Things To Do In Queens
Easter Weekend, Passover Continues & Festivities ...
April 17, 2014 / Things To Do Queens / Queens Buzz. Weather - GOOD. Highs will range from the mid 50's to the mid 60's [Saturday], with the lows around / below 40. It will be cloudy with scant [10%] chance of rain.
MTA - RUNNING. The #7 subway Steinway Tunnels construction is NOT taking place this weekend, so SUBWAYS WILL RUN NORMALLY between Times Square & Queens Plaza.
Until 8.30 pm a workshop at the Materials For The Arts in LIC [art]. Jimmy Titanic, a musical / theatrical performance about some Irish passengers on the Titanic begins at 8 pm at the New York Irish Center in LIC [music].
Beginning at 8 pm the Flux Factory in LIC is hosting a reception entitled It's Totally Working Now, of their Exquisite Contraption art project which is very audience interactive [art]. On Friday evening the Greek Orthodox Churches around the borough will commemorate the passion of Christ with a service beginning at 7 pm and the Epitathios procession beginning at about 9 pm at St. Demetrios Cathedral & St Catherine & St George churches in Astoria [history / culture]. The epitathios is a funeral-procession-like public ceremony that's been practiced in the Greek Orthodox faith for [I believe] thousands of years.
There's an Easter Egg Hunt beginning at 10 am and running to noon, at Gantry Plaza in Gantry Park in LIC with two separate age-specific hunts and 12,000 eggs [kids], along with carnival games & face painting. Beginning at 12 noon, there's a kite flying program hosted by the King Manor Museum in Jamaica [history].
Easter Sunday & Passover continues until Tuesday.
Beginning at 6 pm there's a presentation about the New Letter Grading System For Restaurants at the Langston Hughes Library in Corona [business].
MEMBER & KIDS EVENTS THIS WEEKEND IN QUEENS
Things to do with the KIDS, such as going to the Queens Zoo in Flushing Meadows Corona Park [FMCP], the New York Hall of Science in FMCP, the Queens Botanical Garden in Flushing or the World Ice Rink in FMCP are also included in the Kids section of the Things To Do with kids In Queens event calendar.
And the Member Calendar [hover over things to do button on top tool bar] which includes member submitted events such as
on Friday there are childrens art classes,
and dance classes in LIC on Monday. And click here to find art, theater or film open calls, jobs openings, affordable housing, government sponsored classes & funding.
Use the Business Directory to your right to find contact info, website links and maps for events posted herein; or the search function top left to find related stories, maps, restaurants or anything else on this site. And of course there's always an opportunity for shopping in Queens which you can find here, which we will update soon.
Tax Prep Down To The Last Minute
April 15, 2014 / Sunnyside Neighborhood / Queens Buzz. As I made may way home late Tuesday night, on a miserably rainy evening, I couldn't help but notice that a tax preparation office was bustling with activity [see photo].
It was April 15th, the last day for posting one's taxes without having to file for an extension. And there in the offices of a local tax preparer were easily a half dozen people who appeared to be waiting to meet with a tax specialist in order to complete their 2014 taxes.
As in the past I've been in this situation myself, I am not making any judgments about waiting until the last minute. Just happy, I guess, that this year I actually beat the crowd.
The same thing happened with the Affordable Care Act applications [see story below], as over one million people filed their applications in the last week. I guess we're all getting used to doing things in 'real time'.
Epitath To An Era: Whitewash In LIC
Long Island City Loses A Bit Of Its Heart & Soul
Jeffrey Leder Art Gallery Showcases Demise Of 5 Pointz Through Artwork Of Its Circle Of Graffiti Artists
April 5, 2014 / Art In Queens / Long Island City LIC Neighborhood / Queens Buzz. Saturday evening I made my way into Long Island City to attend the opening night of the Whitewash art exhibit at the Jeffrey Leder Gallery. Whitewash is an exhibit of the art works of a collection of the 5 Pointz graffiti artists. These artists recently lost their artistic and spiritual home – the 5 Pointz building in LIC - and the exhibit opening was part funerary rites and celebration of a new beginning. The photo to your right shows one of the paintings on exhibit at the Whitewash art exhibit at the Jeffrey Leder Gallery in LIC.
