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Countdown Clock Madness

October 28, 2010 Leave a comment

I don’t know about those new countdown clocks the DOT has put at the corner of Queens Blvd. and 71st/Continental. It sounded like a good idea and it just might save lives. But there’s something about the way they are designed that really bothers me. I think it is the fact that the countdown almost immediately turns a menacing orangish-red making the Queens Blvd. crossing, for this pedestrian anyway, even more unpleasant than it used to be!

I mean, crossing Queens Blvd. used to just be about looking every which way so you didn’t get clipped by all those crazy drivers as they sped through the intersection ignoring your legal right of way to walk across. Now, it is not only about that, but it is also about trying to BEAT THE THREATENING COUNTDOWN CLOCK!!!

Blvd. of Death, Meet Clock of Death!

Once again, it seems in this automobile-dominated culture, we car-less cannot seem to catch a break. These new clocks are basically broadcasting in bright red numbers: “Hey! You Pedestrians! You Are the Problem! You Are Walking Too Slow! You Are Not Paying Attention When You Cross!! STAY ALERT AND HURRY THE HELL UP!”

All well and good, except it is not the pedestrians who are killing the drivers.

My suggestion – change the clocks so they are a soothing aqua-green as they countdown, subliminally affirming our right as pedestrians to walk across our city’s streets, and lengthen the time we have to cross while you’re at it. What’s the use of giving us a countdown to get across if you still have to be this guy to make it in time?

Father, Daughter Hit on 108th St.

September 30, 2010 4 comments
Pedestrian crossing sign on Queens Boulevard i...

Image via Wikipedia

One of Edge of the City’s readers has contacted me about what she describes as “an horrific accident” that occurred last night at 108th and 66th Streets, across from Temple Beth Gavriel. This person says a father and his daughter were both hit by a car there while trying to cross. She says both were injured, but the last she heard they had survived.

“108th is notorious for speeders – something needs to be done or somebody will be killed for certain,” the reader told me. “What can we do, Drake?  We need to formulate a letter of sorts (to whom, I’m unsure) suggesting perhaps that the lights be timed so that it stops speeding?  That’s one idea I had.  Perhaps a camera to take photos of the speeders?”

As readers of this blog know, I have long been pushing for more time to get across Queens Blvd. (I honestly don’t know how the elderly can make it across as it is set up now, with just about 40 seconds to cross.) Now I’m hearing about these types of tragedies occurring on other streets in our neighborhood.

It’s so tragic because it really is so easily preventable if only the powers that be stopped favoring motorists over pedestrians. After all, a ton of us here in the City don’t even own a car and our feet are what we use to get around.


Lunchtime in the Hills

September 23, 2010 7 comments

Just some stuff I noticed today during a nice walk around Forest Hills on this delightful Indian-Summerish day:

The empty space on 71st Continental, near Queens Blvd., is being filled by another optical store.

Some before and after tornado shots of the Queens County Savings Bank on Queens Blvd.

The Queens County Savings Bank on Queens Blvd. right after the tornado...

... and the Queens County Savings Bank today.

And the Jewish harvest holiday of Sukkot has busted out all over town!

Oh, and one other thing…. what is with the Fay Da Bakery, over near the T-Bone Diner? I walked in there and it was P- A – C – K – E – D !!!!! Is the place that good? Just what have I been missing all these years?

Going to the Dogs

September 12, 2010 Leave a comment


Is it just me, or are a lot of new pet grooming stores opening in Forest Hills all of a sudden? Anyway, here’s the latest one I spotted – My Dazzling Doggies. It’s opening on the north side of Queens Blvd., between Ascan and 75th Ave., if I recall – I forget the exact block. If anyone knows, please share it below.

In any case, it’s good to see this rather dilapidated portion of Queens Blvd. suddenly pepping up a bit, between the new Subway store opening in the same vicinity and now this new dog grooming place.

Queens Blvd. Countdown Clocks Arrive

September 9, 2010 Leave a comment

This new countdown clock is at the corner of Queens Blvd & 71st Ave.  Hopefully, they have also lengthened the time to actually walk across or, unfortunately, it won’t really help solve the problem. But more importantly, I still maintain that this is an example of going after the wrong part of the problem. The City needs to somehow either physically slow down cars making turns at these pedestrian intersections — speed bumps, rumble strips, anything? — or better enforce the many overly aggressive motorists at these intersections who regularly ignore the pedestrians’ right of way.

Queens Blvd. Construction Update

August 25, 2010 Leave a comment

Remember that mysterious construction going on in the center medians of Queens Blvd.? Well, the explanation has been revealed in an article in the Queens Tribune, and it is kind of scary. Think of what could have happened if Stephen Melnick, president of the Queens Boulevard Restoration Group, hadn’t called everyone’s attention to what he noticed. Here is the article: Queens Blvd. Medians in Disrepair

What Makes Us Unique

August 24, 2010 4 comments

I recently ran across this very interesting article in New York magazine which revealed how the City has been changing over the past couple of decades. We all probably know it already, but it was still interesting to sift through the data in the article about the changing demographics.

Basically, it says that the “white flight” of the 70’s and 80’s, which saw the city’s white population flee the city to the suburbs, has begun to reverse itself. For the first time since those years, whites comprise the majority of the population of Manhattan.

