Monday, October 22, 2012

Jeff Gottlieb: Historian Paints A Central Queens Legacy Read more: Forest Hills Times - Jeff Gottlieb Historian Paints A Central Queens Legacy


This is Michael Perlman's Forest Hills Times/Queens Ledger 10/18/12 article on Historian Jeff Gottlieb, Founder & President of Central Queens Historical Association. On October 14th, he led the Downtown Forest Hills tour, and addressed architectural styles and historic patterns:

http://www.foresthillstimes.com/view/full_story/20541607/article-Jeff-Gottlieb--Historian-Paints-A-Central-Queens-Legacy


Buildings of historic note in the Austin St, Continental Ave, Queens Blvd, & Ascan Ave vicinity of Forest Hills are as follows: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8095451@N08/collections/72157617717136872/

Throughout Forest Hills and Rego Park, as well as much of Central Queens and beyond, a richly built history with individuals who made an imprint exists in unique ways. We just need to know where to look, pause momentarily, and gaze up in midst of busy routines to admire historic architectural styles above modern storefronts. If feeling inspired enough, we can also visit archives.

Thanks to the dedication of historian Jeff Gottlieb, founder and president of Central Queens Historical Association, the 11th annual Downtown Forest Hills tour took place on October 14, and the public acquired some excerpts from this “walking encyclopedia.”

Gottlieb, a resident of Kew Gardens Hills, was raised in Crown Heights. He is a retired history teacher, who is currently employed by the Board of Elections. He graduated from Forest Hills High School and earned a BA and MS in Education at Queens College.

In the early 1980s, Gottlieb joined Community Board 6, and felt enriched by the history of Forest Hills. He visited the Long Island Room of Jamaica’s Central Library, which is home to historic newspapers, books, and vintage photos.

In 1986, he coordinated his first Forest Hills tour, which he admits he initially had minimal knowledge of. His followers increased when weeklies printed local history articles.

In the 1990s, he conducted lectures and additional tours, and submitted papers and slideshows to libraries. Some of his walking tours include Forest Hills Gardens, Rego Park, 108th Street, Cord Meyer, Kew Gardens, Kew Gardens Hills, Queens College, Downtown Jamaica, and Richmond Hill.

Some of his bus tours are Jewish Central Queens and “Jazz Trail: From Flushing Town Hall to Addisleigh Park.”

The Downtown Forest Hills tour encompasses Austin Street on the south, Ascan Avenue on the east, 70th Avenue on the west, and Queens Boulevard on the north, and contains commercial and residential developments, as well as religious buildings.

Notable sites reflect the Tudor, Georgian Colonial, Colonial, Art Moderne, Tudor Gothic, and Neo-Renaissance styles. Gottlieb explained historic patterns of the 20th century business district, distinctive architectural details, and skillful developers and architects such as Benjamin Braunstein and Theobald Engelhardt.

Memorable 20th century businesses include the Forest Hills Theatre, Sutton Hall Pharmacy (a soda-fountain spot), Beau Brummel, Woolworth’s, Addie Vallens, the Homestead, Cheeses of The World, and Buster Brown Shoes.

Some of Forest Hills' numerous notables are Helen Keller, Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, and Geraldine Ferraro. Non-existent alphabetical street names include DeKoven Street, Euclid Street, Fife Street, Windsor Place, and Roman Avenue.

Continental Avenue was a thoroughfare referred to as "The Village,” with sites designed in the 1920s as a complementary gateway to the nearby Forest Hills Gardens (1909), the country’s earliest planned garden community.

Continental Avenue and much of Austin Street retain an English village feel. For example, Tudor design is most prevalent at 1 Continental Avenue at Queens Boulevard, which features a steep slate roofline with wood spandrels, a two-tone brick and stone half-timber effect, a limestone entryway, and a shield at the climactic point of the central cross section with limestone quoins.

The glazed terra-cotta tiled brick and stone fa├žade of the 1920s former Forest Hills Theatre once had an organ and screened silent films. The two-story Tudor-style building at Continental Ave and Austin Street is the earliest extant business site, which housed Horton’s Ice Cream circa 1911, a general shop, and then Cushman’s Bakery and King George in its more recent past.

Adjacent on Austin Street are Austin Hall and Tudor Hall, which are the street’s earliest apartment houses dating to the late teens. The 1920s former Corn Exchange Bank on the opposite corner now houses Boston Market, which features a pitched tiled roof and crops in ornamentation between windows, tying in with the bank’s theme of prosperity.

