Click the heading above to view historical and related events this month in Queens. Click the following links to go directly into one of these Queens Neighborhoods: Astoria, Flushing, Jackson Heights, Jamaica, Long Island City and Sunnyside.
Update on the Steinway Mansion in Astoria Queens
Visionary Investor Makes Good on Development but Still no Announcement of his Plans for the Steinway Mansion
On May 3rd, 2014 the Halberian Family sold the Steinway Mansion to Steinway Mansion LLC for $2.65 million. In the two and a half years since, the new Steinway Mansion owner parceled the property into a eleven additional smaller lots and built eleven two story commercial buildings on each. We watched as the owner quietly developed the property, likely in line with his plans while making the investment.
Just over a year ago I visited the site and took some photos, which momentarily revealed the resplendent glory of the old mansion, overlooking the East River and distant Rikers Island and Bronx shores. The new owner had cut away most of what remained of the Steinway Mansion yard to make way for the new buildings at a height on a level with 42nd and 41st Streets. The construction site seemed well maintained and the historic mansion structure appeared to be treated respectfully both last year, and as I learned in my most recent trip, also since.
The photo above was taken in August of 2015.
Northern Ditmars Neighborhood Real Estate Development
Last weekend I returned to the site to shoot photos and see what was happening. I came in along 42nd Street, and for a moment I wondered if I had gotten my coordinates wrong, as the street had been transformed. The emptiness on the street of the construction site of a year ago had been filled in with a number of spanking new buildings lined along the street with what appeared an exacting precision. The photo to your right shows roughly the same space in September 2016 as was shown in the August 2015 photo above.
A year ago, 42nd Street was an empty, slightly soiled, commercial industrial hub. But on my visit this year the street took on a wholly different appearance with the new buildings / storefronts. There were eight new buildings along 42nd Street, with red brick exteriors complemented by black trim and large floor-to-ceiling paned storefront windows, which I believe could also serve as garage doors. It almost seemed like these new edifices could as easily become art galleries, as manufacturing locales and / or storage facilities.
Click here to read the rest of our report about the Steinway Mansion real estate development in Northern Ditmars, Astoria.
Corona History Comes Alive
Queens Authors Revive Over a Century of Vanishing History
I spent an evening at the Bayside Historical Society at Fort Totten listening to two Queens historians recount the glorious past of what is now known as the Corona neighborhood. Historians Jason Antos and Constantine Theodosiou teamed up to research what they called Corona: The Early Years, which recounts the history of Corona prior to the first Worlds Fair in 1939.
The photo to your right is a print of The Fashion Hotel, which was adjacent to the Corona Race Track, on a race day.
The history was far more interesting than I had expected, as I had preconceptions that the history of Corona had been told in prior works about Jackson Heights and Flushing. But the two intrepid historians, whose ethnic affiliation dates back to Thucydides - one of the first great historians of the western world - unearthed a treasure trove of historical lore which brought the neighborhood back to life, as an entity in its own right.
Among their findings was the tale of Tiffanys, Typhoid Mary, homestead mansions, early country and suburban living, and what I came to think of as the forerunners of the Belmont and Aqueduct Race Tracks. There is also a section about an early modern Corona real estate development, which had a character and quality very different from what was going on in neighboring Jackson Heights.
The two authors will be presenting their book at the Queens Historical Society this coming Sunday, May 22nd from 2.30 to 4.30 pm where they will also be signing books. Books may also be purchased online from Arcadia Publishing at www.arcadiapublishing.com.
Fireworks Commemorate 50th Anniversary
May 19, 2014 / Flushing / Queens History / Queens Buzz. I attended the fireworks display in Flushing Meadows Corona Park on Sunday night. There were thousands there to view them standing in front of the New York State Pavilion [see photo at right].
The fireworks were part of a day long program of events commemorating the 50th anniversary of the 1964 World's Fair. The program included a rare opportunity to walk through the NYS Pavilion and a bandshell had been set up to accommodate the musicians, which included a group playing Beatles tunes and the pre-fireworks celebration ended with the Queens Symphony Orchestra playing the Stars & Stripes.
We'll post a slide show of the fireworks and the crowds, most of which appeared to be from surrounding neighborhoods. Several Manhattanites did make the journey as I met a couple on the subway.
Steinway Mansion SOLD
May 5, 2014 / Astoria Real Estate / Steinway Mansion / Queens Buzz. On Friday May 3rd, 2014, the Steinway Mansion was sold for $2.65 million. The mansion went on the market in August of 2010 and was handled by a number of brokers - including Southebys International Realty, Halvatzis Realty Astoria and Prudential Douglas Elliman - before being turned over to Amorelli Realty of Astoria, which closed the deal.
