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Articles on this Page
- 06/11/13--08:00: _The Doyenne of Clin...
- 06/14/13--08:00: _Flushing’s Reclaime...
- 06/18/13--08:00: _Maspeth’s Metropoli...
- 06/21/13--08:00: _A Trolley Route Rig...
- 06/25/13--08:00: _The W. & J. Sloane ...
- 06/28/13--08:00: _The Color-Coded Str...
- 07/02/13--08:05: _A Bayside Avenue Ge...
- 07/09/13--08:00: _A Tribute to Athens...
- 07/12/13--08:00: _When the Bank of Ma...
- 07/16/13--08:00: _A Look Inside the P...
- 07/18/13--08:00: _An Ordinary Looking...
- 07/23/13--08:00: _LaGuardia Airport’s...
- 07/26/13--08:00: _A Cobblestone House...
- 07/30/13--08:00: _The Moose Are Loose...
- 08/02/13--08:00: _The “Poet Lariat” L...
- 08/06/13--08:00: _Mural Recalls Jazz ...
- 08/09/13--08:00: _The Second Oldest M...
- 08/13/13--08:00: _Revisiting The Vale...
- 08/16/13--08:00: _Some Secrets of Que...
- 08/20/13--08:00: _Hunters Point’s Pol...
- 06/11/13--08:00: The Doyenne of Clintonville Street
- 06/14/13--08:00: Flushing’s Reclaimed Cemetery
- 06/18/13--08:00: Maspeth’s Metropolitan Oval
- 06/25/13--08:00: The W. & J. Sloane Furniture Factory
- 06/28/13--08:00: The Color-Coded Street Signs of Jamaica
- 07/02/13--08:05: A Bayside Avenue Gem That Dates Back to the Post Civil War Era
- 07/09/13--08:00: A Tribute to Athens in Astoria’s Melting Pot
- 07/12/13--08:00: When the Bank of Manhattan Tower Was the Tallest Building in Queens
- 07/16/13--08:00: A Look Inside the Poppenhusen Institute of College Point
- 07/30/13--08:00: The Moose Are Loose in Queens
- 08/02/13--08:00: The “Poet Lariat” Lies in Douglaston
- 08/06/13--08:00: Mural Recalls Jazz Greats Living in Queens
- 08/09/13--08:00: The Second Oldest Man-Made Object in NYC is in Flushing Meadows
- 08/13/13--08:00: Revisiting The Valencia Theatre in Jamaica
- 08/16/13--08:00: Some Secrets of Queens’ Murray Hill
- 08/20/13--08:00: Hunters Point’s Police Precinct Keeps Watch
With its blue dome, the St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church at 14-65 Clintonville Street is one of several surprising architectural gems among the tract housing of Whitestone. At first glance, it appears to be two large Quonset huts making an “X” shape, topped out by an onion dome in one of the purest shades of blue imaginable. As for Clintonville Street, it is is so named because it runs through a section of Whitestone that used to be named for DeWitt Clinton (1769-1828), an early New York State polymath who held every important political office save Vice President or President. He served in the New York State Assembly and as a State Senator (1798-1802; 1806-1811); as U.S. Senator from New York (1802-1803); as a three-term New York City mayor (1803-1815); as New York State Governor (1817-1822); and indeed ran unsuccessfully for U.S. President as a Federalist against incumbent President James… Read More
Above: Ye Olde Towne of Flushing Burial Ground When I moved to Flushing in 1993 and started bicycling around the neighborhood, I found 46th Avenue along Flushing Cemetery an ideal route — there were relatively few stoplights and intersections, and it was a convenient way to reach Glen Oaks, Hollis Hills, Bellerose and into Nassau. I used to pass a spacious, but nondescript, playground called Martin’s Field between 164th and 165th Streets. There were swings in the front, a sprinkler fountain, and the standard issue benches and lawns you find in a thousand other playgrounds around town. However, Bayside historian and civil-rights activist Mandingo Tshaka had already been poring over real estate records and maps and had discovered that Martin’s Field lay directly on top of an old cemetery founded in the early 19th century and that over one thousand people, mainly African-Americans, Native Americans and also some whites… Read More
In a part of town where all the streets are named “60,” it seems almost too good to be true: a picturesque and well-maintained soccer field featuring terrific matches every week with the spectacular skyline of midtown Manhattan as the backdrop. On a gravel path called 60th Court west of 60th Street, next to the Long Island Rail Road tracks, you will find one of Queens’ — and indeed New York City’s — most overlooked treasures. The Metropolitan Oval has been used continuously for soccer since 1925. Soccer greats Tony Meola, Werner Roth, Tab Ramos and Edson Nascimento (Pele’s son) have all called Metropolitan Oval their home field at one time or another. The field is a U.S. Soccer Development Academy and seeks to develop the best young soccer talent in the region. The field hosts up to 20 games per week and is the home field for a number of local… Read More
