by
10

Image source: Adam E. Moreira on Wikimedia Commons

We recently read A Newbie’s Guide to Bushwick Subway Stops from Bushwick Daily and we liked it so much, we decided to do our own version for Astoria. Here, we present a brief subway stop by subway stop breakdown of where to live and why. We start with the N/Q in Astoria (Astoria is also served by the M/R – more on that at another time).

In general, rents throughout Astoria run about around $1,600 for a one bedroom and $2,000 for a two bedroom, but of course there are exceptions to that on either end of the pricing spectrum. New construction tends to be more expensive than older construction, and rather than big developments, Astoria has a lot of infill construction, which affects rents as well.

by
8

All that anyone seems to talk about in Queens these days, at least in my circles, is how crowded the subways have become. According to the MTA, they’re experiencing record ridership, which is actually a good thing as people aren’t driving as much and using mass transit. The bad part is what happens when there’s trouble on one of the tracks and you have an entire subway line’s worth of people having to find an alternative route to work.

More after the jump…

by

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.


Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Park Place Station, Franklin Avenue Shuttle
Address: 605 Park Place
Cross Streets: Franklin and Classon Avenues
Neighborhood: Crown Heights North
Year Built: Original station-1900, rebuilt 1906. This station-1999
Architectural Style: Vaguely Mission style
Architect: Unknown MTA architects; railings and gates by Isha Shabaka
Landmarked: No

The story: The history of our subway system has always fascinated me. I’m certainly not the only one; there are clubs, chat rooms, websites, books, tours and other materials associated with the subways out there. There are thousands of subway and train aficionados all over the world who love the NYC subway. Many of these people have spent years finding out and cataloguing all kinds of trivia and minutia about our train system. Some are so dedicated they can tell you what kind of bolt is holding down the track in front of you, when it was made, who made it, and some of them can probably tell you who drove the bolt into the ground, too. The subway, like Star Trek, has that kind of fan base.

The Franklin Avenue Shuttle is a favorite of subway buffs, and for good reason. First of all it’s old, and predates the entire subway system. The original tracks here were the end of the line for the old Brooklyn, Flatbush and Coney Island Railroad, which ran along here in 1878. It enabled passengers on that line to transfer to the LIRR train at Bedford and Atlantic Avenue, and vice versa. At the time, the train ran on the surface between Franklin Avenue and Park Place, and then dipped into an open cut to connect to the rest of the line at Park Place.

Read Part 1 and Part 2 of this story.

Many people don’t realize that our subway system was once a conglomeration of privately owned subway lines. The Interborough Rapid Transit Company (IRT) and the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company (BRT) were the two first lines. The City of New York built the subway tracks, platforms and tunnels for these subway trains and leased them to these privately held companies which ran the trains. Both the IRT and BRT trains were the children of the old elevated trains that ran over both Manhattan and Brooklyn. The first underground train began running in Manhattan in 1904.

The idea of a subway was not new, it had been kicking around for years, and probably got its first real wake-up call from the infamous Great Blizzard of 1888, which paralyzed the city under as much as fifty inches of drifted snow. When planners were figuring out where the subway would run, it was a no-brainer that there would be a subway line that traveled under the East River, joining Brooklyn and Manhattan.

As we’ve seen in the last two chapters of our story, the excavation of the first IRT tunnel underneath the river caused all kinds of problems to those above Joralemon Street in Brooklyn Heights. Buildings shifted on their foundations, sheered-off stoops, cracked walls and downed plaster ceilings told homeowners that they were literally living on shifting sands.

Thousands of dollars of damage was done on Joralemon Street in the years between 1903 and 1905, and initially, the city denied responsibility, refusing to pay homeowners for the damage. But lawsuits were filed with rapidity worthy of today, and eventually, the city and the Interborough Rapid Transit Company were forced to compensate the people of Joralemon Street to the tune of several million dollars.

Nothing teaches a lesson better than losing money, and the city fathers and the subway companies were paying attention. One subway tunnel under the East River was only the beginning. There would be more lines joining Manhattan and the other boroughs, excepting Staten Island. How would those tunnels be built, and would another Joralemon Street be in the offing? Not if they could help it. And because this was, after all, New York, the solutions found themselves mired in political mud. But first, there’s a bit of back story that needs to be told here:

Read Part 1 and Part 3 of this story.