At present, we understand that the land parcel remains intact, which last we heard was between one and two acres. This acreage is down from the 700 acres that Benjamin Pike, the original owner, purchased in the mid 1800's [circa 1858]; and the 70 acres owned in tandem with the mansion by the Steinways [circa 1870]. The most recent owners, the Halberians, held about a two acre lot in tandem with the mansion, which includes the grounds with which those who have visited the mansion in modern times are familiar.
The Steinway Mansion is currently zoned as residential and we were told that - as of this date - that nothing was underway to change that. Rumors have been circulating for months that the mansion would be turned into a restaurant, but we could not find anyone close to the owners who could confirm that.
Bob Singleton of the Greater Astoria Historical Society and Friends of the Steinway Mansion said that those two organizations continue to have an interest in helping preserve the Steinway Mansion an historic jewel for Astoria, Queens and NYC.
As we understand it, the Steinway Mansion is landmarked at federal, state and city levels, which means the outside of the structure may not be alterred nor may it be torn down. We were informed that Steinway Mansion LLC is a locally owned company, but the names of the owners have not yet been made public.
The realtors who closed the deal include Lauren Cornea, Christina Halvatzis and Paul Halvatzis - all of Amorelli Realty.
History & Historical Sites In Astoria
Kaufman Astoria Studios - 2010
The American Museum Of The Moving Image - Historical Sites in Astoria
The Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden - Historical Sites in Astoria
Museum Of The Moving Image - Historical Sites in Astoria
Steinway Mansion - Michael Halberian - Historical Sites in Astoria
Steinway & Sons Piano Factory - Historical Sites in Astoria
World's Fairs 1939 & 1964 Redux
Those Crazy Middletons Return To Queens
March 25, 2014 / Astoria Neighborhood / Queens History / Queens Buzz. I attended the first film of a Greater Astoria Historical Society month long program featuring films, lectures and a walking tour of the fairgrounds of the 1939 and 1964 World's Fairs in NYC. Both fairs were hosted in Flushing Meadows Corona Park just south of CitiField Stadium.
There was a great deal of promotion surrounding the 1939 World's Fair as NYC rolled out the red carpet for travelers from around the nation and around the world. Robert Moses, the NYC Parks Commissioner, had chosen the site as he planned to use development funds to continue his efforts to convert the old ashpile into the beautiful park it is today [although it could use a bigger maintenance budget].
The Middletons returned to Queens via celluloid, as shown in the film still above right. In this photo the Middletons are at the 1939 World's Fair in the Westinghouse area, which they never left since Westinghouse had produced the film.
The theme was the World of Tomorrow, and the 1939 World's Fair showcased science and consumerism in a utopian vision of the future. But WWII was around the corner, and helped contribute to the fair financial woes.
The Greater Astoria Historical Society continues its journey into the past with a second film to be shown Saturday at 1.30 pm at their Astoria location. The film on Saturday will be about the 1964 World's Fair. Lectures and walking tour to follow later in March and April.
Click here to read a report we filed last year about the 1939 World's Fair in NYC.
History & Historical Sites In Flushing & Corona
Bowne House Flushing History Queens
Flushing Remonstrance - Flushing History Queens
Friends Meeting House - History of Flushing Queens
Kingsland Homestead - Queens Historical Society
Louis Latimer House - Flushing
Louis Armstrong House - Corona
Shea Stadium - Flushing Corona
Voelker Orth Museum - Victorian Homes in Queens
History & Historical Sites In Forest Hills & Kew Gardens
History & Historical Sites In Jackson Heights & Elmhurst
History & Historical Sites In Jamaica
Remembering Queens Past
Forgotten-NY & GAHS Historic Tours Attract Growing Audience
August 15, 2011 / Long Island City Neighborhood / Queens Buzz. I joined a tour given by Kevin Walsh, Founder of Forgotten-NY, and Richard Melnick, Vice President of the Greater Astoria Historical Society [GAHS]. It was a Saturday morning in the middle of August with the temperatures in the mid 80’s and with some humidity. To my surprise and delight there were between 40 and 50 people gathered to take the historic tour of Long Island City.
The walking tour covered about two miles and was scheduled to last about three hours, but went on for four. During the tour we saw about twenty sites and the tour cost $25 for non-members. The tour guides did a great job of taking us back centuries ago, from when Long Island City became Dutch farm land, to its commercial heydays [1850’s to 1940’s], to today.
Click here later this week to read more about Remembering The Past With Forgotten-NY and the GAHS.
History & Historical Sites In Long Island City LIC
History & Historical Sites In Queens
History & Historical Sites In Sunnyside & Woodside
Memorial Day Parade - Woodside
Doughboy Park - Woodside
FDNY Memorial Service - Woodside
St Sebastians Grade School - Woodside
Sunnyside Gardens - Park Sunnyside NY
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