Last Friday, I am told, the temperature was twelve degrees fahrenheit. It would hard for me to comment on it, as my entire body was so thoroughly numb that it would be a lie to suggest that I felt anything at all. Warm, cold, happy, sad… toes… nothing.

There was a twenty mile an hour wind blowing, and when the TV Weather Lady said that it would feel like negative eight degrees on unprotected skin, she was right. Last Friday (and this seems to happen to me each and every February) I found myself standing at the shoreline of the East River on the second coldest day of the year (so far, at least). You will notice, it is trusted, the vast amount of ice in the river? Brrr.

An interesting event was underway, organized by an LIC area group which calls itself HarborLAB, is why I found myself at Hunters Point South Park, at the East River shoreline on the second coldest day of the year (well, so far, at least). Have I mentioned the cold? This was Viking Apocalypse cold. You either had to be crazy dedicated to be out here, or just plain crazy.

More after the jump…


Nestled in the northern reaches of Astoria lies the Steinway & Sons piano factory – yes, that’s right, the Steinway & Sons, makers of some of the most glorious pianos in the world. And did you know that you can take a tour of the factory itself? Indeed you can – Forbes has rated this factory tour one of the top 3 factory tours in the country, and we agree that is is pretty awesome.

So here’s how to tour the factory. These guidelines are the most up-to-date ones, as of October 2012.

Factory tours are offered from September through the end of June; factory tours are not available in July and August.


A Festivistmas Kwanzaannukah holiday tradition, the MTA runs vintage Subway cars on the M line on Sundays in the month of December. The rolling stock is maintained by the MTA’s Transit Museum, and I make it a point of attending the event every year. This Q’stoner post from last year goes into some detail on what to expect onboard these relics of NYC’s golden age, but I wasn’t too happy with the quality of the photos from 2013, and have been practicing my subway shooting skills in the intervening interval.

Yesterday, I put myself to the test, and rode the Shoppers Special with my camera. Lots of shots from what I saw onboard follow, after the jump.


Sunday, I decided to go check out the Astoria Shore Fest. The annual event closes Shore Road, allowing Astorians the chance to mill about on the normally busy thoroughfare which sits between Astoria Park and the Hells Gate section of the East River. The event is conducted by the Astoria Park Alliance, and this year it was blessed by fantastic weather.

Check out lots of photos after the jump…


Manhattan has the inspiring Empire State Building. Paris has the romantic Eiffel Tower. Queens has authentic, affordable and amazing restaurants. Lots of them. A culinary tour company that debuts this weekend, Local Finds: Queens Food Tours, hopes to bring taste-conscious tourists to as many borough establishments as possible. This two-person agency will organize weekly food sampling and cultural walking tours of Long Island City for now with hopes to expand to Flushing, Jamaica, Richmond Hill and the Rockaways as soon as possible. One of the company’s two founders, Queens native Sergey Kadinsky, will lead three-hour journeys every Sunday morning, starting at 11 am. Kadinsky, who also works for City Council Member Karen Koslowitz, will bring patrons to six local establishments, including a micro-brewery, a hip coffee shop and Manducatis Rustica (photo), where signature dishes will be awaiting. Plus, participants will receive a brochure with a neighborhood map, list of attractions, and recommendations for about 30 other great eateries in the area. 

“When it comes to good eats, Queens is the king of the boroughs,” stated Richard Mumith, the other founder and a former Council Member Koslowitz employee. “We are all about discovering, eating, and supporting…local.”

A list of other Queens food tour guides is on the jump page.


I’ve been missing 5Pointz something fierce lately, so after meeting some friends from the City for lunch nearby Astoria Park recently, we paid a visit to the Welling Court Mural Project. There is a LOT of street art going on here, and there has been since 2009, when the Ad Hoc Art group began the project.

Welling Court can be found here, btw.

There’s a lot of terrific stuff here. The comic guy in me loved Fumeroism’s Yellow Hulk.

As mentioned, this is a curated project which is in its fifth year of installation.

From Ad Hoc Art’s Facebook page:

The Welling Court Mural Project began in 2009 when Ad Hoc Art was invited by the community of Welling Court to slay some aesthetic blights in their neighborhood. The first project debuted in May 2010 with over 44 murals, fitting for the diverse and lively inhabitants. Each year since, spectacular crews of legendary and groundbreaking artists have come together to transform the neighborhood into a creative celebration and public art experience.

Many, many more images and lots of commentary after the jump.


As discussed in prior postings, Kevin Walsh and I decided to take Q’stoner with us to the very edge of New York City when we visited the Rockaways. Here’s Part One and here’s Part Two. This is the third installment, and Kevin will finish up the quartet tomorrow. Now, back to the beach.

