Planes Trains & Automobiles
In a city where library design seems to have taken on diminished significance in this budget-constrained era, with free-standing structures giving way to ground-floor condos in gleaming new towers, the Hunter’s Point library designed by Steven Holl and Chris McVoy stood as a literal beacon to bibliophiles. When plans were revealed in 2011, New York Times architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff lauded the design as “a striking expression of the continuing effort to shake the dust off of the city’s aging libraries and recast them as communal hubs.”
In recompense for cutting off 7 train service to Long Island City for 13 weekends stretching from February to July, the MTA has promised to run an advertising campaign to promote the perpetually on-the-verge of breaking-through neighborhood, DNAinfo reports. However, the gesture is somewhat hollow given that even if the campaign inspires New Yorkers to visit, they’ll have a hard time doing so for the next five months.
Artists vs. the World
All neighborhoods are somewhat in thrall to Manhattan, but Long Island City is haunted by it. By day, it’s noisy with the squeal and clatter of elevated trains, the rumble of delivery trucks on the 59th Street Bridge and the hum of subways beneath the sidewalks—a cacophony of people and paraphernalia, all shuttling across the East River. In the evening, the neighborhood is illuminated by the pale glow of Midtown skyscrapers and the streets hue yellow with the tide of returning taxis.
That Long Island City should be the next up-and-coming neighborhood has seemed obvious for decades; New York magazine christened it the next hot neighborhood in 1980, an imprimatur it would not give to Williamsburg for 12 more years. “Plainly, something is happening in Long Island City,” the magazine wrote and plainly, something was. Condos and chic restaurants were in the works, giddy developers were throwing around phrases like “Soho-plus” and “oil field,” and Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman were zipping over to play afternoon games at Tennisport. Its vast stretches of sparsely populated land were so obviously ripe for redevelopment that its ascendance seemed all but inevitable—a fait accompli that for reasons no one ever quite seems able to account for has always fallen just short of accompli.
In the decades since, it has been called the next Williamsburg, the next Dumbo, the next Bushwick, Astoria-lite and, most inelegantly, “Fort Greene 10 years ago”—its arrival just as inevitable and just as elusive as it has always been, a thing that must be and yet is not.
death of culture
“I’ve been coming here for years. It’s always been a great place where people will get together for art and peace and positive vibes,” said Rhonda Elhosseiny, gazing up at one of the exuberantly graffitied walls of 5Pointz, the Long Island City warehouse and global graffiti mecca. “But the reason I came today is that we don’t know how much longer it will be up and I wanted to see it again.”
She wasn’t the only one. This past weekend hundreds of visitors, including street art aficionados, hip hop-styled aerosol artists, thickly-accented Queens families, French tourists, Waspy couples pushing strollers and a 20-man crew of middle-aged birthday celebrants all wearing Polo, descended on the 200,000 square foot former factory. They came to take in the bright swirls of spray paint—some so fresh you could still smell the heady tang of chemicals in the air—offer sympathy and pay their last respects to the 5Pointz, which is slated for demolition early next year.
Artists vs. the World
The global graffiti mecca known as 5Pointz is no more. Last night, the Wolkoff family, who own the graffiti-covered Long Island City warehouse under the auspices of G&M Realty, sent a team of workers to whitewash over the aerosol art, effectively terminating artists’ long shot bid to save the building from demolition.
THERE GOES THE NEIGHBORHOOD
For a spray paint-wielding band of graffitists, the Queens street art collective 5Pointz certainly has an impressive nose for obscure legal code. In a frantic effort to remain in their Long Island City warehouse, last week the artists filed a suit in Federal Court against the owner of the warehouse, G&M Realty, citing a violation of the Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990 (VARA), a rarely-invoked bulwark against the faulty attribution and unauthorized alteration of some types of visual art.
Is Long Island City the next Murray Hill? Or the next Williamburg? Or has it gone straight from being like the old, before-it-was-cool Williamsburg to the future no-longer-cool because it’s all I-bankers living in luxury towers Williamsburg?
Who knows? Definitely not Long Island City. What Long Island City does know is that it doesn’t want to be Long Island City anymore. It wants to be “LIC,” which will stop tourists from thinking it is on Long Island and therefore, both uncool and really far away.
“It puts us out on Long Island, and that’s inaccurate—we are urban and hip,” Rob MacKay, head of the Queens Local Development Corp told the New York Post about the desired name change.