Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Queens Plaza millstones vandalized; electeds don't give a damn

From DNA Info:

One of the historic millstones on display in Queens Plaza was vandalized recently — renewing a local historian's call to have the pair of artifacts moved from the site.

The two stones, which are located in a park in Queens Plaza called Dutch Kills Green, are estimated to be at least 200 hundreds years old and possibly a relic from a mill that once operated nearby, according to Bob Singleton of the Greater Astoria Historical Society.

Singleton said he was notified by a community member of the vandalism last week. A photo he snapped of the vandalized millstone shows it was tagged with the word "Patria," in its center, and someone wrote the word "choky" numerous times in what appears to be marker.

The Parks Department removed the graffiti Friday morning, a spokesman said, "using methods recommended by our art and antiquities conservators." The department has notified the NYPD and planned to file a police report of the incident.

But Singleton says the vandalism is further proof that the millstones should be moved from the park to an indoor space where they can be preserved — something he's been pushing for years.

Look folks, this is typical. The City at this point knows that Queens Plaza is a bad place for the millstones. Yet they can't bring themselves to admit that. They can be placed indoors in an accessible location. But this being Queens, the electeds won't push for that, and will kowtow to the EDC.

It's quite embarrassing.


Anonymous said...

More to the article...

"It's just another chapter in an ongoing problem that hasn’t been solved," he said, saying this is the second time in recent months members of the community have noticed damage — a chunk was discovered missing from one stone a few months back.

"That they’ve been cleaned up doesn't give me assurance," Singleton said. "If anything, the recent history of these millstones since they’ve been taken from their location has unfortunately proven us correct in being concerned for them."

Singleton says he wants to sit down with city officials to come up with a solution before the stones get damaged again.

The Greater Astoria Historical Society has offered to house the artifacts, where they could be studied by experts and put on view for the community, Singleton said.

They've also offered to help find replicas of the relics for the park, so the historical significance of the items could still be on display there.

Though the exact origins of the stones are unknown, Singleton believes they came from a tide mill that used to operate in what is now the Sunnyside Rail Yards, where they were used to crush wheat to make flour.

They were preserved by a local family after the mill was torn down in 1860, and were later embedded in the sidewalk in front of the former Long Island Savings Bank in Queens Plaza. The city decided to put the stones on display in Queens Plaza when it was renovated a few years ago.

Singleton and other community members fought to have the stones moved during that time, as construction of the plaza was going on. The millstones were moved temporarily to a nearby library, but were moved outdoors again when Dutch Kills Green opened.

Singleton says the current location makes the artifacts vulnerable not only to vandalism but to the elements — the cold, the heat, and pollution from a bus stop nearby.

"They really need to be indoors, and need to be inspected by experts," he said.

Roger said...

Choky and Patria are "street artists," not vandals.

Anonymous said...

they weren't jack hammered...just a few easily removable scrawls.

The winter-spring cycles of freezing and thawing, will do far more damage to them...being so exposed to the elements now.

At least before they were (more safely) encased in the cement sidewalk.

Wait until some out of control motor vehicle lands on them. Get out he Crazy Glue!

We keep on talking about broken government...well, that's the way these cookies will crumble.

Anonymous said...


They should be put indoors in an easily accessible site...not housed in the far reaches of Greater Astoria Historical Society's unwelcoming funeral home headquarters.

It's GAHS's veiled attempt to ultimately take charge (own?) these mill stones for themselves.

Jerry Rotondi said...

Maybe they can be housed in the local council member's office. Put a real millstone around his neck!

Anonymous said...

EDC - shoulda known. When we get rid of his highness I hope to god he takes his "mayoral agencies" with him. They barely have three braincells between the lot - and all three cells are focused on generating ill-considered schemes for profit at the expense of the community.

Anonymous said...

Particularly embarrassing when you compare this travesty to what is going on in Brooklyn and Manhattan.
For example, in Brooklyn groups are getting funding for a tide mill conference.

Here like sums are being squandered to repair and clean and sustain something that common sense tells us should not be there in the first place, and whose long term fate is at best grim.

In one place, a smart use of taxpayer's dollars. In other, a clumsy effort to use the same as a lure for real estate development - damn the consequences.

Kudos for the Astoria Historical Society for standing up and trying to rescue the millstones while they are trying to save the Steinway Mansion in another part of the community.

A big thank you to the people in Dutch Kills for keeping a watch on these stones, and for reaching out to their historical society. Both are united as a community fighting to keep their past.

Others should stand and support their efforts.

After all, these stones and that mansion are really something that symbolizes - and belongs to - all people of Queens.

So where do the local elected officials stand on those projects? Why have they been quiet?

They deserve to be at the community's museum.

Anonymous said...

A lot of the employees within these "mayoral agencies" are civil service status...so they will remain.

Drawing a nice pension with great medical coverage benefits...these civil servants come out the winners in the end.

Anonymous said...

EDC - shoulda known. When we get rid of his highness I hope to god he takes his "mayoral agencies" with him. They barely have three braincells between the lot - and all three cells are focused on generating ill-considered schemes for profit at the expense of the community

Those responsible:

New York EDC
NY City Planning
Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer
Councilman Peter Vallone
Queens Community Board #2

Anonymous said...

