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Get on your bikes and ride… to the edible plants. This Sunday, the Rockspot Bike Tour, sponsored by the National Park Service, will depart from Firehouse 59 in Rockaway Beach at 10 am. Participants in this non-competitive event will pedal through the eastern section of the Rockaway Peninsula, exploring everything from natural vegetation to dunes to edible plants.

Get on your bikes again and ride… back in time. On Sunday, October 12th, a second Rockstop Bike Tour will lead participants from the Jacob Riis Batthouse through Gateway National Park to the western end of the peninsula. This time, the focus will be on sites of historical and environmental significance.

More information on these two tours is on the jump page.

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Nobody wants to think about it, but Labor Day is around the corner, and that means one thing: It’s time to head to the peninsula to check out the large-scale, multi-site, mostly outdoor art installation Rockaway! before it ends. This free, summer-long display celebrates the reopening of Fort Tilden, a former U.S. Army base in the Gateway National Recreation Area that sustained severe damage during Hurricane Sandy. Visitors can peruse photographs taken by punk rocker Patti Smith, a gallery dedicated to Walt Whitman that includes books of his poetry, and nest sculptures by Adrián Villar Rojas (above). Installed in several locations, these nests invite local birds to inhabit them. Other components include The Forty Piece Motet by Janet Cardiff (first photo below), a spatialized adaptation of a sacred 16th-century motet that’s in the former military chapel, and a mutli-genre collaboration with the Honolulu Biennial at the newly restored Rockaway Beach Surf Club on Beach 87th Street. Rockaway! — a collaboration between the Rockaway Artists Alliance, the Museum of Modern Art, MoMA PS1, the National Park Service, the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy, and Smith — also showcases Fort Tilden’s natural and historical beauty.

For more information on venues and times and four more photos, go to the jump page.

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Nothing — not even Hurricane Sandy — can stop the Rockaways. On June 29th, Rockaway! Opening Day will take place at the restored, renovated and historic Fort Tilden in the Gateway National Recreation Area. Thousands of attendees are expected to check out this eight-hour event, which will close with a free concert by local resident Patti “the Godmother of Punk” Smith (below). Here’s a brief schedule.

  • Noon: Fort Tilden opens. Food trucks begin operation. Rockaway Little League concessions open. Rockaway Artists Alliance provides free water and lemonade.
  • 12:30 pm: Welcome ceremony with National Park Service, Rockaway Artists Alliance, Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy, and elected officials. Parking shuttle to Riis Beach begins operation.
  • 1 pm: Children’s art activities, film screenings, camping and kayaking.
  • 2 pm: Pick-up baseball games. More screenings.
  • 7 pm: Patti Smith concert.
  • 8 pm: Fort Tilden closes. Rockaway Surf Beach Club after-party begins.

This is the kick-off event for Rockaway! (above), a large-scale, public contemporary art festival that will run through Labor Day. It will feature site-specific works by local and internationally acclaimed artists.

Details: Rockaway! Opening Day, Fort Tilden, Gateway National Recreation Area, June 29th, noon to 8 pm, free.

Top photo: Rockaway Beach Surf Club; bottom photo: Michael O’Kane

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The National Park Service released a plan for the Gateway National Recreational Area, which encompasses parks in South Queens like the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge and Howard Beach’s Charles Park. The Forum reports that the proposal to expand the public use of Gateway includes “‘improved amenities and recreation facilities’ as trails and campsites, more community-based recreation such as sports leagues and event spaces, environmental educational programming, development of water trails, and expansion of beach access.” It’s the result of four years of planning by the National Park Service; now the final plan is up for public review. It’s expected that the National Park Service will adopt the plan, but it’s unclear if it’ll actually become a reality — according to the Forum, many of the plans put forth by the NPS never come to fruition.

Nearby residents worry that the increased amenities will bring more crowds to the area. There are also concerns that the NPS doesn’t adequately care for existing land now open to the public. The public will have a chance to comment and learn more about the proposal this Saturday, May 17th at the Jamaica Bay Greenway Coalition meeting. It’s at 10:30 am at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge.

South Queens Residents Voice Concerns Over Final Gateway Plan [The Forum]

Photo via Wikipedia

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Image source: WSJ

Back in December we told you that the Far Rockaway Beach Bungalow Historic District was nominated by the NY State Board for Historic Preservation to be in the New York and national registers of historic places. Well, it’s happened – the Wall Street Journal reports that the district “has been given the official nod as a state historic landmark and likely will get a national designation in a few weeks.” This is very exciting, and the residents and preservationists are pretty dang happy about it, too.

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Image source: MrShah2012 on Wikimedia Commons

The Queens Gazette reports that last week that a new 99 year lease has been approved by the National Park Service for Kaufman Astoria Studios, which has been “making entertainment history” for 90 years (it was originally opened by Adolph Zukor in 1920). This lease will expire in 2099. Originally, the studios had only a 49-year lease, which would expire in 2049.

This lease extension was made possible under the Historic Surplus Property Program.