In a prior post, the Grand Street Bridge spanning Newtown Creek between Brooklyn and Queens (some 3.1 miles from the East River) was described in some detail – check it out. As it happens, I chanced across a historic shot of the 1903 swing bridge not too long ago which is not at all dissimilar to a relatively recent shot of mine, so I thought we’d revisit the thing.
The modern shot (above) is captured from the water, as recreating the 1910 era shot below (from the bulkheads of the south eastern or Brooklyn side) would require probable trespass and the attentions of the gendarme. Instead, I was in the company of Captain John Lipscomb from Riverkeeper, who regularly patrols the waterway while collecting water samples for scientific analysis. We were in a rowboat, by the way.
While it does seem true that the Grand Street Bridge has changed little in the intervening century, the primary difference between then and now is that it doesn’t function as a movable span anymore due to a lack of maritime customers. Imagine, an industrial canal starting at the East River that leads right to the borders of Maspeth, Ridgewood, and Bushwick that has no maritime customers. The stalwart engineers and mechanics of the DOT do open it for maintenance, periodically, and much to the chagrin of many a weekend driver.
Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman lives in Astoria and blogs at Newtown Pentacle.
Here’s your latest Queens Twitter news: Mayor Bill de Blasio and DOT Commissioner Trottenberg are now filling potholes in Maspeth. It is part of a plan, announced today, that includes “weekly pothole blitzes,” citywide targeted repaving, material enhancements, better roadway maintenance and impact prevention. The DOT hopes to resurface 1,000 lane miles by the summer to prevent more potholes from forming. They’ve already filled a record-breaking 113,131 potholes this year.
Apparently the pothole patrol caused quite a stir earlier today in Queens:
Queens Courier shares some disheartening news about the state of transportation projects in Maspeth, Ridgewood and Middle Village. In short, everything set to be improved is delayed. Here’s a roundup from the Courier:
Reconstruction of the Metropolitan Avenue Bridge: This bridge is in danger of collapse, but its reconstruction was delayed back in 2009 and was just delayed again. The city still has to review and redesign the project, which is estimated to cost as much as $25,000,000. According to the Courier, “Developers are now considering building an abutment, eliminating one track under the bridge, to help the building process.”
The Grand Street Bridge project: The city plans to replace this 111-year-old bridge (pictured) at a price of $50,000,000. The project was delayed after Hurricane Sandy and is now being redesigned to meet new flood regulations.
Wyckoff Avenue Reconstruction Project: This project calls for new sewer lines and water mains on Wyckoff Avenue, a new concrete base on the roadway, new sidewalks and new curbing. It’s estimated to cost $20,000,000. The city planned to start the project in 2010, it’s been delayed until 2026.
Middle Village Streetscape Improvements: New sidewalks, sewer lines, water mains, signage and street lights for the area from 73rd Place to 80th Street, between Metropolitan Avenue to Cooper Avenue. The city keeps pushing back the $20,000,000 project to take care of higher priorities. Currently, the ETA is set for 2022.
Assemblywoman Margaret Markey just met with the NYPD and DOT to discuss new safety measures for Grand Avenue, the main drag running through Maspeth. Markey requested streetscape improvements after a number of accidents along the avenue, including an accident where a careless driver ran into a group of school students on the sidewalk and another accident last month where a woman was killed by an unlicensed driver making an illegal turn while she was crossing Grand Avenue in the crosswalk.
The DOT plans to study possible solutions for a number of dangerous locations along Grand, including Grand Avenue at 69th Street, 53rd Avenue and 65th Place. The DOT should be ready with some ideas in the coming months.
Yesterday the New York City Department of Sanitation announced that it will expand its curbside collection of organic materials to Queens. The city is just launching its organics collection program — which includes food waste, food-soiled paper, and leaf and yard waste — to help the city reduce trash disposal costs and create renewable energy or compost. This April and May, the service will be rolled out to include portions of Glendale, Middle Village, and Maspeth — check out a PDF map here. The Department already provides organics collection in areas of Manhattan, Staten Island, the Bronx and Brooklyn.
So how does it work? The city gives single-family homes or buildings with nine or fewer residential units a brown outdoor organics bin with wheels, a lid, and a latch to dispose of compost material. The brown bins will be placed curbside on recycling day for collection by the Department of Sanitation. (Residential buildings with 10 or more units are not automatically included in the pilot but can enroll in the program on a voluntary basis.) For all the information, go to the Department of Sanitation’s website.
Once upon a time, this wasn’t the proverbial “wrong side of the tracks,” rather this was the center of town. 18th century residents would ask “What on earth could have happened to Maspeth Creek?” were they able, and “Where is the Town Dock which DeWitt Clinton himself used — where is it?”
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.