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Last week, we asked you to comment on what the icon of Queens is, and almost unanimously the Q’Stoner audience said “Unisphere.” Accordingly, just yesterday, I went out to Flushing Meadows Corona Park to get some shots of this icon of Queens for you. Unfortunately, the fountains aren’t on yet, but it was sunset. I’m going to keep my mouth shut for a change, and let the photos speak for themselves.

From Wikipedia:

The Unisphere is a 12-story high, spherical stainless steel representation of the Earth. Located in Flushing Meadows – Corona Park in the borough of Queens, New York City, the Unisphere is one of the borough’s most iconic and enduring symbols.

Commissioned to celebrate the beginning of the space age, the Unisphere was conceived and constructed as the theme symbol of the 1964–1965 New York World’s Fair. The theme of the World’s Fair was “Peace Through Understanding” and the Unisphere represented the theme of global interdependence. It was dedicated to “Man’s Achievements on a Shrinking Globe in an Expanding Universe.”

Check out tons of Unisphere shots after the jump! (more…)

03/24/14 11:00am

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The Saint Demetrios Cathedral on 31st Street here in Astoria holds an annual street fair in the late spring, and last year I had an opportunity to enter the church and wave my camera around a bit. Greek, or Eastern Orthodox as the faithful would prefer, churches are a particular favorite of mine to visit and photograph due to the literally byzantine artwork and wealth of lavish ornamentation.

From saintdemetriosastoria.com:

Saint Demetrios was born in Thesaloniki, Greece in 270 AD. He came from a wealthy family and because he was athletic in appearance and heroic in spirit, he became a high-ranking officer in the Roman Army at a very young age. (This is why he is depicted in Byzantine icons in military dress, either standing or riding a horse.) He considered himself a soldier of Christ first, and a military soldier second. He spent most of his time as a devout missionary, preaching the Gospel at secret meetings and converting pagans to the Christian faith.

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02/06/14 11:00am

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Locked inside and insulated from the hideous weather, I’ve been reminiscing about the time when you could just leave the house and walk around Queens without wearing 25 pounds of coat.

An annual “cabin fever” process, which invariably ends with a stir crazy photographer historian saying “enough of  this” (the actual expression is a bit more colorful, but Brownstoner is a family publication) and then marching out into the frozen wastes of Queens. A few years ago, after a remarkable snowstorm, my “enough of this” walk carried me to one of my favorite places – First Calvary Cemetery in Blissville.

You won’t believe what I found there.

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01/06/14 11:00am

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Welcome to DUBABO, Down Under the Borden Avenue Bridge Onramp, which spans the Dutch Kills tributary of the Newtown Creek. Dutch Kills is an ancestral waterway, one which once suffused into the swampy tidal flats which we call Long Island City, but which was given over to industrial usage. European colonists stumbled in to it, during the 1640s, and they described the area surrounding Dutch Kills as having been “malarial, and mosquito ridden.” The water once ran as far inland as modern day Queens Plaza, but the entire coastline of western Long Island was riddled with shallow waterways back then, which fed a thriving wetland.

The Sunswick and Newtown Creeks macerated the Long Island shoreline of Queens and allowed tidal nutrients to suffuse into the swampy soil via a vast upland network of tributary streams and coastal salt marshes. Around the time of the American Revolution, Dutch Kills and all of Newtown Creek was described as a hunters paradise, full of fish and fowl and deer.

By the late 19th century however, after industry arrived and the sewers began to dead end here- folks from Blissville, Maspeth, and Hunters Point all referred to this area as the waste meadows.

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10/17/13 11:00am

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Wandering around Calvary Cemetery is often a revelatory experience, and while perambulating through the hallows of Section 9 not so long ago, the shock of sudden recognition nearly laid me low. While scanning the monolith studded landscape, the name of one of history’s most famous New Yorkers suddenly appeared before me, chiseled in granite.

Steve Brodie… The man who jumped from the Brooklyn Bridge and lived to talk about it. (more…)

10/07/13 11:00am

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While wandering around the neighborhood one day, I happened across the famous Jackson Hole “Airline Diner.” The restaurant had a brief appearance in the classic 1990 film “Goodfellas,” and those of us who live here amongst the blessed hills of Astoria make it a point of acknowledging when one of our own gets famous and you don’t get more famous than appearing in a Scorcese film.

It’s a magnificent bit of neon signage, on this diner found on Astoria Boulevard.

From movie-locations.com:

The ‘Idlewild Airport’ scenes used the cargo buildings of Kennedy Airport. Idlewild became Kennedy Airport in 1963, but it’s near to New York’s other main airport, LaGuardia, that you’ll find the ‘Airline Diner’, where the grown-up Hill (Ray Liotta) and pal Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci) steal a truck. It’s now part of the Jackson Hole franchise. Confusingly, but thankfully, it keeps the famous old neon ‘Airline’ sign. You can grab a burger in the classic pink and chrome interior of the Jackson Hole Diner, 69-35 Astoria Boulevard at 70th Street in Queens (tel: 718.204.7070).

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09/26/13 11:00am

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Maspeth Creek is a tributary of the larger Newtown Creek; its street facing terminus can be accessed on 49th Street between Galasso Place and Maspeth Avenue. Once, the waterway stretched out toward Flushing for a considerable distance, but that was back when the Europeans first showed back in the 1640s. These Dutchmen from New Amsterdam established a colony nearby in 1642, one named for and then wiped out by a group of Native Americans whom they called the Mespaetche in 1643.

They’re where we get the place name “Maspeth,” by the way.

Apparently, the Dutch really pissed off the natives, and the colonists were sent packing. Unfortunately for the Mespaetche, the Dutch left behind pandemic and disease. In 1652, the Dutch were back, and were in a diplomatic mood this time. They made peace with the surviving natives, and established the colony of “Nieuwe Stad.”

When the English took over, “Nieuwe Stad” became Newtown. (more…)

08/22/13 11:00am

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Photo courtesy of Google Books, Queens Borough, New York City, 1910-1920: The Borough of Homes and Industry

This image was found in one of the many ancient books which I’m known to haunt. The historic shot’s vantage point is familiar to regular riders of the LIRR, and would be somewhere very close to Trimble Road’s intersection with 64th Street in Woodside. It was likely captured in the latter half of the decade — after 1917 and before 1920 (around the time of the First World War) — roughly a century ago.

Notice the Woodside Court building at the center left of the shot, it would have been around ten years old. Woodside Court is supposed to be the very first apartment house in all of Woodside, or so I’ve been told. The Long Island Railroad station was established in Woodside in 1895, by the way. (more…)

08/19/13 11:00am

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First things first, what we call 51st Street at the border of Astoria and Woodside was once known as Bowery Bay Road. Secondly, in 1733 this spot was on the outskirts of the colonial village of Newtown, and it was chosen by the wealthy Moore family as their private burial ground. They intermarried with other prominent Newtown families, such as the Hallets, Rapelyes, and Jacksons. Jackson Avenue in LIC is named for the Jackson family, by the way.

The sire of the Moore family, Rev. John Moore, arrived in Newtown in 1652. He died in 1657, but left behind a wife and several children who stayed in the area, where they enjoyed a large inheritance of real estate and cash.

One notable descendant of the Moore family was Clement Clarke Moore, who wrote “The Night Before Christmas” amongst other things.

The stone pictured above commemorates Augustine Moore, who died at age 17 in the year 1769. (more…)