Gardens

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The 1919 factory building found at 37-18 Northern Boulevard, the Standard Motor Products Building, has long outlived its built purpose. Currently owned and operated by Acumen Capital Partners LLC, the gargantuan industrial building (301,000 Total SF in six stories) offers stoutly engineered and capacious floor space. Modern anchor tenants include the company which once owned the structure — Standard Motor Products –– as well as the Franklin Mint, the Jim Henson Company and Broadview Networks.

It’s an iconic structure, well known to those who use both the automotive path of Northern Boulevard or the locomotive path of the Long Island Railroad to commute to and from Manhattan. It’s a point of transition in the neighborhoods as well, the exit from Astoria and entrance to Sunnyside, where the designation of Steinway Street gives way to 39th Street.

The SMP building is across the street from the Hook and Ladder 66 building discussed in a Brownstoner Queens posting Long Island City’s Hook and Ladder 66 back in June, and looms over Northern Boulevard’s “Carridor” (a term which will be explored in the near future). In the shot below, after the jump, you are looking eastward, with Woodside and Jackson Heights on the horizon. The southern extant of Astoria is to the left and the triangular orange structure just off center is the end of Steinway Street at Northern Boulevard.

So, now you know where you are, but what you can’t see from the street is one of Queen’s hidden treasures, up on the roof.

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Okay, it’s time to wrap up our series on the beautiful co-op gardens of Jackson Heights. Over the past couple of weeks we featured the green oases of The Chateau, Hawthorne Court, The Belvedere, Hampton Court, and The Berkeley. Now, to cap it off, we have a submission from a reader named Nancy who took tons of photos at last year’s annual garden tour. We’ve included one above (of The Towers) but click through to this Flickr set to see them all. Thanks so much to all those who took time to send in photos.

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We asked Paula Z. Segal, the founder and director of 596 Acres, to fill us in on all the community garden action happening around Queens. 596 Acres specializes in helping communities transform empty lots into community garden spaces. You can search all the public vacant sites in Queens through the 596 Acres website. Here’s what Queens residents have already gotten started on:

  • Some folks in Sunnyside who thought they were trying to simply start a garden on their corner at 39th Avenue and 50th Street were told to contact the owner, and the plans for this controversial development surfaced. 596 Acres is working to more actively support communities working for access to vacant privately owned land.
  • Smiling Hogshead Ranch (pictured) is a super active site on MTA-owned land in Long Island City that is growing food while negotiating for long-term tenure with the Authority. Here are more details about that site, also follow the garden’s Facebook page to keep up with the progress.
  • Currently, this lot in the Rockaways is in the first round of Gardens for Healthy Communities sites and is being licensed by the Parks Department for a four year term through the GreenThumb program. That means this lot will be funded through the Mayor’s Obesity Task Force initiative — the initiative seeks to establish gardens that provide fresh food in neighborhoods that have limited access to it.
  • A few garden-hopeful private lots include this space in Corona, in partnership with Immigrant Movement International and this CityLine lot, in partnership with the Bangladeshi American Community Development and Youth Service.
  • Check out all the existing gardens on public land in Queens right here.

Any readers out there working on community garden projects of their own?

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The Berkeley is a three-building complex at 35th Avenue and 77th Street in Jackson Heights that includes 288 co-op apartments and one communal garden. One of its residents felt proud enough of the garden to send in this photo taken last year. The site Jackson Heights Gardens has a nice profile of one of the buildings here.
Crowdsourcing Experiment: Courtyards and Gardens of Prewar Jackson Heights [BQ]
Jackson Heights Garden Crowdsourcing Submission No. 1: The Chateau [BQ]
Jackson Heights Garden Crowdsourcing Submission #2: Hawthorne Court [BQ]
Jackson Heights Garden Crowdsourcing Submission #3: The Belvedere [BQ]
Jackson Heights Garden Crowdsourcing Submission #4: Hampton Court [BQ]

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Today’s Jackson Heights garden submission comes from a reader called Jack.

