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The ongoing battle over which borough has the best restaurants will have a friendly skirmish during Queens Taste 2015 in Corona on May 12. More than 50 restaurants, dessert makers, and beverage providers are getting ready to provide samples of their products to an expected 800 attendees at this annual celebration, which will take place at the New York Hall of Science this year. More information and more foodie photos are on the jump page.

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There was a time when some Irish people thought that New York City streets were paved with gold. Well, on Sunday, a Sunnyside/Woodside thoroughfare will be filled with innumerable Emerald Isle natives and many other marchers during the St. Pat’s For All Parade. This 15th annual event was founded in response to the never-ending conflict over openly gay participation in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Manhattan. Thus, organizers of the Queens march emphasize the diversity of the Big Apple’s Irish and Irish American residents, especially the LGBT community. Beyond the ethnic groups, expect such entities as the Sunnyside United Dog Society, the Ethical Humanist Society of Queens, and veterans agencies.

Details: St. Pat’s For All Parade, Skillman Avenue from 43rd Street in Sunnyside to 56th Street in Woodside, March 1st, 1 pm (assembly and remarks), 2 pm (step off), free.

Bonus details: Lunar New Year, Queens Center Food Court, 90-15 Queens Boulevard, Elmhurst, February 28th, noon to 6 pm, free. Events include a martial arts demonstration with Kung Fu Master Long Fei Yang, Korean and Japanese drummers, tea tastings, and the Dragon Dance. The first 200 people who bring an event social media post (like this one) will receive a red envelope with a prize.

Photo: St. Pat’s For All

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This nicely appointed Jeep was noticed while parked at a service station found at the intersection of Northern Boulevard and Newtown Road, last summer. Adorned with multiple decals indicating that it was the property of a “Zombie Response Team,” I for one am glad that someone is finally taking this sort of eventuality seriously given the presence of so many large cemeteries in Queens.

Somebody has to.

More after the jump…

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In a recent New York Times piece, Daniel L. Doctoroff (who served as the Deputy Mayor for Economic Development and Rebuilding for the City of New York, and then as the CEO of Bloomberg L.P. until September of this year) emphatically reissued his call to deck over the Sunnyside Yard here in Queens with the intention of erecting some sort of convention center atop it.

As regular devotees of Q’stoner know, I’ve been mentioning Sunnyside Yard over and over for a while now. The Harold Interlocking is found here, which is the busiest rail junction in the entire United States, for instance. You might notice that the Doctoroff plan is actually mentioned in that posting as well, which was published in July of 2013.

There are lots of people who think this is a good idea being proposed. Deck over the yard and build a world class convention center and hotel complex, at Queens Plaza. Add in an “affordable” housing component, or non binding promise to think about building some at least, and only an idiot would oppose it.

I am that idiot.

More after the jump…

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You can take the Q39 bus here, but why? There’s a somewhat hidden stretch of Laurel Hill Boulveard, which is entirely overflown by the Brooklyn Queens Expressway, down here. On either side of the street, high masonry walls define the borders of Third and Fourth Calvary Cemeteries. There are sidewalks, however, and this is one of the loneliest spots to walk through that can be found in all of Western Queens.

The street is only ten blocks long, spanning the area between 58th and 48th Streets, and it’s one of those hazy areas where you might be in the neighborhood of Maspeth, or in Woodside, or perhaps Sunnyside. It’s actually and definitively Woodside, by the way, but there really is no one around whom you’d be able to ask. You’d be surrounded by literally millions walking down this street, but they’re all dead.

More after the jump…

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Saturday last, I conducted a walking tour along the Brooklyn and Maspeth borders, and afterwards decided to enjoy the beautiful weather by walking back home to Astoria. My path carried me along the fence line of Mt. Zion cemetery (Maurice Avenue side) toward Tyler Avenue, where I made a left.

Just look at what was waiting for me to notice it when I turned onto Tyler – a 1949 Plymouth Special Deluxe, which I believe to be the P15 model.

Man alive, I love Queens.

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Around a week or so ago, Kevin Walsh spotlighted the Playbill Manufacturing Plant in this Q’Stoner post from May 23rd. Today, we get to see what’s happening behind the walls.

The Woodside institution has been in the neighborhood since the 1960s, and recently I was invited inside the plant. Here’s what I found when I was recently invited back stage at Playbill.

Pictured above is Claire Mangan, Playbill’s Managing Program Editor.

When you enter the place, the first thing you smell is ink. The first thing you hear is the “chugga chugga chugga” sound of high speed printing presses. Print shops are busy places, with hundreds or thousands of moving parts. Playbill has an assortment of equipment employed here, but this isn’t where the process starts, rather its where it ends.

From Wikipedia:

Playbill was first printed in 1884 for a single theatre on 21st Street in New York City. The magazine is now used at nearly every Broadway theatre, as well as many Off-Broadway productions. Outside New York City, Playbill is used at theatres throughout the United States, including in Birmingham, Alabama; Boston; Chicago; Cincinnati; Columbus, Ohio; Dallas; East Lansing, Michigan; Houston; Indianapolis; Los Angeles; Miami; Minneapolis; Philadelphia; Phoenix; Pittsburgh; St. Louis; San Diego; San Francisco; and Washington, D.C.. Circulation as of September 2012 was 4,073,680.

Playbill’s writers and editors, working with graphic artists, digitally compose the magazines.

Approved files are then printed in house, as plastic printing plates.

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Jack Eichenbaum grew up in Bayside in the 1950s. He left for academic and vocational reasons in 1963, and when he returned from completing his doctorate in urban geography in 1976, he found a completely different borough. The mostly white, working class neighborhoods of his youth had transformed into multi-ethnic enclaves, creating the world’s most diverse county. Fascinated, he started giving walking tours of his beloved hometown in the 1980s, and in 2010, Eichenbaum was designated the official historian of Queens, as per the borough president’s office. The former city assessor has five upcoming tours, which are famous for the amount of local trivia he shares and the great restaurants he hits afterwards with participants. For more information, please see below.

