Maspeth, in a western corner of Queens, seems stuck between the grit of Williamsburg, Brooklyn to the west and the airy, almost suburban feel of its eastern and southern neighbors, Middle Village and Glendale. Maspeth was first settled by Native Americans and, after the middle 1600s, by the Dutch and English. It was absorbed by a newer settlement to the east (named, appropriately, Newtown–the present-day Elmhurst), became a part of the borough of Queens, and then became a part of New York City in 1898. “Maspeth” is derived from Delaware Indian terms that have, by different accounts, meant “great brook” or “bad water place”; the latter seems rather appropriate, since Newtown Creek, noxious and noisome through most of its latter-day history, is nearby. The name dates back to Dutch records in the 1630s.
Beginning in the 1790s DeWitt Clinton, mayor of New York City from 1803 to 1815 and New York State Governor from 1817 to 1822 and again from 1825 to 1828, resided in a mansion at present-day 56th Terrace and 58th Street. Plans for the Erie Canal were made in the two-story mansion, which over the decades became a boardinghouse and farmhouse, finally burning down in 1933. The area is nondescript industrial these days; the mansion is remembered by the Clinton Diner, which stands near where Clinton’s homestead would be. The diner was renamed “Goodfellas” diner a couple of years ago, after the classic Scorsese flick about mob life that was filmed there.
This single-family, attached brick home in Maspeth is charming indeed… we love the front gate and yard. Inside, you’ll find some old and some new: original details like the fireplace, front windows and crown moldings, and a renovated kitchen, bathroom and finished basement. The listing photos ain’t great but it looks worth checking out in person. There’s an asking price of $799,000. What say you?
The Parks Department is gearing up to renovate the four baseball fields at Frank Principe Park, located along Maurice Avenue in Maspeth. NY1 specifies that the $5,700,000 renovation, allocated by Council Member Elizabeth Crowley, will address problems of flooding at the fields. The money will go toward drainage tanks underneath the fields to combat flooding, a redesign of the space, and an upgraded and resurfaced asphalt running trail. (Because the baseball fields overlap one another, it’s difficult to hold more than two games at once — an issue that’ll be addressed in the redesign.) It’s been 25 years since the park has seen a significant upgrade.
The Parks Department has yet to release a date to begin construction. Right now, the agency has put out a request for a design consultant.
Of the many bridges that cross the noxious and noisome Newtown Creek, which includes the Pulaski (McGuiness Boulevard), J.J. Byrne (Greenpoint Avenue) Kosciuszko (Brooklyn-Queens Expressway), the Metropolitan Avenue Bridge, and the late lamented Penny Bridge, my favorite is the rattling Grand Street Bridge, which connects outlandishly remote sections of Brooklyn and Queens, two neighborhoods in East Williamsburg and western Maspeth you wouldn’t visit unless you worked there. Or unless you are me.
The reason for my preference is simple. While the other Newtown Creek bridges are relatively bland products of the mid-to-late 20th century and are quite boring in aspect the Grand Street Bridge is a 1900 swing bridge that looks like something you would put together with an erector set when you were a kid.
ABS Partners Real Estate has listed a mega site in Maspeth, three parcels of vacant land totaling 15 acres. The land is zoned for manufacturing and commercial use, allowing up to 1,300,000 square feet of development. (The lots are being offered individually or all together.) The first parcel is located at 42-02 56th Road, with 517,360 square feet of land and 1,034,720 buildable square feet.
The first parcel is located at 42-02 56th Road, with 96,733 square feet of land and 193,466 buildable square feet. The second, along 56th Drive, comes with 517,360 square feet of land and 1,034,720 buildable square feet. And finally the third is 44-02 57th Avenue, 65,228 square feet of land with 130,456 buildable square feet. All three sites are estimated to be worth approximately $100 per square foot. The location, marked by the red circle above, is right off of the BQE, Long Island Expressway and Newtown Creek.
Alan S. Cohen, of ABS Partners, has this to say about the listing: “The opportunity for a buyer to control such a large piece of real estate so close to Manhattan does not come around very often. These sites are ideal for any type of distribution or logistics center that benefits from the scale and proximity to Manhattan. With a diminishing supply of warehouse space in Queens and Brooklyn, a buyer could utilize the million plus square feet of air rights to create a thriving manufacturing center.” GMAP
In 1928, much of Queens was still largely unpopulated and unbuilt-upon. Ridgewood, however, was an exception to the rule, due to its proximity to Brooklyn, and real estate developers hoped to capitalize on the cachet of the neighborhood. By then, Ridgewood was dominated by attached brick and brownstone houses, as well as blocks of handsome, yellow-bricked apartments constructed by developer Gustave X. Mathews. He built from materials created in the Staten Island kilns of Balthazar Kreischer.
In that year, the developers Realty Associates purchased 70 acres in a neighborhood then labeled as “North Ridgewood” but now a part of northern Maspeth roughly defined by Maurice Avenue, 64th Street, Grand Avenue and 74th Street. Builder John Aylmer set to work constructing two and six-family homes in the newly-named Ridgewood Plateau, so named for its location atop one of Queens’ higher hills.
You can take the Q39 bus here, but why? There’s a somewhat hidden stretch of Laurel Hill Boulveard, which is entirely overflown by the Brooklyn Queens Expressway, down here. On either side of the street, high masonry walls define the borders of Third and Fourth Calvary Cemeteries. There are sidewalks, however, and this is one of the loneliest spots to walk through that can be found in all of Western Queens.
The street is only ten blocks long, spanning the area between 58th and 48th Streets, and it’s one of those hazy areas where you might be in the neighborhood of Maspeth, or in Woodside, or perhaps Sunnyside. It’s actually and definitively Woodside, by the way, but there really is no one around whom you’d be able to ask. You’d be surrounded by literally millions walking down this street, but they’re all dead.
I’ve told you all about Maspeth Creek before, but long story short is that it’s a tributary of Newtown Creek with big history and even bigger problems. On the history front, how many places can you name in Queens that British Commander Lord Cornwallis could have been hanging around during the 1770s?
I’m always hunting around the web for historic photos and maps of Western Queens and of Newtown Creek in particular. This past weekend, nearly an entire Sunday was lost exploring the amazing nyc.gov map site offered by the NYC Department of Information Technology & Telecommunications. The NY City Map allows you to turn various informational layers on and off – showing you transit locations, and healthcare centers, and parks of course – but what I find really interesting about the site is that they have aerial views from several “moments” in NYC history packaged in a modern digital map.
According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, the decorative arts are defined as “any of those arts that are concerned with the design and decoration of objects that are chiefly prized for their utility, rather than for their purely aesthetic qualities. Ceramics, glassware, basketry, jewelry, metalware, furniture, textiles, clothing, and other such goods are the objects most commonly associated with the decorative arts. While Western man certainly prized the objects of beauty that were produced over the centuries, the decorative arts, and those that created them, were generally not seen to be as “high” as fine art and artists. A goldsmith may be a fine craftsman, creating incredible work, but he was not an “artist” in the same standing as a painter or sculptor.
But towards the end of the 19th century, that began to change. The Aesthetic Movement, which prized beauty in all its forms, helped elevate the decorative arts to the status of “real” art. That was due, in no small part, to the amazing amount of artistic genius that was at work in the decorative arts at the time. One of these great geniuses was Louis Comfort Tiffany. (more…)