08/26/14 11:00am

Maspeth isn’t a location many associate with DeWitt Clinton (1769-1828), a founding father who served as NY State Assemblyman, NYS Senator, NYS Governor, US Senator and NYC Mayor during an illustrious career capped by his indefatigable support for the Erie Canal. Several streets around town were named for him, including Maspeth’s own Clinton Avenue, and when Green-Wood Cemetery opened in Brooklyn in 1838 his remains were later exhumed from the original burial plot in Albany, NY and moved to Brooklyn — as a tourist attraction for the nascent burial park.

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NYS Governor DeWitt Clinton lived in Maspeth for several decades in this house that had stood near Newtown Creek. Judge Joseph Sackett built a two-story wood frame mansion with porches around both levels in the area behind Clinton Hall (pictured after the jump) in 1750. During the Revolutionary War the house was occupied by American physician and general, Joseph Warren, and British Gen. William Howe planned an invasion of NYC via Newtown Creek from the mansion after its capture. (more…)

08/21/14 11:00am

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A century ago, Queens was growing by leaps and bounds and exploding with brand new infrastructure, a spate of investment and building which was spurred on and started by the immense success of the 1909 Queensboro Bridge. The subways began to snake out from the great bridge in the 1920s, and expansions of the system continued right through the Depression era of the 1930s.

The IND Crosstown Line, which they called the GG back then (its was renamed the “G” in 1985), came to LIC’s 21st street/Van Alst, Court Square, and Queens Plaza stations on the 19th of August in 1933. Unfortunately, due to damage inflicted upon the tracks by Hurricane Sandy related flooding, there is no opportunity to visit these stations and tip a glass on their 81st birthday – currently – as MTA employees are working on repairing and upgrading the tracks, switches, signals and God knows what else there is down there. The Shuttle Bus just ain’t the same, I’m afraid, but it is appreciated.

Check out this Wikipedia page on the IND Crosstown, or the truly excellent nycsubway.org for more.

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This is the Kosciuszko Bridge, which carries the Brooklyn Queens Expressway over my beloved Newtown Creek, and on Saturday she’ll be 75.

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08/20/14 11:00am

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I hope you will enjoy a repost of one of my first Queenswalks. Next week will be brand new.

A trip from Brooklyn to Queens across that semi-movable parking lot known as the Brooklyn Queens Expressway will always take you over a vast expanse of the land of the dead. Although you can’t help but cynically think that those below are there from waiting in traffic jams up above, the fact of the matter is that you are sitting above the largest cemetery in the United States, with over three million burials. It’s also one of the oldest cemeteries, and buried its first permanent resident in 1848. She was named Esther Ennis, and she died, the records say, “of a broken heart.” This is Calvary Cemetery, run by the Trustees of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and owned by the Catholic Archdiocese of New York. (more…)

07/28/14 11:00am

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Saturday last, I conducted a walking tour along the Brooklyn and Maspeth borders, and afterwards decided to enjoy the beautiful weather by walking back home to Astoria. My path carried me along the fence line of Mt. Zion cemetery (Maurice Avenue side) toward Tyler Avenue, where I made a left.

Just look at what was waiting for me to notice it when I turned onto Tyler – a 1949 Plymouth Special Deluxe, which I believe to be the P15 model.

Man alive, I love Queens.

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07/24/14 9:00am

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More bad news for the Maspeth residents working to landmark the 1914 firehouse at 56-29 68th Street. The community wrote to the Landmarks Preservation Commission once Bill de Blasio stepped in as the new mayor, but the LPC research team said this month that the building was not eligible for landmarking. The LPC under Mayor Bloomberg also denied requests for designation.

The residents argue that the historic significance, the importance of the station during September 11th, and the firehouse’s centennial this year are solid reasons for landmarking. The LPC previously stated that they do not cite the Maspeth structure as a priority based on architectural significance, and they cannot count the events on September 11th as historically significant since the LPC calls for a 30-year minimum regarding historic relevance. The most recent rejection stated that “…to be eligible for consideration, a site must be greater than 30 years old, and the 9/11 Monument does not meet this criteria.” Steve Fischer, who is spearheading the landmark campaign, said this in an email: “We are frankly confounded by [the LPC's] repeated reference to a monument and we certainly question why the “30-year rule” has any bearing at all on our case. We have written a response to this latest LPC letter in which we try to clarify once again what the subject of our application entails and why it is worthy of consideration by the full Commission.” The neighborhood of Maspeth, despite being home to a number of historic buildings, does not have any landmarked structures.

After the jump, read the full letter just sent to the LPC in defense of the firehouse.

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07/21/14 12:00pm

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This cute, freestanding Colonial is from Maspeth, at 52-28 66th Street. It’s a three bedroom with 1,408 square feet. The interior looks to be in very nice shape, with wood floors galore and a newish kitchen reno. There are also some suburban perks like a yard, driveway and detached garage. For all this, the home is asking $645,000. Thoughts?

52-28 66th Street [Realty Executives Today] GMAP

07/21/14 11:00am

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On Friday, the 11th of July, I found myself at the very edge of Queens in a very special place. At the end of Vernon Boulevard in LIC, where the old Vernon Avenue Bridge and the Newtown Creek Towing Company were found, is a facility which is engaged in the hands-on work of the Superfund process. The Anchor QEA company operates out of here, carrying out the collection of samples and scientific tests which will determine the exact nature of what’s wrong with Newtown Creek. These samples and tests are overseen and directed by the Federal Environmental Protection Agency, and is an effort conducted by the so-called ”Potentially Responsible Parties” (PRPs).

These “Potentially Responsible Parties” have organized themselves together as the Newtown Creek Group, and they invited a small group of community members and representatives to their LIC facility to describe what they actually do at the Vernon street end and discuss the future of Newtown Creek.

More after the jump… (more…)

07/17/14 12:00pm

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Kosciuszko Bridge rendering courtesy NYS DOT

Last night, over on 39th Street in Sunnyside, the NYS DOT held a meeting to discuss the forthcoming Kosciuszko Bridge project. This is a BIG deal for anybody who lives in North Brooklyn, Western Queens, or who drives on the Brooklyn Queens Expressway. It’s also a HUGE deal for us as taxpayers. The first phase of this project, which will build half of the replacement span and demolish the existing bridge is $555 million – the largest contract in NYS DOT history. The contractors as chosen and announced by Governor Cuomo are Skanska, a construction firm based in NYC, which will be managing partner; Ecco III of Yonkers; Kiewit of Nebraska; and HNTB of Kansas.

The “New Meeker Avenue Bridge” opened back on August 23rd of 1939, and was a pet project of Robert Moses. It was the first link in the chain which would eventually become the BQE. This post at my Newtown Pentacle blog displays a series of historic shots from that long ago time, and this one here at Q’stoner discusses what’s found in DUKBO – Down Under the Kosciuszko Bridge Onramp.

Read more after the jump… (more…)

07/11/14 10:00am

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The city presented renderings of the future Kosciuszko Bridge in a series of public meetings, which kicked off the reconstruction project of the well-worn bridge. The new bridge, which spans Newtown Creek to connect Brooklyn and Queens on the BQE, will be a cable-stayed bridge with nine vehicle lanes and a bike and pedestrian path. The city will build it right next to the existing bridge, which city officials say only has a lifespan of three more years. (more…)