By Ilana Teitel
For about a hundred days this winter, Long Island City was in the spotlight as a neighborhood about to be transformed. Amazon was coming, the national media was running articles about the 7 train, and brokers were selling condos via text messages. The word was out about this patch of western Queens and its waterfront views, central location, cultural diversity, and overtaxed infrastructure.
And then, on Valentine’s Day, it was over. Amazon pulled out and locals began to debate whether that much change would have been good or bad for LIC. But, this wasn’t the first time that Long Island City was the neighborhood that almost, maybe, soon, was about to take off. Here’s a look at three other times that LIC was briefly New York’s Next Big Thing.
By Joseph Alexiou
Writer and photographer Mitch Waxman is the leading authority on the history of Newtown Creek, a toxically polluted industrial waterway on the border between Brooklyn and Queens. In addition to his reporting and documentation, Waxman leads regular tours on land and by boat while spreading the unique stories of New York’s most centrally located contaminated coastline to the community.
You are considered New York City’s foremost authority on Newtown Creek. What was the journey to becoming an expert on a federal Superfund site?
Famously how I ended up at Newtown is that I got sick with heart “stuff,” and my doctor told me to start running. The quote I always give everyone is that in the part of Brooklyn I’m from, you only run if someone is chasing you. So I walked. I walked around with camera and discovered Newtown Creek and discovered this wild thing in the center New York City.
By Molly Rosner
Molly Rosner works at the LaGuardia and Wagner Archives at LaGuardia Community College. The piece below, and any opinions expressed within, do not represent the Archives or the College’s point of view.
On November 13, 2018, Amazon announced that Long Island City would become the site for its new headquarters “HQ2” along with a site in Crystal City, Virginia. Since then, New Yorkers have greeted this announcement with both applause and outrage. Throughout the year, Amazon has received bids from cities and towns across the country trying to entice the trillion-dollar company to their area. But after the gimmicks and tax incentives have all been weighed, it feels clear that New York was always high on the list of places the company was considering.
Reactions have been swift and dramatic. LaGuardia Community College, in Long Island City, added a note to its website that reads, “We’re very proud that LaGuardia was a key player in the proposal process to bring Amazon here, and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has said that LaGuardia’s diverse and talented students were a big plus for LIC.” The President of LaGuardia Community College, Gail Mellow, posted an open letter on the college website welcoming the company and saying, “we’re ready for Amazon to make a commitment to education and workforce training in Long Island City, and are ready to support Amazon in Queens as its educational partner.”At the same time others, including professors at the college, have expressed concern about how Amazon’s presence in the area will impact the already burdened infrastructure and transportation system.
By Christiana Remarck
Growing up as a Guyanese-American, born from two Guyanese immigrants living in New York, at least once a month my family and I would make a trip to a place now called Little Guyana. It’s a small enclave in Richmond Hill, Queens from 104th to 130th street on Liberty Ave. Whether we were going for some produce for a traditional, Guyanese recipe or a new saree for a Hindu wedding, I believe it would have been impossible to preserve our culture in New York City without the establishments that were set up in this community. Guyanese people themselves are highly diversified from ethnicity to religion making some needs specific, while other needs are universal to Guyanese as a whole. This essay will highlight some staples of Guyanese culture that enable every Guyanese person to set up a home away from home within the confines of New York City. It will explore some of the most sought out spots on Liberty Avenue that a Guyanese living anywhere in New York City would visit when making a trip to Richmond Hill, whether for food, clothing, or religious goods.
By Katie Uva
It’s the first Thursday in June! To most people, that means little more than that it is almost the first Friday in June, and that it was just the first Wednesday in June. But to New York City school children, it means Brooklyn-Queens Day, a gratuitous day off to go to amusement parks, run through sprinklers, and monitor the steady progress of ice cream melting down one’s face and arms. Nowadays, this holiday is a citywide phenomenon and has been renamed Chancellor's Day, but those of us old-timers who went to school before 2006 remember when Brooklyn-Queens Day used to be only for kids in Brooklyn and Queens, the one day of the year when kids in Manhattan actually envied us. But what is Brooklyn-Queens Day anyway?
By Daniela Sheinin
Much has been written on the American “New Woman,” what the historian Einav Rabinovitch-Fox calls “both an image and an appellation referring to a generation of women who came of age between 1890 and 1920 and challenged, through their attitudes and appearances, Victorian values and gender norms.” Her identity varied by race, class, ethnicity, and age. The New Woman breached gender norms, pressed for a public voice, and has been tied by some to feminism, the campaign for women’s suffrage, consumer culture, and female sexuality. New and sometimes radical fashion trends marked an expression of New Woman feminism and a break from a gendered, culturally confining past. These included versions of the Japanese kimono and the “ ‘Village smock,’ a bohemian version of the kimono and the dress item most associated with Greenwich Village feminists.” Moreover, there’s evidence that manufacturers produced low-price knockoffs of the kimono and other New Woman fashion trends, eagerly consumed by some working class women.
This is the last in a series of posts drawn from the authors'recent work
Never Built New York, published courtesy of Metropolis Books.
Do We Want to Exhibit a Clean or Unclean City? Private Contractors, Scavengers, and Waste Disposal at the 1939 New York World’s Fair
Gotham is a blog for independent and professional scholars of
New York City history
We invite submissions
Click below to follow us on social media
using any feed reader
View the material as a broadsheet
See our list of
Visitors looking for
"The Gotham Blotter"
will find it here,
revised as blog posts