The Who will rock to town as a highlight of an incredibly musical week that includes a symphony, an international event, Ed Sheeran, jazz, and even a festival for people who play the saw. There are also opportunities to enjoy Latin dance, European films, walking tours, and fly fishing. Here’s the rundown.
I had a meeting to go to last night at LaGuardia Community College, this time it was for the Newtown Creek Community Advisory Group. I made sure to give myself a little extra time to wander and wave the camera about. I’m happy to report that Newtown Creek’s Dutch Kills tributary is still where it’s supposed to be, although it is quite frozen. Since it was right around sunset, I got busy with the camera. The shot above is looking north from the Hunters Point Avenue Bridge at the former Loose Wiles Thousand Windows Bakery in the Degnon Terminal.
More after the jump…
The Loose Wiles “thousand windows” Bakery on Thomson Avenue, which serves modernity as Building C of the LaGuardia Community College campus, is about to receive a face lift. It’s an important structure, and not just because it was the largest factory building under one roof in the entire United States when it was built in 1913 as the centerpiece of the Degnon Terminal. The erection of the building at the start of the 20th century signaled the beginning of an age of large scale manufacturing in Western Queens, and when the Loose Wiles “Sunshine Biscuits” signage came down in the 1980’s – it heralded the end of that era. The IDCNY signage which replaced it in the 1980’s represents the moment when LIC began to transform into its current incarnation – carefully guided by Urban Planners – a process which saw the Citi building rise in the early 1990’s, followed by the residential towers which continue to propagate between the East River and Queens Plaza.
LaGuardia Community College is in the early stages of a facelift for the century old building, which will alter its appearance and once again change the signage adorning it. It’s the end of the fourth age of LIC, and the beginning of something new.
More after the jump…
Oil on Newtown Creek is an old story, but when there are fresh rainbow colors like you see in the shot of Dutch Kills above, there’s nothing historic about it. That’s newly released material, and it’s been a big problem all summer.
First, for those of you unfamiliar with the place, Dutch Kills is Long Island City’s own tributary of Newtown Creek. Its junction with the main body of the Creek is found roughly .8 of a mile from the East River, and it terminates at 47th Avenue – just a block or so away from the Citigroup building on Jackson Avenue at Thomson.
Throughout the summer of 2014, reports of fresh oil sheens have been reported along Newtown Creek. My colleague in the Newtown Creek Alliance, Greenpoint’s Will Elkins, has documented this event, and interacted with NYS Department of Environmental Conservation investigators to determine the point source from which this material is emanating.
Yesterday, the DEC found that point source on Dutch Kills, and probably found the polluter who has been illegally dumping literally thousands of gallons of oil directly into the water all summer.
More after the jump…
29th Street in the Dutch Kills section, nearby Queens Plaza, used to be known as Academy Street “back in the day.” In this case, that day was way before the consolidation of the City of Greater New York in 1898. The “day” was just a few years after the village of Dutch Kills had broken away from the municipality of Newtown, joining with several other East River communities to form Long Island City in 1870.
The little church you’ll not notice – if you were to blink – at 40-11 29th Street – dates back to 1875.
Built as the First Reformed Church of Long Island City, it opened on the 12th of April, and its first pastor was named William Perry. Funds and property for the building came largely from the Payntar family (of ancient lineage), and a fellow named John Van Neste. There’s a reason that the place is called “Dutch Kills.”
More after the jump…
To start with, this giant was built during the winter, in 1914.
We’re used to this sort of thing these days, seeing enormous structural works of reinforced concrete being constructed willy nilly all over the place during all sorts of weather, but in 1914 – this building represented a revolutionary step forward in the construction business.
The Turner Company erected this 456-foot-long, five-story, 210,000-square-foot gargantua in Dutch Kills for the New York Consolidated Card Company, using a clever system of steam coils and heaters to keep ice from forming in the mixers and lines as they pumped the concrete into its forms. The technique they developed became the defacto standard methodology for winter construction. The structure was designed by the architecture and engineering firm of Ballinger & Perrot, of Philadelphia.
More after the jump…
The nickname I’ve assigned to the section of Northern Boulevard, which begins at the Jackson Avenue/31st Street intersection and rolls out in an easterly direction towards Woodside and Jackson Heights, is “The Carridor.” References to the area as “Detroit East” in the historic literature is the reason why. This was one of the birthplaces of the American Automotive industry, right here in Long Island City. A general description of this forgotten industrial zone was offered back in February of this year, in this Q’stoner post.
Today, we’re zeroing in on a particular manufacturer, the Pierce Arrow factory and service center building, which still stands on 38th Avenue between 34th and 35th Streets.
More after the jump.
The Spot: Crescent Grill, 38-40 Crescent Street, Long Island City.
