It’s in Queens
#MonthlyPicks | November’16 by Cody Herrmann
A little recent history. In 2007, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the redevelopment of Willets Point which would create a mall, parking lot, and affordable housing to be developed by the owners of the Mets/Citi Field. The plan includes the still-ongoing task of evicting, demolishing, and relocating more than 200 mostly Latino-owned auto repair businesses from an area known as the “Iron Triangle.”
The $3 billion project can avoid adding on the proposed affordable housing units by paying a $35 million fine, and the South Bronx co-op set up to provide new jobs in the auto industry has filed for bankruptcy protection. Although the redevelopment project had been stalled in court and environmental remediation will be a lengthy process, this slowly unfolding narrative is not one Queens should ignore.
My world revolves around Flushing, so I’m all about the local food courts. Lately, I’ve been heading to Golden Mall, 41-36 Main St., which is really more a gaggle of food stalls than a shopping center. It has two different entrances that lead to two different levels. Use the Main St. entrance, head upstairs, and walk back until you find Guihua Duck Noodle Soup, on the right side, about three stalls into the mall. Along with their excellent noodle soups, the open face fried dumplings and crab soup dumplings add great twists to some Main St. classics.
If you happen to be on the other side of Flushing Meadows Corona Park, I suggest the Mexican cuisine at Tulcingo, 40-36 National St., right off Corona Plaza. Everything is great, but I can’t help but order a burrito every time.
Explore your local wastewater shed! Whether you like to think about it or not, everything you flush down the pipes goes somewhere. Pipes from any building in NYC likely lead to a combined sewage system where human waste and street run off mix. This system often gets overloaded during rainstorms, causing large releases of untreated sewage into our local waterways.
Check out the maps by Open Sewer Atlas NYC to find out where flushes from your home, school, or workplace go.
If you live in Flushing or Fresh Meadows, wastewater from your home and the streets flows into Flushing Creek during wet weather events. Tracing the main tunnel running all the way from Cunningham Park to Flushing Creek is possible above and below ground, although either way you’ll need to get creative. If you have a chance, catch a view of Flushing Creek from under the Northern Boulevard Bridge. From there, pass the Tidal Gate Bridge, which blocks out sewage overflow from the rest of the creek. Then head to Flushing Meadows Corona Park’s mini golf course, where above ground puddles can lead you to the headwaters of Flushing Creek, running through the Pool of Industry, Meadow Lake, and Willow Lake.
For an easier view of combined sewage outfalls, take a walk along the Flushing Bay World’s Fair Marina, keeping an eye out for huge tunnels coming out from under the promenade at the water’s edge. These outfalls have some of highest annual flows citywide and are fed mostly by parts of Corona, Rego Park, Forest Hills, and Glendale.
Aside from the homegrown graffiti, Queens has quite a few pay-what-you-wish or free museums featuring great art: Queens Museum, MoMA PS1, Socrates Sculpture Park, first Fridays at the Noguchi Museum, free entry to the Queens Botanical Gardens from November through March, plus a long list of smaller galleries and artist spaces.
For a literal treat, head to your local bodega and pick up some Made in Queens (Ozone Park, to be exact) Mamita’s Ices before it gets unbearably cold.
Cody Herrmann is a community organizer with an interest in participatory design methods, public space, and local sustainable development. She currently manages Woody and Pete’s Honky Tonk Lyceum (@QueensLyceum), an experimental multi-use space, functioning primarily as organic coffee shop, art gallery, and community classroom run by Hydroponic Garden Centers Inc.