The shot above is quite modern, captured a few days after Hurricane Sandy on November 4th of 2012, which is the reason why there is no traffic visible. It depicts the “Queens Midtown Highway” section of the Long Island Expressway. The highway was opened in 1939, along with the Midtown Tunnel, and it changed Long Island City forever. The point of view is found on Greenpoint Avenue, by the way.
Astoria Park is your last stop in Queens, at which point you’ll be getting wet. The waters which lie off the shore are a section of the formerly industrial East River called Hell Gate. The park offers no water access, of course, but there is a nice walkway along Shore Road which allows one to stroll and observe.
It’s a lovely spot, and quite popular with those lucky enough to live nearby. One is always struck by the polychrome nature of the rocky shoreline, which is deposited to and subtracted from on a daily basis by the tides. On a sunny day, the amount of color one experiences here can literally dazzle.
Gaze in wonder upon the fabled Newtown Creek of the 21st century, as a tug of the Poling and Cutler towing organization wrestles a fuel barge in a westerly course toward the East River past the Vernon Blvd. Street end in Queens (right) and the Manhattan Avenue Street end in Brooklyn (left).
A phrase I routinely offer boldly states that “in the late 19th and early 20th century, Newtown Creek carried more commercial traffic than the entire Mississippi River.” This statement often causes listeners to roll their eyes.
It is inconceivable, given the modern appearance of the Creek and its banks, to believe this statement. Some ask me whether or not tugs and barges can even be observed operating along the Newtown Creek in this dystopian future we have all found ourselves living in. (more…)
Wandering aimlessly one day, I encountered this rather badly-equipped automobile just off Northern Boulevard. The historic cradle of the automobile industry in New York City, this stretch of the great thoroughfare hosts several multi-acre car lots, including the famous Major Auto World.
This is the corner of 44th Street and Northern Boulevard, at the heart of what I call the “Carridor.”
Bruce Bendell and his brother Harold began operating a Brooklyn carwash and auto repair shop in 1972. Subsequently they and their father sold used cars and leased new cars in Brooklyn before purchasing Major Chevrolet, a Long Island City distributor, in 1985. At this time the dealership was in decline, with only 500 cars and $10 million in annual sales. By 1990 sales had increased tenfold. In 1996 Bendell’s Major Automotive Group was doing about $180 million a year in business. One of New York’s largest auto dealerships, it now consisted of six franchises, including Major Chevrolet/Geo; Major Dodge; and Major Chrysler, Plymouth, Jeep Eagle, in Long Island City, plus, in Woodside–another Queens community–Major Subaru, in addition to Major Fleet and Leasing, the leading supplier of taxis and police cars in New York and also a lessor of trucks.
One of the many corporate giants which distinguished Long Island City at the start of the last century was known as Waldes Koh-I-Noor.
Located at the corner of Anable Avenue and Creek Street (which is the modern day 27th Street and Austell Place), the firm was a manufacturer of dress fasteners (snaps, zippers and the like) and was known to produce all sorts of metallic devices — including war munitions, during times of national crisis. The building offers about 200,000 square feet of space and hosts multiple truck loading docks.
Henry Waldes New York has leased the factory of the Klndel Bed Co Anable Avenue and Creek Street Long Island City NY comprising a four story reinforced concrete structure for the establishment of a new plant for the manufacture of small metal specialties The lease is for a term of years and aggregates $350,000.
When the Mrs. and I first moved to Astoria, we found ourselves at the border. Not far from Woodside and across Northern Boulevard from Sunnyside, the section was once known as “The German Settlement” during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Specifically we found ourselves living in one of the four unit row houses found on 44th street nearby 34th Avenue. Anxious to meet the new neighbors, we set about talking to literally every stranger we could.
One of my little ice breakers is the usually innocuous question, “Have you ever seen a ghost?”.
More than one of the new neighbors answered in the affirmative, and they then told me about an apparition that they called “the White Lady.” (more…)
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…)
The father of modern Greenpoint was a Yankee engineer named Neziah Bliss. In addition to his efforts in Brooklyn, he set about the creation of a somewhat utopian laborers community in Queens with his partner, Eliaphet Nott of Union College. Eponymous, the village of Blissville didn’t quite end up being a utopia, instead it ended up hosting fat renderers, rail yards, and after 1848 — Calvary Cemetery.
Irish laborers followed the jobs here, and the reputation of Blissville suffered from the anti-Catholic and anti-Hibernian prejudices typically found in the society of 19th century New York City. This was before Tammany took over, when NYC was still very much an anglophile, Protestant town which did not subscribe to our modern notions of diversity and racial equality. (more…)
I have an annoying habit of assigning nicknames to people and places, but what can I say, I grew up in Brooklyn and currently spend all my time in the past. One of my neighbors in Astoria is “High Pitch Richie,” another is “Weird Tony,” and there’s the “man with no soul” who lives on my block (automatic supermarket doors do not open when he approaches — it’s very odd).
The “Empty Corridor in Long Island City” is a term of my own invention — the rest of you know it as 50th Avenue. Once upon a time it connected with the 50th Avenue which transverses the residential section of Hunters Point and continued all the way to the East River, but that was before Robert Moses and the Long Island Expressway came to town in 1939. (more…)