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…)
As mentioned in earlier postings, I spend a lot of time walking back and forth from Astoria to Newtown Creek. Often, given the number and quality of “classic cars” encountered on these ambles, I wonder if all the environmental pollution has somehow ripped open a hole in the space time continuum – a wormhole which allows the automobiles of yesteryear to jump forward for a short tenancy in the tyranny of the now in the same place which they were parked some sixty or seventy years ago. 43rd Street, or Shell Road as it was once known, was the border between Blissville and Berlin. Today it’s part of the so called “West Maspeth” neighborhood, and if my theory is correct – this car might have been parked here in the late 1940s.
Of course, I’m an idiot, but you have to occupy your mind with something while walking around in DUKBO. At 43rd’s intersection with 55th Avenue, that’s where I noticed this very “cool car” – a 1947 Dodge two door sedan, which I believe is a D24.
For about a year now, Maspeth residents, civic leaders, and elected officials have campaigned the Landmarks Preservation Commission to landmark the firehouse at 59-29 68th Street. Residents hoped to protect the brick and limestone building not just because of its age and architecture — the building recently celebrated its centennial — but also because of its significance during September 11th. Well, it looks like that fight has come to an end. In an email this week, a resident spearheading the landmarking campaign said he received a letter from LPC in August, rejecting the submission for consideration to designate. This isn’t the first rejection letter from LPC, who claims the building isn’t unique enough architecturally, and that 9/11 cannot contribute to its historic nature because of a 30-year minimum rule regarding historic relevance. Here’s a piece of the letter:
We so much appreciate all the support that has been expressed [especially the letters you have written to Landmarks] by everyone we have been in contact with over the past year since we first submitted the application to request evaluation of the fire house. But with this latest letter from the LPC, we feel quite defeated in our quest. From our standpoint, unless our elected officials and community leaders can take action that would influence the LPC’s position, there isn’t anything else that we can think of to do.
We are as disappointed as you must be with the LPC’s failure to recognize the value of protecting our cherished Fire House. I can only say that if I’m still around in 2031, and the building is, too, I’ll try again. They won’t be able to argue the silly 30-year rule then.
This is particularly sad news as Maspeth doesn’t have any landmarked buildings otherwise.
This freestanding, single-family home is up for sale in Maspeth. This looks like it could be a excellent reno project: the home’s got good bones, but it needs a little TLC. (One word to ceiling panels: No!) There’s also a backyard, private driveway and a one-car garage. The ask comes in at $625,000. Like it?
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.
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…)
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.
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…)
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.
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.