02/27/14 11:00am

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The other night, while hunting around the web for something new and interesting, I came across a 1914 edition of “The Automobile, a Journal of Automobile Progress and Construction” over at Google Books. Discussion of the exploding automotive manufacturing industry in Long Island City was offered, a century ago, in this article by J. Edward Schipper. Presumptively, the historic photographs are his as well.

It should also be mentioned that I have an annoying habit of assigning nicknames to neighborhoods, and “The Carridor” is a term entirely of my own fancy. Nobody else calls it that, most just use Northern Boulevard.

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Several times I’ve used the term “Carridor” for the section of Northern Boulevard that snakes out from under the elevated subways of Queens Plaza. Largely forgotten, this industrial corridor once hosted a concentration of automobile factories and service centers at the very dawn of the industry. Packard and Brewster, Standard, and Ford were all here, in Queens.

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02/25/14 1:00pm

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There will be movies from around the world — and around the corner. On March 4th, the fourth annual Queens World Film Festival will kick off a six-day moving image rampage of everything from feature films to shorts. Attendees can check out a dazzling selection of foreign flicks from such exotic ports of call as Belgium, Iran, India, Spain, Kosovo, Switzerland and Vietnam and enjoy the work of 18 borough-based auteurs.  Like-minded films will be blocked together and will roll at Astoria’s Museum of the Moving Image, The Secret Theatre and Nesva Hotel in Long Island City and PS 69 in Jackson Heights. The fun starts with an opening night party featuring the world premiere of the director’s cut of the of 2014 Academy Award-nominated documentary The Act of Killing. Directed by English-born Joshua Oppenheimer, the movie portrays his country’s national guilt potentially exhumed by a love of movies.

Details: Queens World Film Festival, Museum of the Moving Image (36-01 35th Avenue), The Secret Theatre (44-02 23rd Street), Nesva Hotel (39-12 29th Street) and PS 69 (77-02 37th Avenue), March 4th through the 9th, click here for times and venues, click here for tickets.

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02/20/14 1:00pm

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The entropy has turned into synergy. In 2005, Valerie Green (above) established a permanent home for Dance Entropy in an 1,800-square-foot Long Island City studio she called “Green Space.” The word “entropy” refers to the tendency towards disorder in a social system and chaos in motion. This weekend, Green will move her act to another local creativity hub, LaGuardia Performing Arts Center’s Little Theater, to perform Begin. Again. This extravaganza will premiere Hinge, an abstract group dance for six dancers, accompanied by original music played lived on stage in collaboration with MuSE, Multicultural Sonic Evolution; and Womb, a solo by Green in collaboration with artist Rodney Zagury.

Details: Begin. Again., LaGuardia Performing Arts Center’s Little Theater, 31-10 Thomson Avenue, LIC, February 22nd at 8 pm and February 23rd at 2:30 pm, $15 advance/$20 at door/$10 students.

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02/10/14 11:00am

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I like to consider myself fairly well informed, but often I find that I am ruinously ignorant about things both ubiquitous and consequential. Wandering about in the snow recently, simple road salt began to fill my mind with questions as I watched it being flung about by Municipal worker and home owner alike as a prophylactic against ice. According to Smithsonian Magazine, 137 pounds of salt are spread on the nation’s roadways per every American.

From Wikipedia:

Halite occurs in vast beds of sedimentary evaporite minerals that result from the drying up of enclosed lakes, playas, and seas. Salt beds may be hundreds of meters thick and underlie broad areas. In the United States and Canada extensive underground beds extend from the Appalachian basin of western New York through parts of Ontario and under much of the Michigan Basin. Other deposits are in Ohio, Kansas, New Mexico, Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan. The Khewra salt mine is a massive deposit of halite near Islamabad, Pakistan. In the United Kingdom there are three mines; the largest of these is at Winsford in Cheshire producing half a million tonnes on average in six months.

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02/05/14 1:00pm

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John Smalls has two big passions: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and visual arts. The graphic designer says that the two disciplines are similar in that the practitioner must create a good foundation in both — or all is lost. When he learns a new martial arts technique, he practices it over and over again until it becomes second nature. When he decides to draw a subject, such as a dragon, he draws it dozens of times until it flows from his pen. On February 6th, Smalls will exhibit his paintings, illustrations, drawings and digital designs at SPACE Gallery LIC as part of a show that runs for the entire month. As part of the fun, instructors from LifeStyle MMA Academy will host a demonstration on the lifestyle and art of Jiu-Jitsu on February 15th. And on February 22nd, Brazil native Francisco Mansor, a Jiu-Jitsu red belt, will talk about the martial art that he has mastered and sell some of his memorabilia.

