Maps and Notes    2012

Harlem, the East River and Queens
Manhattanville Viaducts
East Harlem
The Triborough Islands
Queensboro at Midtown


Manhattanville Viaducts


Riverside Drive Viaduct, 12th Avenue I
Manhattan, January 28, 2002

From beneath Riverside Drive near the intersection of 12th Avenue and Saint Claire Place in Manhattanville.

West Market Diner, 12th Avenue II
Manhattan, February 2, 2002

From the corner of 12th Avenue and West 131st Street in Manhattanville.

West Market Diner, 12th Avenue III
Manhattan, February 25, 2002

From West 131st Street near 12th Avenue in Manhattanville.

Harlem Bait & Tackle, 12th Avenue IV
Manhattan, March 7, 2002

From 12th Avenue between West 131st and 132nd Streets in Manhattanville.

Riverside Drive Viaduct, 12th Avenue Composite
Manhattan, February 26, 2002 (left)
Manhattan, June 5, 1999 (right)

From 12th Avenue between West 130th and 132nd Streets in Manhattanville.

Studebaker Building, 12th Avenue V
Manhattan, February 8, 2002

From 12th Avenue between West 132nd and 133rd Streets in Manhattanville.

Alternating views northeast, south and east, I and Composite of the Riverside Drive Viaduct (1901, rebuilt 1961 & 1987). Looking east II, and north III, at the West Market Diner (1921, addition 1948). Looking northeast IV, at Harlem Bait & Tackle, and south V, at the Studebaker Building (1923):

From the middle to the end of the 19th century, the onshore transportation routes along the Hudson in northern Manhattan were dominated by the Hudson River Railroad Company. The introduction of the automobile in the 1880s and 90s changed the waterfront landscape with the addition of Riverside Drive as an integral part of Riverside Park (1873-1910). Frederick Law Olmstead, in response to the City Beautiful Movement, envisioned the roadway in the park with rolling hills, national monuments and grand vistas overlooking the river. However, due to the drop in elevation just north of Grant's Tomb (1891-1897) where West Harlem meets the Hudson in Manhattan Valley, the construction of Riverside Drive came to a dead end. The Riverside Drive Viaduct I and Composite, was built to bridge the valley and extend the drive into Hamilton Heights, thus bypassing the industrial village of Manhattanville.

That was a century ago. Since then the viaduct has been rebuilt twice and the rails reduced to Amtrak's Hudson/Adirondack line. The two major changes that later affected transportation in and around Riverside Park were the additions of the Henry Hudson Parkway (1933-37) and the George Washington Bridge (1931 & 1962) I distant left.

Today, most of Manhattanville is being acquired by Columbia University for its $7 billion campus expansion for the Arts and Sciences Centers and the Business, Engineering and International Affairs Schools. Old storage facilities and warehouses in use since the meatpacking era will be razed and replaced with newly designed buildings. Existent structures recognized for their historical importance and architectural relevance will be transformed, while subsidized housing and city maintenance facilities will remain unchanged. Many residents and local organizations will be relocated with assistance from the university. Others will be compensated financially for their cooperation in vacating. The architect for Columbia's plan is Renzo Piano.

Flyers and posters around the construction areas offer the following explanation to the general public:

Over the next three decades, Columbia's long-term plan for the old Manhattanville manufacturing area will revitalize the four former industrial blocks from 125th/129th to 133rd Street between Broadway and 12th Avenue, and three small blocks along the east side of Broadway from 131st to 134th Street, into an environmentally sustainable and publicly accessible center for academic and civic life woven into the fabric of the West Harlem community.

If you have any questions or concerns about this project, please call the Columbia University Facilities Services Center at (212) 854-2222 or email, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You may also visit our Web site at Thank you for your patience.

The NYC Transit Authority Bus Depot II middle ground, and Composite right, foreground, will remain as is. Columbia housing at 560 Riverside Drive Composite left, background, will be updated next door to Prentis Hall (not shown), which will be redesigned as a new School of the Arts.

The West Market Diner II and III (originally the Gibb's Diner) was built in 1921 by P.J. Tierney & Sons. An addition was attached to the original structure in 1948 by the Mountain View Diner Company II lower right. Although the diner is slated for removal, Columbia has an unconfirmed plan to restore its stainless steel Art Deco interior and relocate it in the storefront of another building.

Harlem Bait & Tackle IV, formerly A. Salmon & Sons Meat Packing at 2308 12th Avenue has been acquired by Fairway Market and will also be removed.

The largest building in Manhattanville west of Broadway is the Riverside Park Community; a tiered semi-circular high-rise of 35 floors with a courtyard complex for the Roberto Clemente School I far right, II top, and Composite right, background. Built in 1976, at a cost of $54 million from Educational Construction Funds with 1,200 units for low and middle-income residents; it was intended to be the first step in a state sponsored plan to revitalize the same area of Manhattanville that is now being redeveloped by Columbia. It failed to accomplish that. The Riverside Park Community is still a residential island in the middle of Manhattanville. It occupies a corner lot of 285,000 square feet with an outdoor playground facing Broadway surrounded by a 20-foot high fence. Service in the building includes a 24-hour pre-kindergarten day care center called Round-the-Clock Nursery. Columbia has agreed to spend $500,000 on upgrades to the playground and schoolyard at the Roberto Clemente School.

The former Studebaker building (1923) has already been remodeled on the inside by Columbia for administrative use. The tall tower in the middle of the building V, is another Manhattanville icon because of its Art Deco styling and high visibility. It was part of the elevator shaft and mechanism that moved cars from one floor to another when the building was a storage and distribution facility for Studebaker. The cars were actually manufactured in the midwest and shipped to New York, which had at least one other distribution center on Broadway in midtown. Over the years the uptown building housed other manufacturers and tenants, including Borden Dairy and the Museum of Natural History. The most well known occupant of recent years is the Madame Alexander Doll Company, to which Columbia has agreed to continue leasing the top floor during the new campus expansion.


IRT Viaduct, Composite I
Manhattan, February 26, 2002 (left)
Manhattan, November 8, 2002 (right)

From the platform of the West 125th Street Station at Broadway in Manhattanville.

IRT Viaduct, Composite II
Manhattan, February 25, 2002 (left)
Manhattan, February 26, 2002 (right)

From West 131st Street and West 130th Street between 12th Avenue and Broadway in Manhattanville.

NYCHA Manhattanville Houses, Broadway I
Manhattan, March 6, 2002

From the corner of West 130th Street and Broadway in Manhattanville.

IRT Viaduct, Composite III
Manhattan, March 1, 2002

From the corners of Broadway with West 126th Street and Broadway with Tiemann Place in Manhattanville.

West 125th Street Station, Broadway II
Manhattan, March 1, 2002

From Broadway between Tiemann Place and West 125th Street in Manhattanville.

