mitchwaxman

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On Tuesday, I was invited to bring the camera to the New York Hall of Science in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, as the Queens Economic Development Corporation held the 13th annual Queens Taste, an expo showcasing the borough’s amazing restaurants.

The first Queens Taste, I’m told, had just twelve tables and was held in a tiny space at JFK airport. This one needed an entire floor of the Hall of Science, and even that was barely big enough.

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Here’s my short list of three destinations in Queens worth visiting even if you live outside the borough. They all offer some great outdoor scenery, whether in the form of street art, architecture or beautiful green space. Two are parks.

Welling Court Mural Project

Missing 5Pointz in Long Island City? That renowned graffiti spot may be no more, but you can get your fill of grassroots urban art at Welling Court, where the Ad Hoc Art Group has been curating public street art since 2010. There’s some fantastic stuff here, and it’s all free to enjoy.

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Today is the birthday of Long Island City. Here’s her origin story.

In the mid 19th century, Newtown was a municipal entity that encompassed many, many towns, cities, and villages, whose borders stretched from the East River all the way into modern day Nassau County and from Newtown Creek to Bowery Bay. The center of gravity, politics-wise, was in Flushing and Jamaica, where baronial agricultural operations ruled the roost.

In the 1850s, the only railroad connections offered to the local populace went from Jamaica to Brooklyn. The city of Brooklyn was eager to reduce the amount of rail traffic flowing through it and passed a series of laws hindering or outright forbidding the passage of trains. By the 1860s the railroad people were looking for new routes in and out of Manhattan, and decided on one that traveled through Newtown.

Political resistance from the eastern side of Newtown slowed them down — those baronial farmers were worried about competition for the lucrative Manhattan market emerging from Eastern Long Island — so the owners of the NY & Jamaica railroad were forced to get creative.

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Many times have I shown you Cool Cars, Queensicans.

There was the Zombie Response Jeep in Astoria/Woodside, the Cool Cars of Astoria and Industrial Maspeth, that 1949 Plymouth on the Woodside/Maspeth border over by Mt. Zion cemetery, and that nearly perfect 1957 Pontiac Star Chief encountered on 38th avenue in Astoria. Cool Cars, but all production model automobiles.

What I saw the other day on Jackson Avenue at the corner of Queens Street was some sort of bizarre chimera, however.

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As I’m sure all of you Q’Stoners are aware, a devastating earthquake in Nepal has shattered the landscape and left thousands dead. A round-the-clock vigil has been under way for a few days on 37th Avenue in Jackson Heights, which is home to much of New York City’s Nepali community.

Yesterday, I walked over from Astoria to visit with our neighbors in their time of need and offer condolences. I was lucky enough to speak to some members of the Hyolmo Youth Club while I was there.

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Yesterday, I was invited to come along on the Newtown Historical Society’s walking tour of Ridgewood Reservoir, which actually straddles the border of Brooklyn and Queens. Now, I’m sort of known for my explorations of a very different part of this border — Newtown Creek — so this was terra incognita for me.

Having never visited the spot, nor the New York City park, Highland Park, which surrounds it, attending this event was a no brainer. Lots of photos after the jump.

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There’s a house in Astoria where I’ve always wanted to rent a room, so I could write a gothic horror novel while living there. It’s a Second Empire home with a turret and a porch. It’s seen better days — but more about that below.

The house is nearby one of those intersections that can only occur in Queens: 31st and 31st (street and avenue, respectively). These intersections twixt time and space are thoroughly modern, as in 20th century.

That’s 31-70 31st Avenue in the shot above, but back in 1875 when the house was built, 31st avenue was called “Jamaica Avenue.” And in 1919, it was known as “Patterson Avenue.” It’s simple to explain the confusion: In 1875, Astoria had newly consolidated into the municipality of Long Island City, and in 1919 LIC was newly consolidated into the City of Greater New York. In both cases, the streets were renamed to conform to the new and larger street grids.

More after the jump…

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After the long cold winter so recently ended, there’s been a number of things which I’ve been making it a point to check up on, one of these is the focus of today’s post – the Kosciuszko Bridge project. The Kosciuszko Bridge spans my beloved Newtown Creek, carrying the Brooklyn Queens Expressway.

With its approach ramps, the 1939 era bridge is 2.1 miles long and considered one of the most dangerous structures in NYS. Governor Cuomo added the truss bridge to the “Fast Track” program and ordered the NYS DOT to replace it. Construction is well underway at this point, not that you’d really notice it from the roadway.

You need to visit DUKBO, Down Under the Kosciuszko Bridge Onramp, to see what’s going on.

More after the jump.

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I was over in Greenpoint last weekend for a Newtown Creek Alliance event, and since it was such a beautiful and clear day, I decided to wave the camera about and see what could be seen. Over on the LIC side of my beloved creek, I noticed something surprising. The Wheelspur Yard of the LIRR, which hasn’t been active since the late 1950s, had a series of freight cars sitting in it.

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On Saturday last, Dr. Jack Eichenbaum — Queens Borough Official Historian — offered a walking tour of Woodside Avenue. Last time we visited with him, it was back in January when an icy tour of Willets Point was described.

It started on Northern Boulevard, at its intersection with Broadway and 54th Street nearby the R/M stop, and continued all the way to Elmhurst.

Dr. Eichenbaum was gracious enough to invite me, and you Q’Stoners, along for the walk so I made sure I and the camera were there early. After introductions, the group walked west along Northern Boulevard to Woodside Avenue, and away we went.

LOTS of photos after the jump.