Life In Motion
Last Sunday, the LIC community congregated on Jackson Avenue to cheer on marathon runners. Modern Spaces, The Industry’s sales team, took to their storefront on Jackson, offering coffee, tea, and hot chocolate, plus delicious pastries and muffins – it was a perfect fall morning, and a great way to celebrate the runners and the city of New York! Modern Spaces supplied signs for people to write positive cheers and shout-outs to friends and family. Take a look:
Unless you were living under a Central Park rock yesterday, you experienced the marathon madness. Here at The Industry, people stopped by our open house while waiting to see a friend or loved one run through the Queens streets. Long Island City was packed! And The New York Times took notice. This morning’s article by C.J. Hughes, “Along the Route, Neighborhood Snapshots of New York’s Progression,” chronicles the change in LIC over the last few decades. Here are excerpts:
“As dusk fell, a woman, head to toe in black, bounded down the sidewalk, with a leash in one hand and a baby tucked against her chest. By the curb, two men in suits loudly debated the stock market. And at a Mexican bistro, patrons sipped Chardonnay from stemless glasses under graffiti framed as art.
Ordinary stuff, maybe, for many New York neighborhoods. But this lively mix of bar-goers and Wall Streeters and harried parents was percolating on Vernon Boulevard, in Long Island City, Queens, a highway-bordered neighborhood that until recently seemed to function largely as a giant parking lot.
In 1976, when the New York City Marathon first trudged through Long Island City en route from Staten Island to Manhattan, the area had an even more pungent industrial flavor. A common sight at night then wasn’t stockbrokers but trucks, lots of them, rumbling from low-slung warehouses down dark streets with cargoes of bread, beer and soda.”
“The transformation of Long Island City, from a vast asphalt expanse into a neighborhood rich with luxury two-bedroom condos, is just one startling stop on the city’s remade and repopulated landscape. Charred blocks are now flush with trees. Discos have given way to pharmacies. Immigrant groups have faded, to be replaced by arrivals of new colors. The gulf between rich and poor has blown open.
Sure, one could pick any thoroughfare in the city, or devise your own 26-mile spin through New York, and note change. But the marathon’s route, year in and year out, draws runners from across the globe and declares, in its punishing and entertaining way, ‘This is New York.’”
“Long Island City’s changed character and altered look are a testament to that rezoning and the rebuilding that has come as a consequence. Yes, there are still myriad taxi depots, used-car lots and garages. Not to mention that huge billboards, for department stores, orange juice and cellphones, catch the eyes of commuters on the Long Island Expressway below.
But people who ran the route in the ’70s no doubt do double takes these days. Developers have recently lined Jackson Avenue with angular condos. A complex known as Hunters View was built over an auto-parts store. One Vernon Jackson rose over a razed glue factory. And One Hunters Point, on Borden Avenue, stands in the footprint of a parking lot where children a couple of generations back played touch football.
Adding so much sizzle to a sleepy city corner has charmed some business owners like Sung Park, 52, a deli owner on Vernon since 1988.
In 2009, he decided the neighborhood had changed enough that he could move beyond selling soda and sandwiches. He opened a museum on 50th Avenue, formally known as Underpenny Antiques, where his collection of 19th-century cast-iron pot holders, some 200 of them, are on display. Oh, and you can buy an oil painting there, too.
‘Years ago, you couldn’t tell cabdrivers ‘Long Island City,’ so we would tell them to go to the Midtown Tunnel tollgate,’ he said. ‘But now they know where to go.’”