This week, Neir’s, the venerable tavern in Woodhaven, threw down the gauntlet as the Queens Historical Society anointed it NYC’s oldest continuously operated drinking establishment, challenging the self-proclaimed champion, McSorley’s on East 7th Street in the East Village, which claims 1854 as its opening year. NYC historian Richard McDermott claimed differently in the mid-1990s; according to his research employing old insurance maps, census data and tax-assessment records, indicators pointed to an 1862 opening. McSorley’s certainly gained cachet over the years from Joseph Mitchell’s stories in the New Yorker, collected in his book Up In the Old Hotel. Infamously, McSorley’s stubbornly insisted on settling for half its potential profits by only admitting male customers until a court challenge in 1970.
Both McSorley’s and Neir’s, if nature had not intervened, would lose out to the South Street Seaport’s Bridge Cafe, which under various ownership has been operated as a distillery, grocery and bar since 1794. However, the Bridge Cafe has been shuttered since the area was flooded by Hurricane Sandy in October 2012, and it is unknown when it will reopen. Its website says it is “temporarily closed” and it’s hoped that ‘temporary’ is indeed the case.
This leaves us with Neir’s, which, for the time being, at least, is the present champion. At 87-48 78th Street at 88th Avenue (formerly Snedeker, Snediker, or Sneideicker Avenue, depending on what map you consult, and 3rd Avenue, stands one of New York City’s oldest taverns, Neir’s, opened by their account in 1829 as The Pump Room, or Old Blue Pump House, to serve Union Course patrons.
The Queens Courier reports good news that construction is moving on 78-19 Jamaica Avenue, the Woodhaven building that partially collapsed last year. After the collapse, and after much community concern, the Department of Buildings declared the structure hazardous and prepared to demo it after the owners failed to show up in court several times. This summer, the owners reached an agreement with the DOB to rebuild rather than demolish, and now the second floor is built up.
Construction is slated to finish by the end of the year. No word on what will move in once the structure is standing again; a furniture store was forced out due to the collapse.
This corner property, located at 88-34 89th Street in Woodhaven, caught our eye. It’s a beautiful house — love the turret! — but it’s too bad the facade was covered up in what looks like an attempt to modernize. We’re not digging that fence, either. Sadly, there aren’t any interior photos, so we have no idea what kind of shape the place is in. (For what it’s worth, the listing says there are four bedrooms and 1,900 total square feet.) From the outside, though, this looks like a special home. The ask? $559,000.
Describing it as “vandalism,” “a blight,” and “a crime,” civic and political leaders from the Richmond Hill/Woodhaven area helped launch an anti-graffiti initiative with a press conference (below) and demonstration (above) on Wednesday. City Council Member Eric A. Ulrich, who represents these neighborhoods, announced that he had allotted $25,000 to eliminate graffiti at six major corridors — Woodhaven Boulevard; Jamaica Avenue; Atlantic Avenue; 101st Avenue; Liberty Avenue; and Rockaway Boulevard. The borough’s only Republican council member directed the funds to the Queens Economic Development Corporation‘s Neighborhood Development Division, which promotes economic growth by supporting community businesses. QEDC will sub-contract with Ridgewood-based Magic Touch Cleaning to carry out the initiative.
Saying this was a priority for him, Council Member Ulrich stated that he planned to seek more funding for this program in the future. QEDC Deputy Director Ricardi Calixte opined that graffiti is bad for business. He stated, “This type of vandalism has a domino effect, discouraging shoppers, encouraging lawlessness, and deterring investment.”
See a photo from the press conference after the jump. (more…)
Montrose is on vacation this week, and will return next week with a new report. Please enjoy a past entry, this one about Agateware, a familiar product to campers, country folk, and lovers of old things.
An institution like a church, or a factory, or another kind of industry can be the catalyst for an entire neighborhood’s growth. Sometimes, the neighborhood can die when that catalyst is gone, but sometimes, by the time that happens, the neighborhood is strong and sturdy in its own right, and can survive the loss. So many industries and factories were started by men with vision and good ideas, and then those businesses are one day gone, leaving only the buildings. Down the road, one hundred plus years later, we may only know them as “those old buildings.” Often, it’s “those old buildings that should be torn down so we can build a strip mall.” This is the story of one of those groups of old buildings, and what happened there, and what’s happening with them now. (more…)
This Saturday, the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association is hosting a community-wide yard sale, with more than 80 homes expected to participate. Last year’s event proved incredibly popular, with over 60 homes participating and shoppers visiting from around the city. As the Block Association says, “Part of what made last year’s event so sucessful is that it united typically isolated events into a full-neighborhood happening, while maximizing both buyer and seller interest.” It’ll take place from 9 am to 4 pm; the rain date is Sunday, September 28, from 9 am to 4 pm.
Here’s a map of all the participating households so far. Woodhaven residents who want to sell merchandise and become last-minute additions to the map (an updated map will be distributed Saturday) should fill out this online form.
After its frame was built in 1890 and its hand-carved horses and menagerie animals were added in 1903, the Forest Park Carousel has had a tremendous ride. It operated at Lakeview Park in Massachusetts from 1903 until 1971, sustaining severe damage in a 1966 fire. In 1973, the merry-go-round moved to Forest Park, where it dazzled riders with its intricate designs and sweet-sounding A. Ruth & Sohn band organ until closing in 2009. It re-opened in 2012 with a new operator, New York Carousel Entertainment, and was designated a New York City landmark a year later. Now this whirligig, which features 36 jumping horses, 13 standing horses, two chariots and three menagerie animals, is fighting a debilitating and deadly disease. This Friday, the Forest Park Carousel will host a fundraiser for the Alzheimer’s Association’s New York City Chapter. For $10, visitors get unlimited carousel rides, Cido the Clown and face-painting or they can enjoy individual rides for $3. NY Carousel will donate 100 percent of proceeds from the rides to the nonprofit health organization. The event is the brainchild of Alzheimer’s Association volunteer Carol Lacks, who lives nearby and has fond childhood memories of riding the carousel.