Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Demolishing an architectural gem

Residents who grew up admiring a neoclassical Long Island City bank that went up with Queens Plaza around 1910 are partly blaming themselves for its unceremonious demise.

Neighbors mourn former Long Island City Savings Bank

Many locals said they feel guilty they never contacted the city Landmarks Preservation Commission before crews recently began tearing down the former Long Island City Savings Bank to make way for what is rumored to be a hotel.

"It should have always been a landmark, but we never really did anything about it," admitted Jerry Walsh, president of the Dutch Kills Civic Association, which covers Queens Plaza.

The bank, at 29-11 Queens Plaza North, once featured a stunning boardroom, two murals by famed artist Vincent Aderante and designs of 1930s-era coins in relief, locals recalled.

"It was there in the heyday of the whole industrial revitalization and lived through its demise, too," said George Stamatiades, the community board's second vice chairman. "I can't get by this one."


Anonymous said...

There goes a Doric delight.

"But we never really did anything about it........"!

You should have Mr. Walsh......
that's what your job of "leadership" requires!

(Let's see some more
of those decorative lamp post banners.
It's good to remind folks of all the local history
that isn't there any more)!

It appears that Dutch Kills
is quickly turning into Kills Dutch !

Maybe Stamatiades can hold a funeral for the bank.
After all, he is an undertaker !

Anonymous said...

Pathetic. This is an indictment of the Queens "preservation leaderhsip".

Anonymous said...

Wasn't there a Vincent Aderante
work of art that had "gone missing"
a few years back in this vicinity?

know anything about this ?

Anonymous said...

Funny, how Jerry Walsh likes to stand up in front of his civic with a somewhat vacant grin amid lots of politicians and find the unique path, unlike anyone else, to increase the zoning of his community to accommodate 10 story hot sheet hotels.

But he never thought of landmarking.

Guess what? He likely never even heard about it. Such is life in a red-lined community.

That’s ok. Go ahead and laugh. You landmark areas will discover that the little experiment that city planning is conducting in his community will be in your backyards soon enough.

Anonymous said...

That was a really nice building. Can't wait to see the loaf of crap they deposit in its place. I'm sure it'll be ugly and out of character with the surrounding buildings. How many more ugly hot sheet hotels do they have to build in this area?

Anonymous said...

This is in CB1, the community board from hell.

Anonymous said...

Where's that Greek.....CB#1's George Delis ?

He should have been up in arms over the loss
of this classical edifice.....
instead of being in the arms of developers....
as usual!

Anonymous said...

I was shocked when that mural was removed a few years ago. When I was a kid we used to patronize that bank and I admired it. The fact that no one tried to save it at Astoria Federal or LI Savings Bank sends a signal that those institutions really held the community in contempt.

When the newspapers got a hold of the story (as I recall the local historical group was only made aware of it when a letter carrier who admired it found it missing on his rounds) they interviewed the new building owner, who was, as I recall, was a Bukharin diamond merchant.

Being Queens, the mural was barely mentioned, but the success story of an immigrant who was finding a new use for the building was the important centerpiece of the article.

Needless to say, no one ever expects to see the mural again.

Anonymous said...

I remember when we in Hunters Point tried to save the power plant and later, 10-63 Jackson Ave We had dozens and dozens of signatures and mailed in dozens and dozens of requests.

I know those folks in Astoria tried to save the Astor school and old Astoria Village. As you in Maspeth have discovered, if you live in a red lined district all you will get for your effort is the cold shoulder by the preservation community and rejects reject rejects from the commission.

A rather impressive stack of rejects are abuilding. So someone skipped the bank in Queens Plaza. There are only so much time to mail out letters knowing that you are a no-go before the stamp dries. We cannot cover every building.

When that mural was stolen back a few years ago, all that happened was a big yawn out there.

Right now we in LIC are doing a survey of our community for a proposed LIC historic district. We know that no one is going to take us seriously.

So why do we do it?

We are putting together a dossier of rejects that will come back to haunt the smug preservation movement in the not to distant future.

That is all we can say for now.

Anonymous said...

I drove by there today. The building is totally gone. Just an empty place between two buildings covered by a wooden fence. Its fortunate that they didnt take the buildings on either side. The only remaining piece is a slab of bricks which is attached to the wall of the building next door. Its very thick, which suggests this building truly was built like a fortress. Very solid. When I heard the news I was devastated as I had patronized the LISB when I was a kid. It was also one of the earliest buildings on Queens Plaza. A great part of our history gone forever.

Anonymous said...

Neighborhood Cancer!

Anonymous said...

Oh, come on, Stamawhatever, you know all about the landmarks law, as the Moore-Jackson cemetery and the Astoria Park pool are landmarked in your community board.

You just never told our clueless friend about it. But boy oh boy, he knows by rote every prodevelopment arguement out there and is always prepped for a ready quote when there is needed yet another prodevelopment plug in the press.

The point is your community board has done nothing to educate Astoria on what is going on in the rest of the city - downzoning, landmarking, and other community preservation efforts.

Your rabid prodevelopment cant and snide attitudes about preservation are unique among community boards in NY. But that board is a model for closeing on cue and keeping complaining residents marginalized and under control.

Everyone remembers that Steinway landmark fiasco back in the 1970s, on how your guys spread misinformation to have the community come out against it. Your clubhouse politicians tried the same stunt in Sunnyside Gardens but the folks are a little more worldly and educated in that community and Astoria's Bricklayer Onorato fell flat on his face.

But that Steinway stunt did stop landmarking efforts in the entire borough for a generation.

Your community is still the laboratory for every developer or city planning stunt to be honed before being unleashed on the rest of the city.

What is happening in Old Astoria is making your community a laughing stock around the New York. How many cemeteries did you guys build on in Old Astoria in just the past few years? How many priceless 150 year old homes are being replaced by crap? What sort of legacy are you leaving that community's youth? Hey no problem. Many of you have your homes and vacation spots well away from the smelly barn where the cow is milked.

There is little doubt the area covered by community board 1 is the most endangered community in the five boroughs - closed firehouses and hospitals, formerly open streets in permanent traffic jam, shopping areas filled with 99 cent stores, increasingly filthy streets and a police presence that grows smaller as the population goes up.

A community where illegal conversions are all but sacred policy, permanent sewer smells and rolling blackouts from an overburdened power grid not withstanding.

The only good thing from your community board's spectacularly mismanagement of the Astoria is that it is prompting a mass exodus of the older ill-educated residents who you could take advantage of. The problem is what is replacing them in your hollowed out community. Transients replacing owner occupied housing is usually the final step before a community's complete collapse. In Astoria, its 1965 Bronx all over again.

The rest of the city is getting better and better as your community gets more and more shopworn. Good work in the clubhouse, boys.

You guys have taken what used to be one of the finest neighborhoods and made it a place of dread. And there ain’t a damn thing anyone can do about it.

Anonymous said...

An anonymous poster wrote: "Right now we in LIC are doing a survey of our community for a proposed LIC historic district. We know that no one is going to take us seriously."

Please e-mail me at

Jim Driscoll of the Queens Historical Society stated he would be interested in helping you with your campaign for a Long Island City Historic District.

I greatly admire several buildings around Queens Plaza, & we must bond together and do what we can. I can help point you in the right direction, so please respond. Never abandon hope!