A jaunt down 14th Street south of Astoria Park is a reflection of the real estate development issues in Queens, and greater New York. How do you build new, cheap homes that house a lot of people but aren’t totally gross to look at?
Let’s take a look. First, you have this:
Quite lovely, no?
But, sadly, as is the case in any city where developers have little oversight, many of these homes — which would normally be landmarked and untouchable — have been torn down and turned into crap like this:
Note that, for some reason, the developer hasn’t yet torn down the Gothic steel gate, which includes an inscription from the early 1900s.
As a result, Astoria has become an architectural mishmash of breathtaking mansions, brick row houses and boxy, boring, Stalin-esque apartment units, often with tacky features like this:
Not only is this facade crammed with too many patios, doors and window air-conditioning units, it’s also got the typical Nuevo Queens Style of driveways replacing grassy front yards, with all trees being torn down in the process. It’s rather unsettling to walk by, especially when it’s so close to the Victorian home. It’s like watching the Blob digest the block.
Full disclosure: I live in one of these new, ugly apartment units, not far from 14th Street. It wasn’t until I moved in and became more familiar (and in love with) Astoria that I realized what stood on the lot before they built the current building: a historic farmhouse.
One more thing: Another terrible quirk of Astoria is all the damn power lines. Here, the view of the Triboro Bridge is obscured.