NYC History: Newtown

February 20, 2019 New York City Comments (0) 12

I got curious about Newtown Road, which runs through my neighborhood in Astoria, Queens (home of no Amazon headquarters, yay!!). Newtown is an odd street, in that it cuts diagonally through almost all of Astoria, a neighborhood otherwise situated in a careful street-and-avenue grid. So I did some digging.

Turns out back in the 19th Century, before the boroughs were incorporated into New York City, Queens west of Flushing essentially consisted of two townships. Long Island City ran along the eastern shore of the East River, and included the neighborhoods of Sunnyside, Hunters Point, Ravenswood, and Astoria, as well as some smaller areas lesser known today: Dutch Kills, Blissville, etc. Everything east of Long Island City and west of Flushing (Forest Hills, Corona, Maspeth, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, etc) was included in Newtown Township, which gave its name to the creek that separates Brooklyn from Queens, and to the odd diagonal road that would carry one from Astoria to Newtown.

As to why it runs diagonally, basically that’s because it was one of the first major streets in the area. Most of the grid was laid down afterward, and while other thoroughfares like Queens and Astoria Boulevards were built up into highways, Newtown remained a simple street, just out of step with its neighbors.

In the course of my research I also discovered two organizations: The Old Astoria Neighborhood Association, which keeps much of the detailed history of the neighborhood, and Newtown Historical Society, which commemorates the township that used to be, and works to preserve the neighborhoods currently in place. I’ll likely poke around both more in the future.


Header image: Public domain, via New York Public Library

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Here is a Cute Kitty, Just Because

October 14, 2016 Animals, Featured, New York City Comments (1) 817

I walk past this kitten every morning on my way to work, along with another (a sibling, presumably?) with whom he or she shares an Upper East Side pet store window.

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Among the Clouds

January 15, 2016 New York City Comments (0) 486

If you come to New York City, you can pay $100 million to live above the clouds. My friend calls it “The Bespin Penthouse.”

That’s 432 Park Avenue, the second-tallest building in New York City at present, and the tallest residential building in the world. It’s apartments all the way up, and the penthouse is actually higher up than the spire of the Empire State Building. The view is incredible, according to published photos–although on a day like this, I don’t imagine you see much except the clouds.

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Conservative Activism: “We’ve Had Enough Smut!”

January 4, 2016 New York City Comments (0) 801

Liz and I made our first visit to the Museum of the City of New York this afternoon. It’s a great museum and I recommend it–we especially enjoyed the exhibits on protecting New York City landmarks and about the history of activism in New York City.

Speaking of that latter exhibit, the section on Conservative Activism in NYC was amusing. A few photos below for your enjoyment.

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Watching the Storm Roll In

June 24, 2015 New York City Comments (0) 650

Shortly before heading into Manhattan for Erika’s book launch, I got to watch from my apartment window as a heavy storm rolled in over Manhattan. The photos below were taken over a period of less than three minutes; afterward we had maybe 1-5 minutes of very heavy rain (which fell mostly sideways) then a few minutes of drizzle, and then the rest of the night was calm.

Also, I only noticed it just now, but that electronic billboard at the bottom right just perfectly captures the cultural zeitgeist, doesn’t it?

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