The residents of Joralemon Street in Brooklyn Heights woke to read some of the most horrific news a home owner can ever read, emblazoned in the Brooklyn Eagle on June 17, 1904; “Property Owners Must Make Their Own Repairs. City not liable for damage done by Joralemon Street Tunnel, so says Transit Board.” They couldn’t believe it. It was like being knocked down, beaten up, and then charged for vagrancy. These were well-to-do, important people. They had never been so abused and outraged in their lives. And all for a subway tunnel.

Our story began last time with the building of the Joralemon Street tunnel, a state of the art twin tube of steel and concrete that would connect Manhattan’s new subway to Brooklyn. The tunnel would run from underneath the Battery in Lower Manhattan, under the East River to Brooklyn Heights. This modern feat of engineering would travel underneath Joralemon Street, and then continue on to a newly constructed subway station at Borough Hall. This was part of the Interborough Rapid Transit Line, running today’s 4 and 5 trains.

The Joralemon Tunnel presented all kinds of challenges for the engineers. They had to dig underneath the East River, a fantastic undertaking in of itself, and then aim upwards into the bedrock of Brooklyn. They also had to pressurize the tunnel to keep water out. But the pressure needed to be released, so a tunnel was dug on Joralemon, enabling workers to approach the dig from both sides. That tunnel access point is still able to be accessed at 58 Joralemon Street.

The Mynderse mansion was a grand brick Greek Revival home on the corner of Joralemon Street and Garden Place, built in 1854. It was the largest house on the block, rivaled in size only by the Daniel Chauncey mansion, which was built much later, in 1890. Wilhelmus Mynderse, a wealthy lawyer, bought the house for his family in 1890. He put an extension on the back, and settled in with his family and his art and book collections.

When the Joralemon Tunnel began to be constructed underneath his street, Mynderse was one of the first to notice cracks in his plaster. Over the summer of 1903, the cracks got worse, and finally, one night, the house shifted on its foundation an entire two inches, cracking every wall in the building, and bringing decorative ceiling plaster crashing to the floor. Something was happening underneath Joralemon Street.

Read Part 2 and Part 3 of this story.

At one point, in the mid-18th century, Philip Livingston owned most of Brooklyn Heights. His forty-acre farm once spread across the width of the cliffs overlooking the East River. While the town of Brooklyn was growing quickly below and to the north of him, the Heights were still pasture and farmland, and Livingston’s estate sat on the best part of it. By the time the American Revolution rolled around, Livingston was one of the wealthiest and most influential of Brooklyn’s elite. He was a friend of the patriot cause, and the only signer of the Declaration of Independence from Brooklyn. The Battle of Brooklyn in 1776 was the first major test of that new independence, and was almost the end of everything.

As the British were moving in on a retreating George Washington, the commander of the Continental Army met at Livingston’s manor to plan the retreat across the river to safety in New Jersey. Washington stood on the cliffs of the Heights, looking over at Manhattan wondering if he’d ever see that sight again. Fortunately, he escaped, and after a long and difficult war, American independence was won. But it came with a price. Hard on Washington’s heels, Livingston and his family left Brooklyn, and fled to Kingston and then Poughkeepsie, where family members still live. During the occupation of Brooklyn, the British turned the estate into a brewery and hospital.

After the war, Livingston began selling off parcels of the estate. One of the many familiar names to buy a sizable piece of it was a harness and saddlemaker named Teunis Joralemon, who hailed from New Jersey, by way of Flatbush. In 1803, he purchased a good sized plot, and proceeded to become one of Brooklyn’s most powerful landowners and important citizens.

by

Here’s a roundup of our top posts in March 2013. As usual, food is a big interest as well as the ever more invisible dividing line between Queens and Brooklyn. ‘A newbie’s guide to Astoria subway stops – the N/Q’ takes the top spot though – and thanks again ghoes to Bushwick Daily for its inspiring A Newbie’s Guide to Bushwick Subway Stops.

5. Do you know where the border between Queens and Brooklyn lies?

What actually divides Queens and Brooklyn? There’s no great wall or border patrol to mark the line between Brooklyn and Queens. The Queens-Brooklyn border issue has been confounding the two boroughs, especially residents of Ridgewood and Bushwick, for hundreds of years.