Alternating views north and southwest Composite I, southeast and northeast Composite II, east Broadway I and II, north Composite III, of the IRT Viaduct and West 125th Street Station (1904):

The IRT Viaduct runs above Broadway for the #1 train and the West 125th Street Station. It is 365 feet longer than the Riverside Drive Viaduct, even though they cross the same neighborhood just one block apart. This is due to the widening of Manhattan Valley as it moves east from the Hudson River to the Harlem Plain. The #1 subway tunnel is generally of the shallow excavation type, where underground tracks run through a series of framed enclosures right below street level. In northern Manhattan the exceptions are surprising, as some tracks run in deep tunnel bores while others run above ground on elevated structures. In keeping with the subway's requirement to run a level path, the #1 train emerges above ground as it approaches the elevated station Broadway II, in either direction. However, as the train travels uptown from West 125th Street it quickly reaches an underground depth of 180 feet in the Washington Heights Mine Tunnel at West 191st Street (the deepest tunnel bore in the city) and then re-emerges above ground again at West 207th Street. Such is the extreme topography of the Heights and Harlems compared to the rest of Manhattan, which is relatively flat.

One year after the IRT Viaduct was built, Sheffield Farms opened a horse stable directly beside it at 3229 Broadway. By 1909 the stable occupied a building three floors higher than the viaduct to house its dairy wagons and horses used to deliver milk. Buildings equipped with elevators strong enough to move horses and wagons were easily converted to storage facilities in later years when commercial real estate needs changed. In 1972, the eight-story building at 3229 Broadway became Hudson Moving and Storage Composites I and III left, center. Other buildings in the neighborhood adapted to similar circumstances, such as Despatch Moving and Storage 12th Avenue V upper right, and Composite I left, background right, plus Tuck-It-Away Storage (not shown).

After the rulings and subsequent challenges on "eminent domain" were resolved, Columbia agreed to relocate Hudson Moving and Storage to a new building in Washington Heights. The old structure at 3229 Broadway is now gone, but the new building planned for Audubon Avenue will include a façade replica of the original.

Across the street from Hudson Moving and Storage is the Meeting with God Church on West 130th Street (1905). It has rounded corners and a decorative arch with columns around the front door Composite II right, center, and Composite III left, bottom right. The Pentecostal congregation has been there for nearly 50 years, but is now moving uptown to West 147th Street with assistance from Columbia. The original building was never a landmark and has since been demolished along with Despatch Moving and Storage. The IRT Viaduct runs above Broadway between these two buildings (where they stood before demolition) and the NYCHA Manhattanville Houses (1961), where 2,800 residents live in six towers with 20 floors each Composite II background and Broadway I center. Columbia has committed $20 million in loans to benefit housing projects located on the periphery of their campus expansion.

The most visible landmark in the surrounding skyline is Riverside Church (1926-30) located in Morningside Heights, a few blocks south of the West 125th Street Station Composite I right, background. As a backdrop to the tenements lining Broadway and the IRT Viaduct, the Neo-Gothic tower of Riverside Church is the tallest in the United States at 392 feet with a 74-bell carillon at the top. The architects Allen, Pelton, and Collens were commissioned by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. to design a cathedral, and in doing so they took their inspiration from Chartres Cathedral in France. Riverside Church received landmark status in 2000.

To the left of Riverside Church is the Manhattan School of Music (1910, additions 1930 & 1969), which was formerly the Juilliard School before it moved downtown to the Lincoln Center area. Behind the tenement row and to the right is the International House (1924), a residence for foreign graduate students enrolled throughout the city Composite I right.


East Harlem


Centro de Paz, Pocket Park I
Manhattan, July 8, 2003

Demolition Depot, Pocket Lot I
Manhattan, July 11, 2003

From East 124th Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues in East Harlem:

Looking north Park I, and east Lot I, at mixed-use yards. Centro de Paz (Peace Place Park) was initiated by the Creative Arts Workshop for Kids (established 1986) as a place for children to make art. The willow tree planted in 1995 obscures a children's wall mural titled, Calle de Suenos (Dream Street), which is the new name for the park. The semi-circular aluminum structure is a garage for bus repair, but it has since been torn down and replaced with a new high-rise rental called Tapestry Apartments (2010). The park is situated at the backdoor to the 125th Street Branch of the New York Public Library and next door to Demolition Depot Lot I, a warehouse dealer of antique architectural salvage and artifacts.

The Magic Garden, Pocket Park II
Manhattan, July 2, 2003

From the corner of Park Avenue and East 118th Street in Spanish Harlem.

Looking southeast at Saint Paul's Church and Rectory (1907) center, Fox House Women's Shelter (upper right) and the Magic Garden (lower right), a fenced in resting place and communal garden surrounded by overgrown Ailanthus trees.


All Saints Church
Manhattan, June 25, 2003

From the corner of Madison Avenue and East 129th Street in East Harlem.

Looking east at All Saints Church (1893), commonly referred to as the "Cathedral of Harlem" or the "Saint Patrick's of Harlem", because the principle architect James Renwick, Jr. also designed Saint Patrick's Cathedral at midtown, which was completed fifteen years earlier.


Crack is Wack Playground I (left)
Manhattan, June 17, 1998

Crack is Wack Playground II (right)
Manhattan, July 22, 2003

Inside Crack is Wack Playground, located between 1st and 2nd Avenues from East 127th Street to the FDR Drive in East Harlem:

Looking south I, and north II, at opposite sides of the handball court at two murals by artist Keith Haring (1986). The murals were originally done as clandestine acts like other graffiti pieces Haring did on the walls of the New York City subway. Here, the Department of Parks and Recreation decided to keep and preserve the artist's work. The murals are the only remaining public works by Haring and they were restored in 2007 with funds from his estate. The restorers were a group of artists working under the title, Gothic Scenic. The name of the park has been changed from "Crack is Wack Playground" to just "Playground". It will soon become part of the newly extended Harlem River Park being built on 20 acres of Harlem River waterfront. The Metro-North Railroad Bridge (1956) is in the background II.


Marcus Garvey Park I
Manhattan, March 18, 2003

Marcus Garvey Park II
Manhattan, March 18, 2003

Inside Marcus Garvey Memorial Park, located between East 120th and 124th Streets from Mount Morris Park West to Madison Avenue in East Harlem:

Looking northwest I and II, at the masonry walls and steps that climb and encircle Mount Morris to the Fire Watchtower (1855) at the top. Mount Morris is a giant outcrop of Manhattan schist, common to northern Manhattan on the west side, but not the Harlem Plain. It is a geologic anomaly in the middle of East Harlem.

The Fire Watchtower was the tallest reaching structure between Morningside Heights and the Bronx when it was built. Its circular staircase and frame was erected on the highest plateau of the mount, 47 feet above the smooth rock surface. Using casting technology similar to that used to make the fire bell within, plus post-and-lintel construction methods invented by James Bogardus; the younger engineer Julius B. Kroehl built the tower out of iron to resist fire, which solved the problem that plagued all the earlier fire towers made of wood.

The park was renamed and dedicated to Marcus Garvey in 1973 by Mayor Lindsay during his last year in office. Despite Garvey's reputation as a leader of the Black Nationalist and Pan-African movements, many Harlem residents still refer to the park by its former name, Mount Morris Park.


Taino Towers I
Manhattan, July 17, 2003

From East 126th Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues in East Harlem.

Taino Towers II (left)
Manhatttan, June 24, 2003

From the elevated Metro-North tracks at East 124th Street and Park Avenue in East Harlem.

Taino Towers III (right)
Manhattan, July 13, 2003

From the pedestrian bridge at 3rd Avenue and East 128th Street in East Harlem.

Taino Towers IV
Manhatttan, June 23, 2003

From the elevated Metro-North tracks at East 126th Street and Park Avenue in East Harlem.

