Hunters Point CDC Tree Lighting Event
And A Brief History Of Hunters Point & Long Island City
Continued / November 29, 2010 / Long Island City / Queens Buzz. After mingling with the crowd, I listened to the remarks made by [from left to right in photo] Brian Adams, Chairman of the Hunters Point Merchants Association, City Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, Santa, Terri Adams President of the Hunters Point CDC and Joseph Conley the Chairman of Community Board 2.
Hunters Point Repertory Theatre LIC
Some Christmas Carols were sung by the Hunters Point Repertory Theatre. The group had dressed up in some great Dickensian outfits to suit the occasion. And of course, no tree lighting is complete without the arrival of the jolly man with the long white beard and big red suit: Santa himself. I’ve often wondered how Santa manages to make so many public appearances, while his toy factories are running full tilt, during the busiest time in his season. That’s a time management trick I would dearly love to learn.
Hunters Point Community Development Corporation LIC
After the event I had occasion to learn a little more about the history of the Hunters Point CDC [Community Development Corporation] through conversations with both Terri Adams who is the President of the Hunters Point CDC, and Brian Adams who is the Chairman of the Hunters Point Merchants Association. The Hunters Point Community Development Corporation logo is shown to the left.
The Hunters Point Community Development Corporation was founded in 1952 to enable community residents to participate in and help guide the development of their neighborhood. In the 1950’s Hunters Point was still a residential area with small factories and a diminishing transportation hub.
Hunters Point - LIC Tree Lighting Photos
The following is a slide show of the Hunters Point CDC Tree Lighting ceremony. You may also click here to go directly into the album containing photos of the Hunters Point Community Development Corporation Tree Lighting Ceremony 2010. The holiday lights were funded by Avalon Bay and TF Cornerstone, and the event organized with support from Paul Januszewski of Queens West Development Corporation.
In the photo album you may double click on any photo to enlarge it. Scroll down past the slide show to learn more about the Hunters Point CDC, as well as a brief history of Hunters Point and Long Island City.
Hunters Point / Long Island City History
Hunters Point was a farmland tract that was awarded to a Dutch settler in 1643. The area bordered the north side of Newtown Creek and the east bank of the East River, thus forming a point. During the early 1800’s it eventually became known as Hunters Point because it was owned by a retired British sea captain named George Hunter.
Hunters Point / Long Island City – Transportation Hub
In 1854 the Long Island City railroad terminal was built by the Long Island Railroad [LIRR] to carry Long Island passenger and freight traffic to and from Manhattan. There was a ferry service connection from Hunters Point / Long Island City across the East River. In 1860 the LIRR opened the Hunterspoint Avenue Station, and this was soon followed by the erection of another station by the New York and Flushing Railroad, which was called the Hunters Point Station. Needless to say, rail transportation was a competitive industry.
Hence in the 1860’s and 1870’s this area developed into a commercial hub that encompassed the development of manufacturing, warehousing and residential building. It quickly became the transportation hub for all of Long Island. During this time several attempts were made to tunnel from about 50th Avenue and Vernon Blvd under the East River into Murray Hill. The most notable attempt was lead by the Steinway family who wanted to extend their trolley service into Manhattan. Brian informed me that the trolley tracks still lie beneath the Vernon Blvd pavement. The work done to build this tunnel would be used over forty years later when the #7 subway line was created in 1915.
In the 1870’s Hunters Point, along with Dutch Kills, Ravenswood, Astoria, Steinway, Blissville, Sunnyside, Middleton and Bowery Bay became a part of Long Island City. Long Island City remained a separate entity until 1898, at which time it became a part of New York City.
Hunters Point / Long Island City – Residential Development
In the early 1900’s, new means of transportation between Queens and Manhattan arose beginning with the erection of the Queens Borough Bridge in 1909 and the Flushing and Astoria subway lines in 1915. The bridge and subways enabled both passengers and freight to circumvent Hunters Point and Long Island City and hence over time the area’s economy declined. Ferry service was eventually terminated in 1925.
Once travel between Queens [Hunters Point & Long Island City] and Manhattan was opened up via the bridge and the subway, people began moving out to Queens and beyond to buy homes that were within a commutable distance from the city. Hunters Point and Long Island City began transitioning into a residential community. In 1940 the Midtown Tunnel was opened to automobile traffic.