As a child of the suburbs, who moved to Manhattan in my early 20’s, and then out to Brooklyn, and then Queens, my reaction to this is “What took them so long to figure out that the City is a better place to live than the suburbs?” The suburbia where I grew up was a cultural wasteland. The city was just a short LIRR ride away, but it might as well have been a world away. There was so much more to see and do, and so much more energy. The City was alive.  The suburbs, where I grew up anyway, were pretty dead.

What does Manhattan’s changing demographics mean for Forest Hills and our part of Queens? Well, it’s already happening — with Manhattan and other areas of the City already gentrified, more and more people priced out of these areas are looking for the few affordable areas left, and Forest Hills is one of them.

But while Manhattan is now becoming increasingly homogeneous — it’s amazing to think that is possible, but it is — we here in Forest Hills and the rest of Queens have a great, special advantage: our diversity.

As many have been forced out of the Manhattan market because of the high rents, we have begun to benefit. It’s no coincidence that Forest Hills has suddenly begun to see some great new restaurants and shops open in the past couple of years, and with the current trends this will only continue, and yes, I think so even despite the economy. New York City is a unique place and its resurgence continues unabated. Forest Hills is feeling the effects of that.

We are also lucky in another way — there are entire swaths of the area that await redevelopment, or at least improvement. Both sides of Queens Blvd. east towards Kew Gardens is one example. It’s not surprising that one of the best new restaurants to open in the past couple of years, Tuscan Hills, chose a location there to do so. I don’t know for sure, but I would guess the proprietors got a pretty sweet deal. And other fine restaurants have begun to open near it.

As Forest Hills, like Manhattan, continues to change, I only hope we are able to harness the one thing that really makes us special — our diversity. If Manhattan’s fate is to be an urbanized, upper class Disney World, then hopefully we can corner the market on what makes New York City really special: its amazing mix of cultures.

The Kennedy House of Kilimanjaro

August 22, 2010 5 comments

The mission was a simple one: to bring back a Nick’s pizza, half meatball, half plain, accompanied by two pastries from Bonelle’s next door.

It may sound like an easy task, but first I had to defy one of nature’s greatest challenges: the hurricane-like gales emanating in all directions from The Kennedy House! After all, it was an overcast, rainy day — just the type of weather Kennedy House loves to turn into a wind storm that would make even Jim Cantore flee in fear.

There were times during this fateful journey that I was not quite sure I would make it. I was buffeted by winds that must have been gusting 50 to 60 miles per hour, threatening to take out yet another bargain umbrella from Century 21. Rain pellets stung my face. The pre-Great Recession era priced Nick’s pizza took a bruising, its premium cardboard box being lifted by the wind currents like the wings of a small jet, almost threatening to lift me off the ground with it.

But I finally accomplished the mission, making it back home with the pizza and pastries in hand, all in one soggy piece.

Yes, The Kennedy House of Kilimanjaro had done all it could to make Forest Hills as inhospitable as possible to this pedestrian once again. I could almost hear the voices of its elderly residents shouting out from their rooftop pool above me: “You should’ve drove the couple of blocks!” But I had persevered, and could consume my overpriced pizza with the satisfaction of knowing that I had once again conquered Kennedy House, and its architects, who had erected it where it would cause maximum hardship to the car-less of Forest Hills.

My Hero!

August 21, 2010 5 comments

Another Subway is coming to town, this time in a long-closed car rental office on the south side of Queens Blvd. between 73rd Rd & 75th Ave., in the Traymore Coop and two doors down from The Family Restaurant.

Afternoon News Update

August 18, 2010 1 comment
  • I have heard that the Queens Blvd. intersections here in Forest Hills are amongst those slated for a few of the 1,500 pedestrian “countdown clocks” that the DOT will be rolling out across the City. Well, if they still give us only about 40 seconds to cross (I timed it yesterday), then a lot of good that will do. It will still be something only the fastest walkers, or runners, will be able to accomplish. Walking at a steady, middle-aged speed, you make it across just in the nick of time. I don’t see how an elderly person can possibly make it across in time at only 40 seconds. Councilwoman Koslowitz, if you care so much about the seniors in our community that you want to destroy the tennis stadium to make room for senior housing, then why don’t you put your money where your mouth is and lengthen the amount of time our seniors have to walk across Queens Blvd.?

  • And speaking of the Tennis Stadium – an article today in the Daily News says that the International Tennis Hall of Fame has balked at the $9 million price tag that the West Side Tennis Club has put on the stadium. A sale to the group was one of the chances Forest Hills’ most famous landmark had of staving off destruction at the hands of Cord Meyer to make way for condos. The article also says the West Side Tennis Club’s members are currently divided 50/50 on whether to destroy the historic stadium. They vote whether to do it on Sept. 23rd.

If you are new to the Tennis Stadium controversy, see my previous posts on this blog about why it is in the entire community’s interest to Save the Stadium. Especially given this horrible economy, how anyone can possibly think about destroying what is by far the most well known part of Forest Hills is way beyond me. One thing some of those in favor of destroying the Stadium keep bringing up is that since it has sat mostly unused for so long, they might as well get rid of it. That is laughable to me and shows the type of short-sighted, narrow thinking that has gotten our country into all of the messes it is in today. Just because a solution to a problem hasn’t existed in the past doesn’t mean you assume one will not be found in the future! Imagine how many problems would never have been solved if we all thought that way! Thank God most of us do not.

Indulge me as I once again use my favorite analogy about how just because something is new, doesn’t necessarily mean that it is better.

Pennsylvania Station Today

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