Another signature element of the tour was the site of Forest Hills' first firehouse, a humble wooden edifice on Austin Street. A temporary electrified LIRR station on the south side was built in close proximity to Forest Hills' first developed street in 1906, Roman Avenue, which is now 72nd Avenue.

Its few remaining elaborate Neo-Renaissance rowhouses were the earliest sites developed by Cord Meyer Development, which named Forest Hills. This was the site of Central Queens Historical Association’s 1991 and 2006 dedication ceremonies. Some rowhouses were demolished in recent years.

One of Forest Hills’ largest buildings of the 1920s is Sutton Hall, which spans Ascan Avenue. Benjamin Braunstein was a household architect, and it is one of the greatest examples of Tudor architecture and urban planning in Downtown Forest Hills, evident by its stepped entryway, Medieval wood doors with knight motifs on stained glass, a cupola, a mansard roof, a prominent half-timber effect, castle-like corners, and inner courtyards and recessed facades enabling light and air.

Another one of Forest Hills’ largest buildings is the predominantly built 1920s and 1930s-era Tudor Gothic-style Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church, which covers a square block, with a main entrance on Ascan Avenue.

It was designed by Maginnis & Walsh, and offers a soaring Indiana limestone sanctuary, numerous stained glass windows varying in design, and landscaped areas surrounding and between its buildings.

Erected in 1930, Georgian Court bears distinction as being Forest Hills’ first sole apartment house on Queens Boulevard, and features a Corinthian entryway, a heavily inlaid mosaic lobby, a mansard slate roof with balustrades, and a recessed planting area.

Further west on Queens Boulevard, the Art Moderne Midway Theatre, named after WWII’s Battle of Midway, was designed by the renowned Thomas Lamb and features a signature sweeping staircase.

When interviewed about how the Landmarks Preservation Commission can be improved, Gottlieb explained, “I would like to see more personnel and increased funding for research.

“I want them to provide the real reasons why Queens sites are rejected, rather than serving form letters to the public,” he added. “I also want more Queens landmarks, some public hearings in the evenings, and Queens properties to be heard in Queens.”

Gottlieb’s credentials extend to President of the Queens Jewish Historical Society, VP of Native New Yorkers Historical Society, Co-Chair of Queens College’s Polish-Jewish Dialogue Committee, and President of the Committee to Preserve Jamaica Architecture & History.

Gottlieb’s wisdom prospers with age. Now at 71, he foresees his future as historian. As the Central Queens Historical Association will be celebrating their 25th anniversary in 2013, he envisions future tours.

He also hopes to achieve city landmarking victories on the Queens College and St. John’s University campuses, landmark designations in Jamaica, as well as designations in Forest Hills, such as Eddie’s Sweet Shop, the Medical Society of Queens County, the former Metropolitan Industrial Bank (Bank of America), and Rego Park’s Lefrak Center.

Foremost leaders owe gratitude to others. Evident by his vision of presenting humanitarian awards, Gottlieb builds a legacy as a community historian and leader.














Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Queens Ledger: "Autumn Tree Giveaway In Forest Hills, A Colorful Opportunity"


This is Michael Perlman's article, "Autumn Tree Giveaway In Forest Hills: A Colorful Opportunity," published in the Forest Hills Times/Queens Ledger on Oct 10, 2012. Please feel free to comment & share:

http://www.foresthillstimes.com/view/full_story/20432000/article-Autumn-Tree-Giveaway-in-Forest-Hills--A-Colorful-Opportunity

Volunteers at the May 20, 2012 4BNPA Tree Giveaway, Courtesy of Dennis O'Brien Photography

Varied species at the 4BNPA Tree Giveaway May 20, 2012, Courtesy of Michael Perlman

This autumn, the boroughs are about to become greener with a splash of color.

The Four Borough Neighborhood Preservation Alliance (4BNPA) will hold its third tree giveaway event in Forest Hills, which will be the first of its kind in the fall. On Sunday, October 14th from 1 to 3 PM, citywide residents will have the chance to line up in MacDonald Park on Queens Boulevard and 70th Avenue and adopt one of the unique 100 trees to take home and plant on private property.


To make this event possible, 4BNPA is working in partnership with MillionTreesNYC and New York Restoration Project (NYRP). Toyota is a lead sponsor, and lead partners are NYRP, plaNYC, and the Parks Department.

This season, in combination with other citywide tree giveaways, 1,450 trees will be donated. There are 14 tree giveaways scheduled, with four in Queens. In spring 2013, NYRP expects to give away between 3,300 and 3,700 trees. In spring 2012, more than 5,000 trees were donated, which means that NYRP will donate greater than 6,500 trees over the course of a year.

