From the Huffington Post:
I lived on the outskirts of the Broadway-Flushing neighborhood in Queens for 13 years between 1993 and 2007. In contrast to the congested, noisy and crowded downtown Flushing corridor, Broadway-Flushing, clustered on the blocks north and south of Northern Boulevard between Murray Street and Utopia Parkway, features quiet, tree-lined streets and single-family homes in classic styles: English Tudors, colonials, ranches, Cape Cods. When real-estate developers Rickert-Finley Realty built Broadway-Flushing in the first decade of the 20th Century, restrictive covenants were placed on the properties that banned front yard fences, front-yard garages, and flat roofs.
Trouble in paradise, though, has come along in the early 21st Century as McMansions have sprung up, and the hedges, lawns and classic architecture that were the hallmarks of the Rickert-Finley Broadway-Flushing have been replaced by ugly fencing and in the worst cases, paved front yards, the better to park station wagons and sport utility vehicles. The situation in the Kissena Park area south of Northern Boulevard east of 162nd Street is even worse, as there have been entire blocks in which single family homes have been razed in favor of ugly brick boxes studded with Fedders air conditioning boxes, fire escapes already rusting soon after completion, and of course the universal concrete front yards.
Do I condemn the increasing number of multifamily units replacing single family houses? If Mayor Bloomberg's prediction about 9 million New Yorkers in 2030 comes true, multi-family units will be an increasing necessity. But do modern developers and architects need to build junk? Walk the streets of Astoria, Ridgewood and Sunnyside, and scan the blocks featuring row upon row of yellow-brick buildings built by Gustave Mathews, with bricks from the old Balthazar Kreischer kilns in Staten Island. Check out the boxy apartment buildings anywhere in the five boroughs that have been kept up by conscientious landlords. That's multi-family housing at its best, and housing from which modern-day developers of middle-class housing should take their cues.