The Queens Gazette 25th Anniversary Edition 1982-2007
1982- Astoria Studio: Early in March 1982, after several years of effort, the historic Astoria movie studios, built in 1921 and now badly in need of repair, were transferred from the federal government to New York City. The deed transfer marked not only a major step in Astoria's community renewal, but also a giant stride in reviving the motion picture industry in this city.
The long line of those deserving kudos for this boon to Astoria and the city as a whole included Mayor Edward I. Koch, Queens Borough President Donald R. Manes, United States Senator Alfonse D'Amato, Congressmember Geraldine Ferraro, Community Board 1 Chairman Vinicio Donato and District Manager George Delis and realtor George Kaufman, who was investing $14 million to start rebuilding what would soon become the Kaufman Astoria Studios.
The rebirth of the Astoria Studios, which had launched the start of the phenomenal movie industry in the United States and around the world in the 1920s, again sparked a burst of movie-making in New York City and the eastern part of the county which spurred other related developments, such as the Silvercup Studios in Long Island City and the Tribeca Film Festival in Lower Manhattan.
Twenty-five years later, the Kaufman Astoria Studios are still making news, and not just in movie-making. As reported in late June of last year in the Gazette, the area on 35th Street between 34th and 35th Avenues, may soon see a seven-story residential building rising on the horizon. It's not clear whether this will be a condominium or rental development, or whether Kaufman Astoria Studios will reserve most of it for its own use.
Silvercup: About eight months after the Astoria Studios resurrection story appeared in the Gazette in 1982, a closely related development- plans for the transformation of the Silvercup Bakery in Long Island City into the Silvercup Studios- was announced on the Gazette's front page.
The story by James O'Connor said that Frank Streich (not further identified) had "put together a $50 million deal" to convert the former bakery on 21st Street into another motion picture complex. It would consist of seven sound stages, a theater for performing arts, a roof-top gourmet restaurant and parking for 400 cars. It was another major coup for the Astoria/Long Island City resurgence.
Leap ahead to Mar. 1, 2006 for another Gazette banner headline about Silvercup unveiling a $1 billion expansion plan. The studio which had been put on the movie map by the fabulous hit TV shows "The Sopranos" and "Sex and the City" was taking a major step upward.
Not far from the original Silvercup Studios, a billion-dollar expansion at Vernon Boulevard and 43rd Avenue on the banks of the East River would consist of three buildings- two high-rise apartment towers, each flanked by a bi-level building housing studios, offices and retail space. The studios include eight sound stages. The towers would be made up of 1,000 apartments, a catering hall and a museum. The new facility would be the largest production facility on the eastern seaboard. It would provide an economic shot in the arm for the movie industry and Queens.
No. 7 Train: Early in 1982, the lead story on the Gazette's front page alerted thousands of commuters who used the No. 7 train line that for approximately one year service on the line would be suspended during early morning hours between Times Square in Manhattan and the Vernon- Jackson station in Long Island City.
The Transit Authority estimated that some 2,100 riders would be affected each weeknight. The story also explained where alternate service could be found. The service suspension was necessary to perform extensive repairs, the story said.
Just last month, the No. 7 line was again a news item in the Gazette, and again, the subject was service being shut down on weekends. But instead of 2,100 riders affected, the recent story said, an average daily ridership of 400,000 Queens riders find the No. 7 is a lifeline.
As in the past, the recent interruption of service between Times Square and 74th Street in Jackson Heights created quite a furor for six weekends.