  • Willets Point, Sunday, May 25th, 4 pm: East of Citi Field is a sewerless, hardscrabble area of auto junkyards and related businesses that has twice beaten back recent attempts at redevelopment. But since it’s located between the world famous baseball stadium and booming Flushing, public and private interests are again trying to transform Willets Point. Eichenbaum will walk from central Flushing to the area, while discussing political, economic and ecological issues and explaining why “Willets Point” is a misnomer. $20.
  • The World of the 7 Train, Saturday, May 31st, 10 am: Eichenbaum calls this full-day program his “signature tour,” although it’s actually a series of six walks (Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside, Jackson Heights, Corona and Flushing) and connecting rides. He focuses on the 7 train’s influence on surrounding neighborhoods. Lunch is in Flushing. Pre-register via jaconet@aol.com.
  • On and Off Jamaica Avenue, Sunday, June 8th, 10 am: After decades of dedication, redesign, and redevelopment, Downtown Jamaica is undergoing a renaissance as the borough’s major transportation center. Eichenbaum promises historic buildings, commercial activity, culture, and a surprise ending. $20.
  • Crossing Newtown Creek: Contrasting Industrial Brooklyn & Queens, Sunday, July 27th, 10 am: See remnants of the intense and largely unregulated industrial development that thrived along Newtown Creek during the late 19th century. See elegant Greenpoint highlights and East River shoreline redevelopment ending with shoreline views from Gantry Park and Hunter’s Point.
  • More Space and New Arrangements in Western Queens, Sunday, August 3rd, 10 am: During the first third of the 20th century, Western Queens nurtured developments where traditional open space/building area relationships were altered to create new urban architecture. Sunnyside Gardens and the Jackson Heights Historic District anchor this tour, which includes Phipps Garden Apartments, various Matthews Flats, the Metropolitan Life houses, and early truck-oriented industrial buildings.

Photo: Alex Engel

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On Monday, we focused in on the historic Big Six development in Woodside, found nearby 58th Street at Queens Boulevard. While I was in the neighborhood, I couldn’t help but get a few shots of the (so called) Geographic Center of the City of Greater New York.

It’s not everyday that I find myself in Midtown, at the purported Geographic Center of New York City.

From the nytimes:

Q. Where is the geographic center of New York? I did a Google search of the phrase and came up with claims to the title from Woodside, Long Island City, East Williamsburg and Shea Stadium. For that matter, where is the population center? The Mets’ Web site claims that’s Shea Stadium, too.

A. There are two kinds of centers that demographers and city planners use. Imagine a flat plate in the shape of the city’s boundaries, placed on a needle at the spot where the plate balances. That’s the geographic center. Now pretend the plate is weightless but still flat and rigid. Put about eight million tiny equal weights on the plate representing where each resident lives, and find the point of balance again. That’s the population center. Neither of them is Shea Stadium.

According to the Department of City Planning, the population center lies in Maspeth, Queens, near the intersection of Galasso Place and 48th Street, near Maspeth Creek. The geographic center is in Bushwick, Brooklyn, on Stockholm Street between Wyckoff Avenue and St. Nicholas Avenue.

Looking west, along Queens Boulevard, the scenery is somewhat less “whelming” than you’d expect for the geographic center of New York City. Part of Calvary Cemetery lies along the hill that leads up toward Maspeth. Continuing along this decidedly high speed section of the so called Boulevard of Death will bring you to Thomson Avenue.

Q’Stoners own Kevin Walsh, at his amazing Forgotten-NY site, offers that this is not the actual geographic center and opines:

“according to the Department of City Planning, the geographic center is in Bushwick, Brooklyn, on Stockholm Street between Wyckoff Avenue and St. Nicholas Avenue.”

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The other day, I was wandering along the Boulevard of Death, aka Queens Boulevard.

As I walked along this decidedly unfriendly-to-pedestrians street, I pondered Mayor de Blasio’s recent announcement of his “Affordable Housing” initiatives and what that means for Queens. That’s when I noticed the Mitchell-Lama funded Big Six rising against the horizon, right around 60th Street in Woodside.

From Wikipedia:

The Mitchell-Lama Housing Program is a non-subsidy governmental housing guarantee in the state of New York. It was sponsored by New York State Senator MacNeil Mitchell and Assemblyman Alfred Lama. It was signed into law in 1955 as The Limited-Profit Housing Companies Act (officially contained in the Private Housing Finance law, article II titled Limited-Profit Housing Companies and referring to not-for-profit corp., whereas article IV titled Limited Dividend Housing Companies refers to non-Mitchell-Lama affordable housing organized as business corp., partnerships or trusts from 1927 on).

The program’s publicly stated purpose was the development and building of affordable housing, both rental and co-operatively owned, for middle-income residents. Under this program, local jurisdictions acquired property by eminent domain and provided it to developers to develop housing for low- and middle-income tenants. Developers received tax abatements as long as they remained in the program, and low-interest mortgages, subsidized by the federal, state, or New York City government. They were also guaranteed a 6% or, later, 7.5% return on investment each year. The program was based on the Morningside Gardens housing cooperative, a co-op in Manhattan’s Morningside Heights neighborhood that was subsidized with tax money.


LIC Daily Star image courtesy fultonhistory.com

Unveiled in February of 1959, and completed by 1963, the eponymous Big Six towers were built by Typographical Union No. 6 – known in its heyday as Big Six. The buildings were erected as a non profit co-op for members of the union in Woodside.