Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The "Blizzard" of 2015

I guess this one will be mostly remembered here for images like these, as things came to a virtual standstill on the usually crowded Queens Blvd. as the storm got going last night:

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."

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Trees Harmed at Local Construction Site

A reader sent in this photo a few weeks ago. It really is an outrage. He explains below:
The construction site at 71-57 Austin Street in Forest Hills already has numerous DOB violations and now the contractor has just poured cement into the two sidewalk tree pits in front of the property. The fate of the trees has literally been sealed. We strive so hard to protect our street trees. When I see this, I get really upset. I can't understand why contractors continuously do this throughout our borough.

Local Composting Facebook Page

A reader sent me this link, for local residents interested in composting: The Compost Collective Facebook Page
We are a volunteer group that promotes community composting in New York City. We established the first community compost site in Central Queens at The Church-in-the-Gardens in 2011 and are the only community compost group in New York City that distributes finished compost to the public free of charge. Together with BIG! Compost, we have been managing the organics drop off site at the Forest Hills Green Market since its inception in 2013.

Out With the Old, In With the New?

It occurs to me that two recent developments in our neighborhood—both of which have resulted in more than the usual amount of media attention for the area—have a lot in common. I am referring to the fight by some residents to save the longtime bakery Bonelle on Ascan, and the new fight to save the Cinemart movie theater on Metropolitan Ave.

Both of these endangered institutions are much loved by residents who have lived here for quite a long time, and not as endeared to the newcomers to the neighborhood, many of whom are kind of apathetic about whether they stay or go.

It all points to the fact that the neighborhood is undergoing some dramatic changes, especially as younger residents move in from surrounding boroughs and are priced out of Manhattan altogether.

Certainly, not all of the changes are for the better. A Dunkin' Donuts taking over one of the most picturesque corners of our neighborhood (Ascan and Austin) comes to mind. So many other more interesting shops could have come into that rather unique corner. I have nothing against Dunkin' Donuts per se. But the fact is that it is just another fast-food chain with mass-produced food. Instead, that space could have become home to something truly interesting and unique to our neighborhood.

The result is a big missed opportunity and, at least to me, a big disappointment.

For the rest of 2015, I will be watching closely the fight by some Queens residents to create a much-needed park along the abandoned railway that passes through Forest Hills. The QueensWay is an awesome idea and would be a great connection to Forest Park, which is such a pain to get to nowadays if you don't have a car.

And, of course, there are plenty of other storefronts open—especially the former Santa Fe space on Restaurant Row. Should be a very interesting year ahead indeed!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Middle School Students Trying to Save Math Team

The Math Team at the Russell Sage Middle School on Austin St. in Forest Hills is in need of donations.

It is a unique group of talented middle school kids with the drive, ambition and dream to compete in math competitions and improve their chances for a future in careers that involve math!

The coaches for this team donate all of their time and work with the team multiple times each week. The team has been an ongoing successful project changing the lives of many middle school kids who credit the team and the coaches for their confidence and success in a world that usually only supports athletic teams.

The math team will donate an hour for every hundred dollars donated to the NYC Food Bank. They believe in paying it forward. They need some financial support to continue competing and getting the word out that there is a place for every talent and gift.

Please click here to make a donation:  Help Russell Sage Math Team

Save The Historic Cinemart Theatre by seeing a major film screening this week!!!

Cinemart Cinemas at 106-03 Metropolitan Ave in Forest Hills has a second chance for survival, since Warner Bros. Pictures has at last licensed a first-run film, “American Sniper,” which is also one of the year’s most acclaimed films, produced and directed by Clint Eastwood.
- Previews will be screened on January 15 at 7 PM, 8 PM, and 9 PM, and include free popcorn and a drink with refills.
- Beginning on January 16, there will be 8 to 9 daily screenings through the Oscars (February 22) and likely beyond.
The Cinemart is being tested! If the film does not draw a large enough audience, owner Nicolas Nicolaou may have no choice but to close his 5-screen theater, which dates to 1927, since Hollywood studios will likely issue no other first-run films.
The Cinemart's year-round lower price policy consists of a $6.00 admission for weekday matinees (12 PM to 5 PM) with an extension to Tuesday evenings. Seniors and children pay $6.00 at all times. General admission for adults is $9.00. Patrons can anticipate complimentary popcorn and a drink with Wednesday and Thursday admissions.
If ticket sales prove successful, the owner envisions restoring and renovating one of the borough's last continuously operated independent movie theaters.

Bonelle Gets a Reprieve

In case you haven't heard already, The Daily News has reported that the Bonelle pastry shop may not be about to be evicted after all:

Sweet! Bonelle Pastry Shop in Forest Hills remains open while a new lease deal is hashed out
The popular bakery on Ascan Ave. in Forest Hills was set to lose its lease at the end of December. But a strong public outcry to keep the beloved pastry shop open may have convinced the landlord to work out a deal.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

End of the Year Poll - Part 2

Local MLK Day Event: Freedom Rider from Forest Hills to Speak

Martin Luther King Day will be marked in Forest Hills with a talk by a local man who was one of the Freedom Riders in 1961. On Monday, January 19, at 1:30 p.m.,Lew-Zuchman-mug Lew Zuchman will speak at the Central Queens YM & YWHA in Forest Hills, on the historic journey as a teenager which transformed his life. Lew Zuchman’s talk is open to the public, with a $8 donation suggested. The event is at the Central Queens Y, at 67-09 108 Street, Forest Hills, NY 11375.

In 1961, black and white Freedom Riders traveled to the South to challenge local segregation laws. Their journey became one of the turning points in the civil rights movement when the activists were met with mob violence in Mississippi and Alabama. Astoundingly, more than half of the white Freedom Riders were Jewish, including one 19 year old from Forest Hills, named Lew Zuchman. Still active today in social justice issues and civil rights work, Zuchman will talk about this historic and personally transformative journey, about his troubled teenaged years, and the story that led him to join the Freedom Riders and his life’s journey since then.

Renovated CTown

A shot of the renovated CTown supermarket on Austin St. with a rather innovative spelling of the name of our neighborhood. Still, a nice improvement...

Banter Music and Christmas

Was in Banter over the weekend and thought I'd share a couple of photos of their live music and cool Christmas decor. Such a cozy place, especially this time of year...

Local Stylist and Personal Shopper

A reader sent this in. If you have your own local service you'd like to post on the blog, email it to me at:  edgeofthecity@gmail.com 

Hi! I am a stylist and personal shopper who would love to help you with your wardrobe needs. Do you hate to shop or have little or  no time to do so? Are you in a relationship with someone who nags you about how you dress? Have you lost/gained weight and are looking for a new look? I can help bring out the new you! 

Who would work with a stylist, you ask? Well, anyone & everyone! You don't have to be a celebrity to have a stylist. I work with people from all walks of life, all shapes and sizes, men, women, and children. I do also specialize in Plus Size fashions, Maternity, and people with disabilities/special needs as well.

I also do special event styling...so, brides, if you need help looking for that right dress or want someone to take a little pressure off of the planning, I can definitely help!!

As a personal shopper, I can do all your shopping for gifts, personal items, etc. without you ever having to step into a store or go into some website. Spring is right around the corner so let me help you find the right items that will make you look great!

Contact: eevertsz@gmail.com