Hampton Court was built in 1921 and designed by George Wells in the style of the Garden Apartments movement which originated in merry ol’ England. The complex retains its neo-Georgian (and secret garden) charm today. Known in Jackson Heights as having a secret garden vibe, the Hampton Court apartment block is famous because it’s where Alfred Butts, an out-of-work architect, lived when he invented the game Criss Cross Words, better known now as Scrabble Perhaps he was inspired by this view outside his window?

Fascinating! Prior entries below.

Crowdsourcing Experiment: Courtyards and Gardens of Prewar Jackson Heights [BQ]
Jackson Heights Garden Crowdsourcing Submission No. 1: The Chateau [BQ]
Jackson Heights Garden Crowdsourcing Submission #2: Hawthorne Court [BQ]
Jackson Heights Garden Crowdsourcing Submission #3: The Belvedere [BQ]

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We’re up to the third response to last week’s post asking readers to submit photos of their favorite courtyard garden in the Jackson Heights Historic District. To refresh, the first response was The Chateau; the second was Hawthorne Court. Today’s submission is The Belvedere East and West. The website Jackson Heights Listings (where the top photo comes from) has a good overview of the 108-unit building. The reader who wrote in about (and lives in) this building is particularly enamored of the fish pond, a photo of which is included on the jump.
Crowdsourcing Experiment: Courtyards and Gardens of Prewar Jackson Heights [BQ]
Jackson Heights Garden Crowdsourcing Submission No. 1: The Chateau [BQ]
Jackson Heights Garden Crowdsourcing Submission #2: Hawthorne Court [BQ]

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As you may recall, on Monday we asked readers to send in photos of the gardens and courtyards that help define the Jackson Heights Historic District. Yesterday we ran a submission from a woman who lives at The Chateau. Today, it’s the Hawthorne Court, fourteen-building complex that makes up most of the block between 76th and 77th Street and 35th and 37th Avenue . “Here are some pics of the magnificent Hawthorne Court courtyard!” writes a reader who wanted to go only by her first name, Amanda. “You can admire the grass from the walkways but you cannot sit/walk/go on it. There are lots of benches and tables around the periphery though, and you are allowed to grill out on the pathed areas.” Other interesting data points about The Hawthorne: It was designed by George H. Wells and constructed in 1921 and 1922. There are only two units per floor in each building, and every apartment has a fireplace. To get a feel for what they look like on the inside, check out this old listing. Perhaps the most special touch is the windowed sun room. Pretty great! Check out three more photos of the garden below.

Got photos of other gardens and courtyards in Jackson Heights? Send ’em along to queens@brownstoner.com. Thanks!
Crowdsourcing Experiment: Courtyards and Gardens of Prewar Jackson Heights [BQ] GMAP

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In response to yesterday’s post about the gardens and courtyards of Jackson Heights, Barbara Lombardo, a 25-year resident of The Chateau, sent in this lovely shot. For those who are not familiar with the six-building complex, it was built by the Queensboro Corporation in 1922. While the buildings, which front  both 80th and 81st streets between 34th and 35th avenues, were designed by architect Andrew J. Thomas, the courtyard garden is the handiwork of the Olmstead Brothers, the firm started by Frederick Law Olmstead of Central Park and Prospect Park fame. Got photos of other gardens and courtyards in Jackson Heights? Send ’em along to queens@brownstoner.com. Thanks!
Crowdsourcing Experiment: Courtyards and Gardens of Prewar Jackson Heights [BQ] GMAP

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This weekend’s NYT article generated lots of interesting and welcome inbound emails with tips of topics to cover. One of these was a suggestion to write about the courtyards behind some of the prewar apartment buildings in Jackson Heights. This struck us as a great idea, but one that could be best accomplished with the help of readers who live in or around these building. So consider this our first official appeal for photo submissions. You can email us at queens@brownstoner.com. Similarly, please use the comments section below to let us know about which buildings have the nicest courtyards and gardens. We know about Greystones and The Towers (pictured above). What are some others? Thanks!
Photo by Emilio Guerra