GAHS sells books and mounts exhibits.
Very nice, indeed!

Where is THEIR track record for PRESERVING actual historic sites beyond the artifacts housed in their own collection?

For all of their vociferous complaining, we see little.

Anonymous said...

So GAHS get "A" for effort and "C-" for success?

For that matter, where is the Queens Historical Society?

Sunnyside Sal said...

Councilman Van Bramer
just came back from...wasn't it a vacation?

He found out that his home had just been robbed.

The people of Queens are being robbed by council members like him.

Jimmy's in the pocket of real estate developers.
CB2's chair Joe Conley is likewise.

Anonymous said...

AND, pray tell, WHERE is the "COMMUNITY'S MUSEUM" located...on Broadway on the 4th floor of Quinn's Funeral parlor?

By rights, the stones should be housed in the Queens Museum if they truly BELONG TO THE PEOPLE OF QUEENS...no?

Anonymous said...

They should stay in the community that has been protecting them for 150 years.

When the Landmarks Commission called them a 'Decorative Sidewalk,' a stunt they could have never pulled off anywhere else, no one outside the community whimpered a syllable.

Anonymous said...

The Quinn Building?

Unlike Noguchi, Socrates, etc etc they seemed to have weathered Hurricane Sandy in good order. Those places have sustained $100,000s of remedial funding from their locations.

As a matter of fact, I have gone to community board meetings, Queens Council on the Arts seminars, and borough president debates in their space and it seemed fine.

Their Titanic program brought in a standing room crowd and media from around the world.

Indeed, one of the best public spaces in western Queens.

Don't betray your ignorance.

That would be the perfect space for them in the middle of the Lent-Riker House exhibit next to the incomparable Blackwell House door.

Anonymous said...

Where is THEIR track record for PRESERVING actual historic sites beyond the artifacts housed in their own collection?


Anonymous said...

I thought Queens has a museum already.

Anonymous said...

I made an error in the link.

I thought Queens has a museum already.

Anonymous said...

Yes, but Dutch Kills didn't want the stones moved out of their neighborhood, because they claim they own them. It was proposed by one group that they be put inside the new DOH building on Queens Plaza South so they could both be protected and stay in the neighborhood, but that was rejected without explanation as well. So this is what you're left with.

Anonymous said...

There were a couple of people that went on record in Dutch Kills calling them 'rocks' - and whose voice was listened to by City Planning, NYC EDC, and yes, local public officials.

Residents in Dutch Kills, as well as leading millstone experts, have gone on public record supporting the society's advice and recommendations.

Compare this to what is happening in Brooklyn - any wonder they got Civic Virtue after it went through petty bickering and similar abuse?

Anonymous said...

If the Dutch Kills community cared so much about a pair of rocks how come this situation exists?

Anonymous said...

Blackwell house door? Who cares besides insular yokels.

Baby...there's a WHOLE American Wing at the Metropolitan Musem of Art that's got FAR BETTER Americana to show off than a splinter of local history.

Cross the river. Expand your minds.

Anonymous said...

You dare to bring up Civic Virtue?
Art winds up where it's best preserved.
In this case it's in Brooklyn.
Everything seems to rot or disintegrate in Queens' corrupt atmosphere.

Anonymous said...

The GAHS's "Titanic" program was a true attraction.
The millstones are not.

They belong in the lobby of a building at Queens Plaza open to the public yet protected from the elements and vandals.

I remind ALL historical societies that you are in the competitive entertainment business.

It's about putting asses in empty seats and coins in the till until it's filled up.

Snatching artifacts from the neighborhoods they belong in and, in this case, burying it in a funeral home isn't right.

Anonymous said...

Different opinions but all agree that there were some bad choices made here and they are in danger.

As to 'building lobby' vs. 'museum' most would vote for 'museum.' And most would consider them a true attraction my friend.

Credit is due the to community that has championed them for 150 years, and whose suggestions, although ignored by the experts, are now, in the end, proving the wise course.

End of discussion.

Anonymous said...

I'd hardly call GAHS's facilities a "MUSEUM".
They merely maintain a collection of artifacts, which is commendable.

If it must be a MUSEUM...then the Queens Museum is the real appropriate MUSEUM to exhibit the borough's millstones. Or does GAHS have an objection to that?

Maybe if GAHS secures better headquarters...more easily accessible...at the gateway to Queens...let's say, Queens Plaza...that would be an entirely different story.

Anonymous said...

How has the community "CHAMPIONED" the millstones for 150 years?

They were cemented into a sidewalk. I guess you could stretch that notion into having "CHAMPIONED" them.

At least, nobody was going to steal them that way, anyway.

NOW they're easily damaged...elevated and out in the open. Some "Improvement"!

Maybe moving then to a funeral parlor historical society museum is the thing to do.

Caring about history is certainly dead in Queens.

Anonymous said...

Makes that boring history shred a lot more interesting. Hey...LOL....it's an art piece now.