LONG ISLAND CITY, QUEENS

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A view of an unusual neighborhood with an outstanding view.

Industry-dominated Long Island City provides some terrific views of Manhattan, just across the East River, as well as a variety of contrasts: landmarked brownstone blocks, smokestacks, and church steeples, as well as a diesel-only Long Island Rail Road station, once the busy terminus of the railroad but now a mostly forgotten destination. LIC could once again become a hotbed if the planned Hunters Point development is a success.

Here is a view of southern Long Island City taken from the Pulaski Bridge over Newtown Creek. The four giant smokestacks in the center of the picture belong to the former Pennsylvania Railroad generating plant, designed by McKim, Mead & White, who also designed the original Penn Station. Today, the building is used for manufacturing and also has some indoor tennis courts.

Another view of the smokestacks from 51st Avenue and Vernon Boulevard. In 2005 it was announced that the building is going condo and the stacks are coming down.

The Museum of Modern Art spent 2 years on 33rd Street near Queens Boulevard in 2003 and 2004 while its 53rd Street headquarters in Manhattan was being renovated.

Art Deco apartment on 43rd Avenue near 41st Street.

It’d be pretty hard to find a greater study in contrasts in the borough of Queens than down this view of 45th Avenue!

In the foreground is the Hunters Point Historic District, a group of marvelous landmarked row houses built in the 1870s.

In the rear is the massive 48-story Citicorp office building, the tallest building on Long Island, completed in 1989.

 

The area has justifiably been named a landmark block.

For more on this historic Long Island City block, check this link.

Eagle Electric, using the motto “perfection is no accident” occupied many LIC buildings for decades. The company was acquired in 2000. (above): Thomson Avenue north of Jackson

Kaufman-Astoria Studios, 35th Avenue and 36th Street, was built as Famous Player-Lasky Studios in 1920. It was later used to make US Army Signal Corps films between 1942 and 1971, and after a time when it lay idle, it was once again revived as a state of the art production complex.

Many side streets of Astoria and northern LIC are lined with yellow Mathews Model flats, built beginning in 1915 by the G.X. Mathews Company using Kreischer brick.

Sculptor Isamu Noguchi (1904-1988) lived and worked in Long Island City for many years. His oeuvre is displayed and celebrated at the Noguchi Museum on Vernon Boulevard, opened in 1985.

PS 1, now a premier art space associated with MOMA, is contrasted with the Citicorp Building. The two buildings were constructed about 100 years apart.

The 21st-Van Alst IND subway station has a couple of bricked up entranceways along Jackson Avenue.

Northern Blvd. and 48th Street, now home to a stretch of car dealerships, was once the site of a massive, 72,000-seat open-air stadium, Madison Square Garden Bowl. It was open for only a few years in the 1930s, during which time the heavyweight boxing champion lost each time. Was the joint jinxed?

The traffic triangle at Queens Plaza North and 41st Avenuecontains two of Astoria’s oldest artifacts: millstones used in a long-gone grist mill, imported from Holland in 1657. The Payntar family had them in front of their house in he 1800s and early 1900s, but when the LIRR, the Astoria el, and JFK Commuter Plaza were built in the 1910s, the stones made their way to this triangle, where they are aggressively unnoticed.

Are the ‘stacks on the way out? The Penn Station Powerhouse (the old Schwartz Chemical building) could lose its smokestacks if the condo developers who bought the building deem them unsafe. 4/2005: the news came in: the stacks are coming down.

Silvercup Bakery, between 22nd and 23rd Streets at 43rd Avenue, is now a TV production studio. Fortunately, Silvercup Studios kept the marvelous neon sign.

The ugliest building in Queens, and possibly all of NYC, is this concrete-clad parking garage on Queens Plaza South and Jackson Avenue.

2008: demolished

Much more LIC stuff can be found at the Greater Astoria Historical Society

Check FNY’s second Long Island City page.

 





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