Details: Opening Reception for John Smalls, SPACE Gallery LIC, 29-09 39th Avenue, Long Island City, February 6th, 6 pm. Show runs through February 28th.

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01/30/14 11:15am

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A dizzying display of industrial and architectural might, on display above, distracts the eye from the subject of this post.

Empire State, Chrysler, the entire shield wall of Manhattan – even the sapphire spire which distinguishes modern Long Island City – are all screaming for attention. At the sapphire tower’s base is a white building, a former printing plant and later an Eagle Electric factory, which has long been converted over to luxury condominiums and is known as the Arris Lofts. At the bottom of the shot is Skillman Avenue, and the tracks of the Sunnyside Yard A show a train transiting along. In the midst of all this manifest wealth and ambition, it is easy to overlook the subject of today’s post. The lower right hand corner of the shot depicts a viaduct structure, one which allows trains to pass beneath a vehicular roadway which it supports.

An enormous concrete and steel bridge, 500 feet long and 100 feet wide, it is hidden in plain sight.

That’s the Thomson Avenue Viaduct.

From 1877′s “Long Island and where to go!!: A descriptive work compiled for the Long R.R. Co.“, courtesy Google Books:

Long Island City is the concentrating point upon the East river, of all the main avenues of travel from the back districts of Long Island to the city of New York. The great arteries of travel leading from New York are Thomson avenue, macadamized, 100 feet wide, leading directly to Newtown, Jamaica and the middle and southern roads on Long Island, and Jackson avenue, also 100 feet wide, and leading directly to Flushing, Whitestone and the northerly roads.

Long Island City is also the concentrating point upon the East river, of the railway system of Long Island.

The railways, upon reaching the city, pass under the main avenues of travel and traffic, and not upon or across their surface.

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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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12/19/13 11:00am
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A shot  acquired in 2010, when I happened to be standing in a south facing room within the Degnon Terminal’s former Loose Wiles building (LaGuardia Community College’s Building C, in modernity)… which overlooks the waters of the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek.

Dutch Kills is LIC’s ancestral waterway, which once flowed all the way to Queens Plaza, and is just a few blocks from Court Square and Thomson Avenue. Beyond the Long Island Expressway is the infinity of Brooklyn, and you are looking roughly south.

The Newtown Creek industrial district of New York City

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The 5Pointz story has been all over the web for the last few weeks, including here at Brownstoner Queens, and it is just sad that the structure has already been stripped of the graffiti artwork which once made it remarkable.

I guess it’s the way of things, here in New York City, and the 1892 vintage factory will be excised in the near future. Observationally, it was the single largest “draw” in LIC for foreign tourists (and even jaded New Yorkers) and it will be missed. A composition of saturated color that brightened the urban landscape, which incurred reflection in viewers, is always appreciated.

Once upon a time though, specifically before the Second World War, there was no color and the entire world was black and white. Rising out of this monotone landscape was the Neptune Meter Company of Long Island City.

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12/12/13 11:00am

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Ubiquitous articles of street furniture such as fireboxes and manhole covers endlessly fascinate me. Fire hydrants and mail boxes are so common that most don’t even notice them, whereas I have been known to literally send a congratulatory email to City Planning when a comely new design of street bench appears in Queens.

Something I’ve always been curious about, and I mean since I was a kid, is what might be going on inside those “N.Y.C. Drinking Water Sampling Stations” which you generally don’t notice that are found on certain streets in nearly every neighborhood. The one pictured above is located on 39th street, just south of Skillman Avenue at the border of Sunnyside.

From nyc.gov:

Water for the system is impounded in three upstate reservoir systems which include 19 reservoirs and three controlled lakes with a total storage capacity of approximately 580 billion gallons. The three water collection systems were designed and built with various interconnections to increase flexibility by permitting exchange of water from one to another. This feature mitigates localized droughts and takes advantage of excess water in any of the three watersheds.

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