Alternating views southeast and south, I, II, III, IV of Taino Towers (1979):

The towers are referred to by number as Tower One, Tower Two, Tower Three and Tower Four, but their pre-Columbian names of Guarionex, Agüeybaná, Yuisa and Guanina come from the Caciques (tribal chiefs) of the ancient Taino Indian culture of Puerto Rico.

The federally subsidized towers were designed as low income, rent stabilized apartments in a recreational, health and cultural complex. Each tower has 35 floors and 164 units for 656 families. During the first three years of operation there were approximately 8,000 applicants for the new apartments. Due to construction delays only 500 applicants received leases during that time, of which half were already displaced residents, having been forced from their previous homes to make room for the new construction. The cost of the project with delays, overruns and inflation rose to $60 million from the projected $41 million. It was the largest financial investment approved by the department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) at the time.

The plan was to have the non-residential facilities and the commercial tenants generate half of the income needed to operate the entire complex. The plan included a swimming pool, theater, auditorium, health clinic, plus classrooms and rental space for public and private events. The pool and the theater never materialized, but the Boriken Health Center (Taino name for Puerto Rico) succeeds to this day, due to the need it fills in the larger community and the money it brings in to cover operating costs. The health center also attracts Latino patients from outside the immediate area, with New Jersey and Queens well represented.

Like Riverside Park Community (see: Manhattanville Viaducts, 12th Avenue I, II & Composite) Taino Towers was meant to be a "Pilot Block" for East Harlem, where slum clearance, community facilities and cultural opportunities would be the model for further development in the area. It turns out that schools and health centers sometimes attract more investment than entertainment in low-income neighborhoods, and so it is that Taino Towers also houses the Harlem Day Charter School and the New York School of Career & Applied Studies (NYSCAS) of Touro College. In 2003, the Neighborhood Networks Invention Center (started 1998) received a partnership grant of $64,000 from Magic Johnson, Hewlett Packard and HUD to upgrade its computers and software.

Taino Towers commands the East Harlem skyline at close range as in I, where the front entrance to Demolition Depot (see also back entrance: Pocket Lot I) is visible below them. Distant views of the towers show how they dominate the horizon as in III, with King's House - The True Church of God (1975) at left, and the United Moravian Church (1977) at center, both on Third Avenue. The number of towers visible from different angles and alignments can be deceptive as in IV and II, where just two or three towers in the background are seen from the Metro-North tracks above Park Avenue. In II, the H. C. Oswald Supply Company (1923) is at center, a three-generation Bronx based supplier of steam boilers and heating parts that has since moved out of this 42,000 square foot warehouse on East 124th Street, which is now being leased to Con Edison.


Harlem Station I
Manhattan, July 6, 1998

Harlem Station II
Manhattan, June 17, 2003

From the Harlem Station platform at East 125th Street and Park Avenue in East Harlem:

Looking north I and II, at buildings on East 125th Street. The original Harlem Station was built in 1844 and rebuilt in 1874 when the Park Avenue tracks were lifted from open cut rails at street level to the elevated viaduct. The station was overhauled again in 1896 and then remained unaltered for a century until it underwent major reconstruction in 1993 that lasted six years.

The model home in the adjacent parking lot I left, has two signs declaring, "You can own this house for as low as $4,500 down payment and $675 per month, within 60 miles from here, call (212) 579-6400". The model home was removed by 2005 and a billboard was put in its place announcing the coming of a luxury hotel. That never happened and the billboard eventually came down too.

The dilapidated Corn Exchange Building (1893) is shown at a distance I background right, and then closer II center, just five years apart. The building originally had six floors with luxury apartments and a bank on street level. After successive fires and an extended vacancy at late century it was acquired by the city and designated a landmark in 1993. It was never properly maintained in the city's possession and while left to decay it was sold to a developer in 2003 who wanted to turn it into a culinary school. That never happened, and by 2009 the exposed roof and crumbling upper floors became such a hazard that the city sought to repossess the building. It soon followed that the top three floors were demolished and now the building stands dormant as a two-story flattop with Romanesque arches.


Railroad Bridge, Harlem River I
Bronx and Manhattan, July 15, 2003

From the intersection of Park Avenue with Canal Street West and the Major Deegan Expressway in Mott Haven.

Railroad Bridge, Harlem River II
Manhattan and Bronx, August 2, 2003

From inside Harlem River Park at East 132nd Street and Harlem River Drive in East Harlem.

Bronx View, Harlem River III
Manhattan and Bronx, August 3, 2003

From inside Harlem River Park at East 135th Street and Harlem River Drive in East Harlem.

Looking west and northeast I and II, at the Metro-North Railroad Bridge (1956) and east III, at The Padded Wagon Moving & Storage with Mott Haven skyline:

The Railroad Bridge has followed its Park Avenue route across the Harlem River since the original wooden swing bridge was built in 1841, just three years before the Harlem Station. The bridge has been replaced twice since then. The first reconstruction kept the swing bridge design, but that eventually had to be changed when the elevated rail viaduct was built over Park Avenue. The second and still current structure is a vertical lift, engineered by Hardesty and Hanover who did several other vertical lift bridges in New York. The current bridge has four tracks and spans 340 feet to cross the river. Its clearance over mean high water during train operations is 25 feet, compared to its maximum clearance of 135 feet when raised for boats and barges. Fifty-five years of heavy use have worn out the lifting mechanisms. Metro-North wants to remove the cables and counterweights and refurbish the bridge as a fixed structure, which would limit the size of boats passing under it. At a projected cost of $10 million, the U.S. Coastguard has to approve the design modification and the budget.

The Padded Wagon warehouse II background and III center, is the Bronx home of New York's premier art and antique mover. The business was founded four years before the current Railroad Bridge was completed. Proximity of location and the shared passage of time have united these structures as they are painted the same color. In the distant backgrounds II right, and III center, is Lincoln Hospital (1976). (see: Uptown Heights, The Bronx at Harlem River, Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center).


The Triborough Islands


East River, Manhattan Psychiatric Center I
Manhattan, March 17, 2004

From the Bobby Wagner Walk, FDR Drive Promenade, near East 120th Street in East Harlem.

Randall's Island, Manhattan Psychiatric Center II
Manhattan, March 15, 2004

From the field adjacent to John J. Downing Stadium (now Icahn Stadium) on Randall's Island.

Wards Island, Manhattan Psychiatric Center III (left)
Manhattan, March 9, 2004

From beneath the Triborough Bridge Viaduct on Wards Island.

Triborough Bridge Tower (right)
Manhattan and Queens, July 17, 2003

From the south end of Wards Island Park.

Looking southeast I and II, north III and south Tower, at the Manhattan Psychiatric Center (1955) with sections of the Triborough Bridge and Viaduct (1936):

New York City acquired the two East River islands named after their original owners Jonathan Randall and the Ward Brothers (Jasper and Bartholomew) in 1855. Wards Island was already chosen as New York's main immigration station since it had two hospitals in place (circa 1848) that could be adapted for immigrant care. One was the New York City Asylum for the Insane and the other became the State Emigrant Refuge. Due to the overcrowding that eventually beset the facilities, the immigrant entry station was moved to Ellis Island in 1892 and the two hospitals on Wards Island were consolidated into one under state control. What then became Manhattan State Hospital was later renamed the Manhattan Psychiatric Center. Today the main unit is the Kirby Forensic Facility III, a maximum-security mental hospital for involuntarily committed criminals and patients considered too dangerous for other state institutions.

