Closing Bell


Yesterday students from PS 166 and PS 70, city council majority leader, Jimmy Van Bramer and other local politicians participated in a ribbon cutting ceremony at the Broadway library branch in Astoria. With $740,000 in city funding secured by Van Bramer, the library has renovated its Children’s Learning Center, restoring its reading corner and adding new furniture and shelves. It also has a new “mommy and me” corner and new computers as well as other upgrades.

Van Bramer says that he learned to read in the children’s room at the library. In a release, he said, “It is this very space where I learned to dream and dream big and countless kids do the same here every day.”

Work on the library is continuing with renovations of its lower level and meeting rooms as well as the construction of a new Cyber Center.

Photo: Bill Alatriste


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).


Queens got talent. United States Tennis Association employees set up mini courts in Corona Plaza and gave free instruction to youngsters this morning. Activities included lessons on basic skills, balance, and coordination, as well as ball-and-racket exchanges and tips on long-term athletic development. The participants used loaned mini-rackets and foam balls, and USTA employees imparted gifts and provided information on low-cost programs at the nearby Billie Jean King National Tennis Center (where the two-week US Open will take place starting on August 25th).

Then as a special treat, officials showed the permanent US Open singles trophies to the awed crowd. It was so much fun that the USTA will do it again in the same plaza next Friday, August 15th, at 10:30 am in conjunction with other activities such as healthy eating demonstrations, a merchant showcase, health screenings, and back-to-school discounts. Corona Plaza project manager William McCarthy hopes to offer these events weekly as part of his “Fridays Under the Seven” healthy living series. In the top photo, Assemblyman Francisco Moya holds the US Open men’s singles trophy, the same one that Rafael Nadal hoisted last year, in the second row, while City Council Member Julissa Ferreras shows the women’s singles trophy, which Serena Williams won last year. Queens Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jack Friedman is in back right in a suit, while Community Board 4 District Manager Christian Cassagnol is in suspenders next to him.  Check out more photos after the jump…


The Astoria Greenmarket is opening for the summer and fall again. The market, on 14th Street between 31st Avenue and 31st Road, is open Wednesdays from 8 AM to 3PM from July 9th until November 26th. Shoppers will find the expected fresh fruit and vegetables as well as a range of Mexican specialty items including hot peppers, tomatillos and greens as well as salsas and even fresh cut flowers. The farmers are Angel Family Farms and Migliorelli Farm. Happy shopping.

Photo: Henneedsfood


Dollar vans popped up in New York City during the 1980 transit strike and they have stuck around ever since. The 13-seat vans make up a partially unofficial transit network in neighborhoods where subway and bus service is scarce. They are particularly active in Queens according to an article and interactive web feature in The New Yorker.

The writer spent a year riding the vans all across the city and found that Jamaica, Queens was the busiest dollar van hub of all. He’s created interactive maps of dollar van routes and and videos of drivers and passengers. The vans are licensed and regulated by the Taxi and Limousine Commission but illegal ones are common according to the story.

Aaron Reiss who wrote the story and created the maps wrote, “Queens is notable for how enmeshed vans have become in the borough’s transportation landscape. There are almost twice as many legal dollar vans in Queens as in Brooklyn and far fewer unlicensed, illegal vans. Vans in Queens have been afforded several loading and unloading spaces. In Queens, vans are starting to function like an official transportation system.”

Have you ever used the dollar vans? How was the experience?

New York’s Shadow Transit [The New Yorker]

Photo: Cap’n Transit Rides Again


Construction is finally complete on the John F. Murray Playground and the entire park is now open. The park, the largest in the Court Square area, had been undergoing a significant renovation over the past few years. And most recently the city spent $1.25 million on improvements according to The Long Island City Post.

Though it is called a playground, the park is much more than that. It includes baseball and soccer fields, basketball courts, a play area for children, a garden and more. According to the Post, “The central green has been lined with 1964 World’s Fair-design benches and surrounded by a walking path constructed using paving stones. Meanwhile, the new performance area provides a stage area and a tiered seating wall.” Sounds like a perfect spot to keep cool in this summer heat.

John F. Murray Playground’s Construction Work is Complete, Park is Now Open [Long Island City Post]

Photo: The Court Square Blog


The Friends of Astoria Heights Park received good news at the end of last week. Councilman Costa Constantinides and Queens Borough President Melinda Katz were able to secure $1.2 million for a renovation of the Astoria Heights Playground. While the money is in place, Lynn Kennedy, who posted about the news on the group’s Facebook page, cautioned that the renovation could take as long as two years. Nonetheless, planning is under way. Those who are interested in joining a planning committee can attend a meeting with a representative from Game Time Equipment at the park on July 10 at 6:30 pm.

Astoria Heights Playground Gets Funding for Playground Renovation [We Heart Astoria]

Photo: Friends of Astoria Park Facebook


On Tuesday, June 18th, the Long Island City Partnership will host the forum “LIC Now: Perspectives and Prospects.” It’s a chance for elected officials, business owners and civic leaders to discuss the changing landscape of Long Island City. The feature speakers include Borough President Melinda Katz and City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer. Other panels include discussions on residential real estate, television and film, arts and culture, and LIC as a tech district. It’s a full-day event at the Museum of the Moving Image, beginning at 8 am and ending with a cocktail reception at 4:30 pm. To check out the day’s schedule or to register to attend, go here.


Mark you calendars: Q’Stoner writer Mitch Waxman is leading a walking tour through the depths of Dutch Kills on Saturday, June 7th. Here are details on the tour, straight from the Atlas Obscura website:

A central maritime artery of Long Island City, Dutch Kills is surrounded by hundreds of factory buildings, titan rail yards, and crossed by century old bridges – and it’s found just a few blocks away from Queens Plaza. During this three hour tour, we will cover three miles of Brooklyn and Queens to see where the industrial revolution actually happened. Bring your camera, as the tour will be revealing an incredible landscape along this section of the troubled Newtown Creek Watershed.

We can guarantee that this one is going to be fun. The tour begins prompty at 11 am in Long Island City and lasts until 2 pm. Tickets, which you can purchase here, cost $20.

Obscura Society NYC: 13 Steps Around Dutch Kills [Atlas Obscura]

Photo by Mitch Waxman


Yesterday, the Taste of Sunnyside food and drink extravaganza took place underneath the elevated 7. The Village Voice attended and compiled the five best bites of the evening. Who came out victorious? The writer loved Salt & Fat‘s Korean-influenced small plates, as well as Venturo Osteria & Wine Bar‘s black and green lasagna. De Mole, located in Woodside, received rave reviews with its seitan with vegan mole, and Nita’s European Bakery served up three savory pastries. Finally, The Dog and Duck stood out with fried pickles topped with a smoky mayo. Sounds like an awesome (and filling) night!

The Five Best Bites at Taste of Sunnyside [Village Voice]