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The ironic thing is that you can’t catch a train here. Yet.

The Sunnyside Yard opened in 1910, and was built by the Pennsylvania Railroad. The rail complex was the largest coach yard on Earth back then, occupying some 192 acres which carried nearly 26 miles of track that could accommodate a thousand train cars. In modern times, the busiest rail junction in the United States is found here, called the Harold Interlocking.

A fantastic overview of the history of rail in Long Island City — with maps — can be found at the website trainsarefun.com.

The Sunnyside Yard tends to insulate Long Island City from the rest of western Queens, forcing its residential and business traffic to pass through and around narrow or crowded choke points like Queens Plaza. Its borders are defined by Jackson Avenue and Northern Boulevard to the north, while the southern border is found along Skillman Avenue in Sunnyside. In the east, it’s 48th Street and the west border is 21st Street.

There’s a reason I use a lot of adjectives when describing the place — ones like “gargantuan,” “cyclopean,” or — a noun — “titan.”

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The 1919 factory building found at 37-18 Northern Boulevard, the Standard Motor Products Building, has long outlived its built purpose. Currently owned and operated by Acumen Capital Partners LLC, the gargantuan industrial building (301,000 Total SF in six stories) offers stoutly engineered and capacious floor space. Modern anchor tenants include the company which once owned the structure — Standard Motor Products –– as well as the Franklin Mint, the Jim Henson Company and Broadview Networks.

It’s an iconic structure, well known to those who use both the automotive path of Northern Boulevard or the locomotive path of the Long Island Railroad to commute to and from Manhattan. It’s a point of transition in the neighborhoods as well, the exit from Astoria and entrance to Sunnyside, where the designation of Steinway Street gives way to 39th Street.

The SMP building is across the street from the Hook and Ladder 66 building discussed in a Brownstoner Queens posting Long Island City’s Hook and Ladder 66 back in June, and looms over Northern Boulevard’s “Carridor” (a term which will be explored in the near future). In the shot below, after the jump, you are looking eastward, with Woodside and Jackson Heights on the horizon. The southern extant of Astoria is to the left and the triangular orange structure just off center is the end of Steinway Street at Northern Boulevard.

So, now you know where you are, but what you can’t see from the street is one of Queen’s hidden treasures, up on the roof.

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New York City is going to rock around the clock…literally. And Queens is going to pop, blues, jazz, reggae, indie, folk, Latin, experimental, country, gospel and even cabaret. This Saturday, Make Music New York celebrates the first day of summer with a unique festival of free concerts in public spaces throughout the five boroughs, including in cemeteries, gardens, parks, plazas, sidewalks and stoops. Cruise to Corona and check out a children’s bucket orchestra, jaunt off to Jamaica for R&B sensation La’Rayne, or rave into the night at the MMNY After Dark party in Sunnyside. Now in its seventh year, this action will take place simultaneously with similar day-long festivities in more than 500 cities around the world. Details: Make Music New York, June 21,10 am – 10 pm, free; click on the following Queens neighborhoods for their schedules: AstoriaCorona/RidgewoodElmhurstFlushingJackson HeightsJamaicaLICRockaway and Sunnyside.

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It’s the mother of all block parties. This Saturday, Attenborough Naftel, an artist duo from Sunnyside, will get things started by creating an oversized stoop for an all-day game of creative stoopball. Then Free Style Arts will provide paintbrushes attached to fishing poles so attendees can create Jackson Pollack-ish drip paintings. This LIC group will also operate Remote Control Canvas, where those present draw with markers or crayons attached to remote-controlled cars that they zoom around on a large street canvas (below). Valerie Green Dance Entropy will get in on the fun with the performance piece Splash! (above), complete with brightly colored water buckets, of course. Other options at this Queens Council on the Arts event will be a Henna tattoo artist, hands-on activities facilitated by Materials from the Arts and food vendors. The extravaganza will end on a high note with a live performance by Beechers Fault, an indie band that strives to create music filled with raw emotion. Details: QAX Block Party, 37th Street between 34th and 35th avenues, Astoria/LIC, June 22, 1 pm – 6 pm with ribbon-cutting for QCA’s new venue.

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Forget politics, all art is local. And in Queens, it’s also incredibly diverse. On Sunday, thirty-four Western Queens virtuosos will set up tables at the Queens of Angels Parish Hall and exhibit their works as part of a sixth-annual fair organized by SunnysideArtists.org. Expect Simon Donikian (work below) to display his cityscapes, while Ann Cofta will have a table full of eclectic trinkets made from beads, buttons and felt. Mihai Stancescu will bring frescoes and board paintings with egg tempera and gilding. And to add to the fun, Lowery Liquors will give a glass of wine to anybody who makes a purchase. Details: Queens of Angels Art Fair VI, June 9, 1 pm – 5 pm, 44th Street and Skillman Avenue, Sunnyside, Free.

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On a rainy Sunday in May, the former Foodtown site didn’t look to be any closer to re-opening as a C-Town than it did in February when the Sunnyside Post wrote up the news. The only visible clues that the city’s fifth-largest grocery chain was shooting to open its doors at 41-25 Greenpoint Avenue by the end of the summer were a blue contraction fence and a small red vinyl sign. How is the community feeling about this one? C-Town is not exactly Fairway. GMAP

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New York City’s only all-female Mariachi band headlines a Latin music festival that will take place on consecutive Sundays in Sunnyside. On June 2, the always colorful, nine-piece Flor de Toloache (above) will rock Thomson Hill Park to open the 19th annual Al Aire Libre concert series by Thalia Spanish Theatre. On June 9, zarzuelas (Spanish operettas) will fill the air thanks to arias and duets by soprano Ilya Martinez and baritone Rafael Lebron. Details: June 2 & 9, 1 pm. Thomson Hill Park, Greenpoint Avenue off 42nd Street, Free.

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Image Source: Tumblr

They aren’t a little country, nor are they a little bit rock ‘n’ roll. But they are Spanish, Indian, Persian, Middle Eastern and Jewish. On April 21, Gypsy Soul (Espiritu Gitano) brings its rich, diverse music and dance to the Thalia Spanish Theatre. The bandleader, guitarist Arturo Martinez, has been a fixture on New York City’s flamenco/gypsy music scene since the 1980s. He will be accompanied by other outstanding artists, including dancers Maya De Silva and Elena Lentini and musicians Tom Chess and Sean Kupisz.

Roots of Flamenco: Gypsy Soul

Thalia Spanish Theatre
41-17 Greenpoint Avenue, Sunnyside
Sunday, April 21
4pm – 6pm | $35

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Image Source: Dreams and Memories

Many more than two will tango in Queens soon. From its roots in 19th century Argentina and Uruguay, the tango spread around the world, taking over the dance scene in post-World War II Finland and eventually being listed on the 2009 UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List. On January 25, Sunnyside’s Thalia Spanish Theatre hosts the world premiere of afroTango, a musical featuring arrangements and direction by Latin Grammy winner Raul Jaurena, a native of Uruguay who is considered the world’s most prominent bandoneón player and a Tango Nuevo master. The performance, which emphasizes the art form’s African roots, will play for eight weeks with shows on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

afroTango
Thalia Spanish Theatre
41-17 Greenpoint Avenue, Sunnyside
Friday, January 25, until Friday, March 15
8pm – 10pm | $35