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East Elmhurst

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The Prince family opened the first commercial plant nursery in the USA in 1735, specializing in fruit trees. Patriarch Robert Prince learned horticulture from the remaining Huguenots (French Protestants) in the Flushing area, and the business flourished during and after the Revolutionary period. In the early 1800s, Robert’s son William opened the first bridge over the Flushing River that allowed wagon and cart traffic to enter from western Queens. Competing plant nurseries of the Bloodgood and Parsons families also opened, and in the 1800s, Flushing was known around the Northeast for horticulture. Eventually, though, as Flushing gradually became more urban, the nurseries moved out or failed. Today, the only reminder of the plant shops is Flushing’ street plan, which bears plant names from A (Ash) to R (Rose), and Prince Street.

The Prince family home was constructed at Broadway and Lawrence Street (today Northern and College Point Boulevards) by the Embree family around 1750, and purchased by the Princes in 1800. It was torn down in the 1930s as the area became industrial.

A NYS historic marker here, now long gone, said:

Prince Homestead stands opposite. Built by E. Embree 1780. Washington stopped here to see the Prince Nurseries during his trip to Long Island 1789.

When Washington visited the Prince nursery he was unimpressed, but when Thomas Jefferson visited the following year he made several purchases that were planted at Monticello in Virginia.

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It’s the most diverse county in the world and the best tourism destination in the United States, so it’s no surprise that Queens is overflowing with wonderful Valentine’s Day activities and bargains. In fact, local chances for romance and fun related to this international holiday are so numerous that they run for more than two weeks and include everything from live music to a “love run,” hotel getaways, and even a blood drive for the do-gooders. Another photo and many more details are on the jump page.

My friend, preservationist Frampton Tolbert, has a new website, called Queens Modern. If you love mid-20th century Queens architecture, you will be a happy camper. You can wander around dozens of mid-century buildings here, finding all kinds of goodies. Frampton is a meticulous researcher, and the site contains building profiles, architect profiles, maps and a searchable database. The buildings that he has chosen were highlighted for mention and praise by the Queens Chamber of Commerce. Between 1948 and 1970, the Queens Chamber of Commerce Building Awards were bestowed on almost 400 buildings of all types throughout the borough. The site will eventually have all of them, and more on file, but is launching with almost 150 entries.

The mission of the site is to highlight and document the wealth of modern architecture that was built in Queens in the post-World War II era. American architecture was influenced by many things during this period, including modern “space age” shapes, building technologies and materials. As time has passed, many of these buildings are in danger of being destroyed or altered. The site seeks to showcase the best of them, and document as much as possible, an era that is now officially considered “old.”

Today, many of the architects, designers and their creations are experiencing a comeback in popularity, especially in furniture and the decorative arts. As I look through the site and in my own research for columns for Brownstoner Queens, I am often quite amazed at how truly modern some of the buildings are, even today. Interestingly, they appear at the furthest end of the time spectrum we are dealing with. Many of these buildings have stood the test of time much better than newer examples.

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There’s a little parcel of a neighborhood east of Astoria and north of Jackson Heights, east of the bail bonds offices of Hazen Street, north of the whizzing Grand Central Parkway and west of LaGuardia Airport’s expanse, containing a couple of surprising artifacts. Stop for lunch at the chrome-plated Airline Diner, built in 1952, at Astoria Boulevard and 70th Street where a scene from Goodfellas was filmed, make your way up Hazen, where buses enroute to Rikers Island roll past, detour a little down 77th Street; east on 19th Road brings you to one of Queens’ oldest homes.

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The commercial structure now under construction on Northern Boulevard between 87th and 88th Streets is getting a Denny’s, alongside other chain restaurants. Queens Courier reports that this’ll be the third Denny’s Restaurant in NYC and the very first in Queens. (The first Denny’s chain will open in downtown Manhattan later this summer.) Other tenants slated to move into the 40,000-square-foot space include Red Mango, Dunkin’ Donuts, a Children of America Day Care and medical offices.

It’s unclear when construction will actually finish and the tenants will start moving in. Here’s what the construction site looked like the other week — there’s still a ways to go.

First Queens Denny’s Opening in Jackson Heights [Queens Courier]
Construction Progress Spotted at Commercial Development on Northern Boulevard [Q’Stoner] GMAP

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There were construction workers out at 87-10 Northern Boulevard, the hulking construction project between 87th and 88th Streets. According to this website, this will someday be “The Shops at Northern Boulevard,” a 40,000-square-foot retail space with underground parking. It’s not designed for a single tenant; rather, it will hold a variety of smaller retail spaces. No word on when construction will wrap. A sign on the construction fence says work was scheduled to finish in the spring of 2013, so it’s been incredibly delayed.

Click through for one more construction shot, as well as a rendering of the final product. GMAP

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Earlier this week the owners of Addictive Boutique Winery, located at 32-62 87th Street East Elmhurst, showed us around their newly expanded shop. Owners Francisco Diaz and Patrick Duong decided to expand into the clothing boutique next door — which they also owned — after the success of the wine shop with nearby Jackson Heights residents. So they nearly doubled their space, and added to their collection of wine from about 130 to 400 bottles. (Wines come from all around the world and are priced between $8.99 and $260.) The new space will allow them to bring in larger crowds for wine tastings, which they host every Friday and Saturday.

The grand opening party for the expanded store is Saturday, May 17th at 6 pm. Expect wine samples, snacks and live music. Click through for tons of photos of the store, as well as more details on the renovation. GMAP

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Jackson Heights Herald posted the above photo to its Twitter account — the very popular Cannelle Patisserie, located at 75-59 31st Avenue in East Elmhurst, is expanding to LIC! The new location, as you can see above, is 5-11 47th Avenue, which is the ground floor of the Maximilian rental building off of 5th Street. The opening date is slated for late spring.

The New York Times profiled the French bakery and its diverse clientele back in 2012. The spot sells pastries, cakes, tarts, quiches, sandwiches and breakfast options to rave reviews.

Photo via Twitter

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This East Elmhurst property at 30-20 88th Street is asking $669,000. The English Tudor-style home is charming from the outside, fairly straightforward on the inside. The exposed beams in the living room aren’t really doing it for us. The backyard, however, looks quite nice. Any opinions out there on the asking price?

30-20 88th Street [Douglas Elliman] GMAP