Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Protecting Queens' historical artifacts

From Forgotten NY:

A small traffic triangle in front of the clock-towered Bank of Manhattan, where Northern Boulevard begins its march to the eastern end of Long Island, contains two of the oldest man-made objects in Queens embedded in its concrete.

In 1650, Dutchman Burger Jorissen constructed a grist mill that today would be on Northern Boulevard between 40th Road and 41st Avenue. The mill existed on the site for about 111 years, until 1861 when it was razed by the Long Island Rail Road. The Payntar family by that time owned the mill property (40th Avenue was called Payntar Avenue until the 1920s) and had placed millstones that had been shipped in by Jorissen around 1657 in front of their house. The Payntar house was razed in the early 1900s. When Sunnyside Yards, Queens Plaza and the Bank of Manhattan and the elevated were constructed, the millstones were fortunately preserved and embedded in the traffic plaza.

The traffic island where the millstones are embedded has been converted into a staging area for heavy construction equipment. Historians fear for the condition of the millstones, already compromised by years of wear and tear. One of the stones has been removed from the plaza and crated, while the other remains in place. A representative from the city Economic Development Corp, which is reconstructing the plaza, maintains that the stones will eventually be displayed in a 1.5 acre green space at the northeast end of Queens Plaza. But can they survive the manhandling they are receiving now?

Here's more on the millstones from the Huffington Post.

The GAHS is sponsoring a community discussion on the millstones' fate on November 18th, 2009 at 6:30 PM at the Quinn Building, 35-20 Broadway, Long Island City.

GAHS has also issued an invitation to all concerned.


Astoria Hist Society said...

Thanks Queens Crap!

A photo gallery of their history and current state:


Anonymous said...

If they can save the millstones that were used by the Lorillard family that once owned the grounds of the Botanical Gardens and the Bronx zoo, they can save these.

Anonymous said...

I won't lose sleep over this. Come on.

Kevin Walsh said...

>>>I won't lose sleep over this. Come on.<<

The way many don't lose sleep when the NY State Pavilion rusts for 40 years, or a one or two family house here and there gets torn down in favor of a Fedders Special or Casa de Bloomberg. Maybe a bus comes less frequently, or the garbage isn't collected as often. You don't lose sleep over that stuff, and you wake up one morning and your city is gone.