Over on Queens Boulevard, in Elmhurst, you’ll notice the First Presbyterian Church of Newtown at the corner of 54th Avenue. It’s the Gothic structure which is incongruous with its surroundings, which are mainly retail shops, a diner, and a medium sized shopping mall. The First Presbyterian Church of Newtown is one of the oldest congregations in the entire city, and certainly the oldest in Queens. Pictured above is the latest building to serve the organization, erected in 1895, the first iteration having been built in 1652.

In 1652, men dressed like this.

The exterior shots in this post are from a couple of weeks ago, from when the missus and I went couch shopping. A few years ago, I had an opportunity to set up a tripod inside the church, so there are lots of interior shots after the jump.


Go ahead, deck the halls. But for real holiday inspiration, head over to any one of four fantastic concerts scheduled for this upcoming, jam-packed weekend. The fun begins on Friday with a special show at Queens Museum featuring the Corona Youth Orchestra, the Corona Children’s Orchestra, and the No Frontiers Children’s Orchestra playing Beethoven and other classics. There’s a double dose on Saturday, as the Forest Hills Choir performs a collection of choral pieces, such as “Magnificat” and “O Magnum Mysterium,” which honor the Virgin Mary. At night, the Queens College Choral Society, whose membership includes high school students and adults who have been with the group for more than 40 years, does Handel’s Messiah and other favorites with a full orchestra. Finish the fix — and get another dose of Handel’s Messiah — on Sunday when Our Lady of Martyrs Church’s Sacred Music Society joins forces with the Oratorio Society of Queens to offer an annual concert that always involves tremendous audience participation.

Four sets of details after the jump.


Last week, Community Board Six passed a resolution calling for the complete redesign of Queens Boulevard. As Streetsblog reports, “The board is the first along the infamous ‘Boulevard of Death’ to request the study, joining a united front of City Council members.” You can see the resolution [PDF] — which calls for a comprehensive study on the feasibility of a redesign that involves CB6 — here.

Make Queens Safer and Transportation Alternatives started talking with CB6 about the resolution last month, and then presented one to the full board on May 14th. According to Streetsblog, “Advocates are building support in part because they don’t want DOT to lose sight of Queens Boulevard while other dangerous streets get improvements,” like Northern Boulevard. On top of the resolution, there is a petition calling for Queens Boulevard safety improvements with more than 3,500 signatures.

CB 6 Joins Council Members Calling for a Safer Queens Boulevard [Streetsblog]


Although Queens Boulevard — also known as the Boulevard of Death — is getting a slow zone, the speed limit won’t be any slower. DNAinfo reports that the DOT will keep the speed limit at 30 mph, despite lowering the speed limit in other slow zone areas from 30 to 25 mph. Instead, Queens Boulevard will receive new signs to identify the slow zone, changes in signal timing to discourage speeding, and increased NYPD enforcement. The slow zone on Queens Boulevard will begin at Jackson Avenue and end at Hillside Avenue, a 7.4 mile stretch. The DOT plans to install it in July.

According to a DOT spokesperson, “While we will not be further altering the speed limit at this time, we are not ruling out taking a look at a reduction at a later date.” Transportation Alternatives continues to push for a lower speed limit alongside other design improvements along Queens Boulevard, like wider sidewalks, bike lanes and benches.

Queens Blvd. ‘Slow Zone’ Won’t Actually Have Lower Speed Limit [DNAinfo]
A Few New Slow Zones for Queens [Q’Stoner]


Today Queens transit advocates will present their first traffic safety presentation on Queens Boulevard, well known as the Boulevard of Death. The New York Daily News reports that Community Board Six will hear the safety suggestions, which include widening the center median to make a protected bike lane, as well as changing the timing on lights at crosswalks. Advocates want to particularly focus on safety for the stretch of Queens Boulevard running through Forest Hills and Rego Park. While the Department of Transportation already made some improvements — like adding parking lanes and fences to slow traffic — safety advocates call these measures “band-aid fixes.”

The presentation to CB6 today will be followed by two Vision Zero Workshops hosted by the DOT on May 21st and May 29th. At those meetings the DOT will accept safety suggestions from the public regarding Queens Boulevard, or any other street for that matter.