“Forging long-lasting, inter-city relationships are the best way to develop a sense of community in New York City,” said Mike Mitchell, NYRP Community Initiative coordinator. “NYRP is very excited about our third giveaway with 4BNPA. The commitment 4BNPA has shown for improving our urban environment is amazing, and we hope 4BNPA continues to push the envelope when it comes to expanding NYC’s urban tree canopy.”

NYRP began coordinating tree giveaways in 2008. Inspiration stemmed from the understanding that MillionTreesNYC was focused on greening public spaces, but private homes, religious institutions, and community gardens also represent a great portion of the city, and therefore merit tree planting.

On September 16, 2010, parts of Queens, Brooklyn, and Staten Island experienced a rare macroburst tornado. Joseph Bruno of the city's Office of Emergency Management reported 3,113 trees fell in Queens. Furthermore, Hurricane Irene contributed to the loss of trees citywide in August 2011.

As Queens vice president of the Four Borough Neighborhood Preservation Alliance Corporation and a native Forest Hills resident, I documented the local devastation, submitted a proposal to NYRP, and developed a bond.

4BNPA agreed to host its first tree giveaway event on June 12, 2011, and its second giveaway on May 20, 2012, where 100 trees and 245 trees were donated, respectively. Volunteers from Rego-Forest Preservation Council also played a prominent role. With a major emphasis on donating native tree species at the second event, it helped restore the natural and historic local beauty.

Many community residents did not realize the benefits of trees, until some of which were a century-old succumbed in seconds during the natural disasters. Trees convey life, beauty, contribute to environmental sustainability, and enhance property values.

MacDonald Park was once again selected as the event site, in order to shed light upon a concentrated space which lost sixty mature trees during the tornado, and to initiate memories of productive community events. Forest Hills was one of the greatly damaged neighborhoods, and the Four Borough Neighborhood Preservation Alliances seeks to restore its “forest” factor, as a case in point.

Most common trees in the boroughs include Gingko, Honey Locust, Callery Pear, Oak, and Sycamore. Many graceful Maple and Elm trees that lined streets succumbed to the Asian Longhorn Beetle and Dutch Elm disease, respectively, so it is urgent to maintain surviving trees.

To diversify the tree population, four unique species will now be available, which are American Beech, Serviceberry, Common Witch Hazel, and Black Walnut.

American Beech is native from Quebec to Florida, and is a slow to moderate-growing tree that reaches 30 feet in 20 years. Many can live greater than 150 years. After 50 to 75 years, it will reach its maximum height of 50 to 70 feet. Its fall color will be a showy yellow or copper.

“There is no replacement for the American Beech, as far as its value to wildlife,” said Mitchell. “We believe planting and keeping these trees healthy is key to creating ecological corridors for wildlife traveling to and from Jamaica Bay.”

Serviceberry is native from Maine to the Carolinas, and is a slow to moderate-growing tree that reaches its full height of 20 to 25 feet in 20 to 40 years. It can survive between 50 and 150 years.

It produces white flowers in the spring, and edible red or purple fruit from May to July. In the fall, its leaves are orange, red, or yellow, and its bark is silver and gray with stripes.

“This tree is truly a year-round stunner,” Mitchell said. “Its fruit is also delicious raw, and you can use it for jellies or jam. It is a favorite of New York City birds.”

Common Witch Hazel is native to eastern and central U.S. and is a moderate grower reaching 15 to 25 feet in approximately two decades. It lives between 50 and 150 years.

Witch Hazels are known for their late fall and winter blooms, and the Common Witch Hazel produces showy yellow fragrant flowers in the late fall. Its bark is brownish-gray.

Black Walnut is native from Quebec to Florida, and is a large, moderately fast grower, reaching 30 to 50 feet in two decades. Its full height ranges from 50 to 70 feet in the city. The tallest Black Walnuts reach greater than 120 feet. Healthy Black Walnuts can live longer than 150 years.

“The Black Walnut produces black walnuts, which are delicious,” Mitchell said. “Best picked and husked when they are green, it is one of the most prized nut-producing trees in the U.S.”

“This endeavor is consistent with the borough-wide movement toward ecological sensitivity,” said James Trent, president of 4BNPA. “Four Borough's involvement is a great event, since our mission is to preserve and improve the quality of life for low-density neighborhoods.

“Some trees may end up in highly dense neighborhoods, but that is not a problem, since none of us live in a vacuum,” he added. “Trees improve air quality and beautify the city for all.”