Randall's and Wards Islands were once separated by a narrow passage of the East River called Little Hell Gate, which got its name from the wider Hell Gate channel between Wards Island and Astoria, Queens. Adjacent to Little Hell Gate was a marsh called Sunken Meadows. Over time, Little Hell Gate and Sunken Meadows were filled in with debris from other construction projects including the Triborough Bridge and Viaduct (1936), the Wards Island Waste Water Treatment Plant (1937) and the Parks Department recreation fields, all under the direction of Parks Commissioner, Robert Moses. Only a tiny inlet of preserved marshland remains today in a cove reserved for the FDNY Fire Academy to practice water pumping with their trucks. A footbridge marks the crossing where the islands were once divided I left, and II center.


Shore Towers
Queens, July 13, 1998

From 26th Avenue between 12th and 14th Streets in Astoria.

Looking north at Shore Towers Condominium (1990), a 23-floor luxury residence with 415 units and balconies overlooking Astoria to the south and Pot Cove of Hell Gate Channel to the north.


East River Landing
Manhattan, January 23, 2004

From the water's edge behind the Manhattan Psychiatric Center on Wards Island.

Looking west across the East River at El Barrio skyline with the Manhattan Grit Chamber (1937) at center, and East River Towers (1975) in the background:

The Manhattan Grit Chamber removes solid waste material from Northern Manhattan and Upper East Side sewage before its liquid effluent is piped under the East River for processing on Wards Island. Sewage enters the basement canals of the Grit Chamber through a 12-foot wide pipe and is screened and separated into solid waste bins for shipping to out-of-state landfills. The remaining wastewater enters a 9-foot wide pipe for transport under the East River to the Wards Island Waste Water Treatment Plant (1937). The treated water is then released into the East River.


Harlem River Span, Triborough Bridge I
Manhattan, July 16, 2003

From beneath the Willis Avenue Bridge ramp on 1st Avenue between East 126th and 127th Streets at Harlem River Drive in East Harlem.

Wards Island Bridge, WIB
Manhattan, March 9, 2004

From the southwest end of Wards Island Park.

Hell Gate Span, Triborough Bridge II
Manhattan and Queens, March 10, 2004

From the south end of Wards Island Park.

Looking southeast I and II, at two Triborough Bridge spans (1936), and west WIB, at Wards Island Bridge (1951):

The landscape on Randall's/Wards Island has changed significantly since 2006. The restoration to existing fields and the installation of new fields and courts has been the work of the Randall's Island Sports Foundation (RISF), a nonprofit organization in partnership with the City of New York since 1992. Prior to the restoration, the unoccupied lands were the hidden dumping grounds for unwanted debris, most notably, Manhattan's Christmas trees discarded after the holidays. For years the island has also been a refuge for homeless people living in makeshift camps around the debris, even though the Charles H. Gay Homeless Shelter is right nearby on Wards Island. The M35 loop bus and the Wards Island Bridge in summer, makes the island accessible to Manhattan year round. Robert Moses originally planned the construction of the Wards Island Bridge to coincide with the Triborough Bridge and Viaduct, but it was delayed for fifteen years. Given the extent of the Triborough project and the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge that followed, the Wards Island Bridge remained a minor project for Othmar H. Ammann, the engineer of all three. For years after the Wards Island Bridge was finished, its entrance onto the island remained an informal drop-off that led directly into a wooded area offering hidden cover for homeless camps. In 2004, before the plans for restoration were made public, all the trees around the bridge were cut down to expose the homeless hideouts and run the squatters out WIB foreground. Directly behind the bridge is the Annenberg Building (1976) at Mount Sinai Medical Center WIB background. Today the area around the bridge is landscaped with grass and tree arrangements guided by sidewalks.

The Harlem River span of the Triborough Bridge is a counterweight lift design I, and the Hell Gate span is a cable suspension design II. The Bronx Kill span (not shown) is a truss design. As part of the restoration, a new traffic lane was added to the viaduct with an exit-only ramp specifically built for Wards Island. As a park, the signs today refer only to Randall's Island Park, North and South; they do not mention Wards Island Park anymore. In 2008, the Triborough Bridge and Viaduct system was officially renamed after Robert F. Kennedy.


Hell Gate Bridge, Composite
Manhattan, March 19, 2004 UL
Manhattan, March 12, 2004 UR
Manhattan, March 11, 2004 LL
Manhattan, July    15, 2003 LR

Inside Wards Island Park (now Randall's Island Park South) and from Shore Boulevard in Astoria, Queens.

Alternating views southeast UL and LR, east UR and north LL, of the Hell Gate Bridge and Viaduct (1916):

The bridge was built during World War I and called the East River Arch Bridge before it was officially named the Hell Gate. The through arch construction of the Hell Gate Bridge was structurally superior to the cable suspension designs of the time for heavy railroad use. The massive steel and masonry construction went eighty years before needing repair, which mainly consisted of painting the arch its distinctive new color in 1996. Before the war broke out the bridge was intended to connect passenger service between New York City and New England via the Pennsylvania and New Haven Railroads, which it eventually did after first assisting the war effort. The transport of military machinery along the east coast took precedence until the end of the war. Today the bridge serves New York City and the Northeast Corridor for Amtrak trains going to and from Penn Station.

The Hell Gate Channel Composite LL foreground, was a maritime hazard well before the railroad bridge was built. As a narrow tidal strait connecting the East River to the Long Island Sound, it was notorious for its converging currents and protruding bedrock that made ship navigation treacherous. During the 19th century many ships crashed into the submerged rocks and sank, the most dangerous spot being Flood Rock, a huge outcrop hidden below the water's surface around midstream. In 1851, the Army Corp of Engineers began blasting the rocks with massive underwater explosions. The project required the mining of eight acres of river bottom and was ongoing until construction began on the railroad bridge overhead. Flood Rock was successfully destroyed and removed in 1885. Blasting in the narrow waterways surrounding Manhattan was isolated but not uncommon at this time. (see: Uptown Heights, Highbridge and the Ship Canal, Harlem River Ship Canal II).

The Hell Gate Viaduct runs parallel to the Robert F. Kennedy Viaduct as they cross Randall's/Wards Island together. In Composite LL, the Hell Gate Viaduct loops around the Hell Gate Bridge from left to right and passes the Wards Island Waste Water Treatment Plant (lower right) on its way north to the Bronx.


Hell Gate Bridge, Municipal Pool
Queens, July 13, 1998

From inside Astoria Park.

Looking north at the Astoria Pool and Observation Deck (1936) with the Hell Gate Bridge (1916) in the background:

The municipal pool is New York's largest at 330 feet long by 165 feet wide. It was built on a tight schedule to make good on Robert Moses' promise to have it available for the American pre-Olympic swim trials of the 1936 Berlin games. In New York City's recent bid to host the 2012 summer games, it was proposed that the Astoria Pool be rebuilt as the Olympic Aquatic Center at a cost of $22 million. This did not happen and the pool's condition continues to be neglected to this day. It is just four feet deep across its three-and-three-quarters acres of patched and painted concrete, except for the semi-circular diving pool with triple tier platforms and Art Deco railings that has been closed since the 1980s (not shown). The Parks Department is considering a multi-million dollar plan to restore the pools and convert the larger one for year-round use, so that it can double as an ice-skating rink in winter.