One of the last remaining trolley right-of-ways in Queens can be found in a diagonal between 95th Street and 24th Avenue just south of LaGuardia Airport in Jackson Heights, consisting of a semiprivate roadway. A “no trespassing” sign can be found on 24th Avenue, but the Department of Transportation marks it with street signs calling it Jackson Mill Road, and it’s lit by city-issued light poles. In some stretches, the blacktop has crumbled and thinned enough to permit lengthy stretches of trolley tracks to appear. This is a remnant of a trolley line that branched off Northern Boulevard and traveled to the North Beach amusement area, instituted in 1886 by brewer George Ehret and piano manufacturer William Steinway. Within a few years it was attracting over 10,000 visitors every Sunday (Saturday was still a work day in that era) with a bandshell, merry go round, ferris wheel, steam roller coaster, and… Read More
Generations of Queensites recall the huge clock tower that could be seen over the left field fence at the old Shea Stadium, either sitting in the stands or from the behind-the-catcher camera angle that used to be seen much more frequently on game telecasts. During Shea Stadium’s time, this was the Serval Zipper Factory. In the early days at Shea, fans could see a neon sign on the building saying SERVAL ZIPPERS blink on and off. The large building was constructed on what was then Lawrence Street (now College Point Boulevard) in the mid-1920s as offices and factory for the W. & J. Sloane Furniture Company, founded in 1843 by Scottish immigrants William and John Sloane, originally as rug and carpet importers. By the late 19th Century, the company had begun producing original furniture and gained a reputation as producing some of the finest examples of Colonial Revival furniture in the… Read More
Between the 1950s and about 1985, New York City employed a handy color-coded street sign scheme. If there were any doubt, you always knew what borough you were in by the color of the street signs. In the 1950s, street signs employed by the then Department of Traffic were enamel and metal. In the Bronx, they were white type on a blue field; Brooklyn, white on black; Manhattan and Staten Island, black on gold; and in Queens, it was the reverse of the Bronx, with blue type on white. (In addition, there were Manhattan and Bronx signs in use from the mid-teens until the 1960s that were white on navy blue.) In 1964, all the signs were replaced with larger ones made of vinyl, attached to posts with a metal bracket. These were used until the mid-1980s when the U.S. government mandated white on green highway signs for better visibility, though… Read More
Bayside Avenue runs from Union Street and 31st Drive at Mitchell Gardens east to 29th Avenue at 154th Street in Murray Hill. If you know the area, you know that’s nowhere near Bayside, but some New York streets follow an old naming convention in which streets and roads are named not for the neighborhoods in which they’re located, but for the neighborhoods or towns to which they lead, directly or indirectly. Neither Flushing Avenue in Brooklyn and Queens nor White Plains Road in the Bronx actually go to those towns, but they go to roads which will take you to those towns. A walk along Bayside Avenue provides a look at many different architectural styles, old and new. Big mansions have sprung up along the avenue recently, including one that looks like a vast Oriental pagoda. At 146th Street, though, you will see a little jewel box, shaded by… Read More
Located at the quintessential Astoria street intersection, 30th Avenue and 30th Street, Athens Square is an approximately 1-acre tribute to the modern capital of Greece and its cultural center in the classic age. It has been a park since 1963 with subsequent renovations in 1990 and again in 1993. Anthony Frudakis‘ bronze of the philosopher Socrates (of whom, it was written, was not as good-looking as he is depicted in art) was unveiled in 1993, while three adjacent granite Doric columns arrived in 1996. In 1998, Athens Mayor Demetris Avramopoulos presented the city with a replica of the Piraeus Athena (originally sculpted about 350 B.C.). It depicts the ancient Greek goddess of wisdom and patroness of the arts. The Aristotle bust was sculpted by George V. Tsaras of Greece and is a gift from the people of Halkidiki, a peninsula in the Greek region of Macedonia; it was unveiled in April 2008. Though… Read More
For nearly fifty years, the Bank of Manhattan tower facing the new Queens Plaza and the elevated train tangle was the undisputed king of all Queens buildings. The 15-story building, finished in 1927, looks like something The Fountainhead’s Howard Roark himself might have designed. That year, American architecture was shedding Beaux Arts and adopting the more streamlined motifs of the Machine Age. That didn’t stop the Bank’s architects from adding all kinds of goodies way up high, like the four-sided clock, the water bearer, fish and seashells. The following year, the Bank of Manhattan launched an audacious plan to construct the world’s tallest building, in Manhattan.The result of the conception, located at 40 Wall Street, came up short — by a hair — to the Chrysler Building and its stainless steel spire. The building at 40 Wall is presently called The Trump Building. In 1925, the Long Island Star-Journal… Read More