On October 14, those who wish to adopt a potted tree should line up before 1 p.m. at MacDonald Park. In advance, tree adopters may reserve their tree online at www.nyrp.org/QueensTrees.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Press Release: 10/14 Forest Hills Tree Giveaway Will Be A Colorful Opportunity This Autumn



Contact: Michael Perlman
Four Borough Neighborhood Preservation Alliance
Rego-Forest Preservation Council
unlockthevault@hotmail.com

For Immediate Release

10/14 Forest Hills Tree Giveaway Will Be A Colorful Opportunity This Autumn

 
NYC's 5 Boroughs (October 2012) - This autumn, the boroughs are about to become greener with a splash of color. The Four Borough Neighborhood Preservation Alliance will hold its third tree giveaway event in Forest Hills, which will be the first of its kind in the fall. On Sunday, October 14 from 1 PM – 3 PM, citywide residents will have the chance to line up in MacDonald Park on Queens Boulevard and 70th Avenue, and adopt one of the unique 100 trees to take home and plant on private property. To make this event possible, Four Borough Neighborhood Preservation Alliance (4BNPA) is in partnership with MillionTreesNYC and New York Restoration Project (NYRP). Toyota is a lead sponsor, and lead partners are NYRP, plaNYC, and NYC Parks.


Mike Mitchell, NYRP Community Initiative Coordinator explained, “Forging long-lasting, inter-city relationships are the best way to develop a sense of community in New York City. NYRP is very excited about our third giveaway with 4BNPA. The commitment 4BNPA has shown for improving our urban environment is amazing, and we hope 4BNPA continues to push the envelope when it comes to expanding NYC’s urban tree canopy.”

NYRP began coordinating tree giveaways in 2008. Inspiration stemmed from the understanding that MillionTreesNYC was focused on greening public spaces, but private homes, religious institutions, and community gardens also represent a great portion of the city, and therefore merits tree-planting.

On September 16, 2010, parts of Queens, Brooklyn, and Staten Island experienced a rare macroburst. Joseph Bruno of the NYC Office of Emergency Management reported 3,113 fallen Queens trees. As Queens VP of the Four Borough Neighborhood Preservation Alliance Corporation and a native Forest Hills resident, Michael Perlman documented the local devastation, submitted a proposal to NYRP, and developed a bond. Furthermore, Hurricane Irene contributed to the loss of trees citywide in August 2011.

4BNPA agreed to host its first tree giveaway event on June 12, 2011 and its second giveaway on May 20, 2012, where 100 trees and 245 trees were donated, respectively. Volunteers from Rego-Forest Preservation Council also played a dominant role. With a major emphasis on donating native tree species at the second event, it helped restore the natural and historic beauty locally and beyond. 

Perlman explained, "Many community residents did not realize the benefits of trees, until some of which were a century-old succumbed in seconds during natural disasters. Trees convey life, beauty, contribute to environmental sustainability, and enhance property values. MacDonald Park was once again selected as the event site, in order to shed light upon a concentrated space which lost sixty mature trees during the tornado, and to initiate memories of productive community events. Forest Hills was one of the greatly damaged neighborhoods, and the Four Borough Neighborhood Preservation Alliances seeks to restore its 'forest' factor, as a case in point."

 Most common trees in the boroughs include Gingko, Honey Locust, Callery Pear, Oak, and Sycamore. Many graceful Maple and Elm trees that gracefully lined streets succumbed due to the Asian Longhorn Beetle and Dutch Elm disease, respectively, so it is urgent to maintain surviving trees. To diversify the tree population, four unique species will now be available, which are American Beech, Serviceberry, Common Witch Hazel, and Black Walnut.  

 
James A. Trent, President of the Four Borough Neighborhood Preservation Alliance Foundation, explained, “This endeavor is consistent with the borough-wide movement toward ecological sensitivity. Four Borough's involvement is a great event, since our mission is to preserve and improve the quality of life for low-density neighborhoods. Some trees may end up in highly dense neighborhoods, but that is not a problem, since none of us live in a vacuum. Trees improve air quality and beautify the city for all.”

With much enthusiasm, Mitchell stated, “This fall, New Yorkers not only get to take a tree home, but they get to see the urban nature in its most festive state.” On October 14, those who wish to adopt a potted tree should line up before 1 PM at MacDonald Park. In advance, tree adopters may reserve their tree online at www.nyrp.org/QueensTrees
Photos

Oct 2012 Tree Giveaway: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8095451@N08/sets/72157631726378478/

May 2012 Tree Giveaway: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8095451@N08/sets/72157629808414806/
June 2011 Tree Giveaway: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8095451@N08/sets/72157626715360082

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