One of the most beautiful buildings in Queens, the Church of the Transfiguration Roman Catholic Church on Perry Avenue east of 64th Street was constructed in 1962, replacing an earlier church built in 1909 to serve the swelling population of Lithuanian immigrants.
A replica of a Lithuanian roadside shrine sits in the church’s front lawn, and the steeple also resembles such a shrine. Lithuanian folk art elements adorn the inside of the church. The Lithuanian phrase above the doors, Mano Namai Maldos Namai means “My house is a house of prayer.” Multiple masses are still celebrated in the Lithuanian language each weekend.
This two-bedroom apartment comes from Maspeth, at the co-op building 52-30 65th Place. The unit looks like it has great bones, and it’s also spacious. Nice kitchen reno, too. The price of $249,000 doesn’t seem off base but there’s no number on the monthly maintenance.
The streets of Long Island City, Ridgewood and to a lesser degree, Woodside, are occasionally lined with blond bricked Matthews Model Flats, each unit produced for $8,000 beginning in 1915 by Gustave X. Mathews, who is virtually unknown today but responsible for much classic residential architecture in Queens. The distinctive yellow bricks were produced in the kilns of Balthazar Kreischer’s brick works in the far reaches of Staten Island. (The Kriescher and Long Island City stalwarts, the Steinways, were linked by marriage.)
These handsome light brown brick homes on Grand Avenue, 82nd Street and Ankener Avenue in eastern Maspeth were the final Mathews Flats built in New York City and were executed by architect Louis Allmendinger in 1930.
Things are not looking good for the Knockdown Center, the event venue operated out of a former glass factory on Flushing Avenue. The Forum reports that the Department of Buildings recently rejected the owner’s application for a permanent place of assembly, as well as an alteration permit and a change in certificate of occupancy. The owners want to turn the space into a permanent events venue for up to 5,000 people; previously they operated through temporary event permits. Maspeth residents strongly opposed the Knockdown Center’s request for a liquor license but they may not have to worry — the building cannot secure a liquor license without the proper certificate of occupancy.
On the evening of August 26, 1893, the LIRR train out of Rockaway Beach was running late. The day had been a half holiday, which, on this sweltering summer day, meant that thousands of people had flocked to the shore for picnics and strolling along the beach after putting in a morning at work. Holidays were few and far between in 1893, and most working people worked a six day week. An afternoon and evening at the beach was a treat, and since this was a Saturday, there was no rush to get back home, and people stayed out late. The railroad ran extra trains that night, correctly anticipating the crowds, and as the Rockaway Beach train rumbled its way through Brooklyn and Queens, all five of its cars were full of tired beachgoers.
The Rockaway train shared the rails with another beach train; the Manhattan Beach Beach train, which carried people to the posh resort hotels of Manhattan and Brighton Beaches, in Coney Island. Although there was also an elevated train line that ran parallel to this train, at least part of the way, this was an LIRR train, not the line that would one day become the B and Q trains. Both trains came from their respective starting points on separate tracks, but merged onto the same track in East New York, before going on across Brooklyn, across Newtown Creek, and into Long Island City, before crossing into Manhattan.
On this fateful night, a perfect storm of errors occurred, which is usually how these disasters usually seem to happen. As we learned in the first chapter of this story, the Manhattan Beach Beach train had some problems when it reached the long “S” curve outside of the small neighborhood of Berlinville, or just Berlin, now a forgotten part of Maspeth, near Calvary Cemetery. The curve was stretched out over a hilly grade, and the train was having trouble climbing the hill, and its wheels began to slip, just as the coupling came loose from the second and third cars. The last four cars rolled back down the hill, forcing the engineer to back up, go down the hill and re-attach the cars. Then he had to climb the hill again. (more…)
It’s the “most wonderful time of the year” for people like me – who are aficionados of the macabre, bizarre, and mildly malefic. Halloween season makes me desirous of tales involving the supernatural, and as with all other aspects of life (and death), Western Queens does not disappoint.
Today’s tale plays out around the area of colonial Newtown and Maspeth’s border, which hosts Calvary Cemetery in our jaded modern time, and predated the Salem Witch Panic by a couple of decades. A farmer named Ralph Hall, and his wife Mary, were accused of the malicious and felonious usage of witchcraft and sorcery and of causing the death of their neighbor – one George Wood – by eldritch means.
