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Hunters Point

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Queens Boulevard is possibly the fastest and furious-est, most pedal-to-the-metal, grade-level road in Queens, other than an expressway. It roars from the tangle of elevated train tracks at the east end of the Queensboro Bridge through Sunnyside, Elmhurst, Rego Park, Forest Hills and Kew Gardens, finally petering to a close as a modest two-lane road at Jamaica Avenue after running ten lanes for much of its route and having acquired the nickname the “Boulevard of Death” for its pedestrian-unfriendliness.

Before the arrival of the Queensboro in 1909, Queens Boulevard was a modest country road known as Thomson Avenue and then Hoffman Boulevard, and before the coming of the white man to Queens it was likely a trail used  by the original residents. The bridge brought new residents to the borough, and finally the overwhelming popularity of the auto spurred its widening and redevelopment in the Roaring Twenties, development which was also applied to Trotting Course Lane (to become Woodhaven Boulevard) and Kings Highway in Brooklyn. The country lane became a 10-lane megaroad.

Between Hillside and Jamaica Avenues at the edge of Briarwood and Jamaica, Queens Boulevard is reduced to much the same condition as its ancestral roads, narrowing to two lanes. It’s mostly a nondescript stretch with collision and auto body shops.

There’s also a handsome apartment house, with Flemish-style steps on the roofline and a rounded corner, which would put it more at home on the Bronx. But an inscription on the Jamaica Avenue side makes it indubitably clear that we’re not in the Bronx.

 

… Queen’s House. Are we looking at a marvelous coincidence — was the building constructed before Hoffman Boulevard became Queens Boulevard? Or, was the house at the end of Queens Boulevard built and inscribed with an apostrophe the name of the boulevard doesn’t have?

The mists of time have obscured the answer.

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In the early 1990s, John Healy was an English media sensation. Born in 1943 to Irish immigrants in London, he left school at age 14 and ended up living on the streets for 15 years, fighting and stealing to survive, while drinking anything that contained alcohol. During a prison stretch in the 1970s, he quit booze, took up meditation, became a rated chess player, and wrote the award-winning autobiography The Grassy Arena. Then he disappeared, fueling a wrath of rumors about his mental health and violent nature. Filmmaker Paul Duane followed those rumors and found Healy in 2006. The result is Barbaric Genius, a documentary that will screen at the New York Irish Center tomorrow. Duane will attend and participate in a Q&A about the film and Healy, a brilliant man who can be angry, articulate, paranoid, hilarious and incoherent at the same time.

Details: Barbaric Genius, New York Irish Center, 10-40 Jackson Avenue, Long Island City, January 17th, 7:30 pm, $11/$6 students, seniors unemployed.

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Welcome to a new Q’Stoner food feature, Signature Dish! A few time a month we’ll check in with Queens restaurants and ask the owners about the all-time favorite dishes they serve. To kick things off, we spoke with the folks behind the LIC beer bar Woodbine’s.

The spot: Woodbine’s, 47-10 Vernon Boulevard, Long Island City.

The deal: Woodbine’s is a craft beer bar that recently opened on Vernon Boulevard, the heart of the growing Hunter’s Point community. The pub wants to be part of the community by having enough outlets to let people work and stay connected. The bar owners not only want to provide a variety of craft beers but develop exclusive brews with local breweries. Astoria’s Single Cut brewery has debuted a new partner beer, Burke’s Pale Ale, at Woodbine’s and its sister restaurants The Courtyard Ale, The Kent Ale House and Brickyard Gastropub in Queens, Manhattan and Brooklyn respectively.

The dish: The Signature Dish at Woodbine’s is the Scotch egg, the perfect complement to the craft beer selection. A Scotch egg is a hard-boiled egg encased in sausage and breadcrumbs and then served sliced on a plate with brown mustard. The $5 snack has quickly become the most popular dish because it is light enough to accompany any drink—beer, wine, cocktail or soda.

The snack menu is available at the bars and booths all day.

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Gaze in wonder upon the fabled Newtown Creek of the 21st century, as a tug of the Poling and Cutler towing organization wrestles a fuel barge in a westerly course toward the East River past the Vernon Blvd. Street end in Queens (right) and the Manhattan Avenue Street end in Brooklyn (left).

A phrase I routinely offer boldly states that “in the late 19th and early 20th century, Newtown Creek carried more commercial traffic than the entire Mississippi River.” This statement often causes listeners to roll their eyes.