Nonetheless, significant transportation and warehousing infrastructures remained in operation well into the latter part of the 1900’s. In fact Long Island City is still home to an infrequently used LIRR train station as well as the LIRR's Sunnyside railyards, which bear some resemblance to the railyards near the Javitts Center in NYC. The photo to your right shows the last remaining building still standing inside the Sunnyside rail yards.
Hunters Point / Long Island City - Multi-Use Zoning
In 1952 the Hunters Point Community Development Corporation [CDC] was created in an effort by residents to influence zoning. In the 1960’s the area was re-zoned from residential to manufacturing. Throughout the 1960’s and 1970’s Hunters Point and Long Island City evolved into a warehousing and light manufacturing area. In the late 1970’s Manhattan developers began eyeing the location as a potential development opportunity, given the proximity of Hunters Point [Long Island City] to Manhattan. The low cost of real estate at the time fueled interest as did the public transit commuter connections.
Hunters Point / Long Island City Real Estate Market Warms Up
In the late 1980’s Citibank broke ground on a new skyscraper at One Court Square in Long Island City, just along the perimeter of the Hunters Point neighborhood. Citigroup opened the 50 story building in 1990, drawing developers interest into the location as an emerging real estate market.
2004 Re-Zoning Of Hunters Point / LIC Heats Up Real Estate Market & Development
In 2004 Hunters Point and Long Island City were re-zoned again. Following this change developers quickly moved to expand the Hunters Point / Long Island City skyscraper footprint. Some of the more sizeable buildings in Hunters Point real estate market include the Avalon, the View, City Lights and L Haus.
Real estate developments also moved beyond Hunters Point, onto Queens Blvd near the Queens Plaza subway stop where a new facility for an NYC government agency is in the process of completion. The new Holiday Inn in Long Island City is also just one of several new skyscrapers emerging in that section of the Long Island City neighborhood. And I’ve only scratched the surface.
Hunters Point CDC & Hunters Point Merchants Association
During the Christmas Tree Lighting I spoke primarily to Brian Adams about the role of the Hunters Point CDC and the Hunters Point Merchants Association in the development of the neighborhood. He noted that Terri Adams and the Hunters Point CDC had participated from the beginning in the development of Queens West, which refers to the skyscrapers along Gantry State Park, overlooking the east side of Manhattan. Gantry Park is shown in the photo to your left.
The mission of the Hunters Point CDC is to help preserve the neighborhood history, develop the neighborhood business climate, expand the neighborhood open space, encourage the development of the arts and address environmental concerns of the area. Terri Adams, president of the group informed me that there are about 30 members. She told me that one of the things the Hunters Point CDC has worked to do is to prevent the zoning of buildings that are too high [and that could overwhelm the public infrastructure], as well as to maintain limited height zoning for areas, like a long swath of Vernon Blvd and some of its side streets.
Hunters Point Merchants Association - Long Island City Businesses
The Hunters Point Merchants Association is a group of about fifty local business owners. Brian Adams in the Chairman of this group, which works under the umbrella of the Hunters Point CDC. Their focus is to enhance the economic climate of the neighborhood. To that end they have sponsored Hunters Point Restaurant Week, which occurred this past fall; as well as near weekly historic walking tours of the neighborhood. The walking tours acquaint new residents and would-be residents to the Hunters Point area. The Hunters Point CDC also works to encourage the development of cultural venues in the community and the choral group from the Hunters Point Repertory Theatre was one such example.
The Hunters Point CDC has working relationships with the local businessmen, government officials as well as real estate developers in the neighborhood. This comes from the frequent interactions through their participation in working through government and community issues associated with the erection of large new buildings in the Hunters Point neighborhood. Given the level of activity the past few years, I’d say they have been very busy. Happy Holidays.
P.S. I hear the Greater Astoria Historical Society has just released a new book entitled Long Island City: Then & Now by Arcadia Press. They're having an annual holiday party where the book will be presented on Monday, December 6th starting at 7 pm at their location on the fourth floor of the Quinn Building in LIC / Astoria [click link above for map].
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