It’s going to be a bad weekend on the 7 line for Queens residents. The Sunnyside Post sends the alert that the MTA is suspending 7 train service between Times Square-42nd Street and 74th Street/Roosevelt Ave from 2 am Saturday through 4:30 am Monday. The closure is part of ongoing construction that’s unfortunately expected to last until 2017.
There will be two free shuttle services for the weekend. The first is running from Vernon Blvd/Jackson Ave to Queensboro Plaza, stopping at Hunters Point Ave, 45th Road/Court House Square and Queens Plaza. The other is running between Queensboro Plaza and 74th Street/Broadway. It will stop at 33rd Street, 40th Street, 46th Street, 52nd Street, 61st Street/Woodside and 69th Street.
The turn-of-the-century English Garden City movement of Sir Ebenezer Howard and Sir Raymond Unwin served as the inspiration for Sunnyside Gardens, built from 1924-1928 from Skillman Avenue north to the LIRR and from 43rd to 50th Streets. This housing experiment was aimed at showing civic leaders that they could solve social problems and beautify the city, all while making a small profit. The City Housing Corporation, whose founders were then-schoolteacher and future first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, ethicist Felix Adler, attorney and housing developer Alexander Bing, urban planner Lewis Mumford, architects Clarence S. Stein, Henry Wright, and Frederick Lee Ackerman and landscape architect Marjorie S. Cautley, was responsible for the project. Co-founder Lewis Mumford[the long-time architecture critic at The New Yorker] was also one of the Garden’s first residents. The part of Skillman Avenue that runs through Sunnyside Gardens has been renamed in his honor.
Last Thursday, Vivire Bar opened up shop at 41-21 Greenpoint Avenue in Sunnyside. As Sunnyside Post points out, it’s a stretch known for lots of empty storefronts — Vivire replaced the vacant Lowery Medical Care space. While the owner initially planned to open a sports bar here that focused on soccer, he changed his mind and decided to cater to young professionals in the neighborhood. Vivire offers a selection of wines, scotch, craft beers, seasonal cocktails and a happy hour special from noon to 7 pm.
A few big streetscape proposals have popped up around Queens. The first is in Long Island City, where the Department of Transportation introduced safety proposals for Court Square and Queens Plaza streets. LIC Post reports that “the department is focusing on the area that links Queens Plaza South to 44th Drive—bordered by 28th Street on the east and Crescent Street to the west.” The DOT proposes a long list of changes: reducing the width of 28th Street by adding a center median, increasing the size of the pedestrian island at the corner of 28th Street and 42nd Road, adding a pedestrian island in the middle of 44th Drive, converting Hunter Street from a one-way to a two-way between 44th Drive and 43rd Avenue. They are also eyeing the corner of 44th Drive and Jackson Avenue, as well as Crescent Street between 43rd Avenue and 42nd Drive, for safety improvements. Check out the full plan here — Community Board 2 is expected to vote on the proposal September 4th.
Meanwhile, in Sunnyside and Woodside, the DOT has proposed two slow zones for the neighborhood. Sunnyside Post reports that each zone will cover the northern and the southern section of both neighborhoods. (Check out a map after the jump, and see the DOT’s full presentation here.) The new zones will be marked by new speed bumps and large blue signs stating the 20 mph speed limit. According to Sunnyside Post, “Community Board 2 is planning on holding a public meeting on the plans that is likely to take place within the next two weeks.” The DOT hopes to install the slow zones by the end of the year.
It’s time for some enrichment, and the Greater Astoria Historical Society is ready to offer three distinct options for self-improvement on three consecutive days. This Saturday, licensed guide Tony Rohling will lead a walking tour of Sunnyside Gardens (below), a planned community which is celebrating its 90th anniversary. Participants will examine the architecture and landscaping in this historic district and check out Phipps Garden Apartments, a model residential complex for working-class families that a philanthropic organization belonging to the Henry Phipps family built in 1931. It features stylish brick work and curved steel fire escapes.
On Sunday, the Greater Astoria Historical Society will launch its first Chautauqua in Astoria workshop. Chautauqua is a lakeside village in upstate New York where summer visitors enjoy fine and performing arts, lectures, interfaith worship, and recreational activities. Plus, the term “Chautauqua” can mean an informational lecture, and modern Chautauquas (above) focus on re-creating famous figures related to a specific theme. Sally Ann Drucker, an experienced Chautauquan, will lead a series of workshops on legendary New Yorkers from the 19th Century. Participants choose and research a legendary figure, write a 20-minute script, and learn how to present their material to live audiences. After four workshops, Chautauqua in Astoria culminates in live performances.
