Walks in New York and elsewhere

My comments on buildings, shops, restaurants that catch my eye as I wander around New York City and other places.

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Location: New York, New York, United States

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

At the foot of Vernon Boulevard

You can get to the foot of Vernon Boulevard a number of ways, including by train from Long Island. This is part of the Long Island Railroad, but it doesn't go to Penn Station
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water taxi
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or subway
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Yes, the foot of Vernon Boulevard is one stop out of Manhattan.

Vernon Boulevard runs more or less parallel to the east bank of the East River, along the edge of Long Island City. From 1870 until 1898, Long Island City was an incorporated municipality, encompassing smaller entities like Hunter's Point, Ravenswood, Astoria, Steinway and Sunnyside. The street we'll be walking on starts at Hunter's Point, passes through Ravenswood and ends in Astoria. Roughly, Hunter's Point extends from Newtown Creek to the Queensboro Bridge; Ravenswood, from that bridge to just past the Roosevelt Island bridge and Astoria to the north and east. Vernon Boulevard itself starts at the railroad tracks, at a right angle to Borden Avenue and ends at Main Avenue, Astoria.

We are starting in Hunter's Point, an area that is undergoing rapid change, with high-rise residential development standing in contrast to the existing warehouses, light manufacturing facilities and modest single-family houses that have characterized the area for decades. The effect of change on Vernon Boulevard has been the sudden appearance of restaurants that offer more than breakfast specials, and shops offering more than the basics.

Long Island City has a high number of artists, galleries and art institutions and we will see some of them right on Vernon Boulevard. Well, maybe not the artists themselves, but their handiwork.

Remnants of an art installation in an otherwise empty storefront? IMG_1583 (Small) in this building IMG_1581 (Small) No, it used to be a shoe manufacturer.

A few steps away is Tournesol, a French bistro (the first in the neighborhood) that is packed every night. It's very good, especially considering the reasonable prices for both food and wine.
IMG_1586 (Small) The building dates from 1921.

If you walk into the adjacent parking lot, you can see the back house (a structure on the rear of a building lot) behind the restaurant.
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Looking north toward the west side of the street, we see the spire of St. Mary's Church, Vernon Mall (the traffic island) and a red building that we'll take a closer look at.
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