The philanthropy and good will of 19th Century rubber manufacturer Conrad Poppenhusen was, in good measure, responsible for the development of College Point. The neighborhood is in northern Queens on the East River, and was effectively cut off from other Queens neighborhoods by the construction of the Whitestone Expressway in the 1930s. The Poppenhusen Institute, pictured above, built in 1868 at what is now 14th Road and 114th Street, featured the nation’s first free kindergarten, as well as a justice of the peace, the first home of the College Point Savings Bank, German singing societies, the first library in the area, a courtroom, the sheriff’s office with two jail cells, and a grand ballroom. College Point was originally settled by the Native American Matinecocks. The Indians sold much of it to New Netherland Governor William Kieft in 1645. William Lawrence was the first British settler — College Point Boulevard’s name until 1969, Lawrence… Read More
Sometimes history can be couched in the mundane. There’s a little slant-roofed building at the right angle formed by Myrtle and Jamaica avenues in Richmond Hill, decked with aluminum siding and an array of changing businesses on the ground floor. A closer look reveals some window panes with a “THB” monogram, and several carvings of laughing gnomes at entrances on the Jamaica Avenue side. It turns out that almost as long as there’s been a Richmond Hill, there’s been a Triangle Hotel. It was built by Charles Paulson in 1868 and was originally rented out as a grocery and post office. By 1893, the building, by then owned by John Kerz and operating as a hotel, included an eatery named the Wheelman’s Restaurant in honor of the new bicycling craze. After some time it became known as the Triangle Hofbrau, hence the monogram. According to the Richmond Hill Historical Society, Babe Ruth (who… Read More
Designed by William Delano and built in 1939, LaGuardia Airport’s Marine Air Terminal is one of two passenger terminals remaining from the first generation of USA air travel, dating back to the airport’s first days. (The other belongs to American Airlines.) LGA opened in October 1939 and the Marine Air Terminal was dedicated the following March, serving Pan American’s magnificent Yankee Clipper aircraft, seaplanes known as “flying boats.” Today it serves commuter airlines including the Delta Water Shuttle (a ferry service), air taxis, and a private weather station. Among the Marine Air terminal’s most distinguishing elements is its frieze of terracotta flying fish along the roofline. They represent the Pan Am “flying boats” the terminal originally serviced. The 12-foot-high, 235-foot-long mural “Flight” by James Brooks was restored in the mid-1980s. The mural encircling the interior wall of the terminal’s rotunda tells the story of human flight, from Greek mythology through the mid-20th century, and was the… Read More
At Bell Boulevard and 36th Avenue in Bayside stands a magnificent two-story building with an exterior made of cobblestone walls. There are a number of cobbled-wall houses around town, but this one is the most striking, with its triple-arched front. It was declared a New York City landmark in October 2004. The stones are naturally shaped, not beveled or cut in any way, and give some idea of what New York City street paving was like before cobblestones gave way to flatter Belgian blocks and, later, smooth macadam and asphalt. The stones are closely set in concrete. The house was built in 1906 and, according to local legend, housed a speakeasy during Prohibition. Utahan actress Maude Adams (1872-1953), who played Peter Pan in over 1,500 performances on Broadway, is thought to have lived in the house during her days on the Great White Way. Meanwhile, two cobblestone gateposts… Read More
The Loyal Order of Moose are a service and fraternity organization founded in 1888 by Kentuckian Dr. John Henry Wilson. By 2013 there were over a million members in the U.S., Britain, Canada, and Bermuda, as well as 400,000 in the Women of the Moose. Presidents Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt, Warren G. Harding and Harry Truman have been members, as well as many well-known showbiz and sports figures like Danny Thomas, Billy Martin and Arnold Palmer. In Queens, there are currently two Moose lodges, on Grand Avenue and 72nd Street in Maspeth and 118th Street near 87th Avenue in Richmond Hill, but a former lodge at Broadway and 41st Street in Astoria is a neighborhood standout, with its arched windows and terra-cotta detailing. Even though the Moose now graze elsewhere, the front entrance features well-maintained glazed green and gold tiling and exquisite chiseled nameplate — that double O is… Read More
