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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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Describing it as “vandalism,” “a blight,” and “a crime,” civic and political leaders from the Richmond Hill/Woodhaven area helped launch an anti-graffiti initiative with a press conference (below) and demonstration (above) on Wednesday. City Council Member Eric A. Ulrich, who represents these neighborhoods, announced that he had allotted $25,000 to eliminate graffiti at six major corridors — Woodhaven Boulevard; Jamaica Avenue; Atlantic Avenue; 101st Avenue; Liberty Avenue; and Rockaway Boulevard. The borough’s only Republican council member directed the funds to the Queens Economic Development Corporation‘s Neighborhood Development Division, which promotes economic growth by supporting community businesses. QEDC will sub-contract with Ridgewood-based Magic Touch Cleaning to carry out the initiative.

Saying this was a priority for him, Council Member Ulrich stated that he planned to seek more funding for this program in the future. QEDC Deputy Director Ricardi Calixte opined that graffiti is bad for business. He stated, “This type of vandalism has a domino effect, discouraging shoppers, encouraging lawlessness, and deterring investment.”

See a photo from the press conference after the jump.

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Dai Jian uses martial arts training and diverse world dance techniques to create improvisations, performance installations, and visual art. The CelloPointe Chamber Music & Dance Company specializes in salon-style concerts mixing contemporary ballet, choreography, and imaginative arrangements for string instruments. Meanwhile, 360° Dance Company, comprised of former principal dancers from the Martha Graham Dance Company, presents modern dance masterpieces juxtaposed with original contemporary works in order to preserve and develop a post-modern dance lineage.

These troupes and others will exhibit their art this Saturday at the fifth annual Making Moves Dance Festival, a two-part showcase at the Jamaica Performing Arts Center featuring varied and original works that span the globe and dance genres. More info and photos on the jump page.

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Jack Eichenbaum grew up in Bayside in the 1950s. He left for academic and vocational reasons in 1963, and when he returned from completing his doctorate in urban geography in 1976, he found a completely different borough. The mostly white, working class neighborhoods of his youth had transformed into multi-ethnic enclaves, creating the world’s most diverse county. Fascinated, he started giving walking tours of his beloved hometown in the 1980s, and in 2010, Eichenbaum was designated the official historian of Queens, as per the borough president’s office. The former city assessor has five upcoming tours, which are famous for the amount of local trivia he shares and the great restaurants he hits afterwards with participants. For more information, please see below.

  • Willets Point, Sunday, May 25th, 4 pm: East of Citi Field is a sewerless, hardscrabble area of auto junkyards and related businesses that has twice beaten back recent attempts at redevelopment. But since it’s located between the world famous baseball stadium and booming Flushing, public and private interests are again trying to transform Willets Point. Eichenbaum will walk from central Flushing to the area, while discussing political, economic and ecological issues and explaining why “Willets Point” is a misnomer. $20.
  • The World of the 7 Train, Saturday, May 31st, 10 am: Eichenbaum calls this full-day program his “signature tour,” although it’s actually a series of six walks (Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside, Jackson Heights, Corona and Flushing) and connecting rides. He focuses on the 7 train’s influence on surrounding neighborhoods. Lunch is in Flushing. Pre-register via jaconet@aol.com.
  • On and Off Jamaica Avenue, Sunday, June 8th, 10 am: After decades of dedication, redesign, and redevelopment, Downtown Jamaica is undergoing a renaissance as the borough’s major transportation center. Eichenbaum promises historic buildings, commercial activity, culture, and a surprise ending. $20.
  • Crossing Newtown Creek: Contrasting Industrial Brooklyn & Queens, Sunday, July 27th, 10 am: See remnants of the intense and largely unregulated industrial development that thrived along Newtown Creek during the late 19th century. See elegant Greenpoint highlights and East River shoreline redevelopment ending with shoreline views from Gantry Park and Hunter’s Point.
  • More Space and New Arrangements in Western Queens, Sunday, August 3rd, 10 am: During the first third of the 20th century, Western Queens nurtured developments where traditional open space/building area relationships were altered to create new urban architecture. Sunnyside Gardens and the Jackson Heights Historic District anchor this tour, which includes Phipps Garden Apartments, various Matthews Flats, the Metropolitan Life houses, and early truck-oriented industrial buildings.