Hell Gate Viaduct
Queens, July 19, 1998

From 22nd Drive between 21st and 23rd Streets in Ditmars.

Looking east at 2119 22nd Drive with the Hell Gate Viaduct (1916) overhead:

The Hell Gate Viaduct runs high across Queens from Astoria for about a mile before it descends onto an earthen embankment after crossing the Brooklyn Queens Expressway (1964). Eventually the rails reach street level as they pass the Long Island Railroad Yards and enter the East River Tunnel (1910) on their way to Penn Station (1910) in midtown Manhattan.


Queensboro at Midtown


Lamp at Queensboro Bridge, Lenox Hill I
Manhattan, May 12, 1998

From the corner of East 59th Street and 2nd Avenue in Lenox Hill.

Store Without Walls, Lenox Hill II
Manhattan, May 14, 1998

From 2nd Avenue between East 62nd and 63rd Streets in Lenox Hill.

Ramp at Queensboro Bridge, Lenox Hill III
Manhattan, May 13, 1998

Inside the bridge entrance plaza from 1st to 2nd Avenues between East 59th and 60th Streets, in Lenox Hill:

Looking northeast I, II and southeast III, in the vicinity of the Queensboro Bridge (1909) that connects Manhattan with Queens via Roosevelt Island.

At the south entrance plaza on the Manhattan side of the bridge is a metal Beaux-Arts street lamp I, which was originally paired with another street lamp at the north end of the entrance plaza, both designed by the bridge collaborators Henry Hornbostel (architect) and Gustav Lindenthal (engineer). The second street lamp was removed when the Roosevelt Island Tram was built in 1976 I middle ground right, and was neither returned nor relocated anywhere at the entrance plaza. The base of the existing lamp is a square with four of the five New York City boroughs embossed on its sides in counter-clockwise rotation - Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and Bronx. By 1909 Manhattan was already connected to Brooklyn and Bronx by several bridges, but the Queensboro Bridge was the first to connect Manhattan to Queens. The omission of Staten Island from the list of boroughs on the lamp's base had to do with the fact that Manhattan was not connected to Staten Island by bridge. In this context the lamp only commemorates those boroughs that are connected to Manhattan by bridge; and it is fair to say that Hornbostel and Lindenthal knew that Staten Island never would be.

Store Without Walls II, is a retail transplant from the downtown Elizabeth Street Garden and Sculpture Gallery to the Upper East Side. In the background is the largest of three ventilating towers for the 63rd Street Rail Tunnel (1989). The other two vents are on Roosevelt Island and in Queens. The tunnel is the newest and most complicated underwater tunnel in New York City. It was a work in progress for twenty years before it was put into service and some of its connections are still not being used. The MTA is waiting for the long promised LIRR connection with Metro-North for service to Grand Central Station. The tunnel is a double-decker design with four rails, two on top for the subway (F train) and two on bottom for the future LIRR connection. The East River sections of the tunnel are prefabricated tubes while the section that crosses Roosevelt Island is a deep rock bore with a subway station 100 feet down. Now, in place of Store Without Walls, there is a fenced-in parking lot with a structure made of stucco and aluminum that looks like a suburban house, but is not. From a connecting tunnel inside the house-like structure, MTA workers gain access below street level to work on all four rail lines.

The overpass with arches III, is the Queens bound entrance ramp for the upper level of the Queensboro Bridge. The skyline outlines the architectural transition from Lenox Hill to Turtle Bay with rear side views of upscale apartment buildings including Plaza North, The Morrison and The Caprise. The bridge was officially renamed the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge in 2011.


United Nations Secretariat, Composite

Manhattan, April 28, 1998 (left)
Manhattan, April 29, 1998 (right)

From two lookouts along Tudor City Place; one with East 41St Street and the other with East 43rd Street, in Turtle Bay:

Looking northeast and east Composite, at the Secretariat Building (1950). Receding in detail along the bottom Composite left, from foreground to background are: top of Dag Hammarskjöld Library (1961), dome of the General Assembly Hall (1950), a section of Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge (1909) and smoke stacks of Con Edison Ravenswood Plant (1961).

The first of three locations considered for the United Nations in New York was the 1939 World's Fair grounds in Flushing Meadows Park, Queens. The second was the Rockefeller family estate of Kykuit in Sleepy Hollow near Tarrytown. Neither of these locations was sufficiently urban, or close enough to Manhattan to embrace the architectural vision for an international modernist design at mid-century. Still, the Rockefellers remained involved. In 1946, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. purchased seventeen acres of land along the East River from William Zeckendorf for $8.5 million and donated it to the city for the United Nations. The city agreed to pay an additional $5 million to clear the site of its stockyards, slaughterhouses and tenements; an effort it previously neglected or was unwilling to do since the construction of Tudor City, the expensive residential high-rise and hotel complex that had already bordered the UN site for twenty-one years.

Directly across the street from the Secretariat on 1st Avenue is a small park dedicated to Ralph Johnson Bunche, a political scientist, diplomat, and the first African American to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. He was awarded the prize in 1951 for his mediating work on the Arab-Israeli conflict and the signing of the 1949 Armistice Agreement. Overlooking the park on a mount is Tudor City Place at East 43rd Street, which has a lookout onto the Secretariat Composite right. The park and the lookout are connected by the Sharansky Steps, a circular stairs banked with slabs of granite dedicated to Natan Sharansky, the Russian Jewish mathematician and chess master, who as a Soviet Refusenik was accused of spying for the United States and sent to prison in Siberia in 1977. He was released in 1986 and allowed to immigrate to Israel where he became politically active in the movement to help other Soviet Jews emigrate. On the granite slabs encircling the steps is an engraved quotation from Isaiah, Chapter 2, Verse 4:

They Shall Beat Their Swords Into
Plowshares. And Their Spears Into
Pruning Hooks. Nation Shall Not Lift
Up Sword Against Nation. Neither
Shall They Learn War Any More.

In 1959, the Soviet Union gave a bronze statue to the United Nations by the sculptor Yevgeny Viktorovich Vuchetich titled, Let Us Beat Swords Into Plowshares. It is located in the Peace Garden, a public park on the grounds of the United Nations Headquarters dedicated to art works that promote peace. Vuchetich was a five-time recipient of the Stalin Prize for his heroic monuments to the Soviet State. Bunche and Sharansky were both awarded the Medal of Freedom, the former in 1963 from President John F. Kennedy and the later in 2006 by President George W. Bush.

In 2008, the United Nations leased 460,000 square feet of office space at 380 Madison Avenue to relocate 1,700 employees from the Secretariat during the six-year renovation in progress now to update the building's technology, energy efficiency and safety. The cost of the project is estimated at $2 million.


Queens, July 23, 2000

From Borden Avenue between Vernon Boulevard and 5th Street in Hunters Point:

Looking north at Citylights (1998), the first of at least eight high-rise luxury condominiums being built as part of the Queens West Development project. Among the others are Avalon Riverview and Avalon Riverview North plus five additional towers lining Central Boulevard, a new street running parallel to 5th Street where the old Pepsi-Cola Plant (1920) used to be. Rockrose Development purchased the 22-acre site for $20 million and transferred ownership to the Queens West Development Corporation with a buyout lease. An additional 52 acres of waterfront property is under development as mixed-use (commercial and residential) real estate. Integral to Queens West is the new Gantry Plaza State Park, where the original loading cranes for the Long Island Railroad (circa 1920) have been restored as non-functioning icons from Hunters Point's industrial past. The 42-story Citylights building is no longer visible from this spot on Borden Avenue. It is completely obscured by another new apartment building, One Hunters Point Condominium.


