It’s a chance to make history, star in a movie and live on in perpetuity. Dan Hendrick, who is currently working on the documentaryJamaica Bay Lives, and the Queens Memory Project are looking for people to share their stories, photos, mementos and thoughts on the neighborhoods stretching from Howard Beach through the Rockaways to Breezy Point. On April 24, Hendrick and QMP partners Queens College and Queens Library will be interviewing past and current area residents during Jamaica Bay Community History Night at the Broad Channel Branch Library. Hendrick noted that this is the chance to preserve local history before it becomes a fuzzy memory. He added that Hurricane Sandy has added a whole new chapter to this project.
Combining storytelling, history and the arts, the Five Boro Story Project seeks to strengthen community connections, preserve local history, and boost pride in NYC neighborhoods. The nonprofit’s newest series, I’m Tawkin Here: Storytelling with a New Yawk Accent, kicks off on April 10 at the New York Irish Center before traveling through the five boroughs on five consecutive Wednesdays until May 8. The show features Broad Channel native Tara Clancy, a fifth-generation New Yorker and the Moth GrandSLAM storytelling champion whose solo show “Channel Rat” was featured in the NY Fringe Festival. LIC’s Kambri Crews, a storyteller, public speaker and author of Burn Down the Ground, is scheduled to perform, as are Rockaway’s Ed Shevlin, an Irish speaker, Fulbright Commission for Summer Language Study winner and part of the heroic sanitation team that that cleaned up the Rockaways after Hurricane Sandy, and Howard Beach representative Angel Yau, a comedienne extraordinaire with Upright Citizen’s Brigade and Mortified! storytelling. Jamaica’s SoSoon of Mi-6, an emcee, songwriter and the self-proclaimed “Spike Lee of hip hop” is in charge of the music.
Curbed, in their Camera Obscura column, had Nathan Kensigner head to the Rockaway Peninsula to take some photos of the area after Hurricane Sandy. His work is always excellent, and this report is no different. It’s a surreal landscape now, and in the words of one Edgemere resident, “It’s like a bad dream that I can’t wake up from.”
If you can believe it, we’re just about to fall into December, and are in the home stretch on the way to next year. If you are in the midst of holiday shopping, take a look at our guide to holiday markets in Queens (we’ve updated it since we first published it) as well as our guide to Queens nonprofit giving. Also, there’s Secret Sandy:
Know a family who is still without power or internet, and could use a little extra help this holiday? Download our Dear Secret Sandy letter for them to fill out with their children, and mail the completed form back to us by Saturday, December 8th (or help register them online!).
More on the hurricane relief efforts happening at the Belle Harbor Yacht Club (they’re the ones with the solar generator), led by Rockaway W.I.S.H. (Women Inspired to Support and Help).
Big Easy to the Big Apple
We loved this story about NOLA firefighters coming up to the Rockaways to help with Hurricane Sandy relief, given back to NYC, who sent firefighters down to help after Hurricane Katrina. It’s a wonderfully heartwarming story and might make you a little misty (don’t worry, just people you have something in your eye).
Wiggly tracks on the way to Broad Channel
Check out this recent shot of the state of the subway tracks on the way to Broad Channel. Yikes.
Time Out New York has put out their “best of” list when it comes to the city’s best attractions, and they did give some love to Queens. The usual suspects made it onto the list, like MOMA PS1, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, and MOMI, but we think the Noguchi Museum and the US Tennis Center should have been on there, too. Oh well. We’ve listed their choices and given our own descriptions. Check it out!
It’s true – FEMA is now occupying ten floors in the Forest Hills Tower building. They’ve created a temporary office where they will coordinate Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. This is the former home of JetBlue, before they moved to LIC. Back in April, Leslie Brown, president of the Forest Hills Chamber of Commerce said, “Hopefully, [we’ll] get another big client to fill those spaces.” The FEMA folks will probably be there for a year.
Diwali at the Queens Museum of Art
Last Sunday at the Queens Museum of Art they celebrated Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, during their Second Sundays series (Diwali proper was yesterday). Here’s a great photo taken from that event:
Image source: QMA
Terrizzi is gone, Leli’s Bakery is here
We learned from intrepid food adventurer Sue Yacka that a new bakery has opened up in the old Terrizzi Pastry Shop space (so yes, they really have), called Leli’s Bakery. Their offerings – breads, pastries, and sweets – sound very promising, and the presence of good coffee (Irving Farms) is also another good sign. We welcome them to Astoria and we look forward to trying their noms.
Broad Channel in another life, though not long ago
If you’re wondering why people live in Broad Channel – one of the communities that was wrecked by Hurricane Sandy – and why they might risk living in a place where the water could turn on them, this long essay from Narratively may help with understanding. From the article:
From the window, or below on his back porch, [Battalion Cheif Dan] Mundy Jr. also has a sweeping sightline of the Manhattan cityscape, along with sections of Brooklyn that his fire battalion oversees. Sometimes, on his days off, he’ll sit and relax and occasionally something will catch his eye beyond Jamaica Bay—like the telltale flashing of emergency lights rushing toward a car accident or a fire scene. Those days Mundy Jr. will call his crew to make sure they’re alright, inevitably surprising them by the fact that he’s even privy to the situation. But on calmer days he’ll just head out in his boat and drift between the marsh islands and among the tall grass stalks he’s known since childhood.
