The Loose Wiles “thousand windows” Bakery on Thomson Avenue, which serves modernity as Building C of the LaGuardia Community College campus, is about to receive a face lift. It’s an important structure, and not just because it was the largest factory building under one roof in the entire United States when it was built in 1913 as the centerpiece of the Degnon Terminal. The erection of the building at the start of the 20th century signaled the beginning of an age of large scale manufacturing in Western Queens, and when the Loose Wiles “Sunshine Biscuits” signage came down in the 1980′s – it heralded the end of that era. The IDCNY signage which replaced it in the 1980′s represents the moment when LIC began to transform into its current incarnation – carefully guided by Urban Planners – a process which saw the Citi building rise in the early 1990′s, followed by the residential towers which continue to propagate between the East River and Queens Plaza.
LaGuardia Community College is in the early stages of a facelift for the century old building, which will alter its appearance and once again change the signage adorning it. It’s the end of the fourth age of LIC, and the beginning of something new.
Come and visit. You’ll like it. Lonely Planet named Queens the best tourism destination for 2015 this morning. The travel media company commended the borough “for topicality and buzz-worthiness,” while praising the food, diversity, hotels, events, and unique neighborhoods.
“Nowhere is the image of New York as the global melting pot truer than Queens,” reads Lonely Planet’s editorial in its Best in the US list for 2015. “Browse New York’s biggest Chinatown in Flushing, shop for brilliantly colored saris in Jackson Heights, and inhale the heady aromas of coffee and hookahs in Astoria.”
The editorial continues: “The incomparable array of world cuisines makes Queens a destination for food lovers from all parts of New York City. For your art fix, ogle the new upgrades to the Queens Museum and the Museum of the Moving Image, look for the new Emerging Artists Festival in Long Island City, and stroll Astoria’s new 24-block Kaufman Arts District. If you prefer sand and surf to paint and canvas, head to Rockaway.”
Western South Dakota came in second on the list. The other members of the top 10 were, in order, New Orleans (LA), the Colorado River, North Conway (NH), Indianapolis (IN), Greenville (SC), Oakland (CA), Duluth (MN), and the Mount Shasta Region (CA).
They call it the “Holocenter,” and it’s dedicated to producing, exhibiting, researching, and educating the public on holographic artwork. Until April 2014, it operated out of The Clock Tower, but now it manages an office at Flux Factory in Long Island City and the Holocenter House gallery on Governors Island. On December 19th, it will offer a tantalizing, end-of-the-year showcase with projections, 3-D films, and light art. More on jump page.
What came first: the dance or the sphere of bamboo? This question is about to take major billing at Noguchi Museum, as the Long Island City sculpture center presents Maria Blaisse‘s Breathing Sphere, a month-long exhibition of a computer-controlled, motorized sphere of woven bamboo. The display creates a spatial and formal dialogue with Noguchi’s existing pieces, and Blaisse’s structures, which are presented by slowLab at the Pratt Manhattan Gallery. The Dutch artist will be on site this Saturday for a dance that will place two bamboo structures in their proper display spots. She will also participate in a Q&A on the topic of “Slow Ecology.” On Sunday, Blaisse will run an open studio from 11 am to 1 pm when, she’ll do some dance improvisation with a bamboo sphere.
Famously, the City of Greater New York possesses what is known as a “combined sewer” system. We’re not unique, many of the East Coast cities of the United States manage their waste water in a similar fashion. “Combined” indicates that sanitary (toilet water, kitchen sink etc.) waste water travels underground in the same pipes that carry storm water and snow melt. In comparison, the younger cities of the West Coast – Los Angeles, for instance – have distinct infrastructure for sanitary and storm. In our case, during rain events, the combined flow often gets released into area waterways like the East River or my beloved Newtown Creek. The NYC Department of Environmental Protection – DEP – does what it can to keep that from happening, but a quarter inch of rain citywide translates into a billion gallons of water roaring around under the streets. Fixing this situation is a municipal Gordian Knot, and would involve a massive investment in infrastructure that would raise your water bills so high that you’d happily pay $5 a liter for bottled water. I’m told that DEP has a long term plan they’re working on, which will play out over several decades, to ameliorate the issue.
That’s the setting for today’s tale, wherein I’d like to point out a seldom noticed bit of street/sewer infrastructure.
In 1831, the United States government forcibly relocated the Choctaw tribe from Mississippi to the Oklahoma territories. Many Choctaws died during the trip, known as “The Trail of Tears,” while many survivors faced tremendous hardships adapting to the cold weather. However, the Choctaw had a tradition of helping others and a mere 16 years later — during the height of the Irish Potato Famine in 1847 — they pooled resources and donated $170 to relief efforts on the Emerald Isle.
This weekend, Queens Museum and Queens Theatre will honor this act of generosity with An Irish Choctaw Thanksgiving, featuring live music, dance performances and screenings of inspiring films. Funds raised will go to Hour Children, a Long Island City-based nonprofit that works with incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women and their children, and No Kid Hungry Share Our Strength, a nonprofit that connects children in need to nutritious food.
If you’re anything like the average American, by the time that Friday rolls around, you are going to have to work off a few holiday pounds. Never fear, Brownstoner Queens come to the rescue with a recipe for edgy adventure in Western Queens.
Your first stop is Queens Plaza. That’s where you’ll find the combined pedestrian and bicycle lanes for the Queensboro Bridge, at the intersection of Crescent Street and Queens Plaza North. Personally, I’m a walker, but you this path works for bikes too. You’re going to want to cross the bridge, heading for Manhattan. One thing to keep in mind is how early the sun sets this time of year – which is around 4:30 in the afternoon this week.
The Queens hills are alive with the sound of music…high quality and diverse music. This weekend there’s something for just about every ear as bands are ready to play jazz, symphony, folk, classical, Irish, and bee bop. There’s even an autism-friendly trombone concert. Details on seven performances are after the jump.