Roosevelt Island, East River Cross View, Panorama
Manhattan and Queens, July 9, 2004

From the Promenade Condominium at 530 East 76th Street, Upper East Side.

Roosevelt Island, East River Cross View I
Manhattan and Queens, July 25, 1998

From the roof of the Motorgate Parking Garage (1974) on Main Street, Roosevelt Island.

Roosevelt Island, East River Cross View II
Manhattan, July 24, 1998

From the Cherry Tree Walk under the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge on Roosevelt Island:

Looking south Panorama and I, then north II, at alternating views to and from Roosevelt Island. Major structures include the Con Edison Ravenswood Plant (1961), Citigroup Tower (1989), Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge (1909), Roosevelt Island Bridge (1955) and Lenox Hill skyline with Rockefeller University (1903-10) and New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center (1933).

The island was dedicated to President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1973, exactly twenty-eight years after he died in office. Manhattan's East River Drive had already been renamed the FDR Drive for nearly as many years. The Roosevelt dedication marked the island's third phase of development and final change of name. During its early settlement days, after the Algonquin Indians and after the defeat of the Dutch by the English, the island became an isolated farmland. It was held by the family of Robert Blackwell and remained for over a century as Blackwell's Island. In 1828, the city acquired the land through foreclosure and by 1921 it was transformed and renamed Welfare Island. Its role changed to that of an asylum for the city's disaffected poor, chronically ill and mentally insane, filling to capacity its network of almshouses, confinement hospitals and penitentiary. The only working hospital on the island today is Coler-Goldwater Memorial (1939, additions 1971) specializing in geriatric rehabilitation and ventilator dependent care. Just outside Coler-Goldwater is the Cherry Tree Walk, a grove of blossoming trees given to the hospital in memory of Mary Lasker, co-founder of the Lasker Foundation that endows research in medical science, particularly lung cancer, and supports the public anti-smoking cause. Respiratory patients from Coler-Goldwater routinely visit the Cherry Tree Walk in wheel chairs equipped with oxygen to take in the better outdoors with views of Manhattan and the East River II.

The rest of Roosevelt Island is a self-sufficient, full-service, residential community designed for pedestrians Panorama. It was conceived as such by the Urban Development Corporation in 1971 with architects Philip Johnson and John Burgee. Cars are not permitted on the island except to access it via the Roosevelt Island Bridge (1955) I foreground, from Queens, which ushers traffic directly to the Motorgate Garage (1974), a parking terminus that can accommodate up to 2,500 vehicles. Prior to building the Roosevelt Island Bridge, cars were only allowed onto the island by way of an elevator from the older Queensboro Bridge (1909), which also carried commuters to and from a trolley station on the bridge. In their time, the trolley and elevator eliminated the need for ferry service from Manhattan, and in turn, the newer Roosevelt Island Bridge eventually put an end to the elevator and trolley connection. The unintended result of having fewer transportation options continued to isolate islanders who had depended on the ferry and then the trolley for their commutes to Manhattan and back. Real solutions to the problem were years in the making. The transition from Welfare Island to Roosevelt Island required large investments in mass transit that eventually brought the Roosevelt Island Tram (1976) Lenox Hill I middle ground right, and the 63rd Street Subway (1989), which opened Roosevelt Island to visitors from Queens and Manhattan and streamlined the experience for commuters.

The island's dedication to Franklin D. Roosevelt was meant to include a memorial facing the United Nations from South Point, an area next to the ruins of the Smallpox Hospital (1854-56). The plan was put on hold in 1974 due to the death of Louis Kahn, the principal architect. In 2009, the South Point plan for Four Freedoms Park, thematically adapted from FDR's 1941 Address to Congress on Freedom ("freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from want, freedom from fear") was revived with additional funds to restore the ruins of the Smallpox Hospital as well. At a projected cost of $4.5 million, the combined fourteen-acre site is expected to be complete by 2012.

The latest development approved in 2011 for Roosevelt Island is Mayor Bloomberg's high-tech initiative to build a $2 billion graduate science center at the previously discussed site of Coler-Goldwater Memorial Hospital. The hospital will likely be removed as the city prepares to donate its land with the added promise of investing $100 million in infrastructure improvements to facilitate new construction. Cornell University and its Israeli partner Technion Institute of Technology will build and operate their proposed 2 million square foot campus in two phases, with 300,000 feet of space to be completed by 2017 and the rest by 2037. In addition to the technological advantage expected for graduate science education, the fiscal benefits to the city will be far reaching with new job creation estimated at 20,000 for construction, 30,000 from future businesses, and $1.4 billion in anticipated tax revenues. The mayor also plans to create a $150 million venture capital fund to support start-up companies that would contract to stay in New York for at least three years.


Pepsi-Cola Sign, Hunters Point I
Queens and Manhattan, April 11, 2005

From inside Gantry Plaza State Park in Hunters Point.

Pepsi-Cola Sign, Hunters Point II (left)
Queens and Manhattan, April 13, 2005

From the corner of 5th Street and 46th Road in Hunters Point.

Keystone Iron & Wire Works, Hunters Point III (right)
Queens and Manhattan, July 17, 2000

From the intersection of 5th Street with Borden Avenue at the Midtown Tunnel Ventilator plaza in Hunters Point:

Looking north I, and west II, at the Pepsi-Cola Sign (1936) during restoration. Looking northwest III, at Keystone Iron & Wire Works:

The Pepsi-Cola Sign was commissioned from Artkraft Signs, a subsidiary of the Claude Neon Company that held the first patent for neon gas lamps invented by the French engineer Georges Claude in 1902. The Pepsi-Cola Bottling Company began construction on its Long Island City plant just after George Claude presented his invention to the public in Paris in 1910. The Pepsi-Cola plant was completed in 1920, but it was not until sixteen years later that the now famous sign was installed on the roof of the plant.

The Pepsi-Cola Building in Manhattan (1958-60) now ABN-Amro Bank, and the Pepsi-Cola Sign in Queens (1936) both became landmarks, but the 1920 bottling plant in Queens did not. Soon after it closed in 1999 it was demolished by Rockrose to make way for a new condominium tower. The sign was carefully dismantled, letter-by-letter, and temporarily moved away from the demolition site for restoration I and II. The ruins of the Smallpox Hospital (1854-56) on Roosevelt Island are visible in the background of I. The Empire State Building (1929-31) and the Chrysler Building (1930) are in the backgrounds of II and III. The Pepsi-Cola Sign was later returned to the site of the old bottling plant and repositioned right in front of the new 24-story condominium by Rockrose.

Keystone Iron & Wire Works III, is an elevator and escalator contractor that has since moved to another location in Hunters Point. The current occupant of the three-story Borden Avenue building is Gold Seal Car & Limo Inc., which caters to celebrities.


Power Plant / Chemical Plant
Queens, April 13, 2005

From the corner of 48th Avenue and Vernon Boulevard in Hunters Point:

Looking west at the smoke stacks of the former Pennsylvania Railroad Generating Plant (1909).

