Tony the Tour Guy's Blog

A not very regular series of posts on New York City history, historic preservation, genealogy and related themes.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Tweeding Revisited

Some opponents of big developments in this town seem to be singling out poor immigrants as the problem, instead of big developers.  They see the problem as "Tweeding," a reference to the infamous political boss of the 19th Century, "Boss" William Tweed.  Tweeding politicians, they argue, are anxious to pack their districts with loads of immigrants whom they can lavish with services, such as low-income housing, in return for votes. One guy I know keeps referring to "immigrant barracks" popping up. If there are any big low-income housing developments going up around town, I would like to see them. But, that notwithstanding, here are a few points to consider:

  • Most poor immigrants are not citizens. Therefore they cannot vote.
  • There is just about no money out there for low income housing. The NYC Housing Authority is running in the red big time. 
  • Constituents for the most part don't want low income housing in their communities. Putting in such housing would not make a politico very popular. 
  • Developers are almost universally building "luxury" buildings. 
  • The "affordable" housing that is often talked about is actually for people in the middle income bracket. It most certainly is not "affordable" for a dishwasher making minimum wage. 
  • New York City is pretty solidly democratic to begin with, and the state is most definitely "Blue."   Politicians don't need any more voters.
Let's quit bashing poor immigrants. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Bye-Bye Queensboro Garage

I'm no fan of big developments.  But today's Daily News
 reports that a developer may be tearing down one of the ugliest buildings
in Queens: the now-vacant parking garage at Queensboro Plaza. In its place
will be an office building. (Oh, well, at least it won't be another luxury

You can get a good view of the garage if you look to your right just as
Flushing-bound 7 train leaves the Plaza. Tall weeds now grow on its roof,
while at street level the storefronts have been vacant for years. The
concrete monstrosity, which the News likens to a bunker, is straight out of
the Cold and Sterile school of modern architecture. Like so much of
Queensboro Plaza, it just reeks of urban blight. And why? At a time when
any place convenient to Manhattan is booming, QB is still a seedy
collection of largely empty office buildings, downscale eateries and
"gentlemen's" clubs. At night prostitutes strut their stuff. Yes, there are
those luxury apartment houses and hotels sprouting up like weeds on the
north side, but they do nothing for the community.

Hopefully the demolition of the municipal garage will help spur a
revitalization to this unfortunately ugly gateway to Queens.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Urban Railroad Tracks

Check out these old railroad tracks laid into the streets in DUMBO.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Sick Puppies on

No, I don't mean the animals. I mean the wack jobs and slime buckets who respond to ads placed on this web site, seeking good homes for pets.

In case you're not familiar with the site, is a site that, amongst other things, allows you to place a free classified ad if your pet is up for adoption. It's a great idea, so when I was looking for a home for a cat I have I placed a notice. Almost immediately my mailbox was full of strange messages from all over the world offering to take my pet, sight unseen. None of these messages mentioned the cat's name, or even that the animal for adoption was a cat. Some senders said they wanted to "buy" my pet. It was pretty clear to me that the senders were sending spam. Most likely there was some hustle involved. I got so disgusted that I pulled the ad.

All people who engage in "phishing" on the Internet are scum. But those who go after animal lovers on sites like Petfinder are worse.