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…)
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…)