As I got off the #7 train, I decided to swing by the building to witness its whitewashed walls. I took a couple of photos of them, recalling prior visits to the outdoor art gallery, where every five to ten feet, in vivid living color, one could witness the creation of a local graffiti artist. The outdoor gallery exhibits would change, piece by piece, week by week, month by month and year by year. There always seemed to be a few artists working the walls. The 5 Pointz building is southeast of the Court Square subway stop, and for drivers it’s just across from PS1 MoMA on Jackson Avenue between Crane & Davis Streets.
As I shot photos of the walls and loading dock area, I could still see in my mind, the outdoor parties of the past. I recalled the art exhibits that had been thrown over the years, with music emanating from somewhere. Intellectually we all know it was within the building owner’s rights to whitewash his own building. And it isn’t hard for anyone to understand why the building owner would want to reap a huge profit by razing the building and erecting a new structure from which the cash will flow. I reckoned we were lucky to have had the years we had, to enjoy the beauty and the beat of the graffiti on the street, seen from the windows of the subway train as it snaked its way through LIC.
So with these thoughts, I headed onto 45th Road, to the Jeffrey Leder art gallery to witness and participate in the Whitewash art exhibit opening night reception. Click here to read our report about Whitewash art exhibit / 5 Pointz in LIC.
Affordable Healthcare Deadline Monday
Enrollment Trending Toward 7 Million Target
It appears the Administration is on target to achieve the first target they had set, prior to running into innumerable problems in October 2013 with the federal healthcare insurance website - healthcare.gov - when enrollments first began. Following the opening website debacle, the Administration lowered the enrollment targets from seven million to six million. They hit the six million number last week and the application and enrollment activity has spiked during the final week to submit an application.
There are 36 states participating in the rollout of the national health insurance plan and 14 states which have opted out of the plan. New York state is one of the 36 participants and as of Sunday night, New York State had received over 1.1 million applications and nearly 800,000 people had enrolled. These numbers are up significantly versus three weeks ago, when applications were at about 900,000 and enrollment at about 500,000. As of early March, we were informed that about 70% of the enrollees were people who had not previously had health insurance. Hence by that metric the plan appears to be achieving its goal in New York State.
According to national reports, it also appears that the late applicants are skewing younger, which was another important metric for the Administration. The composition of young and older ages is needed to enable insurance company participants / healthcare plan providers make the financials work.
Opponents of the Affordable Care Act [ACA] say that the enrollment numbers are inflated, as the enrollment numbers don't take into account enrollees making their first payments. Some opponents are also predicting that the enrollees are largely comprised of folks who will need government subsidies to pay their insurance premiums. Proponents have said that giving tax deductions for health insurance to people trying to maintain their health, is no different than providing tax deductions for interest on loans used to purchase a home.
We've attended a number of sessions about the Affordable Care Act and the regular folks attending these sessions have made statements saying that they are no longer locked into jobs they don't like because of health insurance, that the Affordable Care Act has significantly lowered their healthcare costs and that they are relieved to finally be covered by health insurance.
Applications must be submitted no later than 11.59 pm Monday night, March 31st. We understand that national applicants will have another 7 days to provide documentation for application submissions that fail to meet the application criteria. And in New York State that deadline appears to be April 15th, but in both cases we suggest you confirm it by calling the group with which you're working.
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.
Updated - Steinway Mansion Under Contract To Private Buyer
Historic Mansion Was Built By Early NYC Technologist & Later Bought By Renaissance Man
Great Opportunity For Queens Officials To Act On Their Speeches About Nurturing Culture, Historic Preservation & Tourism
March 12, 2014 / Astoria Neighborhood / Real Estate In Queens / News & Opinion. Queens Buzz. Well, the saga is almost over. NYC and Queens government officials are about to let slip into private hands, the greatest historical relic of the 1800's in Queens. And what could have been - and could still be - one of the greatest historic sites / historic tourist attractions of Queens.
IMAGINE YOURSELF HANGING OUT ON THE MANSION GROUNDS ... & read on ...