Group Wants New Safeguards for the Queens Boulevard of Death [NY Daily News]
All Queens Boulevard coverage [Q’Stoner]


It’s no secret that there’s a growing momentum in Queens for safer street initiatives, and a march for a safer Queens Boulevard is coming this weekend. Transportation Alternatives is hosting the “Winter Wander” Rally and Walk along the so-called “Boulevard of Death” on Saturday, December 14th, from 1 pm to 3:30 pm. The event begins in Elmhurst at the New Life Fellowship Church, 8210 Queens Boulevard, with a community discussion about Transportation Alternative’s Zero on Queens Boulevard Campaign. The campaign advocates for pedestrian safety improvements along the corridor, including bike infrastructure and dedicated lanes for Select Bus Service. The
Winter Wander continues with a group walk along the Boulevard toward Forest Hills, as local street safety advocates discuss the history of the roadway and the dangers faced by all those who use it. RSVP for the event right here.

Meanwhile, Senator Gianaris released a statement yesterday in regards to a fatal car crash that happened at the base of the Queensboro Bridge. He is asking that the Department of Transportation improve safety in the area after the DOT did not follow through on his requests for a redesign of the exit ramp. The DOT only added additional signage and minimal barriers to the area. One of those barrier was meant to protect the storefront hit in this crash at 25-06 Queens Plaza South, but it was destroyed in a crash in 2011 and remained vacant ever since. Here is Senator Gianaris’ quote on the matter: “How many more people have to die before the DOT understands that the Queensboro Bridge exit ramp must be redesigned? The city has known that this area is in dire need of traffic safety improvements for years, and the DOT has simply not done enough. I renew my call for a complete redesign of the bridge off-ramp, and implore the city to take swift action before another tragedy occurs.”


Queens Boulevard is a notoriously dangerous thoroughfare, but after a Bangladeshi immigrant was killed there last week activists are pushing hard for bike lanes, speed humps and speed indicators. DNAinfo reports that Transportation Alternatives started a petition — which already has 1,392 signatures — for the changes. Here’s what it states: “T.A.’s Queens Activist Committee is calling for protected bike lanes, pedestrian safety improvements and Select Bus Service on Queens Boulevard. These critical improvements will save lives, boost local business and dramatically improve local quality of life along the boulevard.” This Saturday, Transportation Alternatives plans to take to the streets of Forest Hills to gather support of residents and business owners. The city enacted some improvements already, including fences and countdown signals. But Transportation Alternatives argues that compared to thoroughfares like Eastern Parkway, Queens Boulevard dedicates a much larger amount of space to cars. More than 70 pedestrians were killed on the boulevard from 1993 to 2001.

Activists Push for More Safety Measures on Queens Blvd After Fatal Crash [DNAinfo]
Photo via Google Maps


The Department of Education has proposed to rezone District 24, which serves Glendale, Ridgewood, Elmhurst, Maspeth, Middle Village and Corona, to address problems of school overcrowding. But some parents worry that the rezoning will force many students into a dangerous commute. According to the Queens Courier, “Based on the plans, students would have to cross Queens Boulevard, the so-called “Boulevard of Death,” to get to P.S. 229 from the newly expanded northern area. Also, some children that formerly would be zoned for P.S. 229 will be instead moved to P.S. 153, which may force them to cross the Long Island Expressway via Maurice Avenue.” Parents are particularly cautious after a recent incident in which an SUV jumped the curb on Grand Avenue and injured five students. The DOE staffers plan to reconfigure the proposal and meet with parents again on September 24th. The zoning change, which will adjust school zones based on neighborhood populations, affects the kindergarten class of the 2014-2015 school year — current students won’t have to change schools.

Parents Say School Rezoning Puts Kids in Danger [Queens Courier]
Map via Queens Courier


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QNYC, the Queens Tourism Council and Applebee’s are partnering to raise money for the Rockaways. Tomorrow, December 22, four borough Applebee’s will host Breakfast with Santa, and patrons will get a Polaroid photo with the Man in Red and a buffet including scrambled eggs, potatoes, sausage, pancakes, bacon, toast, orange juice and coffee or tea. All the proceeds will go to the Rockaway Waterfront Alliance, a nonprofit which responded to Hurricane Sandy by giving homebound residents hot meals and providing emergency food and clothing from a firehouse. Volunteers then delivered emergency supplies door-to-door. Currently, RWA has been clearing streets by removing sand and debris. For years, Applebee’s has hosted Breakfast with Santa events on Staten Island. This is its first venture into Queens. Let’s show our community spirit and love of a good breakfast with a good man.

Breakfast with Santa
Bayside, 213-29 26th Ave.; Rego Park, 95-25 Queens Blvd.; Astoria, 38-01 35th Ave; and Fresh Meadows, 61-48 188th St.
Saturday, December 22
8:30am – 10 am | $10