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In 1895 a deadly tornado hit Woodhaven, Queens, and the ruins became a tourist attraction

The destructive force of tornado season has made itself abundantly evident in the Midwest this week, and New Yorkers can sometimes develop a false sense of security by the rarity of twister activity here. But tornados do occasionally make their way to the five boroughs. In fact Staten Island was under a tornado warning just this past […]

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Podcasts Queens History

The World of Tomorrow: Visiting the World’s Fair of 1939-40, the kitschy futurescape of Queens

PODCAST Visiting the first World’s Fair at Flushing Meadows Corona Park, the unimaginable playground of the future, planted inescapably within the reality of the day. Flushing Meadows Corona Park, the fourth largest park in New York City and the pride of northern Queens, has twice been the doorway to the future. Two world’s fairs have […]

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Music History Podcasts

Scott Joplin in New York: A Ragtime Mystery

PODCAST How did one of the greatest composers of the 20th century end up buried in Queens in a pauper’s grave? Scott Joplin, the “King of Ragtime”, moved to New York in 1907, at the height of his fame. And yet, he died a decade later, forgotten by the public. He remained nearly forgotten and buried […]

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Mysterious Stories

The Ghost with the Red Hair: Two Hauntings in Long Island City

Long Island City is really a confederation of small villages and hamlets along the northwestern shore of Long Island. The name began essentially as a re-branding of Hunter’s Point then grew to eventually include Astoria, Ravenswood, Sunnyside, Blissville and other communities after the development of the Long Island Railroad improved its land value. “Fifteen years ago, outside of […]

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Queens History

The Fall of Ravenswood, Old Aristocratic Queens

Ravenswood is a dramatic name for a New York City neighborhood and certainly wasted on its primary resident today — Big Allis, the Con Edison generating power station that provides the Queens waterfront with its most unattractive feature. This pocket district is situated on the western edge of Queens just north of Hunter’s Point. Situated […]

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Bowery Boys Bookshelf Queens History

The International Express: The Personality of the 7 Train

The New York subway system has been a frightening place recently — derailments, stalled trains underground, agonizing delays. Most of these interruptions are experienced in a unique way, a group of strangers coping with a  situation outside their control. After a few minutes of waiting, people get impatient, pace the train, grumble silently, turn up […]

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Neighborhoods Queens History

The breezy story of Ozone Park, Queens: “the Harlem of Brooklyn”

Ozone Park, a quiet residential Queens neighborhood near Woodhaven, is one of those places created by real estate developers in the 1880s. It happens to have one of the best neighborhood names in all of New York City. So where did it come from? Ozone is a gas that exists as part of the Earth’s atmosphere and, […]

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Mysterious Stories Queens History

MYSTERY! “Doctor Busted” and the skeleton of College Point

Above is an illustrated bird’s eye view of College Point, Queens, from a 1917 guidebook “Illustrated Flushing and vicinity.” As that book goes on to describe, “COLLEGE POINT is essentially a manufacturing town—the industrial center of the Flushing District.  It is an old settlement like Flushing and Whitestone, both of which it immediately adjoins on […]

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Pop Culture

Movin’ On Up: A skewed history of New York City as depicted by the opening themes of 1970s TV shows

The camera zooms over the New York City skyline as an earnest pop tune — usually devoid of any rhythm or edginess, but insanely catchy — descends as though sent from outer space. The next shot focuses on one particular landmark, a bridge or a park, letting you know, see we’re not in some television studio […]

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Queens History

The Corona Ash Dump: Brooklyn’s burden on Queens, a vivid literary inspiration and bleak, rat-filled landscape

Ah, take in the horrid reality of the Corona marshes with their ashes, manure and garbage! (Courtesy CUNY) Outside of probably Hell, there is no literary landscape as forlorn and soul-crushing as the ash dumps of Corona, Queens. “This is the valley of ashes,” writes Fitzgerald in The Great Gatsby, “a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat […]

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Queens History

The Corona Ash Dump: Brooklyn’s burden on Queens, a vivid literary inspiration and bleak, rat-filled landscape

Ah, take in the horrid reality of the Corona marshes with their ashes, manure and garbage! (Courtesy CUNY) Outside of probably Hell, there is no literary landscape as forlorn and soul-crushing as the ash dumps of Corona, Queens. “This is the valley of ashes,” writes Fitzgerald in The Great Gatsby, “a fantastic farm where ashes […]

Categories
Queens History

The Queens boundary line, some amazing New York City trivia, and a clarification to our latest podcast

 Reaction to the Bowery Boys podcast on the Consolidation of 1898 has been tremendous!  But I do have one clarification, and provided by a very excellent source. The accurate placing of the boundary line between Queens and the newly created Nassau County was a source of frustration for a great many months after consolidation.  I recounted […]

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Gilded Age New York Podcasts

Consolidation! The tale of five boroughs and one big city

PODCAST Our 150th episode! Here’s the story of how two very big cities and a whole bunch of small towns and villages — completely different in nature, from farmland to skyscraper — became the greatest city in the world. This is the tale of Greater New York, the forming of the five boroughs into one […]

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Planes Trains and Automobiles

The Dual Contracts: The New York City subway system gets a serious upgrade 100 years ago today

A subway map from 1924, illustrating the system created as a result of the Dual Contracts agreement. After years of negotiations, false starts and lengthy arguments played out in the press, a group of greatly relieved businessmen entered the large hearing room of the New York Tribune Building (at Nassau and Spruce, where Pace University […]

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Museums

“Designing Tomorrow” glimpses the elegance of modernity via the earnestness of the World’s Fairs of the 1930s

The Museum of the City of New York‘s new exhibition “Designing Tomorrow: America’s World’s Fairs of the 1930s” examines the aspirational vision of the American future in the automobile age, and the use of a mostly-defunct style of public exhibition as a way to sell that vision. There were over two dozen World Fairs in […]