It's not that Queens and NYC government officials haven't had a chance to save it. The historic mansion, which was landmarked for its historic signficance decades ago [landmarking prevents changes to outside of the structure], came on the market in August of 2010. The asking prices has been between $2 and $4 million, which given that far smaller homes with no significance are already selling for over $1 million in the Astoria neighborhood, it seemed like a reasonable asking price.
Click here to read the rest of our report about the Steinway Mansion Under Contract. The story includes photos and links to other stories we've done over the years about the Steinway Mansion and it's inhabitants and their endeavors. The story also includes the business case for taking the Steinway Mansion public and transforming it into a museum / cultural destination for all of Queens, NYC & the world.
De Blasio Presence @ St Pat’s Day Parade ...
Creates Media Frenzy As New Mayor Makes A Statement About Inclusion
March 2, 2013 / Ethnic Culture in Queens / Sunnyside & Woodside / Queens Buzz. I attended the St Pat’s For All Parade in Queens on Sunday afternoon. It was an overcast day, with temperatures in the 30’s. Speeches and an Irish cultural celebration began at 1 pm, followed by the parade which was to begin at 2 pm, but didn't get going until about 2.45 pm.
This year I skipped most of the pre-parade show and, like many in the crowd, awaited the presence of Mayor Bill de Blasio. De Blasio is the first Mayor of NYC to politely decline to march in the Manhattan St Patrick's Day Parade because it bans gays from marching in it.
The Mayor's presence included an increase in the presence of NYC elected officials who attended the parade. This included the new Queens Borough President, Melinda Katz, which is worth noting since it's the first time a Queens Borough President has attended this parade since I began covering it in 2008.
Click here to read our report about and view photos of the St Pat’s Parade in Queens, including a photo slide show.
Chinese New Year Parade In Queens
The Year of the Horse
February 10, 2014 / Flushing Neighborhood / Ethnic Culture in Queens/ Queens Buzz. On Saturday February 8th at 11 am Flushing Queens celebrated the year of the horse with a traditional Chinese New Year Parade. The parade encompassed a cast of over a thousand and lasted nearly two hours.
The year of the horse in Chinese culture symbolizes kindness, strength and gregariousness. It's also a symbol in the Chinese zodiac and falls into the wood category which signifies strength and flexibility. In the photo to your right is a dragon in the Flushing Queens Chinese New Year Parade taken in 2013.
Queens Community Boards
CB Application Deadline Is January 31st
January 13, 2014 / Queens Politics / Queens Buzz. The new Queens Borough President, Melinda Katz, was sworn in on Thursday, January 9th. During her campaign and since she was elected, Ms. Katz indicated her top priority is going to be economic / real estate development in the borough, including borough infrastructure.
In reviewing Melinda Katz's background, it appears she has spent her entire life preparing to be Queens Borough President, with an eye toward economic / real estate development.
Melinda has worked with Community Boards as a liaison for a previous administration, chaired the Land Use Committe as a member of City Council, and took a position as a development lobbyist for a large international law firm in Manhattan. Melinda stated during her campaign and since taking office that she's very interested in bringing new economic and real estate developments to the borough.
New development will create new construction and service jobs, and increase demand for private goods and services; as well as public services such as private and public transit, parking space, open space / parks and schools. Hence, there are a wide variety of considerations that must be taken into account as new developments move through the governmental process.
Community Boards are the primary mechanism in the governmental process for the provision of community input. For decades they have played, and will continue to play, a key role in community development.
The deadline to apply for a position on a Queens Community Board is January 31st. Click this link to obtain an application from the Office of the Queens Borough President. Community Board members are selected by the Queens Borough President and the City Councilmember of the District. The new Community Board terms begin April 1, 2014.
Queens School Changes
Educational Infrastructure Lags Population Growth
January 28, 2014 / Jackson Heights & Woodside Neighborhood / Queens Schools / Queens Buzz. I attended a Department of Education meeting to discuss the proposed changes scheduled for Intermediate Schools 230 and 145 in Jackson Heights. The plan calls for adding new space to I.S. 230, and then redrawing the district map for the two schools, so that going forward some children who would have attended I.S. 145 will enroll in I.S. 230. The children currently attending I.S. 145 will not be affected.