Little Neck’s early days featured a colorful character, the “Bard of Little Neck,” Bloodgood Haviland Cutter (1817-1906), potato farmer, poet and friend of Mark Twain, who immortalized him as the “Poet Lariat” in Innocents Abroad. Twain poked fun at Cutter as a master of doggerel who annoyed fellow passengers on an excursion to the Holy Land in the travelogue. Cutter self-printed many editions of his verse, which are little-read today. He owned numerous parcels of land in Little Neck, Great Neck, Manhasset and Plandome that he purchased or inherited. Cutter Mill Road in Great Neck, on the site of a mill he purchased from the Allen family, is named for him. Cutter’s stone can be found in the Zion Episcopal churchyard on Northern Boulevard east of Douglaston Parkway. The congregation was founded in 1830, its church built with the aid of plans from renowned architect Richard Upjohn. Elsewhere on the… Read More
A walk on Linden Boulevard in St. Albans, under the Long Island Rail Road overpass at 180th Street near the St. Albans station, reveals a colorful mural on the north side depicting jazz and R&B greats Billie Holiday, Illinois Jacquet, Ella Fitzgerald, Lena Horne, Brook Benton, Milt Hinton, Fats Waller and James Brown, as well as baseball’s Jackie Robinson and Roy Campanella. It appeared in 2004 and was organized by Winnie Morgan and designed by Joe Stephenson with the aid of volunteer artists; it replaced an earlier mural that had chipped away and had otherwise been compromised over the years. The personalities on the mural weren’t selected arbitrarily — everyone here was a resident of St. Albans, and more specifically, most lived in Addisleigh Park, a quiet neighborhood located between Guy Brewer Boulevard, the LIRR, Linden Boulevard and 111th (Brinkerhoff) Avenue. Southern Queens’ ascendance as a mecca for jazz… Read More
It might be surprising to know that most of the world’s countries boycotted the ’64-65 World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. It wasn’t because of any particular animus or grudge against the United States or New York City…it was just that there had already been a previous World’s Fair in Seattle in 1962, and most countries devoted their resources to that Fair. Nevertheless, 36 countries were represented, among them Jordan, whose young King Hussein presented this 30-foot, approximately 30-ton high marble column, built by the Romans during their occupation of the Holy Land in 120 A.D. in the city of Jerash. It was originally part of the temple of Artemis, goddess of the hunt. According to the NYC Bureau of Parks, the Jordanian pavilion was a splendid “multi-peaked-and domed structure with an undulating roof, and surfaced in gold mosaic and shimmering blue glass.” The column is also marked by a… Read More
The Jamaica Elevated ended service between 121st street and 168th Street in 1977, as a new subway was built to Parsons Boulevard-Archer Avenue that opened in 1988. Removing the dark tracks that shadowed the avenue, though, allowed the old Valencia Theater at 165-11 Jamaica Avenue, formerly best seen from an elevated platform, to be glimpsed by everyone. The theatre, designed by John Eberson in a Baroque Spanish style, opened in 1929. It has an intricately fashioned brick and terra cotta façade designed to be viewed from up close: the platforms of the Jamaica el were a few feet away. You really have to linger for several minutes to take in all the cherub heads, seashells and other decorative elements. It was one of five Loews “Wonder Theatres” that opened in 1929 and 1930, with the others being the Kings in Flatbush, the Paradise on Grand Concourse in the Bronx,… Read More
When most New Yorkers think of Murray Hill, they likely think of the area on the east side of Manhattan, just south of the United Nations between 34th and 42nd Street and east of Madison Avenue…and they well might, since its tree-lined streets harbor beautiful brownstones, high rise buildings and townhouses. It is home to prominent professional, political and social clubs, as well as the recently renovated Morgan Library – a must visit for both NYers and visitors alike. Today, we’ll talk about the “other” Murray Hill, a neighborhood in Queens so secret that it toils in the shadow of its bustling, ambitious older brother Flushing. Like its namesake in Manhattan, it too is home to aged, eclectic and unusual architecture…but sadly, unlike Manhattan’s Murray Hill, its uniqueness is vanishing as we watch. It’s in Queens, after all. The brick-faced neo-Gothic St. John’s Episcopal Church is one of southern Murray Hill’s… Read More
This three-story neo-classical 108th Precinct Police Station was built in 1903 by architect R. Thomas Short on 50th Avenue west of Vernon Boulevard in a flamboyant neo-Baroque style. It continues to serve its original use and is one of the most architecturally significant buildings in the area. What were perhaps the stables are adjacent on 50th Avenue. The 108th, as with most police precincts in NYC, displays two green lamps at the entrance. The tradition of green lights dates back to colonial times.
According to the NYPD website, “It is believed that the Rattle Watchmen, who patrolled New Amsterdam in the 1650′s, carried lanterns at night with green glass sides in them as a means of identification. When the Watchmen returned to the watch house after patrol, they hung their lantern on a hook by the front door to show people seeking the watchman that he was in the… Read More