they created a county of their own, Nassau.

Had these towns not separated from Queens, our present task — examining the origins of the names of the borough’s neighborhoods — would call for entries on Lynbrook, Long Beach, Port Washington, Oyster Bay, Massapequa… and I’d be writing till Christmas. As is, Queens is large enough. (more…)

04/30/15 1:00pm

Raina

This Saturday is Independent Bookstore Day, and written word shops across New York City will participate in this first annual event. There will be scavenger hunts, marathon readings, story-telling times, and other literary events, but as always, the most fun will take place in Queens.

The Astoria Bookshop will welcome graphic novelists Raina Telgemeier (Sisters) and Dave Roman (Astronaut Academy), who will lead a team game of Pictionary for youngsters at 1 pm. Participants will be able to take home whatever Raina and Dave draw during the activity. (more…)

04/24/15 12:00pm

21-58-35-street-astoria-co-op-kitchen

This two-bedroom co-op in Astoria has a lot of space, high ceilings, and a lot of light throughout. The building, part of Acropolis Gardens Development, was built in 1923. There isn’t much counter space in the kitchen, but there’s room for a table or a kitchen island.

The N and Q trains are a quick walk down the street, and there are plenty of dining options nearby. There are also multiple grocery store options in the area, and the Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden is a ten minute walk away. The ask is $309,000 with an estimated monthly mortgage of $1,162.43. Click through for more photos.

21-58 35th Street, #5 [Keller Williams Landmark II] GMAP (more…)

04/23/15 9:45am

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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…)

04/16/15 1:00pm
MWRA2
Merrily We Roll Along begins at the end…and ends at the beginning. The Stephen Sondheim musical, based on a 1934 play by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart, tells the story of a once-great Broadway composer who gives up his career and friends to try his hand as a Hollywood producer. 
Both the play and the musical were notable for telling a story in reverse, with the musical version opening in Los Angeles in 1976 and steadily moving backwards to the songwriter’s humble beginnings in 1950s New York. Merrily We Roll Along has a theme close to Sondheim’s heart, how a passion for creating art can be corrupted in the pursuit of success.
The Astoria Performing Arts Center is presenting a 20-show run of Merrily We Roll Along, directed by APAC artistic director Dev Bondarin, from April 30 until May 23. Click through for more information.
04/08/15 9:30am

Kris Seto

Some enrichment options head outdoors with such events as a carnival, a gardening extravaganza, and a guided walk. But with “April Showers” in mind, the borough also hosts indoor fun, such as comedy, live music, film, theater, photography, and some 3-D magic. Here’s the rundown. (more…)

03/31/15 9:00am

citi-bike-astoria

Yesterday the folks behind Citi Bike announced the bike share program’s ambitious expansion, according to The Daily News. The announcement pretty much confirms previous Department of Transportation reports that Citi Bike will arrive in LIC and Astoria this year — unfortunately Sunnyside still isn’t part of the initial Queens rollout. It also seems like there’s no exact timeline for the rollout. Citi Bike also plans to double the number of stations from 332 by 2017, and makeover existing docking stations.

The company Motivate now runs the bike-share program, and just overhauled nearly all of its existing 6,000 bicycles.

Citi Bike to Double Number of Stations, Add Bikes Throughout Queens, Brooklyn and Harlem [NY Daily News]
All Citi Bike coverage [Q’Stoner]

Photo by the NYC DOT