Photo: Alex Engel

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Update: Please note that this lecture is sold out. However, Andy Brennan will participate in another cider event at The Queens Kickshaw in Astoria during NY Cider Week: www.thequeenskickshaw.com Plus, the next King Manor lecture is about Abraham Lincoln in November: http://bit.ly/1aqQola

Apple cider was an extremely popular beverage in the U.S. from colonial days to the mid-19th century. Served hot or cold, fermented or fresh, it was safer to drink than water, and much easier and cheaper to produce than beer or wine. Queens was a center of cider production during these times as it was the birthplace of the Newtown Pippin, a fleshy-but-tart green and yellow apple that is still cultivated for cider today. No place was juicier than the King Manor in Jamaica, where the King family produced over 500 gallons of cider some years. With urbanization, industrialization and waves of beer- and whiskey-loving immigrants from Germany, Eastern Europe and Ireland in the late 19th century, cider’s popularity fell. But recently, cider production has made a comeback, especially in New York State. This Sunday, Andy Brennan from the Aaron Burr Cidery will offer a free lecture on cider at King Manor. Of course, he will enhance his presentation with plenty of samples.

Details: The History of Cider-Making in New York, King Manor Museum, 150-03 Jamaica Avenue, Jamaica, October 13th, 3 pm, free.

Photo by Love Your Reflection

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The Jamaica Center Business Improvement District has over 300 stores, three performing arts centers and dozens of historic landmarks. Recently, this Jamaica Avenue shopping Mecca has become NYC’s largest urban fashion district with everything from clothing to shoes to accessories to fabrics. On June 1, the BID will explode into the summer fashion season with The Jamaica Collections, a red carpet extravaganza featuring beautiful models rocking brand new designs by local fashionistas Onyx Noir, Osun, Aneesa and Nubia Blaque. Part runway extravaganza, part interactive fashion show, this event will preview what’s going to be on sale in the BID this summer. Details: Jamaica Performing Arts Center, 153-10 Jamaica Avenue, 6 pm – 9 pm, free but RSVP is required — click here.

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Image Source: Bridge and Tunnel Club

The King Manor takes its name from Rufus King, a member of the Continental Congress, a framer and signer of the U.S. Constitution, one of the first senators from New York State, the ambassador to Great Britain under four presidents and an outspoken abolitionist. However, many powerful, capable and impressive women also inhabited this now-historic house in Jamaica. On March 2 as part of Women’s History Month, Dr. Laura Fishman, former chair of York College’s Department of History and Philosophy, will present a lecture on the ladies of the King Manor Association and its involvement in the Women’s Club Movement. Founded in 1900, this group of dynamic members of the fairer sex broke gender barriers with their civic engagement and efforts at social reform and suffrage.

The King Manor Association and the Women’s Club Movement
King Manor Museum
Rufus King Park, Jamaica Avenue and 153rd Street, Jamaica
Saturday, March 2
3pm – 4pm | Free with suggested $5 donation

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Image Source: Eddie Allen

The timing is right to spend an afternoon and night in Jamaica and enjoy three live music performances and a play. On February 16, the Black Spectrum Theatre will start off the entertainment at 2pm with the St. Albans Baptist Church’s version of It’s Time To Take A Stand, a play about a time when segregation, determination, demonstration, integration, aggravation, humiliation and devastation were sweeping the nation. (There is a second show at 6 pm.) Meanwhile at 3:30 pm over at the Queens Central Library, the Eddie Allen Quintet pays tribute to such legendary trumpeters as Dizzy Gillespie, Freddie Hubbard, Miles Davis and Lee Morgan. There’s no time for a break in the action as Alex Blake brings his fusion of salsa, jazz, rock and roll, R&B, funk and soul to the York College Performing Arts Center at 7 pm. At 8 pm, die hards can head over to the Afrikan Poetry Theatre for Southside, a band that honors the tradition of Earth Wind & Fire, Parliament/Punkadelic, Chicago and U2. For those wanting to get a head start, on February 15, the Creative Outlet Dance Theatre of Brooklyn offers Stories of the African American Experience, a multi-media presentation exploring historical accounts of the middle passage, slavery, emancipation and history at the Jamaica Performing Arts Center at 7:30 pm.

Southside
Afrika Poetry Theatre
176-03 Jamaica Avenue, Jamaica
Saturday, February 16
8pm – 11:30pm | $15

Alex Blake
York College Performing Arts Center
94-20 Guy R. Brewer Blvd., Jamaica
Saturday, February 16
7pm – 9pm | $10/$20