Sunday, June 16, 2013

Three Cheers for the Community Board (not ours, of course)

Streetsblog reports that Manhattan CB6 approved Astoriabike's 2010 plan (# 2) for the Manhattan side of the Queensboro Bridge! Of course I have no idea if this blog was actually where the idea came from... but it might have been. I'm certainly happy to take credit. And I'm always happy to help.

This one-short-block bike path under the bridge will make a huge difference for biking. You can't ask bikes to obey traffic regulations if traffic regulations prevent you from doing what is quickest and most safe.

And for pedestrians going west they still need to open the Obstruction Gate.

I'm still a little baffled why it wasn't already done, since that lane under the bridge has never served a purpose for cars (because of the left turn lanes before it). But better late than never.

And it still would be nice -- for bikes and pedestrians we wouldn't have to cross -- if bikes could cut through the the public works parking/storage under the bridge.

Friday, June 14, 2013

New Vernon Bike Lane mixed bag

The west side of Vernon Blvd is great for biking because there are almost no cross streets. I call it the low road to Brooklyn (as opposed to the Blissville / Greenpoint Ave high road). So the idea of an actual dedicated bike path (as opposed to an in-traffic bike lane) is great.

But... and this is a pretty big but, the official route includes a new detour through the park. Which this means that the majority of bicyclists, the kind actually trying to get somewhere, aren't going to use that part of it. So now bikes will be in the road with parked cars, less space, and cars being driver too fast.

So we're gaining a better bike path for most of Vernon Blvd but losing a bike lane for some of it. If that's the tradeoff, I'm willing to take it. But let's be clear: a bike path detouring through a park with people who don't respect bike lanes and paint saying "ahead peds to yield" is not a functional bike path at all, not for anybody but a Sunday recreational rider.

At the very least they should include "sharrows" on the street where there is no bike lane.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Where Rapelje and Pleasure Intersect

I got thinking about Astoria history. A lot of it is hidden in plain sight. The more hipster inclined, myself included, get off on the old street names. SITE is changing its name to Lockwood. We can enjoy a beer at Suswick or Hell Gate, a meal at Pachanga Patterson, have Van Alst cater a whole damn party, or mail a letter at the Woosley Station Post Office. This, my dear, is Astoria history!

I've found the Oldest Manhole Cover in Astoria, with still bears the LIC logo. It's by Trade Fair on 30th Ave and 30th St.

Why, young child, way back in the days, before there was a New York City outside of Manhattan, there was Long Island City, an independent city which existed from 1870 to 1898. Astoria and everything south was part of it (Ravenswood, Dutch Kills, Blissville, Sunnyside, and Hunters Point).

In 1898, when Queens unified and joined NYC, Long Island City ceased to exist (to everybody but the Post Office, which is why you can -- and until recently technically should -- mail yourself love letters addressed to Long Island City, New York).

Who wouldn’t prefer to have a real street name instead of a number? You may have lived on Cabinet Street, Van Alst Ave, Kowenhoven, Luyster, Winslow Place, or even Pleasure Avenue. Nowadays people get lost at the corner of 31st Street and 30th Drive.

But these names disappeared when somebody saw a problem in one borough having, say, twelve Washington Streets and four Broadways. Yes, that might have been a problem. Too bad the solution was even worse.

I can't find a grand on-line listing of all the old street names. So here’s one. It’s not complete (and there may be a typo or two), but it covers most of the streets and avenues from the Queensburo Bridge to Ditmars, from Vernon Blvd to 50th Street.

This all comes courtesy of [too much time and] my handy 1919 Atlas of Long Island City’s Ward One. I assume (but do not know) that the name in parenthesis precede the 1870 incorporation of Astoria Village into Long Island City. Alas, all these names went out -- with some opposition -- in the 1920s when everything was replaced with "modern" system which changed address numbers and street names. Sigh.

If you want to know a specific street not listed, let me know.

Old and New Astoria Street Names (from West to East, mostly off 34th Avenue)
1919 name (earlier name)
2013 name
Vernon Ave
Vernon Blvd
Hamilton St
9th St
Hancock St
10th St
Boulevard (Warren St)
11th St
Sherman St
12th St
Marion St
13th St
Hopkins Ave (Jay St)
14th St
Van Alst Ave (Emerald St)
21st St
Suswick St
22nd St
Ely Ave (Spring St)
23rd St
William St
24th St.
Crescent St  (Prospect St)
Crescent St
Radde St
28th St
Academy St
29th St
1st Ave (Lockwood St)
30th St
2nd Ave (Debevoise Ave)
31st St
3rd Ave (Lathrop St)
32nd St
4th Ave (Rapelje Ave)
33rd St
5th Ave (Briell St)
34th St
6th Ave (Barthow St)
35th St
7th Ave (Blackwell St)
36th St
8th Ave (Pomeroy St)
37th St
9th Ave (Kowenhoven St)
38th St
Steinway Ave
Steinway St.
11th Ave (Albert St)
41st St
12th Ave (Winans St)
42nd St
13th Ave (Grace St)
43rd St
14th Ave (Stemler St)
44th St
15th Ave (Luyster St)
45th St
16th Ave (Titus St)
46th St
17th Ave (Oakley St)
47th St
18th Ave (Balowin St)
48th St
19th Ave (Cabinet St)
49th St
20th Ave (Wallace St)
50th St
21th Ave (Hobart St)
Hobart St

Old and New Astoria Avenue Names (from South to North, mostly off Crescent and 31st St.)
1919 name (earlier name)
2013 name
North Jane St
Queens Plaza North
Wilbur Ave
41st Ave
Payntar Ave
40th Ave
Beebe Ave
39th Ave
Freeman Ave
38th Ave
Webster Ave
37th Ave
Washington Ave
36th Ave
Pierce Ave
35th Ave
Graham Ave
34th Ave
Orange St
[No longer exists]
Sanford St
33rd Rd (by Vernon Blvd)
Day St
33rd Rd (by 21st St)
Ridge St
33rd Ave
Broadway Ave
Camelia St
31st Drive
Lincoln St
31st Rd
Patterson Ave (Jamaica)
31st Ave
Elm St
30th Drive
Temple Ave
30th Rd (west of Crescent)
Whitney Ave
30th Rd (east of Crescent)
Grand Ave
30th Ave
Taylor St
29th Ave
Clark St
28th Ave (west of Crescent)
Newtown Ave
Newtown Ave
Winslow Place
28th Rd
Lot 643 [no name listed]
27th Rd
Vanderventer Ave (Central St)
28th Ave (east of 31st St)
Astoria Ave (Flushing Ave)
Astoria Blvd
Hoyt Ave
Hoyt Ave
Wilson (Great Pond St)
25th Ave
Woolsey Ave
24th Ave
Pleasure Ave
23rd Rd
Potter Ave
23rd Ave