Also, did you know that in the 60s there was a proposal to extend the JFK runways into Broad Channel? The Port Authority proposed it in 1968.
Seasonal beers have a home in Queens
Local writer Danielle McClue has shared with us a great roundup of spots around Queens that feature seasonal beers particularly appropriate to this chilly Fall season – stouts, pumpkin ales, and Oktoberfest beer. It’s impressive how many different spots around the borough offer tasty brews for this time of year, from Alewife in LIC where they’ll serve your drink at their beautiful bar, to Triboro Beverage, where the shelves are chock full of an interesting array of craft beer.
NY 1 reported on another step toward normalcy in southwestern Queens, which got hit hard during Hurricane Sandy – the return of the A train to Howard Beach, which allows for easier transit access for those on the Rockaway peninsula. Trains started back up at 7:42am on Sunday, ahead of schedule (8am was the scheduled start time).
We put together a collection of videos of Hurricane Sandy before, during, and after it hit. It’s interesting to look back in time, and heartbreaking to see the destruction afterwards. We wonder if this might have been the most recorded hurricane in history, thanks to the explosion of social media and smartphone use lately.
A personal account of Sandy’s devastation by a Broad Channel resident
My grandmother’s two-story bungalow stood 30 feet out on Jamaica Bay and was destroyed. The home was 100 years old and has been in my family for nearly 40 years. Her home, and my favorite place in the world, collapsed on itself and floated away.
On the other hand, there’s some good news coming out of Broad Channel – lights and donations
We were happy to learn about some pretty amazing donations coming to the community of Broad Channel. Ambulances and a fire truck have been donated by local groups in Glendale and out in Sag Harbor (Long Island), as well as all the way from Minnesota! The traffic light near the bridge is also back on. Progress.
The Today Show discovers 5 Pointz in LIC
Sara Haines, of the Today Show’s Sara in the City series, took a visit to LIC to check out 5 Pointz. We think it blew her mind. She certainly looked like she was having fun.
As we approach close to two weeks post-Hurricane Sandy, it’s is heartening to hear good news coming from the Rockaways area of Queens. CBS New York reports that there are “signs of life” in Broad Channel – the traffic light near the bridge is operational, and some stores have their lights on. The Rock N Roll Bagels is one of those and hopes to open soon.
In other good news, the Glendale Volunteer Ambulance Corps donated an ambulance to help the Broad Channel community get up and running. (more…)
Many people were out to vote today – we heard about lines of enthusiastic citizens looking to exercise their constitutional rights. Governor Cuomo came through with this announcement, which is particularly helpful to those in the Rockaways:
Governor Cuomo just signed an executive order allowing registered voters in New York who were displaced by Hurricane Sandy to vote at any polling station by signing an affidavit. “We want everyone to vote & we want to make it as easy as possible,” the governor tweeted from his account.
The governor cautions that while displaced voters can cast a ballot at any precinct in the races for President and US Senate, ballots for local races must be cast at your designated polling place. 60 of them have been relocated due to Hurricane Sandy, and you can find that list here.”
We asked if you were able to vote today and how it went at the polls, and we got some great responses that were overwhelmingly positive.
A Nor’Easter is on its way – troubling news for already damaged coastal communities
We are preparing for another storm to come our way, this time it’s a classic Nor’Easter. It may bring just rain, or it might bring sleet and/or snow. The weather people seem to change their forecast regularly. We are concerned for folks in places like the Rockaways, Staten Island, and the Jersey shore, who really suffered during Hurricane Sandy. Even a 2-4 foot surge could cause real problems for them and their communities. Let’s hope, as Gov. Christie says, that the storm turns to the right when it gets to us.
Broad Channel subway station is in bad shape
Hurricane Sandy also did a real number on the Broad Channel subway stop. This is the A station where people transfer to the shuttle to get to the Rockaway peninsula. This means getting there by train is impossible. So what happened exactly? From MTA Chief Joe Lhota:
“The amount of destruction on the A-train over Broad Channel is indescribable. I’ve seen it, I’ve seen pictures of it, the amount of damage, this was almost a direct hit. It’s over water, it’s through marshland, it’s going to take quite a long time to rebuild this, and I’m talking about rebuilding this. I’m talking about the water that went underneath and really affected the structural integrity. This part of the world, what happened in the Rockaways was really devastating.”
Hot mint tea at Harissa in Astoria hits the spot
Over on QueensLove, one of the contributors posted about the hot mint tea at Harissa, a wonderful North African restaurant on 30th Ave in Astoria. The tea comes in your own pot, so you can pour it at your own pace. It really is lovely (be sure to get it sweetened), and it goes great with pretty much everything on the menu.