On the edge of the epicenter

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Death is all around us, and everyone is jogging.

On every temperate day during this pandemic, Vernon Boulevard, the waterfront strip with its parks and protected bikeway, is a continuous stream of joggers and bicyclists, most of them now wearing masks, as ambulances frequently go blaring by. Here on the western edge of Western Queens, we are so close to the epicenter of the epicenter, but not quite of it.

Gothamist-WNYC put out a map yesterday showing how stark a difference there is between North-Central Queens and the LIC-Astoria area. The map, comparing zip codes by number of cases per capita, shows the biggest, darkest shaded area abutting right against one of the lightest shaded areas. A similar map from the New York Times on April 1, showed the hardest hit zip code with Coronavirus cases per capita was 11370 in Jackson Heights, followed by 11369 in… Corona.

“The biggest hot spots included communities in the South Bronx and western Queens,” that Times article read. From a distance, the specificity might not matter. In late March The City published a Department of Health and Mental Hygiene list ranking “West Queens” as one of the “Neighborhoods” with the most flu-related ER visits.

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Areas with flu-related ER visits in late March, top of a list provided by the Dep. of Health and Mental Hygiene, as hyperlinked to in The City.

One reasonable interpretation for the divide is that Elmhurst Hospital bares the weight of serving a vast region of neighborhoods, including Corona, Jackson Heights, Elmhurst and Woodside. Queens Courier explains the history of how hospital closures 11 years ago led to the overburdening of Elmhurst Hospital. Astoria and LIC, by contrast, has Mount Sinai Queens, which is not without its own frequent Covid-related intake, having built a triage tent. And Astoria’s city council member, Costa Constantinides, has been self-quarantining with the virus, and he tweeted this week that his wife has been hospitalized and “hasn’t been aware enough to speak.”

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But I’ll nod to other potential factors for the steep divide, such as racial disparities that leave the “Hispanic” community (category the state uses; I don’t know where this leaves the substantial Brazilian community here – in the black and white categories probably) making up the highest proportion of Covid-deaths, at 34% in the city, followed by the black community at 28%, white people at 27% and Asians at 7%. NPR suggests one explanation for this, citing an unrelated federal report, noting that “a significantly smaller percentage of Latino and black workers reported enjoying the flexibility to work remotely than their white and Asian counterparts.”

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The state tracks mortality rates, not cases altogether, by race and ethnicity, the Times notes, adding that, “health care workers and community leaders say it is indisputable that the pandemic has disproportionately affected the Hispanic day laborers, restaurant workers and cleaners who make up the largest share of the population in an area often celebrated as one of the most diverse places on earth.”

The “enemy” is density, the Times told us recently, to the chagrin of urbanist Vishaan Chakrabarti, who is profiting off planning a high-rise district in the area. Comparing North Central Queens to LIC-Astoria might be extremely helpful for everyone, I would think, because the density, as far as I can tell, is pretty much the same. Both areas have, a probably similar, mix of duplex-type row houses and mid-rise apartment buildings, along with some pedestrian-busy streets like Steinway Street and Roosevelt Avenue. There’s an idea that North Central Queens has more overcrowding within households, leading to more cases, but that seems like a theoretical explanation for now. The AP reports:

“The areas of New York that have a larger share of households with people over 65 had higher rates of confirmed cases per 1,000 people, the AP found. But other demographic variables – from high household incomes to large shares of foreign-born populations to areas with large numbers of overcrowded housing units – saw no significant link to COVID-19 case trends.”

Let’s compare the regions in some other ways. Of the population of Community Board 1, home to Astoria and upper LIC, 13% of the population is 65 or older, one percent higher than in both CB3, home of Jackson Heights, East Elmhurst and Corona and CB4, the area of south Corona and Elmhurst. In CB1, 34% of the population is rent burdened. In CB3, 53% of the population is rent burdened. The rent burdened population is at 55% in CB4. The poverty rate in CB1 is 18%; the rate is at 24% and 26% in CB3 and CB4 respectively.

Sunnyside Yards in Abstract

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Above: “Sunnyside Yard 25” by Andrea Belag 

Artist Andrea Belag has rendered a series of abstract prints named after the Sunnyside Yards. Above, “Sunnyside Yard 25,” says Pinterest, is “a large exuberant abstract monoprint, with brush strokes both gestural and minimalist.” The 2016 piece is priced at $2,875. Same for other prints, also named “Sunnyside Yard” and numbered. Belag told me she made the prints at VanDeb Editions on Northern Boulevard. “I could see Sunnyside Yards out the window,” she said.

Belag’s work will be on exhibit at the Morgan Lehman Gallery in Chelsea on April 4.

Big hip hop fest is happening at Melrose Ballroom

There were probably large posters for this pasted to lot wood-walls but I’m just noticing from the Corner inbox the World Underground music festival happening yesterday through tomorrow at Melrose Ballroom at 33rd Street near 36th Avenue. If you didn’t know, maybe you still have time to get tickets for Azealia Banks. 

H/T Brooklyn Vegan

Continue reading “Big hip hop fest is happening at Melrose Ballroom”

Halletts Point temp arts site to get Coffeed

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That two-headed glassy building underway at 10 Halletts Point appears almost finished and is supposed to begin leasing this summer. But meanwhile, plenty of the dead space that will make up the seven-building development languishes as most of the project has been stalled. The Real Deal reported earlier this month that the Durst Organization plans to enliven the dead waterfront space in the meanwhile starting this summer (lasting maybe a few years?) with a cultural arts center involving “a stage and a fenced off area for film, dance, music and other events.” Corner has learned that Frank “Turtle” Raffaele, CEO of Coffeed, has partnered with Durst to set up a temporary Coffeed location at the temporary site. The site has been reported as 27th Avenue and 1st Street. But there are kind of two or three different locations at that intersection, the fenced off lot across from 10 Halletts point at the north, a low-rise building of some sort at the south part, and another weird lot south of that where a strange glass thing was standing until recently. I asked Raffaele if the location was where the strange glass thing was and he nodded, but I’m still not sure. In any case, I like that he knew what I was talking about. Continue reading “Halletts Point temp arts site to get Coffeed”

Astoria has 2 of the top 10 best NYC gay bars on Yelp?

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A Metro New York after-party guide published for the NYC Pride march and festival lists what it says are the top 10 gay bars in NYC according to Yelp. Well. Two of the 10 are in Astoria: Icon Bar and Albatross Bar. Brooklyn only got one.

To be fair, I don’t know what Yelp actually means. It sounds like there are some jumping Manhattan bars that are missing in place of piano and dive bars. And why are Jackson Heights bars not on the list? In annnyyy case, you can tell all your friends that Astoria has two of the top 10 NYC gay bars on Yelp and that’s more than Brooklyn.

Music venue in Kaufman Arts District liquor license approved by CB1

 

A music venue billed as a concert hall, recording studio and youth educational-programming space on 35th Street in the Kaufman Arts District survived Community Board 1’s approval process for its liquor license last night. The space is called ARC, and is associated with music blog, DMNDR (somehow, apparently). Some construction has been done on the space at 36-35 35th Street between 36th and 37th avenues (also 36-30 36th Street) apparently in place since 2014* but a liquor license should really turn on the show in this quiet northeast section of Long Island City.

Continue reading “Music venue in Kaufman Arts District liquor license approved by CB1”