The intent of the plan is to alleviate the overcrowding in I.S. 145 which is operating above capacity. The overcrowding would be addressed by redrawing the school district maps following the completion of the new building at I.S. 230, so that fewer students would enroll in I.S. 145 going forward. The meeting was well attended as the I.S. 145 auditorium was fairly full when I arrived.
About half or better of the attendees were spanish language speakers and the Department of Education had not brought enough Spanish translation headsets to conduct the meeting bilingually without having the English presentation followed by a Spanish translation by a volunteer in attendance. A couple of community leaders drew my attention to this, and one of whom - an educator himself - was very irate. He explained that by not having enough headsets, the meeting would now accomplish about half as much in the same time period because of the time consumed in explaining things first in English and then in Spanish. With the headsets, the explanations would be been communicated simultaneously. He also noted that the translator was a volunteer and there wasn't any mechanism in place to ensure that the volunteer's translations were correct.
I.S. 145 recently suffered a tragic loss, as a student was killed by a motorist only blocks away from the school. Within the past six months three school age children living in the Jackson Heights vicinity have been killed by motorists, and the safety plan for the new building was one of the many concerns on the agenda. We'll post more about the meeting, and include an update about some of the proposed changes to address overcrowding in a Woodside school as well.
It seems that Queens schools, like other aspects of Queens public infrastructure [the #7 subway line / mass transit] and affordable housing, are lagging well behind Queens population growth and private development.
Jamaica Real Estate - The Art Of Selling
Jamaica Center BID Talks About The Re-Emergence Of An Age Old & Vibrant Commercial Center
December 30, 2013 / Jamaica NY Real Estate / Jamaica NY / Queens Buzz. Earlier this month I attended an event hosted by the Jamaica Center BID to talk about real estate and commercial opportunities in the Jamaica neighborhood of Queens.
Jamaica is one of the largest and most vibrant commercial areas in Queens, and the event was designed to talk about Jamaica in that light.
I arrived a bit early and met with Felicia Tunnah, the new Executive Director of the Jamaica Center. It seems the subways and traffic congestion had conspired to delay speakers, attendees and possibly the event, but it wasn't too long before it began. Click here later this week to read more about real estate in Jamaica NY.
ACA Deadline Extended To 12/23
Registration For January 1st 2014 Insurance Coverage Extended To Dec 23rd In Queens
December 17, 2013 / Healthcare in Queens / Queens Buzz. The deadline for registering with the New York State healthcare / insurance exchange for January 1st, 2014 insurnace coverage has been pushed back a week from December 15th to December 23rd. We understand that implementation of the Affordable Care Act [ACA aka Obamacare] continues to be affected by executional problems, but according to experts, the problems are being addressed and the number of issues are abating.
In the photo to your right are Queens residents talking to Affordable Healthcare Act navigators who provide free assistance to people in selecting a healthcare plan. This event was sponsored by the office of City Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer at LaGuardia Community College in LIC.
There are a few things we've picked up over the past week that are worth mentioning at this point.
First be aware that the providers listed on any given insurer's website is subject to change and sometimes the providers listed have quit the program and sometimes there are providers who are participating in the program who are not listed. This situation also oftentimes occurs with other insurance providers / health maintenance organizations. According to a policy expert from the Robert Wood Foundation, a healthcare focused non-profit, the listing / not listing issue on insurers' sites has increased by about 10% since the implementation of the Affordable Healthcare Act began in Queens on October 1st. The reason for this is that healthcare providers and insurers continue to analyze and evaluate how they are going to manage their networks to accommodate the influx of new patients / clients.
Another thing participants need to pay attention to is that participants need to obtain a card or member number from the insurance company in order to obtain / use the benefits from the listed healthcare providers. As we understand it, a number of people have registered using the NYS exchange and thought they had completed the process prior to obtaining their member number / insurance card. Exchange registrants need to follow up with the insurers to obtain the card. We also understand - but this has not been confirmed - that participants need to make their first payment for the plan they choose, prior to being able to obtain the benefits / use the healthcare system.
Lastly, another item we picked up refers to a clause in the program with respect to people who switch plans. Healthcare Plan Switchers are able to change providers during the year, but those who do so will be subject to higher co-pays. So try to choose a provider you think you will work for the long haul. We'll have more on the implementation of the Affordable Healthcare Act in Queens later this month.
