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

Friday, May 05, 2006

Vernon Boulevard, 2

A parks department sign shows that the traffic island is named Vernon Mall, after Admiral Edward Vernon, for whom Mt. Vernon was also named. (George Washington's half-brother served under him.) Vernon was admired for capturing the Panamanian town of Portobello. His nickname, "Old Grog," for his grogram raincoat became associated with the traditional rum-and-water ration of the British navy. Now that this end of Vernon Boulevard has become a restaurant row, the street is finally living up to its namesake.

IMG_1588 (Small) Vernon Wine & Liquor is better than you'd think.

A little detour to 50th Avenue and you can admire the green lanterns marking the 108th Precinct, 1903, R. Thomas Short (the Short in the partnership, Harde & Short.)

IMG_1590 (Small) IMG_1596 (Small) The building has a Queensmark plaque, given by the Queens Historical Society, in recognition of a building's architectural significance, even though the building has not necessarily been designated as a landmark by the NYC Landmarks Commission. IMG_1593 (Small)

Nearby, on 47th Avenue, a block west of Vernon, is another exuberant municipal building, dating from the same year, the red-and white Dutch revival firehouse by Bradford L. Gilford.
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The spire of St. Mary's Church (Patrick Charles Keely, 1887)
still dominates these few blocks, although not for long. IMG_1599 (Small)

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Development is proceeding apace on the streets just off the Boulevard. In a few short years, I predict that this stretch Vernon Boulevard will be unrecognizable. In the meantime, change is taking place on a smaller scale, as upscale stores, restaurants and businesses move into and transform the existing buildings and storefronts.

One example is Cafe Henri, in the red warehouse on the west side of Vernon Mall.
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And that's not all that is going on in the same building, as these bas-reliefs on a black door signify, although exactly what they signify, I cannot tell.

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Other new or new-ish business on the next few blocks that hint of changing times:
IMG_1603 (Small) E & V Deli and Grocery, French butter and organic eggs as well as the usual staples.

Tuk-Tuk, a good Thai restaurant, opened its second location here, the first being on Smith Street, in Brooklyn. This was a store, probably a hardware store of some kind, to judge from the stained-glass transoms that the owners saved and incorporated into the new design. Opposite "Engineers," there's one that says "Paints."
IMG_1606 (Small) This building and others like it date from the first wave of urban development of Hunter's Point, in the middle of the 19th century, after a ferry crossing was established linking to 34th Street in Manhattan.

Bicycle shop IMG_1607 (Small)

Dog grooming IMG_1608 (Small)

A bar with a fancy sign and live music some nights IMG_1614 (Small)

An independently-owned (non-Starbucks!) coffeehouse, with Brazilian (and American) pastries. IMG_1613 (Small)

What is driving this change is the QueensWest development. A detour toward the river at 48th Avenue gives some idea of the larger changes in store. The first buildings to have been completed (1997) was Citylights, the tall building that appears at night to have a comet on its roof.

There is a Greenmarket on 48th Avenue, Saturdays, from May through November.

This narrow recreational park was built shortly after Citylights. IMG_1615 (Small)

Near the river, you are behind the Pepsi sign, which has been there since 1936. IMG_1617 (Small)

Nearby, at the river, is Gantry State Park, a great place to see the July 4th fireworks if you can tolerate the crowds.

What's a gantry? IMG_1618 (Small) A type of crane that unloads boxcars from barges.

Many other building sites in the immediate vicinity. IMG_1620 (Small) The general idea is to develop a Battery Park City in Hunter's Point.

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