Wonderful sounds of Asia, Europe, and Latin America will fill the Queens air this weekend during three different concerts. The fun starts on Saturday afternoon, when the EastRiver Ensemble presents a workshop on Chinese music at 1 pm, followed by a concert at 2:15 pm. This group presents traditional folk music, dance, and acrobatics with a focus on the Dongbei and Hebei regions of north China. Instruments include the yangqin (dulcimer), the pipa (lute), flutes, fiddles, and percussion. More photos and information are on the jump page.
At first glance, calligraphy is a visual art. But upon further investigation, its characters and images also express philosophy, culture, and inspiration. Chao-Lin Ting (above) has been engaging in this practice for roughly nine decades. The Chiangsu Province native is world renowned for his seal and semi-cursive scripts. This Sunday, the 102-year-old will co-present an afternoon dedicated to calligraphy at Flushing Town Hall. At 1 pm, Ting and James Shau will teach the basics of the Chinese genre, while Seoul native Yoo Sung Lee, a professional with over 30 years of practice who wrote a chapter in the World Encyclopedia of Calligraphy will inform on the Korean styles at 3 pm. Plus, the town hall’s walls are currently covered with Ting and Lee’s work as part of the Dynamic Writing: A Century of Calligraphy exhibit, which runs until March 22nd. (Gallery hours are Saturdays and Sundays, noon to 5 pm.)
More details, another photo, and bonus details on jump page.
The Prince family opened the first commercial plant nursery in the USA in 1735, specializing in fruit trees. Patriarch Robert Prince learned horticulture from the remaining Huguenots (French Protestants) in the Flushing area, and the business flourished during and after the Revolutionary period. In the early 1800s, Robert’s son William opened the first bridge over the Flushing River that allowed wagon and cart traffic to enter from western Queens. Competing plant nurseries of the Bloodgood and Parsons families also opened, and in the 1800s, Flushing was known around the Northeast for horticulture. Eventually, though, as Flushing gradually became more urban, the nurseries moved out or failed. Today, the only reminder of the plant shops is Flushing’ street plan, which bears plant names from A (Ash) to R (Rose), and Prince Street.
The Prince family home was constructed at Broadway and Lawrence Street (today Northern and College Point Boulevards) by the Embree family around 1750, and purchased by the Princes in 1800. It was torn down in the 1930s as the area became industrial.
A NYS historic marker here, now long gone, said:
Prince Homestead stands opposite. Built by E. Embree 1780. Washington stopped here to see the Prince Nurseries during his trip to Long Island 1789.
When Washington visited the Prince nursery he was unimpressed, but when Thomas Jefferson visited the following year he made several purchases that were planted at Monticello in Virginia.
New York YIMBY snatched up shiny new renderings of the gigantic convention center planned across from Citi Field and Willets Point, at 112-21 Northern Boulevard. This building will hold a lot: a 105,964-square-foot convention center, 97,180 square feet of retail, 11,300 square feet of restaurants, 292 hotel rooms and 208 apartments. The whole shebang, to be called the La Guardia Convention Center, will be LEED Gold Certified.
The developer, Fleet Financial Group, purchased the former Ford dealership in 2013 for $17 million. Construction was supposed to start last summer but it looks like nothing’s happened yet, and we’re unsure of a construction timeline.
Check out two more renderings of the design — a triangular, glassy structure with an impressive atrium — after the jump.
Last Friday, the Historic House Trust of NYC announced a $100,000 grant for all of the historic homes in New York City. The ceremony was held at the Lewis H. Latimer House in Flushing in honor of Black History Month. (Read about the history of this house and its owner, a prominent African American inventor, here.) There are 23 historic homes throughout New York, including the Lewis H. Latimer House. Other Queens locations include the Queens County Farm Museum, Kingsland Homestead, King Manor Museum, and the Bowne House. “Queens has a deep appreciation for our cultural institutions, which are major economic drivers for our borough. Significant grants like these encourage tourism in the World’s Borough, and are important investments that help to keep our families discovering, visitors coming and folks investing,” Borough President Katz stated at the event.
The grants will go towards everything from educational programming to community outreach events to general maintenance.
In many ways, he’s the Louis Armstrong of South Africa. And just like Satchmo, he makes beautiful music in Queens. Hugh Masekela is a world-renowned trumpeter, bandleader, composer and singer who was also very involved in defying Apartheid in his home country. His career has spanned five decades during which he has released more than 40 albums.
Vusi Mahlasela is known as ‘The Voice” in South Africa. With poetic, optimistic lyrics, his songs of hope connect the Apartheid-scarred past with a promise for a better future. He even performed at Nelson Mandela’s presidential inauguration in 1994.
Masekela and Mahlasela are now touring together for the first time ever, and they will make a stop in Queens next week. More details and a photo follow.
Back in September, an anonymous donor challenged Flushing Town Hall to raise $35,000 in new donations by February of this year. If the historic arts center reached its goal, the donor promised to contribute another $35,000. Well, here’s some good news straight from Flushing Town Hall: since September more than 300 people donated, for a total of more than $41,000. Says the Artistic Director Ellen Kodadek, “We are extremely heartened by this outpouring of support. People from all walks of life – new and returning visitors, supporters of the arts, neighbors and visitors from afar – all pitched in to help meet this challenge. We even received a number of contributions from people whose names we didn’t even recognize. This is just an amazing response!” The funds will be used to keep things running at Flushing Town Hall, which has undergone significant budget cuts in recent years.
You can donate to the fundraiser until February 28th. The “35″ in “$35,000″ actually represents this year’s 35th anniversary of the Flushing Council on Culture and the Arts.
There’s some confusion as to whether it’s the Year of the Goat, Sheep or Ram, but it’s perfectly clear that Flushing is “The Place” to celebrate Lunar New Year this weekend. The neighborhood will be radiant in the colors red and gold, and red-clothed individuals will be in the street, handing out money wrapped in red envelopes and oranges. The 19th annual parade will kick off in the vicinity of Union Street and 37th Avenue on February 21st at 11 am with an estimated 5,000 spectators, lanterns, fireworks, dancing lions, and large dragons. It will end near Main Street and 39th Avenue about an hour later. However, this is the prize at the end of the stretch; two unique, inspiring Lunar New Year events are set for this weekend.
In a few weeks, the LA-based chef Alex Reznik (who is also a former Top Chef contestant) is opening what looks to be a very cool kosher eatery in Flushing. Eater reports that Bedford Kitchen is set to open at 69-44 Main Street, in a Jewish enclave of the neighborhood near Queens College. Over in Los Angeles, Reznik runs the popular Ditmas Kitchen & Cocktail, which serves New York dishes and craft cocktails. Here are more details on his Flushing restaurant, via the Bedford Kitchen Facebook:
At BEDFORD Alex has created a menu that is both contemporary and exciting. The bar will feature the finest local craft beers and most interesting and eclectic range of wines. The menu features a modern approach on a variety of traditionally inspired American plates with a flavor first mentality. A truly unique take on Kosher Dining, BEDFORD promises to please everyone.
It’s the most diverse county in the world and the best tourism destination in the United States, so it’s no surprise that Queens is overflowing with wonderful Valentine’s Day activities and bargains. In fact, local chances for romance and fun related to this international holiday are so numerous that they run for more than two weeks and include everything from live music to a “love run,” hotel getaways, and even a blood drive for the do-gooders. Another photo and many more details are on the jump page.