Thursday, May 1, 2008

Opening the door to Queens history

Mr. Melnick writes books — historical books about Queens — and sometimes the dawn comes too soon and interrupts his ruminations on the Queensboro Bridge or the Steinway piano plant.

Keeper of the Door in Manhattan, and the Past in Queens

“In order to do this job, you’ve got to embrace the night,” he said recently at 3 a.m., standing in his chocolate brown uniform, including the peaked doorman’s cap and white gloves. “You have to make the night work for you. A lot of doormen don’t — they watch the clock and the night destroys them. I’m lucky that, once I’ve taken care of all my duties and things are quiet, I can work on my historical projects.”

Mr. Melnick is the president of the Greater Astoria Historical Society, which also covers Long Island City. He is single with no children and is devoted to the bygone days of neighborhoods like Steinway and Hunters Point. He rides his bicycle from Astoria, over the Queensboro Bridge, to work. When foot traffic subsides after midnight in the building’s lobby, the old days come alive in preserved documents and sepia photographs in countless cardboard boxes he brings from the society’s archive.


Anonymous said...

Even our historians are blue collar. Gotta love it!

Anonymous said...

The link is a scream:

Anonymous said...

Even our historians are blue collar.


The preservation movement needs to be run by dedicated grassroots people like Richard. It would not be in its current state of decline.

Anonymous said...

I thought that Gioia was the doorman!