The Deal: Crescent Grill opened last summer and, during our long, brutal winter, endeared itself to local residents by offering a free shuttle service to the restaurant. The menu features modern American cuisine that highlights the best of local ingredients, and the décor highlights the works of local artists and doubles as an art gallery.
The restaurant has developed a long-standing relationship with Upstate Farms, which delivers 90 percent of the restaurant’s vegetables. Originally, Crescent Grill opened as a partnership between two brothers, Shaun and Dan Dougherty, until Milton Enriquez, a winner on Chopped, joined the team last November as executive chef. The team has taken full advantage of these partnerships.
“My inspiration [for the menu] is that everything comes from the farm,” Enriquez says.
The Dish: The signature dish at Crescent Grill is no exception. Enriquez can trace the route each ingredient has taken to become part of the Magret Duck on a bed of fricasseed vegetables which include baby turnips, spring garlic, fiddlehead ferns and strawberry paint in a natural jus. Strawberry paint is simply a natural reduction of pure strawberry juice – “With no added sugar,” the chef emphasizes.
“Personally, I love duck and like to have it on the menu,” Enriquez says. “I leave as much fat on the skin as possible so the skin becomes crispy like bacon.
As the seasons and in-season vegetables change, the underlying bed of spring vegetables can rotate to include shiitake mushrooms or baby carrots.
“Everything possible comes from the farm,” says Enriquez. “When I call in the order, they cut the vegetables.”
The preparation of the menu’s duck will change in line with the seasons but whatever the preparation, guests of Crescent Grill can expect the freshest local ingredients to be included in its preparation.
In its own way, the area surrounding Dutch Kills is actually quite a lovely place – as storied industrial centers which have seen better days go. Dutch Kills is a Queens tributary of that languid cautionary tale known as the Newtown Creek, and has been isolated for several seasons from maritime utility by failing railway bridges and a changing industrial landscape.
I’m down here a lot of course, and have introduced you to the Borden Avenue Bridge and the Dutch Kills Barge Turning Basin in prior posts. Today, it’s the seldom mentioned Hunters Point Avenue Bridge that gets the spotlight.
Hunters Point Avenue is a two-lane local City street in Queens. Hunters Point Avenue is oriented east-west and extends from 21st Street to the Long Island Expressway/Brooklyn Queens Expressway interchange in Queens. The avenue is parallel to and approximately one block south of the Long Island Expressway. The Hunters Point Bridge over Dutch Kills is situated between 27th Street and 30th Street in the Long Island City section of Queens, and is four blocks upstream of the Borden Avenue Bridge. It is a bascule bridge with a span of 21.8m. The general appearance of the bridge has been significantly changed since it was first opened in 1910. The bridge provides a channel with a horizontal clearance of 18.3m and a vertical clearance, in the closed position, of 2.4m at MHW and 4.0m at MLW. The bridge structure carries a two-lane, two-way vehicular roadway with sidewalks on either side. The roadway width is 11.0m, while the sidewalks are 1.8m wide. The width of the approach roadways vary from the width of the bridge roadway. The west approach and east approach roadways are 13.4m and 9.1m, respectively.
The first bridge at this site, a wooden structure, was replaced by an iron bridge in 1874. That bridge was permanently closed in 1907 due to movement of the west abutment, which prevented the draw from closing. It was replaced in 1910 by a double-leaf bascule bridge, designed by the Scherzer Rolling Lift Bridge Company. The bridge was rebuilt in the early 1980′s as a single-leaf bascule, incorporating the foundations of the previous bridge.
Seldom commented, the Hunters Point Avenue Bridge segments Dutch Kills neatly, and has done so for better than a century now. The marshes and streams which once typified the area, before the advance of railroad and the vast agglutination of industry, are long gone – relegated to subterranean sewers and masonry clad spillways. A century ago – the Hunters Point Avenue Bridge (and its predecessors) allowed egress between the central business district of Long Island City and the rest of western Queens.
Welcome to DUBABO, Down Under the Borden Avenue Bridge Onramp, which spans the Dutch Kills tributary of the Newtown Creek. Dutch Kills is an ancestral waterway, one which once suffused into the swampy tidal flats which we call Long Island City, but which was given over to industrial usage. European colonists stumbled in to it, during the 1640s, and they described the area surrounding Dutch Kills as having been “malarial, and mosquito ridden.” The water once ran as far inland as modern day Queens Plaza, but the entire coastline of western Long Island was riddled with shallow waterways back then, which fed a thriving wetland.
The Sunswick and Newtown Creeks macerated the Long Island shoreline of Queens and allowed tidal nutrients to suffuse into the swampy soil via a vast upland network of tributary streams and coastal salt marshes. Around the time of the American Revolution, Dutch Kills and all of Newtown Creek was described as a hunters paradise, full of fish and fowl and deer.
By the late 19th century however, after industry arrived and the sewers began to dead end here- folks from Blissville, Maspeth, and Hunters Point all referred to this area as the waste meadows.