This shot is looking back at Riis Park, at the border of what must have surely been an enormous and quite recent industrial endeavor.

From Wikipedia:

The park was largely built on the site of the former Rockaway Naval Air Station, one of the first US naval air stations. Riis Park was designed by the politically powerful New York City Park Commissioner Robert Moses, who had also created Jones Beach as a state park further east on Long Island in 1929. Moses saw Riis Park as a Jones Beach for poor immigrants, and ensured that the location was accessible by public transportation and closer to Manhattan.

A vast wall of sand was found, dissimilar in color to the beach sand which the bathers and sun worshippers at Riis were gamboling about upon. This beach is now the built environment, it seems.

From ny1.com:

In the Rockaways, long stretches of sand are less weekend paradise and more construction zone. Forget your sun visor. This is hard-hat territory.

“It looks like hell,” said Kevin Boyle, a Rockaway community activist. “It’s not exactly ready for the top 10 list anywhere, but it’s coming along. I’m pretty sure by 2020, the boardwalk will be there and the beach will look good.”

It should be mentioned, by the way, that everybody seemed to be having a much better time than Kevin and myself. We were the two weird looking old guys walking around on the beach with cameras… the ones who looked uncomfortable and relatively pale. The suntans people sport out here are actually outrageous for this early in the summer.


Kevin Walsh and I were chatting recently, and it was decided that we should go out to the Rockaways and do a bit of exploring. We agreed to not reference a certain song as well. Leaving from Astoria, an R Line train carried me to 59 Lex, and that’s where I transferred to the 5 Line. The 5 took me the end of the run, nearby Brooklyn College at the so called Flatbush Junction. That’s where Mr. Walsh and I had arranged to meet, which was accomplished, and we boarded the Q35 bus toward Rockaway. All told, the trip from Steinway Street in Astoria to the southern border of Brooklyn and Queens took a little more than an hour and 20 minutes.

That really isn’t bad, I have to say, bravo MTA.

We debarked the bus just shy of our goal, on the Brooklyn side of the Gil Hodges Marine Parkway Bridge. The span’s birthday is coming up on July 3rd — read more about the structure in this Q’stoner post from January of this year.

This is a pretty scary place to be a pedestrian crossing the road, I have to say. Luckily, the plucky spirit of my companion buoyed me up. Our intention, upon crossing the very end of Flatbush Avenue, was to stroll across the bridge and photograph both it and the surrounding scenery… but…

Unfortunately 911 era signage adorns the thing, carrying one of those meaningless and unconstitutional missives which attempted to equate photography of the public space with terrorist activity. This is an MTA bridge, by the way, but you see this sort of signage on TBTA and Port Authority properties as well. I won’t get into the whole “War on Photography” rant, but you can’t expect to restrict access to reflected light.

Shame on you MTA.

Luckily, on the Queens side of the bridge, the structure reveals itself from the public thoroughfare. Kevin and I marveled as the lift bridge was activated just as we started encountering beach sand on the sidewalks.

There was quite a bit of shoreline reconstruction going on just at the foot of the bridge. The presence and effects of Hurricane Sandy are everywhere you look in the Rockaways, although some areas we encountered are clearly FAR worse off than others.


This past Saturday, the 25th of January, Ridgewood Democratic Club held its Annual Membership Brunch meeting at their HQ. Found at 6070 Putnam Avenue, a block off Fresh Pond Road, the RDC building has been home to the club since 1917. My colleague Kevin Walsh presented a short history of the building in this Brownstoner Queens post from September of 2013.

NYS Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan is one of the two Democratic District Leaders in this part of Queens, along with Tom Bornemann, and she has an encyclopedic knowledge of the history of this building and club. She’s a lifelong Queensican, and lives with her son and husband in Ridgewood.

From assembly.state.ny.us:

Catherine Nolan represents the 37th Assembly District in Queens County, which includes the historic New York City neighborhoods of Sunnyside, Ridgewood, Long Island City, Queensbridge, Ravenswood, Astoria, Woodside, Maspeth, Dutch Kills and Blissville. She was first elected to the Assembly in 1984.


So, you were wondering where you might be able to check out a fighter jet in Queens? Look no further than Aviation High School at 45-30 36th Street, where this plane, a Douglas TA-4 Skyhawk –– donated by the Marine Corps itself in 1995 — is dedicated in the name of Capt. Manuel Rivera, Jr., the first American of Puerto Rican descent to die during 1992′s Operation Desert Shield. Students at the school use the jet to learn inspection and maintenance procedures. Capt. Rivera was an alumni of Aviation High School. GMAP