Then on September 8th, the Greater Astoria Historical Society will team up with the New York Nineteenth Century Society to present a lecture on the 1876 Centennial Exhibition, which was held in Philadelphia. Attendees will learn about the celebration of America’s 100th birthday, the inventions that debuted then, and the lasting impact the event had on the United States. (For example, the Statue of Liberty’s torch-bearing hand was on display at the exhibition before the completed monument was installed in New York Harbor.)
This Thursday, Sunnyside gets a brand new elementary school at 45-46 42nd Street, PS 313. It’s a five-story building that will hold a total of 430 seats for pre-k through fifth grade. Sunnyside Post reports that the site has been under construction since January 2013 after the School Construction Authority purchased the lot in 2010. They spent $57,000,000 in construction costs.
The school is initially accepting pre-K, kindergarten and first grade students — once the first graders reach fifth grade then it’ll be full. There are 20 classrooms, a play area on the roof, a library, a combined gymnasium/auditorium, art room and science facilities. This school addresses extreme overcrowding at PS 199, where there are 1,048 students in a building that accommodates 650. The SCA is also building an annex at PS 11 on Skillman Avenue that will add another 350 seats.
Sunnyside just got authentic Tibetan cuisine in the form of the Tibetan Dumpling Café, now open at 49-08 Queens Boulevard between 49th and 50th Streets. The menu includes a number of Tibetan classics, including thali, a traditional platter including rice, lentils, curried meat or vegetables, cooked greens, yogurt and homemade pickles, thenthuk, a hand-pulled noodle soup and momos, the very delicious handmade Tibetan dumplings made of chicken, beef or vegetables. The cafe is the only exclusively Tibetan restaurant now operating in Sunnyside. Sunnyside Shines released a press release with this statement by the owner, Tashi Chopel: “The neighborhood is beautiful and filled with different kinds of food from many countries over the world. We decided to add a little taste of Tibet in the mix of all the beautiful flavors. Tibetan dumplings are a must-try – they are made from scratch from dough knotting and mincing meat, to shaping, steaming and serving fresh. Momos are a big part of the Tibetan culture!” You can see a photo of him in front of the cafe after the jump.
The Daily News also gave the Tibetan Dumpling Café a little love this morning; Chopel tells the News that he hopes to bring more familiarity and name recognition to momos. GMAP
Check out this awesome video by StreetsBlog chronicling the Bike Friendly Business District celebration that took place over the weekend in Sunnyside. This is Queens’ very first bike friendly BID. Over 50 cyclists showed up to visit and sample food from six of 70 bike-friendly restaurants in the area. Now, let’s get some CitiBikes in the nabe!
This Saturday, Transportation Alternatives and Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer will be in Sunnyside to launch the first “Bike Friendly Business District” in Queens. What’s a bike friendly business district? Here’s what Transportation Alternatives has to say: “Sunnyside is home to numerous entrepreneurs who know that a network of bike lanes, bike parking and public bike share creates vibrant streets that boost local business. By offering special discounts to T.A.’s 12,000 members, Bike Friendly Business Districts become destinations for New Yorkers who believe in safer, more livable streets.”
There are a collection of more than 70 bike friendly businesses in Sunnyside advocating for bicycle and street safety. On Saturday, T.A. and Council Member Van Bramer will spotlight the local businesses with a leisurely bike tour around the neighborhood. It kicks off at 2 pm at the Bliss Street Plaza and lasts until 4 pm. Find more details here.
Community Board 2 chair Joseph Conley, along with leaders based in Long Island City, Sunnyside and Woodside, came up with a proposal to bring more affordable housing to the borough. The Daily News reports that in a letter to the city, the group highlighted four different parcels with the potential for rezoning. Conley wants taller, denser developments with at least 30 percent of the units priced affordably. The locations in question are an area of Queens Plaza, a triangle in Woodside bound by Broadway, Northern Boulevard and the BQE, a parcel in Sunnyside near Northern Boulevard between 43rd to 48th Streets, and finally on top of the LIRR tracks on Woodside Avenue between 63rd and 65th Streets.
This proposal is inspired by Mayor de Blasio’s pledge to preserve or create 200,000 affordable units in the next ten years. Conley expressed concern over the “Gold Coast” emerging in LIC — the abundance of new-construction developments where a one bedroom rents for $2,800 to $3,200 a month. A rep from the Department of City Planning seemed open to the push for affordability: “We appreciate [the community board’s] willingness to discuss the important goals of expanding housing that will be affordable to a range of incomes. We continue to evaluate the appropriateness of areas that can meet the goals of the mayor’s housing plan,” she stated.