Restaurants In Jackson Heights
LaPortena Argentine Steakhouse
Jackson Heights Neighborhood / Jackson Heights Restaurants / Queens Buzz. La Portena Argentinian Steakhouse isn't exactly the kind of restaurant that would come to mind when you think of Jackson Heights ... that is unless you live there. La Portena Argentinian Steakhouse is located at 74th Street and 37th Avenue in Jackson Heights. It's quite a popular restaurant which is what first caught my attention. While Indian, Bangladeshi, Thai and Nepalese restaurants first come to mind when thinking about Jackson Heights / Elmhurst restaurants, there's an entire Latin American flavor to the restaurant mix in the neighborhood - and the food and service are both very good. Click here to read a the full review of La Portena Argentinian Steakhouse, including more photos.
Astoria Shops / Astoria / Queens Buzz. The furniture stores located on the southern end of Steinway Street in the Astoria neighborhood of Queens seem to have something to offer to just about everyone. This part of Steinway is a furniture shopper's mecca, offering plenty of choices from classical colonial, to urban apartment living to bedding to suit nearly every spine.
I took a quick trip there, which is easily accessible via the N, W, G, R or V subway lines and within a sturdy walking distance from Long Island City, Astoria, Sunnyside and Woodside. Just up the street from Steinway is Broadway, where you'll find the Omonia Cafe where after a good morning or afternoon of shopping, you can kick back along one of the sidewalk tables ane enjoy a bit of coffee and some delicious baked goods. Click here to learn more about the furniture stores in Astoria Queens.
Click to buy eyeglasses in Queens / opticians in Queens, for hair salons in Astoria, for Midtown dentists & Midtown Chiropractors, sales on small business Saturday in Queens and for things to do in Queens.
Shopping Queens / Astoria / Queens Buzz. Esquire Men's Clothing Store continues to serve the greater Astoria and Queens area, as it has for nearly thirty years.
The shop is owned and managed by Frank and Kevin Adhami, and their father, who is in his eighties, still visits the store on an almost weekly basis.
Esquire is located along Steinway Street between 30th and 31st streets. The store contains a wide selection of men's coats, suits, casual wear, shoes and men's accessories like belts and ties.
This story will provide some information about the store itself as well as fashion recommendations for the Spring and for job hunters.
Click this link to view a story written on Men's Clothing In Astoria Queens NY. Click here for men's clothing stores in NYC, and here to buy Stone Rose shirts in NYC, and here to buy Alberto pants in NYC, and here to buy Eton shirts and here to buy Hugo Boss sneakers in NYC.
Queens Farmers Markets
Astoria Sunnyside Woodside Jackson Heights Long Island City LIC Flushing Jamaica / April 7, 2014 / Queens Buzz. Two farmers markets are in full swing - in Jackson Heights & Forest Hills. Most will begin opening between May & early July. The Jackson Heights & Forest Hills markets operate year 'round.
Click the link below to see a listing of the Queens Farmers Markets 2014 including links to maps. Click the other link below for a listing of the Queens Street Fairs schedule of 2014 including dates and maps showing their locations.
Click here for our updated posting of Queens Street Fairs - Queens NY. Click here for a listing of the Queens Farmers Markets. You will always find both street fairs and farmers markets for the current month in the Queens Events section of the site [see top tool bar for button / link]. Click here to view the map of the Jamaica farmers market.
Queens Real Estate
Real Estate in Astoria, Jackson Heights, Long Island City LIC, Sunnyside, Woodside, Flushing, Jamaica
These reports include reviews of apartment rental prices, as well as condo, co-op and home prices and availability in the Queens market.
We have also done neighborhood specific reports about Astoria real estate, LIC / Long Island City real estate, Jackson Heights real estate, Woodside & Sunnyside real estate, Flushing Real Estate and Jamaica Real Estate. Click here for our report about women's fashions in Queens.
While we found these neighborhoods mirrored / trailed many of the national trends, we found some interesting differences, including differences from neighborhood to neighborhood.
Click here to read the Queens Real Estate market analysis 2009.