USA | NYC
 


Day 1218

Waiting for the train

May 1st, 2015



at 104th Street

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Old & Rare Books Since 1954

This store was originally located on Austin Street in Kew Gardens, hence the name. It was right outside the original shop, late one night in 1964, that the infamous murder of Kitty Genovese began.

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84-38 113th Street

May 1st, 2015


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Here we are again

May 1st, 2015



beneath the Lower Montauk.

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Jacob Riis Triangle

May 1st, 2015



This tiny piece of parkland in Richmond Hill honors Jacob Riis, the social reformer, muckraking journalist, and flash photography pioneer who was also, fittingly, a champion of turning unused plots of land into small parks.

Riis moved to Richmond Hill with his wife and children in 1886. He had discovered the town on a long walk one day in 1884, and he was so impressed with what he called "the most beautiful spot I had ever seen" that he returned the next day to select a lot for his family's future house. He lived in the community for many years and became a member of the Church of the Resurrection, having left his previous church because it would not invite him to present his slide show lecture — the predecessor of his seminal 1890 book How the Other Half Lives — about the appalling living conditions endured by the city's poor.

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You can see more photos of the church here and here, and read more about its history here.

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Portal of the day

May 1st, 2015



Kew Court in Kew Gardens

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The Jamaica Water Supply Company once provided southeastern Queens and parts of Nassau County with drinking water pumped up from local wells. NYC bought the company's Queens properties in 1996, but hasn't used any of the wells to supply water since 2007. Like the rest of the city, southeastern Queens now gets all its water from upstate reservoirs.

The water tower above, now owned by the city, is one of several of the company's old storage tanks that can be found in southeastern Queens. (Now a solid light blue, it used to be painted much more festively, as you can see in this 1964 photo. Note also, at the far right of the photo, the directional sign for the 1964 World's Fair.) I've previously posted photos of a few of the other old tanks, and I saw another tower very similar to the one above earlier today.

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Atop the wall, largely hidden from view here at street level, is the Long Island Rail Road's Richmond Hill yard. Within the yard is a car wash facility — one of three in the LIRR system — for bi-level rail cars. The two green-roofed structures in this aerial view of the yard are car wash sheds. The structure above, which can be found in the upper right portion of that aerial view, is only a few years old (it was under construction in 2013), and it appears to have some car-washing function as well: if you zoom in on the gray box near the middle of the photo, you'll see two labels reading "HIGH PRESSURE HOT WATER" and "HEATED DETERGENT". Looking again at the aforementioned aerial view, you can see that this structure straddles a track; perhaps it's designed to allow people to walk around the elevated platform and manually wash a rail car sitting beneath it.

Just to the west of the car wash is the adjacent Morris Park yard. Looking at an aerial view of Morris Park, you can see a roundhouse and its turntable — apparently the LIRR's last active turntable.

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The first time I noticed one of these buildings, I wasn't sure what it was. But having seen a number of them now, I recognize the key features, particularly the windows. It's a well pumping station formerly operated by the Jamaica Water Supply Company (JWS).

With a network of groundwater wells, JWS once provided water to southeastern Queens and parts of Nassau County. NYC bought the Queens wells in 1996, but hasn't used any of them for drinking water since 2007; all of the city's water — more than a billion gallons per day — now comes from upstate reservoirs. About half of that supply is carried toward the city through the Delaware Aqueduct, which will have to be shut down for several months for repair work around 2022. There was talk of rehabilitating the wells in Queens to help compensate for the loss of water while the aqueduct is out of service, but, as far as I can tell, that plan is no longer being considered.

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Funky fan facade

May 1st, 2015



After photographing this bizarre facade (just two doors down from the Little Brown Jug), I discovered that it makes an appearance as the exterior of a mobster warehouse in the 1990 movie Quick Change, starring and co-directed by Bill Murray (his only directing credit to date, in fact).

You can just barely make out the fan pattern as the main characters open the door at the beginning of this scene, in which they encounter the mobsters. But the building is easily recognizable, though partially painted blue and graffitied, in this subsequent scene, at 2:36, when Mario, "that big bald giant with the stupid sunglasses", walks up to the door.

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Little Brown Jug

May 1st, 2015



This bar is named after a jaunty old folk tune that celebrates the joys of alcoholism.

'Tis you who makes my friends my foes,
'Tis you who makes me wear old clothes;
Here you are, so near my nose,
So tip her up, and down she goes.

Ha ha ha, you and me,
Little brown jug don't I love thee.
Ha ha ha, you and me,
Little brown jug don't I love thee.


In 1948, Famous Studios released a mildly disturbing Screen Song animated short called "Little Brown Jug" in which an array of animals, many of whom are babies, get plastered by drinking from a cider-filled river — or by being born to, or suckled by, a drunken mother. The boys and girls watching the cartoon are invited to sing along to a version of "Little Brown Jug" with new, though similarly themed, lyrics.

Fellows caught in swinging doors,
Faces on the bar room floors.
Old men full of pep and zing,
And it all comes from just one thing.

Ha ha ha, hee hee hee,
Little brown jug how I love thee.
Fiddle dum and fiddle dee,
Little brown jug oh you're for me.


The song concludes with the titular little brown jug and a quartet of hallucinatory pink elephants performing the final line of the chorus together.

You can watch the film here. It's best enjoyed with a bowl of buttery popcorn and a jug of your favorite intoxicant.

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