Sunday, January 25, 2015

Blizzard Watch Now in Effect for New York City

The National Weather Service has just upgraded its forecast to a Blizzard Watch for the New York City area, with the storm beginning Monday and continuing maybe into Tuesday night. This forecast is reminding me of the Blizzard of 1996, when the city received about two feet of snow over two days.

Blizzard of 1996

Central Park after the blizzard of Jan. 7-8, 1996
Dumping more than 20 inches of snow in Central Park, the blizzard of Jan. 7-8, 1996, marked the second biggest snowstorm in New York City history. With winds gusting to more than 50 miles an hour, the powerful nor'easter caused widespread power outages, scores of fatalities and $1 billion in damages from Washington, D.C. to Boston.

Thousands of travelers were stranded at City airports, bus terminals, and highway rest stops as transportation ground to a halt. On Jan. 8, New York City public and parochial schools were ordered closed, several Broadway shows canceled performances, and the New York Stock Exchange had a short day.

Dozens of deaths were attributed to the storm, including a Connecticut man and two New Jersey men who suffered heart attacks while shoveling snow.

As 26,528 tons of salt was spread on City roads, snow was hauled to designated vacant lots and parking areas or dumped into the East and Hudson Rivers. By the end of the 1995-1996 winter season, New York City had experienced 16 snowstorms and recorded more than 89 inches of snow.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Act One of Arctic Plunge

The messy storm that's pulling away from the area today is most likely the Opening Act of what is forecast to be a memorable and rather nasty run of bitter cold and snowy weather for the New York City area over the next few weeks.

That news might be as comforting to some as this scene in Forest Hills this morning:

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Small Town in the Big City?

How many other neighborhoods in New York City would act as if the nearby movie theater was the only one for miles around and be so attached to it they launch a campaign to actually save it? I can understand if we were talking about the mammoth, art-deco marvel that is the Ziegfeld in Manhattan. But, the Cinemart—a tiny, kinda multiplexish theater on Metropolitan that never has really impressed me each time I've seen a film there?

The goings-on down on Metropolitan to save the Cinemart movie theater are amazing to me from my perch here in the northern Queens Blvd.-centric part of Forest Hills. It really is something I'd expect to see occurring in the middle of maybe Iowa, not New York home as it is to so many theaters. But lo and behold, there's this story that was posted on the Blog's Facebook Page this evening: Cinemart Cinemas achieves record ticket sales     Take a look at that photo in the story. What a turnout!

Are there other parts of the city that have such an extreme contrast? The Metropolitan Ave. part of Forest Hills really does sometimes feel like a small town in the middle of a big city. It even looks like it's stuck somewhere in the 1950s (a great street for period films or TV shows, by the way, for all you big Hollywood producers who haven't discovered it yet). But then walk—what, half a mile?—and you find yourself smack dab in the hustle and bustle of Austin St. and go another block and you're face-to-face with the traffic and pedestrian mishmash of Queens Blvd.

And, as we've seen so many other times over recent years here in the Big Apple, those neighborhoods that are kind of stuck in time are the ones that eventually gentrify. And that is what's now happening to Metropolitan—or, as some seem to like to call it these days, "Michelin Road"—thanks to all the fine new restaurants opening there in the past year or two.

It's kind of ironic, isn't it, that Austin Street, with all of the shoppers it gets, is for the most part being passed over nowadays by cool, interesting new restaurants for other nearby areas like Metropolitan Ave., and other parts of Queens, that are much cheaper and rapidly becoming quite hip. It should be interesting to see how much the central Austin St. shopping district of Forest Hills shares in this emerging hipsterism or if it remains just on the cusp of it in 2015. God knows, interesting things are happening all over Queens these days...

Another Interesting Restaurant Opening on Metropolitan

DNAinfo reports that Peruvian restaurant La Coya will replace the long-time restaurant Chalet Alpina at its location at 98-35 Metropolitan Ave.

Another reason to take the trek—soon snowy trek—through the Gardens down south! And, another bustling Austin St.  loss to sleepy Metropolitan when it comes to interesting restaurants.

Go figure.

By the way, where did that silly "Michelin Road" nickname come from anyway? Do you all like it? or hate it? And just how many of the restaurants on Metropolitan are actually in the Michelin Guide? Two? Three?...

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Public Workshop Kicks off City-Wide Initiative to Redesign Queens Boulevard

Queens Residents Gather to Build a Blueprint for a Better Queens Boulevard
Groundbreaking Workshop Kicks off Mayor de Blasio’s First Arterial
Transformation Plan

Queens Boulevard -- long known as the "Boulevard of Death" -- is headed for a major transformation, thanks to a local movement of neighbors, schools, business owners and elected officials.

Mayor Bill de Blasio recently announced that the City's Department of Transportation is taking action to redesign this dangerous corridor as part of the Vision Zero effort to eliminate traffic fatalities and
serious injuries. This Wednesday, Transportation Alternatives' Queens Activist Committee and Families for Safe Streets will be joined by neighbors and community partners at the DOT's first-ever Queens Boulevard Safety Workshop.

This free, public event invites Queens residents to chart out their vision for a better boulevard with pedestrian improvements, protected bike lanes and dedicated bus lanes. The workshop will focus on the section of Queens Boulevard between Roosevelt Avenue and 73rd Street.
The event will be bilingual (Spanish-English).

T.A.'s Zero on Queens Boulevard campaign has built a local movement of more than 6,500 New Yorkers and 200 community partners demanding a world-class, transformed Queens Boulevard.

WHAT: NYC DOT's Queens Boulevard Safety Workshop

WHEN: Wednesday, January 21st 7 -- 9 pm

WHERE: P.S. 11 Kathryn Phelan School
54-25 Skillman Avenue
Woodside, Queens

Friday, January 16, 2015

NYC Parks Department on the Job

The NYC Parks Department listened to the complaint of the reader who sent me the photos of the harmed trees and they have already corrected the problem. Here is an excerpt from the email he received from a Parks Dept. official, followed by a photo of the results:
"I'm happy to report that yesterday, under Forestry supervision, the contractor removed the concrete from both tree pits and is in the process of constructing wooden tree guards for proper protection.  The condition has been corrected.  Thanks as always for bringing it to our attention."
 The reader tells me:
 "In addition to receiving fines from the city, the contractor removed the concrete , installed fencing and mulch, as mandated by the city. This is exactly what every tree next to a construction site should look like. Hope he learned his lesson and let this be a warning to other contractors."