Jamaica

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He’s considered the best all-rounder (batsman and bowler) ever. Over his three-decade career, he played all over the world in international tournaments, professional leagues, exhibitions, and all star games. Now, he’s going to enjoy a Queens weekend.

Sir Garfield Sobers, a cricketer from Barbados who played for the West Indies squad between 1954 and 1974 and was knighted by Queens Elizabeth II in 1975, will participate in a Legends Weekend at Idlewild Park in Jamaica on Saturday and Sunday. The 79-year-old will join other phenomenons from the 1970s-1990s, such as Shivnarine Chanderpaul from Guyana, Gus Logie from Trinidad and Tobago, and fellow Barbados native Gordon Greenidge, in friendly matches against a New York City-based squad. More details on jump page.

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Four-time Grammy Award winner Karen Clark Sheard is going to launch her new gospel album…and she wants to do it in Queens.

On Friday night, Sheard, who is known for her multi-octave vocal range, will introduce Destined to Win during a special concert at the Greater Allen AME Cathedral of New York in Jamaica.

She will share the stage with John P. Kee, who is known as “The Prince of Gospel Music.” With a soulful, husky voice, Kee is an inductee into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame and the Gospel Music Hall of Fame with two Billboard awards, one Soul Train award, and seven Grammy nominations. He currently leads the New Life Fellowship Center in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Faith Evans, a seven-time Grammy nominee, will also perform as part of the show. Over her roughly two-decade career, Evans has released eight studio albums.

Photo by Greater Allen AME Cathedral of New York

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Over a five-decade career, Michael Bolton has sold more than 50 million records and won various American Music and Grammy awards. On Sunday, the pop rock balladeer takes his act to South Jamaica to headline Goovin’ in the Park.

Since its launch in 2001, this annual, all-day, outdoor concert has become a magnet for diverse talent with such past performers as Gladys Knight, Boyz 11 Men, Jimmy Cliff, and Patti LaBelle.

The tradition continues this year with Bolton joining R&B sensation Billy Ocean, whose hits include “Caribbean Queen” and “Loverboy,” and Judy Mowatt, a former background singer to Bob Marley who is currently enjoying a solo career. The Jamaican music acts Morgan Heritage, Cocoa Tea, Stitiche, and Capleton will perform, too.

Details: Groovin’ in the Park, Roy Wilkins Park, Merrick and Baisley boulevards, Jamaica, June 28, noon until nightfall, $59.95-$149.99.

Photo by Groovin in the Park

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In 1928 the New York State Education Department devised an initiative to mark places of historical significance, and over the next four decades, almost 2800 such markers were placed all over the state.

The signs themselves are marvels of design, in my opinion. Most of them feature dark blue backgrounds with gold raised block lettering and trim, though there are variations in color, lettering, and very occasionally shape, just to change it up, I imagine. The state discontinued the series in 1966 after high-speed travel on expressways became the norm.

This flickr page that assembles photos of the markers taken by various photographers illustrates the basic, simple and readable design of these signs. 

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The city unveiled a multi-faceted economic development “action plan” to prevent foreclosures, improve streetscapes, create affordable housing, and increase job-training opportunities in Jamaica on Wednesday.

The actions include creating a Jamaica-specific marketing and branding program, expanding free WiFi access via the LinkNYC program, and capital improvements to Rufus King Park and Brinkerhoff Mall Park in St. Albans. 

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Queens has some of the oldest remaining homes in all of New York City. The borough’s history has a tangible footprint back to the 1600s, when the Dutch began the first settlements here. With that in mind, it’s also fitting that some of the oldest cemeteries are also in Queens.

For historians and descendants alike, one’s final resting place is almost as important as one’s dwelling place. How people lived, and what they were like as individuals and within the society can all be learned in a cemetery.

Cemeteries don’t tend to survive the urbanization of a neighborhood or city. A burial plot, whether it used to be in a churchyard or someone’s field way back when, can end up in the middle of a desirable building site, or even in the middle of the street, depending on how the neighborhood is laid out.

Final resting places are not always final, after all. Through the efforts of many, this one is, and has had quite a history

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Harry Potter would have liked this building, it’s almost magical with its whimsical “witch’s hat” dormers. We don’t often think of Queens and amusing buildings in the same thought, but that’s why this is such a great building. If you’ve got to go to school, what child wouldn’t want to attend one with such great details? But how did it come to be?

By the end of the 19th century, Jamaica was one of the largest towns within the independent county of Queens. This was before Queens became a borough in greater New York City, an event that happened in 1898.

Because of its position geographically, and its many convenient forms of public transportation including the Long Island Railroad, Jamaica was developing rapidly. Houses were going up, factories were employing local people, and there were soon a lot of children to educate.

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Jamaica’s name has nothing to do with the Caribbean island country. The avenue, the neighborhood and the bay are instead named for the Jameco Indians, an Algonquian tribe that occupied the center and southern sections of what is today’s Queens County, for hundreds of years before the colonial era.

The Jameco name was Algonquian for beaver, which had been plentiful in the region; a remnant of this is Beaver Road, which ran beside the now-filled Beaver Pond south of the Long Island Rail Road. Native Americans used the trail, which connects to original trails that run from the East River to eastern Long Island, for trade with tribes spanning from the east coast to the midwest. After the Dutch settled the present day downtown area, known before 1664 as Rustdorp (“rest town”), Jamaica Avenue (as the Jamaica Plank Road) became a tolled highway for much of its length. The tolls were removed by the time of Queens’ consolidation with New York City in 1898.

Downtown Jamaica Avenue passes several buildings that went up during or just after the colonial period. It’s just north of Prospect Cemetery, which was established in 1668 immediately following the end of Dutch rule.

Today, though, I’m going to concentrate on a couple of buildings and items from the late 1800s into the early 1900s, known as the Beaux Arts period for its rococo architecture…