Skillman Avenue in Long Island City, between Pearson Place and 49th Avenue is a fairly desolate spot. The Sunnyside Yards “Yard A” dominates the northern side of the street. On the other side of the vast rail road complex is Jackson Avenue and the Court Square Subway station, the Arris Lofts, and the brand new Pearson Court Square building with its roof top windmills.

A block south, you’ll find the sewage choked waters of Newtown Creek’s Dutch Kills tributary, which provided a maritime link to the Degnon Terminal industrial park (which has been discussed in this post). Skillman Avenue forms one of the borders of the Degnon Terminal, and at the corner of Pearson Place and Skillman Avenue – the tracks of the LIRR’s Montauk Cutoff offered locomotive access to the Degnon Terminal railway tracks. This spur is in place to this very day, and there are rails sticking up out of the modern day asphalt which run up elevations to elevated tracks that connected Sunnyside Yard with the LIRR tracks which run along Newtown Creek, through Maspeth and then towards Fresh Pond. If curious about such things – go here.

That’s a short history of the site, and you won’t believe what’s going on here now.

More after the jump…


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.