Posts Tagged ‘Queens’

Swingset and sandbox on the East River in 1901

July 17, 2014

Ashcan School painter Maurice Prendergast was known for his bold, colorful depictions of leisure and play in European and American cities in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

This view of the East River looks like a tapestry or a mosaic.


Is it showing Carl Schurz Park, on the Upper East Side? The way the land across the river looks, plus the small houses, could be Queens.

Update: David Patrick Columbia over at New York Social Diary took a look at the painting and wondering if this was Carl Schurz Park too. Here’s his investigation, with photos that seem to make the case.

A rainy day in Queens in 1931

October 3, 2011

Martin Lewis’ drypoint print, “Rainy Day, Queens,” captures light behind cloudy skies and in slick sidewalk puddles on a grim city day.

Does anyone have an idea where this is?

It’s moody and enchanting—and it sold at Christie’s for $23,750! I hope it’s not sitting in a closet somewhere.

The escapee jackrabbits of JFK airport

August 22, 2011

Next time you’re on a plane taxiing around John F. Kennedy International Airport, look out for one of the estimated 50-100 black-tailed jackrabbits who make their home in the flatlands beside the runways.

Like pigeons and sparrows, they’re not native New Yorkers. They’re the progeny of fugitive rabbits native to the U.S. West from a shipment that arrived at JFK about 50 years ago.

A crate of these two-foot rabbits “was supposed to be shipped to a game farm, where the rabbits would be stalked by hunters,” states Wild New York, by Margaret Mittelbach and Michael Crewdson.

“Instead, the jackrabbits broke loose and discovered that the grassy areas alongside the runways were similar to their native desert flatlands.”

“The escaped jackrabbits and their descendants have been living at JFK ever since—and new litters of baby jackrabbits are born at the airport every spring.”

Life at JFK isn’t easy for these guys. Between 2000 and 2008, about 39 jackrabbits met their maker after colliding with planes, according to this New York Post article.

[photo copyright BK atzung]

Traces of old phone exchanges of Queens

September 23, 2010

This frozen-in-time faded ad—complete with 1980s-style graffiti—remains on the side of a warehouse along 31st Street in Astoria.

The RA comes from Ravenswood, an enchantingly named hamlet that once existed along the East River and was home to many old-money mansions in the 19th century.

The neighborhood was absorbed into Long Island City toward the end of the 1800s, but the name lives on in the form of the nearby Ravenswood Houses and the Ravenswood Generation Station.

This Millionaire Realty sign, on Astoria Boulevard, doesn’t look very old. But it must date back to the 1960s at least, when telephone numbers still had the two-letter prefix.

Two of the nicest street names in New York City

July 11, 2009

Bliss Street has a sweet ring to it, doesn’t it? It’s the original, early 20th century moniker of what was later renamed 46th Street in Sunnyside, Queens.

BlissstreesignBliss Street is probably associated with Neziah Bliss, a ship builder and real estate bigwig back when this part of Queens was farmland dotted with little villages.

In the mid-1800s, he founded a blink-and-you’ll miss-it industrial neighborhood bordering Long Island City called Blissville. The name barely survives today.

In 1982, Sunnyside residents decided they wanted Bliss Street added back to the map. It’s also the name of the nearby 7 train stop, 46th Street–Bliss Street.

Pleasant Avenue is, yep, pretty pleasant. This six-block stretch east of First Avenue between 114th and 120th Street was once the center of Italian-American East Harlem.


It still has a rep for being a mob stronghold; Tony Salerno ran the Genovese crime family from here. And Italian restaurant Rao’s is tucked into a corner storefront at the south end of the street.

On warm weekends, a nearby playground is always flooded with little kids having a good time.

Congratulations to the class of 1916

May 18, 2009

Queens had only been part of New York City for 18 years when these seniors, from Long Island City’s William C. Bryant High School, earned their diplomas.


Most of the girls—with names like Agnes, Anna, and Frances—are wearing comfy middy blouses, the must-have fashion trend of the teens. The boys—several Williams and Georges—are stuck in suits.

An airplane view of two East River bridges

April 10, 2009

The Hell Gate and Triborough Bridges—spanking-new and gleaming in this technical postcard—connect Astoria to Ward’s and Randall’s Islands. The islands are two separate entities here, but they’ve long since been united into one island via landfill.


It’s a strange view: Manhattan and the Bronx look like pastoral, barely populated villages. Astoria, on the other hand, comes off as an industrial wasteland.

The Triborough Bridge was renamed the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge in 2008. I hope they don’t rename the Hell Gate; it’s too colorful a name to lose.

Cooling off Under the Hell Gate Bridge

June 8, 2008

With this blistering heat wave baking the city, don’t you wish you could spend a lazy day at the Astoria Pool? Here it is in 1936, the year the pool opened. If you look closely, you can see that some of the boys are wearing swim trunks, while others are dressed in the two-piece tank suit that was the fashion in the teens and 1920s. 

Photo: New York City Department of Parks and Recreation

“Night falls…but not in the City of Light.”

May 17, 2008

So reads this postcard depicting the world’s largest diorama—a block-long, three-story recreation of New York City from the Bronx to Coney Island. Built by Con Ed for the 1939-1940 World’s Fair in Flushing Meadow Park, it was one of the spectacular attractions that wowed millions of visitors.

The Fair’s theme was the boundlessly optimistic “World of Tomorrow.” The diorama was meant to illustrate how electricity would power the future: twinkling lights, air conditioning, a bigger, brighter, more affluent New York. This second postcard below shows the outside of the diorama, with two other great exhibits, the Trylon and Perisphere, to the left.

“P. J. Carroll: Horses to Hire”

May 13, 2008

You never really think that the boring local ads in your high school yearbook will one day act as a fascinating time capsule—taking readers back to the businesses that existed in your neighborhood and the services you and your family needed to live your lives.

This is the back page of the William Cullen Bryant High School yearbook, class of 1916, in Long Island City.