Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Happy Hanukkah! Our Landmarks Elicit Light, Soul, & Miracles

THEN: Rego Park Jewish Center at 97-30 Queens Blvd had its cornerstone laid in 1948. RPJC was designed by Frank Grad & Sons in a Bauhaus variation of the Art Moderne style, by the same firm which designed the Essex House on Manhattan's Central Park South. This photo is from 1950.
NOW: Rego Park Jewish Center proudly stands today, & has been honored by placement on the State & National Register of Historic Places in October 2009.
Happy Hanukkah! Let's celebrate in the name of miracles, and believe in the miracles of achieving preservation success stories to inspire us all. Too much beauty and historic significance is often sacrificed in the name of progress, but it is the gifted creations of mankind and the creations of nature that should withstand the test of time in a physical sense, rather than only existing in our minds or in the history texts. 
This is the Rego Park Jewish Center flickr photoset, and we are thankful that it has been placed on the State & National Register of Historic Places in October 2009 due to our research collaboration and advocacy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8095451@N08/sets/72157605758107073 
Given this distinctive status, Rego Park Jewish Center is now commemorated statewide & nationally, and the RPJC board has the option of for grants through the NYS Historic Preservation Office, as well as applying for funding through the NY Landmarks Conservancy non-profit's Sacred Sites Program.

Queens Borough President Helen Marshall's "Queens Synagogues National Register of Historic Places Reception," Dec 15, 2009 - Rego Park Jewish Center staff with BP Helen Marshall & Michael Perlman of Rego-Forest Preservation Council

We are thankful to our members of Rego-Forest Preservation Council, and our colleagues and friends who volunteer and support us as a community preservation organization.

Rego Park Jewish Center's mosaic mural adorns the Queens Blvd main sanctuary facade, & depicts scenes from the Old Testament. This mural was designed by Hungarian-born artist, A. Raymond Katz, a prominent figure in 20th century Judaic art in America.
Let's continue taking the steps towards preserving Rego Park, Forest Hills, and the great legacy of our neighboring communities.  

RPJC's sanctuary has 2 walls of stained glass windows which span the height of the sanctuary, & were also designed by the famed A. Raymond Katz.
Celebrate the "Festival of Lights," and seek and embrace miracles year-round. May there always be light!

Friday, December 9, 2011

All Aboard The QueensLine! Petition Drive For A 21st Century Queens Destination!!!

A fragment of the 3.5-mile stretch of the LIRR Rockaway Beach Branch Line is the Fleet Street trestle, which sits abandoned since 1962, Photo by Michael Gannon, Associate Editor of the Queens Chronicle.

Are you a fan of historic & environmental preservation, and recreation? Queens has a treasure waiting to happen! Visualize a mixed-use leafy & colorful path, offering a commanding view of Rego Park, Forest Hills, Woodhaven, Richmond Hill, and Ozone Park. As part of Mayor Bloomberg's PlaNYC 2030, every community resident should be within a 10-minute walk to a park.

Well... It takes moments to sign and post a comment on the PETITION to grant new life to the abandoned LIRR Rockaway Beach Branch Line as the "Queens (High) Line," which could become one of Queens' greatest assets. Please help spread the word through today's many methods of social media, and inform as many family members and friends as possible, to help reach a goal of 1,000 signatures as a start:


Follow & comment on "Envisioning The Queens High Line," which began as a blog by Anandi Premlall: http://queenshighline.blogspot.com

It greatly expanded into a 560-member Facebook Group, which began not long ago... Nov 13th, and I take pride in being one of the admins: http://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/queenshighline

The cause has caught wind on Twitter too:

According to Peter Beadle, it would link the above Central & Southern Queens communities with Forest Park and the Brooklyn-Queens Greenway, and to nearby bike lanes leading to the recreational spaces of Rockaway Beach and Jamaica Bay, including the Shore Parkway path, Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge and Gateway National Recreation Area. It would also connect at least five subway lines and numerous commercial districts, shops and schools.

As a case in point, at the NYC High Line, some only saw a structure unkempt for decades and called it an eyesore, calling for its demolition, but civic-minded NYC residents realized that beneath the grime, there was detail that read N-Y-C all over it. The High Line is a unique inspiration. It initiates greenery, spares a historic site from demolition, provides some recreation, hosts historic tours, connects and bonds our communities, creates jobs, and enhances community character and property values. It is a backyard treasure that becomes easily accessible.

A creative vision, teamwork, and perseverance resulted in the great success of the High Line in Manhattan, and the same can be achieved for a "Queens (High) Line." The wishes of the Queens community can be fulfilled through some of the same ingredients, and much can be accomplished through volunteers from all age groups, who walk Queens with every heartbeat.

This is a landmark opportunity to eliminate the heavy mass of litter at the site (wrecked cars, aluminum cans, plastic bags, tires), and sensitively and creatively reuse this 6-decade abandoned stretch for the 21st century. Imagine... how you can take your family and friends on a polished industrial relic bonding our Central & Southern Queens communities, and walking or bicycling through a 3.5-mile park and trail with some native vegetation and edible gardens, while reuniting with old friends and making new ones from Queens' diverse communities.

Trestle on Metropolitan Ave, Forest Hills of the abandoned LIRR Rockaway Line - A golden opportunity awaits! Photos by Michael Perlman, Rego-Forest Preservation Council

The trestles of the conceived Queens (High) Line were designed by the well-known American Bridge Company in 1908, at least in Forest Hills and Rego Park, which was when the company was only 8 years old. The company also played a role in the development of the Chrysler Building in 1929 and the Henry Hudson Bridge in 1936. We need to give more recognition to our industrial history. This is a photo tour on Old NYC of the LIRR Rockaway Line through the Whitepot Junction & Underjump (Whitepot was Forest Hills pre-1906), 63rd Dr to Fleet St, Fleet St to Yellowstone Blvd, Yellowstone Blvd to Metropolitan Ave, and other stops to a full-speed ahead to the Rockaways : http://www.oldnyc.com/rockaway/contents/rockaway.html

A plaque reading "American Bridge Company of New York" with the date of manufacture, often goes unrecognized, as it lies in the corners of some of our neighborhood's trestles.

As a historic preservationist and conservationist, and as Chair of Rego-Forest Preservation Council serving Rego Park and Forest Hills, which are 2 communities the conceived Queens (High) Line would run through, I am willing to lend my expertise, and explore and further develop the visions of my colleagues and I.

- Michael Perlman