The Long Island Railroad was in business as early as 1834, but it was not always profitable throughout the rest of the century. In 1861, it moved its main terminus from Brooklyn to Hunters Point in order to shorten the commute from Long Island to Manhattan. Passengers still had to complete the trip to Manhattan by ferry, which remained a costly inconvenience and an unavoidable interruption of service to the city. By 1900, with finances in further decline, the LIRR made a deal with the Pennsylvania Railroad to expand rail service to Manhattan from Queens by selling a controlled interest to the PRR to build a tunnel under the East River. A second tunnel under the Hudson River was also needed to connect with New Jersey lines in what would become the Pennsylvania Tunnel and Terminal Railroad. It took a decade for the PRR to complete the work, which also included the Generating Plant in Hunters Point (1909) and Penn Station in Manhattan (1910), both designed by McKim Mead & White. At a later date the PRR Generating Plant became the Queens Electric Light and Power Company and its attached structure became the Schwartz Chemical Company (1959). The building was used temporarily for indoor tennis after the chemical company left, and in 2005 the smoke stacks were removed to prep the building for condominium conversion.

The generating plant used steam turbines to produce electricity and the giant stacks were needed to dispel the smoke and ash from the combustibles that fueled the boilers. At 275 feet high, the stacks were iconic as the tallest structures in Hunters Point before Citylights was built in 1998 (with the exception of Citigroup Tower 1989, which is in Long Island City proper). When CGS Developers proposed to convert the generating plant to condominiums, the initial plan included an improbable design to keep the stacks in tact with a 10-story glass structure built around them. This was their promise to the residents of Hunters Point. The Department of Buildings required a construction variance to top the industrial structure with residential space beyond 120 feet, which was unlikely to be approved since the condition of the stacks was deemed hazardous by inspectors.

CGS reneged on its promise and opted to eliminate 155 feet from the height of the plan by removing the stacks and adding only four floors to the structure instead of ten. Removing the stacks at a cost of $250,000 was a considerable savings on the whole project estimated at $100 million, especially since the rooftop expansion was cut by more than half. The result was/is PowerHouse Condominiums (2008), a hybrid of copper and glass atop the Renaissance Revival structure made of brick. The adjacent Schwartz Chemical building could not be included in the renovation due to the amount of toxic residue within, so it was razed in the process. In response to harsh criticism from Hunters Point residents about the demolition of the stacks, the architect Karl Fischer designed four circular glass enclosures in proximity to where the stacks were, as an appeasing design gesture and homage to the building's industrial past. A virtual tour of the finished product can be seen at: .


Saint Mary's, Cangro, Citigroup, Composite I
Queens, April 5, 2005 (left)
Queens, July 23, 2005 (right)

From Old Hickory Park and the intersection of Vernon Boulevard with Jackson Avenue in Hunters Point.

Saint Mary's Roman Catholic Church, Hunters Point IV
Queens, July 11, 2005

From inside Hunters Point Community Park on 48th Avenue between Vernon Boulevard and 5th Street in Hunters point.

Citigroup, Daily Star, Cangro, Saint Mary's, Composite II
Queens, July 7, 2000 (left)
Queens, July 11, 2005 (right)

From 28th Street between 42nd Road and Queens Plaza South in Long Island City (left), and Old Hickory Park at the intersection of Vernon Boulevard with Jackson Avenue in Hunters Point (right):

Looking north and northwest Composite I, south Hunters Point IV, west and north Composite II, at alternating views of Saint Mary's Roman Catholic Church (1887), Cangro Transmission Company (circa 1940), Citigroup Tower (1989) and the Daily Star Building (circa 1926).

Nearly half a century passed before the struggling transportation hub at Hunters Point had the technology and the funding to modernize its service with tunnels to Manhattan. During that period the ferry service trade thrived as an alternative employer in Hunters Point. The community that grew up with the ferry trade also built Saint Mary's Roman Catholic Church (1887) Composite I left (upper left), Hunters Point IV and Composite II right (upper right). The church was one of hundreds like it, built in several eastern states in the 19th century, all designed by Patrick Charles Keely, the preferred architect of the Roman Catholic archdioceses and its patrons.

The Citigroup Tower (1989) Panorama left, Composite I right, and Composite II left, is the only skyscraper in New York's outer boroughs, but it is not the tallest building in the metropolitan area outside Manhattan. The Goldman Sachs Tower (2004) in Jersey City is 118 feet taller (see: Lower Manhattan and the Harbor, Riding Staten Island Ferry, Harbor Skyline, Panorama III). The financial power of Citibank and the immense scale of Citigroup Tower are the main sources, economic and inspirational, that have stimulated investment and growth in Long Island City for over twenty years. The tower's capacity is 3,500 employees and the newly affiliated Court Square Two (2007, not shown) has the potential to add 1,800 more employees to the Citigroup ranks. In the future, Court Square Two will be able to expand vertically, as the current 15-story structure has been engineered to accept add-ons up to 38 floors.

The high-rise luxury towers of Hunter's Point and Long Island City are built in clusters on large tracts of real estate, as in the Queens West Development project. The alternative to this in low-rise residential development is the boutique condominium; a singular structure of fewer that ten floors and fifty units with penthouses, balconies, roof gardens, exercise and conference rooms etc., but limited concierge service. These modern and efficient glass and steel designs are replacing the pre-war industrial buildings of similar height and size made of brick. The architectural gentrification of Hunters Point, as elsewhere in the outer boroughs, has been economically and socially transformative, from the industrial to the residential. As businesses in working class neighborhoods die out, their buildings are being razed and replaced with luxury housing. Such is/was the case with Cangro Transmission Company (circa 1940) located at the intersection of Vernon Boulevard and Jackson Avenue Composite I and Composite II right.

Cangro was a wholesale distributor of power transmission equipment that advertised its products on the outside of the building to motorists approaching the nearby Queens Midtown Tunnel (1940): "BEARINGS, GEARS, V-BELTS, PULLEYS, CHAINS, SPROCKETS, VARIABLE SPEED DRIVERS, SPEED REDUCERS, GEAR MOTORS, CONVEYERS." In 2010, a new condo opened in its place with the name 1 Vernon Jackson, indicating the plaza where the two streets meet. The address is actually 10-17 Jackson Avenue. As advertised in their brochure, the condo offers: "Thirty-three trend setting residences, including four extra-ordinary penthouses... Soaring 11'4" ceilings and oversized acid-etched sliding glass doors... Custom-designed kitchens feature monolithic counter tops of Jet Mist granite and Viscaya glass tiles... State-of-the-art baths feature mosaic granite tile juxtaposed with porcelain accents... A boutique building... including a state-of-the-art fitness and cardiovascular center, a community terrace and a doorman."

The Daily Star, otherwise known as the Star Journal and the Long Island City Star after that, was the last daily newspaper printed and circulated in Queens. Its founder was Thomas H. Todd, a journalist from Flushing who oversaw the paper from 1865 to 1896 and turned it into a daily in 1876. A plaque commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the paper as a daily was dedicated to Todd and mounted on the corner of the building at 1 Star Square Composite II left (center).

This tablet erected
on the fiftieth anniversary
of the Daily Star
in memory of its founder
Thomas H. Todd
whose high ideals and perseverance
in the face of many difficulties
made possible the establishment
of this newspaper
on the foundation of public service.

