07/03/15 1:00pm

tour

On your mark. Get set. Go…but not too fast. On July 12, the eighth annual Tour de Queens will take participants on a roughly 20-mile loop that starts and ends in Astoria Park. Basically a rolling parade, the tour rides en masse at a family-friendly pace –about 10 mph — with NYPD escorts, volunteer safety marshals, and occasional stops at intersections to gather riders. This year’s route goes through Long Island City, Sunnyside, Rego Park, Forest Hills, and Corona with an optional rest stop with light snacks and water at Juniper Valley Park in Middle Village.

Proceeds go to Transportation Alternatives, a nonprofit that promotes bicycling, walking, and the use of public transit in New York City.

Details: Tour de Queens, meet in the Astoria Park parking lot off 19th Street and Hoyt Avenue North, Astoria, July 12, 8 am check in, $22.50.

Photo by Tour de Queens

06/16/15 1:00pm

IrishDance

The 7 train has been horrible this year. Sometimes it skips stops. Other times, it terminates at Willets Point instead of Main Street. And every now and then, it doesn’t run at all. In fact, disgruntled riders have created a Facebook page to vent their frustrations.

But now there’s something to celebrate.

On June 18, Sunnyside Shines and ReCreate Queens will kick off a performance series at Bliss Plaza, which is located near the 7 train’s 46th Street stop off Roosevelt Avenue. A local group, the Street Beat Brass Band will present a multicultural program of brass- and street-based music from various parts of the world at 6:30 pm.

Then the series will re-appear every third Thursday over the following four months. (more…)

06/11/15 1:00pm

11

On Monday, we posted about the Historic Jackson Heights Weekend, which features two days of walking tours around the neighborhood. This was accurate as far as it goes, but it deserves an amplification, as there are guided treks all around the borough this weekend.

On Saturday, official Queens historian Jack Eichenbaum gives his signature expedition, The World of the 7 Train. It’s actually a series of six walks along with subway rides. He discusses the history and impact of the 7 line, while stopping in Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside, Jackson Heights, Corona, and Flushing, where the event ends with lunch, probably at a Chinese restaurant. (more…)

06/05/15 1:00pm

CS1

Carol Sudhalter loves music. One the one hand, she plays flute, baritone sax, and tenor sax. On the other, she has pioneered such gigs as the Athens Square Park Jazz Mondays series, the Astoria/LIC Waterfront Jazz Festival, and the Sunset Jazz Concerts also in Astoria.

In 1986, the Boston transplant founded the Astoria Big Band, which jams all over the borough — at street fairs, in churches, in front of carousels — to promote its namesake genre. (more…)

05/22/15 1:00pm

abuso

It’s one of those plays that makes audience members want to jump out of their seats and enter the scene to yell at the actors. Abuse (or La Visita in Spanish) presents conversations between Padre Lucio, the director of a Catholic college, and Esther, an insurance agent. Based on a true story from a Dutch archdiocese, the drama, written by Madrid-based Antonio Muñoz de Mesa, begins with a discussion about changing an insurance policy to cover sexual abuse of children as a workplace accident. A debate ensues, during which the priest shows apathy to abuse victims and the agent flits between her economic needs and her moral code.

Tonight, Thalia Spanish Theatre launches the United States bilingual premiere of Abuse, starring Soledad Lopez and Francisco Fuertes. The play will run in English on Fridays and Saturday afternoons and in Spanish on Saturday nights and Sunday, until June 28. (more…)

05/08/15 9:45am

nb.astoria.village

12th Street near 27th Avenue, Astoria Village

Queens has been a county since 1683. Just as the USA originally had 13 states, the state of New York has 12 original counties: Albany, Cornwall, Dukes, Dutchess, Kings, New York (Manhattan), Orange, Queens, Richmond, Suffolk, Ulster and Westchester.

Nassau County, you say? It’s a Johnny come lately. In 1898, when four counties voted to become part of New York City, becoming Greater New York, half the county of Queens — the eastern towns of North Hempstead, Hempstead and Oyster Bay — chose to become independent, and in 1899 they created a county of their own, Nassau.

Had these towns not separated from Queens, our present task — examining the origins of the names of the borough’s neighborhoods — would call for entries on Lynbrook, Long Beach, Port Washington, Oyster Bay, Massapequa… and I’d be writing till Christmas. As is, Queens is large enough. (more…)

04/20/15 1:00pm

Flamenco1

Cha, cha, cha. Cha, cha, cha. Ah, flamenco! The music. The dancing. The hand clapping, finger snapping, and guitar jamming. There’s a reason why this Spanish/Gyspy art form has become popular all over the world: It’s awesome.

In fact, it’s so awesome that UNESCO declared it to be a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2010. And it’s so popular that there are now more flamenco academies in Japan than Spain.

From this Friday through May 10, Thalia Spanish Theatre will present an exciting show of traditional and contemporary flamenco that celebrates the various cultures that the genre brings together. (more…)

04/08/15 9:30am

Kris Seto

Some enrichment options head outdoors with such events as a carnival, a gardening extravaganza, and a guided walk. But with “April Showers” in mind, the borough also hosts indoor fun, such as comedy, live music, film, theater, photography, and some 3-D magic. Here’s the rundown. (more…)

04/06/15 9:30am

bsQ_040515_makegrade_002

The Borough of Queens, long suffering, is always trying to tell us her hidden history. You just have to learn how to listen to her.

Case in point: 50-67 43rd Street at the border of Sunnyside and Blissville. This house is in a strange spot, just a few building lots away from the elevated Long Island Expressway and Brooklyn Queens Expressway interchange clover leaf, and at the end of the block is a local streets approach way to the Kosciuszko Bridge.

All of these modern roadways date back to the Robert Moses era in the late 1930s. The street itself, 43rd Street, is an ancient passage, and was known in the Colonial era. It was one of several paths through a swampy upland that were paved with crushed oyster shells, and it connected directly with modern day Laurel Hill Boulevard on its way toward Newtown Creek.

Calvary Cemetery and industrial West Maspeth (formerly Berlin) are on the other side of the highways and Bridge. At the start of the 20th century, you would have told people that you were going to visit either Laurel Hill or Celtic Park if this was your destination.

The building is two stories tall, and as you’ll notice in the shot above, sits considerably lower in its lot than a similar building next door. That’s the important part, and if you listen, you can hear Queens talking.

More after the jump. (more…)

03/27/15 4:00pm

sunnyside-plaza

Both the Sunnyside Shines Business Improvement District and ReCreate Queens just launched a crowdfunding campaign to bring cultural programming to Sunnyside’s Bliss Plaza this summer. The plaza, which opened up last year, is located right under the 7 at Queens Boulevard and 46th Street. The goal of the campaign is to raise just over $5,000 by mid-April to kick off the performance series “Third Thursdays in Bliss Plaza.” The performance, planned to run between June and October, will provide residents with free concerts from different musicians and performers.

The performance series got its initial funding from Queens Council on the Arts, but additional funding is needed to carry the program through the summer. According to the Sunnyside BID, the first $1,000 of donations will be matched by the Neighborhood Plaza Partnership. As Rachel Thieme, executive director of Sunnyside Shines, says, “Bringing arts programming to Bliss Plaza helps create a more dynamic place and generates foot traffic and activity in the neighborhood, which benefits businesses, residents and visitors alike.”

If you’d like to donate, do so here.

Photo by Michael Rapp