The witch trials in the early modern period were a period of witch hunts between the 15th and 18th centuries, when across early modern Europe and to some extent in the European colonies in North America, there was a widespread hysteria that malevolent Satanic witches were operating as an organized threat to Christendom. Those accused of witchcraft were portrayed as being worshippers of the Devil, who engaged in such acts as malevolent sorcery at meetings known as Witches’ Sabbaths. Many people were subsequently accused of being witches, and were put on trial for the crime, with varying punishments being applicable in different regions and at different times.
The beaches of Coney Island and vicinity were a powerful draw for the people of New York in the latter part of the 19th century. Before the amusement parks and the honky tonk, the shore was the province of enormous resort hotels catering to the wealthy and upper middle classes. The Manhattan Beach Hotel, the Oriental Hotel and the Brighton Beach Hotel were the largest of these resorts, and many smaller hotels followed.
A trip to the beach meant an escape from the heat and stink of the city, and if you were wealthy, a stay at one of these swanky resorts, where you were waited on hand and foot, while you enjoyed the cooling ocean breezes. Most people did not actually swim, especially women, and they certainly didn’t tan, but it was still enjoyable to get out and spend some leisurely time in a beautiful setting. The beach was such a popular destination that train lines were established to take people from Brooklyn and Manhattan to the beach.
The Brighton Beach line, which would one day become the B and Q trains, ran to the Brighton Beach Hotel, but it wasn’t the only train. The Long Island Railroad wanted in on the lucrative run to the beach as well, and it leased a spur of the private New York and Manhattan Beach Railroad, and ran a train that also stopped at the Brighton Beach Hotel. This service ran from 1882 until 1925. There was also another LIRR train that went out to the beaches of the Rockaways. These trains crossed Brooklyn and Queens, ran through to Long Island City, and on to Manhattan. The two train lines met at Bushwick Junction, before running on one track through to New York City.
As the trains rumbled through Queens, they passed through small neighborhoods that have been almost lost in time and forgotten, as Queens grew and changed. One of these neighborhoods was called “Berlin”, or “Berlinville,” named for the German immigrants who settled there in the late 19th century. Today’s 50th Street was once named Berlin Avenue. Berlinville was part of a larger, now almost forgotten neighborhood called Laurel Hill, which is now called West Maspeth, now a mostly industrial area flanked by Calvary Cemetery and the BQE on the west, and the LIRR tracks to the south. (more…)
Community Board Five offered full support in landmarking the firehouse at 56-29 68th Street, in Maspeth. Residents are pushing hard to convince the Landmarks Preservation Commission that the building is worthy of designation. Now the Forum Newsgroup reports that “CB 5 members have agreed to send a letter to the city Landmarks Preservation Commission to back landmarking the firehouse that will turn 100 in 2014.” The board is asking Landmarks to wave the “30-year rule” in regards to the LPC requiring a 30-year minimum in historic relevance. Residents hope that the firehouse’s role in September 11th will count toward designation — this location lost a total of 19 men, more than any other firehouse in New York. The community’s next step will be asking elected officials to write to the LPC to express support of waiving the 30-year rule and of landmarking the structure.
Community Board Five’s Zoning and Land Use Review Committee turned down a proposal for a 600-person liquor license at the Knockdown Center on Flushing Avenue, reports Queens Chronicle. That doesn’t come as a surprise considering the community’s vocal opposition to the plan. The Knockdown owners had applied for temporary permits to host events, but they reached the city’s limit of four temporary permits per 12 contiguous months. Board members expressed concern that the building does not have a certificate of occupancy, and the DOB already denied plans to convert the building into a place of assembly. According to the manager of the Knockdown Center, “We can get a liquor license approved while waiting for a certificate of occupancy, but the liquor license will not be given to us until we receive the certificate of occupancy.” The Knockdown owners tried to convince the board that the area has sufficient parking, security and temporary permits to run events smoothly. Regardless, the board made an advisory vote against the proposal, and now the final decision is up to the State Liquor Authority.