It is inconceivable, given the modern appearance of the Creek and its banks, to believe this statement. Some ask me whether or not tugs and barges can even be observed operating along the Newtown Creek in this dystopian future we have all found ourselves living in.

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New York City is a pretty impressive place. When we are in the middle of it all, trying to get to work, or run errands, or just get from appointment to appointment, it’s hard to remember how impressive it is. Sometimes it’s good to detach from this amazing city, and look at it through the eyes of a tourist, or a newcomer. It can be an eye-opening experience to walk down the street and see things with fresh eyes. When I’ve had the opportunity to do this, especially in Manhattan, I’ve always seen new things that I’ve never seen before, and it helps me appreciate the complexity and beauty of this truly great city.

We all know that all kinds of industry built this burg, and all modes of transportation enabled people and goods to move through the city. I’ve always been fascinated by our industrial heritage, and the ingenuity it took, and still takes, to make the most of the topography that made building a city here in the first place such a great idea. The great natural harbor, one of the finest in the world, made shipping one of New York’s most lucrative and successful businesses. Shipping made everything else possible.

In 1861, the Long Island Railroad built a terminal on Hunters Point, directly across the river from what would become Midtown Manhattan. During the Civil War, this area became a great industrial hub, consolidating goods and produce from all parts of Long Island, for distribution throughout the Union. Following the war, the villages in the area consolidated into Long Island City, with the Hunts Point area just the beginning of the industrial zone that stretched all along the East River waterfront. By the dawn of the 20th century, Long Island City had the highest concentration of industry in the entire United States.

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One of the many corporate giants which distinguished Long Island City at the start of the last century was known as Waldes Koh-I-Noor.

Located at the corner of Anable Avenue and Creek Street (which is the modern day 27th Street and Austell Place), the firm was a manufacturer of dress fasteners (snaps, zippers and the like) and was known to produce all sorts of metallic devices — including war munitions, during times of national crisis. The building offers about 200,000 square feet of space and hosts multiple truck loading docks.

From Google Books:

Henry Waldes New York has leased the factory of the Klndel Bed Co Anable Avenue and Creek Street Long Island City NY comprising a four story reinforced concrete structure for the establishment of a new plant for the manufacture of small metal specialties The lease is for a term of years and aggregates $350,000.

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This big building with its tall arched windows and massive granite base at 2nd Street and 51st Avenue was built by McKim, Mead and White beginning in 1903 and was completed in 1909, the year before the firm finished Manhattan’s classic Pennsylvania Station.

The powerhouse was built when the Long Island Rail Road deemed it necessary to electrify most of the western portion of the railroad in Queens and Nassau Counties in preparation for the opening of the East River tunnels leading to the new station. Over 9,500 piles were driven in the generating plant’s construction; when finished the plant supplied 11,000-volt 25-cycle, three-phase alternating current to substations. 625 volts of direct current are carried on the LIRR’s third rails.

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Here’s an update on the new(ish) LIC condo The Vista, which launched sales one year ago. The building is now more than 80 percent spoken for, with eight out of 48 units left. A broker through Modern Spaces sheds more light on the sales: “We have filed 10 pricing amendments [increases] since sales commenced in November 2012. All of our units to date have gone into contract at the asking price, with no seller concessions granted.” According to Streeteasy, a studio here is asking $515,800, with a two bedroom asking $820,800. Back when the building launched, Modern Spaces brought in a feng shui consultant to work with the architects and designers of the building. The result is “not just a living space, but a way of life.” So who’s been inside this place? What did you make of the feng shui interiors? GMAP

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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.

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Popular Astoria restaurant Trattoria L’incontro may be coming to Long Island City soon. The upscale Italian restaurant is currently in talks to add a second location at 45-40 Center Boulevard. Developer TF Cornerstone owns that waterfront high-rise property, and L’incontro owner Rocco Sacramone told DNAinfo that a deal is very likely. ‘”[Long Island City is] really the new and upcoming area,'” Sacramone told the website. The original Trattoria L’incontro (pictured above) is at 21-76 31st St. near Ditmars Boulevard. It opened in 1999 and is considered one of the best Italian restaurants in the neighborhood.

Astoria’s Trattoria L’incontro Eying Possible Hunter’s Point Location [DNAinfo]

Photo: GooglePlus