The Daily Star had other owners, but publishing giant Samuel Irving Newhouse purchased it in 1938. The Newhouse family empire, Advanced Publications Incorporated, bought and sold newspapers across the country for most of the 20th century, amassing a fortune worth $1.5 billion at the time of Newhouse's death. The Long Island City Star closed in 1968 after a work strike failed to raise wages and benefits for employees.

In 2008, the Daily Star Building came down to make way for Star Tower, a 25-story glass and brick condo with 180 units (not shown). The economic recession that followed the Star's demolition put a temporary hold on the construction of Star Tower. But, new website updates report that ROE Development Corporation is now back on-site with an all-glass design that includes an indoor waterfall Jacuzzi.


Clock Tower Building
Queens, May 27, 1998

From the parking lot under the elevated tracks at the intersection of Jackson Avenue with Queens and Northern Boulevards in Long Island City. This position is now a sculpture garden made of broken pavement pieces, recycled from the Queens Plaza Streetscape Improvement Project (2011):

Looking northwest at the elevated tracks for the W and N trains to Astoria and the Clock Tower Building (1927).

The Clock Tower Building always had clocks on top, but it was never officially named the Clock Tower. It was originally the Bank of Manhattan, evidenced by the insignia "BM" on the exterior corners of the top floor, where the building tapers in. It later became the Chase Manhattan Bank after Bank of Manhattan merged with Chase National Bank in 1955. Bank of New York and Andover Realty occupy the building today along with other businesses. At 178 feet high, the Clock Tower was the tallest building in Long Island City before Citigroup Tower was built. But, its Brooklyn counterpart and equal in years, the Williamsburgh Savings Bank Tower (1927) exceeds it in height and grandeur at 512 feet with a copper dome on top. That is why Citigroup Tower was built even higher, to surpass Brooklyn's prominence with a taller bank and to maintain status with its headquarters at Citigroup Center (1977) in midtown Manhattan.


Silvercup Sign, Long Island City I (left)
Queens, April 13, 2005

From 13th Street between 43rd Avenue and Queens Plaza South in Long Island City.

SunGard at Court Square, Long Island City II (right)
Queens, March 22, 2005

From 44th Road between Crescent and 24th Streets in Long Island City.

Cityscape / Skyline, Long Island City III
Queens and Manhattan, July 10, 2000

From the Thompson Avenue overpass between Skillman Avenue and 44th Drive in Long Island City:

Looking east I, at the Silvercup Studios Sign (1939), north II, at SunGard Availability Services, and west III, at a section of Long Island City with Manhattan in the distance.

The Silvercup Bakery (1939) was actually owned by the Gordon Baking Company who made Silvercup Bread. In 1983, the bakery was converted to Silvercup Studios, New York's premier film and television production facility. The original sign dwarfed the bakery building, but its purpose in advertising was to take advantage of the unobstructed view across the East River from Manhattan, as Pepsi-Cola did around the same time. When the media production companies moved in they added the word "Studios" to the Silvercup Sign I center, and III background right. The connection between advertising and film production was not foreign to the Gordon Baking Company. In 1954, they sponsored the national state fair tour of the Silvercup Rocket to promote the science fiction film "Rockey Jones, Space Ranger" using Silvercup Bread. Their slogan for "The Official Bread Of All Spacemen" was "Silvercup Is Out Of This World."

At 23-10 43rd Avenue near Court Square is a modern building with a conspicuous tower on top that is a concealed water tank II top, and III background center. It is the Long Island branch of SunGard Availability Services, an international emergency IT (information technology) recovery and continuity management facility. They function as a data recovery powerhouse and backup work environment for businesses affected by natural disasters, power failures, technology malfunctions, security breaches and terrorist attacks.

One block south of SunGard is Court Square Place (2007), another financial center that was only a construction site in II foreground, and now obscures the view of SunGard from this spot. It also obscures the view of the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge in III background left. It is the world headquarters of the United Nations Federal Credit Union, a not-for-profit financial resource and advisory for the United Nations worth $3.3 billion in assets. The UNFCU occupies half of the building while the rest is rented out. The United Nations is leasing one quarter of the building while the Secretariat is being renovated.

In III, the street in the foreground is Purves, a one-block dead end with hardware stores, auto body shops and the Sculpture Center, an experimental venue in a former trolley repair shop remodeled by artist Maya Lin. Nearly half a million square feet of residential space is proposed for Purves Street, to be divided among six new housing projects. Completed to date is 44-27 Purves Street, a 12-story unit that partly obscures the Silvercup Sign in III. According to one real estate blogger, Purves Street is now the "luxury cul-de-sac of Long Island City":


Queensboro Plaza
Queens, May 29, 1998

From the roof of the Municipal Parking Garage (1975) at Queens Plaza South between 28th Street and Jackson Avenue in Long Island City:

Looking north at the Board of Education and the Department of Transportation Building with a Flushing bound #7 train in the foreground and the Brewster Building (1910) on the left.

At the beginning of the 20th century Queens Plaza was a grand boulevard that extended east from the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge (1909). This introduced carriage traffic into the plaza followed by the automobile. The East River Tunnel (1910) brought subway service to Hunters Point that eventually continued to Queens Plaza as an elevated line. But, it was not until the 60th Street Tunnel (1920), joined later by the 60th Street Tunnel Connection (1955), where both lines merged above ground alongside the bridge, that Queens Plaza became inundated with elevated trains. By necessity and by design, this caused the massive snarl of double-decker tracks, that in combination with the cars, trucks, bicycles and pedestrians below, became an urban chaos, and still is.

Endorsed by Mayor Bloomberg since 2008, the city has invested $22.5 million from its treasury and $56 million in federal and federally related stimulus money to pay for Phase I of the Queens Plaza Streetscape Improvement Project. Proposals from landscape architects are attempting to recapture the open boulevard space that Queens Plaza once had before the elevated trains came through, and to make it green. The list of improvements to be implemented by 2011 includes open park spaces with abundant trees, landscaped traffic medians and controlled crosswalks, rainwater capture and reuse, sitting benches, street lighting and protected bicycle paths. These things will improve safety and the quality of street life by bringing samples of sustainable nature to the people and exposure buffers to the elevated tracks. But, the mass transit infrastructure will require radical rethinking and restructuring in order to coexist harmoniously with the environmental changes.

Phase I has an architectural component that includes demolition and new construction. The Municipal Parking Garage (1975, foreground rooftop) was removed in 2008 to make way for the Gotham Center (2011); a $316 million complex with twenty-one floors to suit the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene plus retailers on the ground level. Across the street from the Gotham Center in front of the Clock Tower Building will be the new JFK Park, a large green space set below and beside the north bound elevated tracks for Astoria.

The Board of Education and Department of Transportation Building (center) remains, while the Brewster Building (1910) has been completely remodeled (far left). Brewster & Company built the 400,000 square foot factory to produce carriages and cars, including Rolls-Royces. The company later used the factory to build fighter planes during World War II. For fifty years after Brewster left, the building was in decline and underutilized by garment manufacturers including the New York Industries for the Blind. In 2003, the building was redone by Brause Realty, expanded by 300,000 square feet and leased to Met Life with a twenty-year commitment. In 2012, Met Life plans to down size its presence in Queens and sublet a third of the building to Jet Blue for their new world headquarters.