Art that’s lit! The bygone era of matchbooks

Largely gone are the days when matchbooks were readily available near a cash register. If you have an old matchbook sitting around and collecting dust, chances are that it offers value in the name of history, advertising, and art.
Collecting matchbooks, matchboxes, and matchbox labels is part of a unique hobby known as phillumeny. If the matches are intact, desirability increases.
In 1892, a Philadelphia lawyer named Joshua Pusey, also known as “Ol’ Josh,” invented the matchbook.
In 1894, Diamond Match Company purchased the rights and became the largest manufacturer in the industry. The company’s first factory in Barberton, Ohio, produced an estimated 150,000 matchbook covers daily.
Matchbooks would advertise a wide range of subjects. The golden age of matchbooks spans the 1940s and 1950s, with a range of sizes, colors, unique artwork, and slogans.
In the mid-1980s, the matchbook market folded as a result of anti-smoking campaigns, the efficiency of lighters, and steep labor costs.
Local matchbooks that have survived are countless, and are associated with shops, restaurants, and recreation and entertainment venues. A majority of businesses are no longer in existence, but matchbooks play a role in establishing a timeline of how properties evolved.
Iconic sites that were often portrayed include the Forest Hills Inn, which opened in 1912 and was the center of a classy social life in Station Square. A rare super-sized matchbook with a green, black, and white color scheme features a rendering of the inn on the cover.
Inside are large matches. As long as they remain unseparated, a more detailed work of art depicting the inn is evident.
A yellow-and-red matchbook from 1967 advertised the annual Forest Hills Music Festival and proclaimed Diet-Rite Cola as “America’s No. 1.”
Long before the days of the web, the season’s program was advertised on the inside of a matchbook, including the Lovin’ Spoonful & Judy Collins, The Monkees, Simon & Garfunkel, Trini Lopez, and the musical couple Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme.
Entertainment venues that are long-forgotten but live on via matchbook covers include Carlton Terrace and The Stratton nightspots on opposite corners of 71st Road on Queens Boulevard, as well as Boulevard Tavern at 94-05 Queens Boulevard, a dining and wedding venue in Rego Park that attracted Big Bands and solo singer Patti Page.
Rather than illustrations, this matchbook featured color photos depicting an illuminated neon billboard that read “2 Shows Nightly, Luncheon – Dinner.”
London Lennie’s in Rego Park is depicted in a few matchbook cover designs, but much missed by natives is Scott’s at 96-24 Queens Boulevard, which dates back to 1941. Regulars included celebrities Sylvia Sidney, Cornel Wilde, and Thelma Ritter.
The red-and-white cover references “Long Island’s outstanding sea food restaurant.” It features a rod and fish over a map wrapping around the slogan “The fish you eat today slept last night in Chesapeake Bay.”
Sports were spotlighted on matchbooks, including Hollywood Lanes, a 30-lane bowling alley that opened in 1952 in the Metropolitan Bank Building at 99-25 Queens Boulevard.
The blue-and-silver matchbook of Kabak’s Dairy at 102-21 Metropolitan Avenue features a farm illustration with “Butter, Eggs, Cheese,” and advertises self-service, frozen foods, and free delivery along with a vintage phone number, BO 8-3556.
Luncheonettes more than just lunch. A matchbook for Chippy’s Luncheonette at 104-21 Queens Boulevard advertised “Good food, fountain and table service, stationery, papers and magazines.”
An Art Deco-style red-and-black matchbook for Martin Stockman at 71-47 Austin Street advertises a liquor and wine merchant and reads “A name that merits confidence.”
Delicatessens are now few and far between, but on matchbooks they are alive and well. Lloyd’s Delicatessen at 102-35 Queens Boulevard advertises a full seven-course dinner with a choice of 15 main dishes, including a smorgasbord and free parking in the rear.
A wood-themed matchbook captured the essence of Henry’s at 102-29 Queens Boulevard, a popular destination as Queens’ only dairy restaurant and bakery.
A succession of Asian restaurants is evident at 64-43 108th Street. What has been known as Cho-Sen Garden for decades, was once On Luck Restaurant. Its matchbook cover boasts “Chinese and American cooking,” a cocktail lounge, and catering for all occasions.

Check it out: Rego Park getting new library

The Rego Park Library is getting a replacement.
The Department of Design and Construction last week presented plans for a new, 18,000-square-foot building at 91-41 63rd Drive. It will replace the current 7,500-square-foot, one-story library that opened in 1975.
“DDC’s design for the new Rego Park Library greatly expands the available space and takes into account environmental sustainability and user comfort to create a friendly and enriching environment for both adults and younger people,” said DDC Commissioner Jamie Torres-Springer. “Libraries are centers of learning as well as valuable community spaces and this project achieves both of those goals.”
The new $33.2 million two-story library will more than double the size of the original library. It will feature separate reading rooms for children and teens, as well as additional space for computer access, educational programs and community activities.
The Rego Park branch is among the busiest in the borough. Under regular circumstances, i.e. pre-COVID, the library serves nearly 200,000 people and lends about 190,000 items each year.
The library reopened for to go-service last August. The branch expanded service for computer use, browsing and in-person reference on May 24. Since then, Rego Park has been among the top 10 Queens Public Library (QPL) branches for check-outs, number of visitors and computer sessions.
“The outstanding design reflects the progress we have made towards providing this growing community a much larger, modern library with spaces that will uplift and inspire our customers as they access a world of free information, resources, services and opportunity,” said QPL president and CEO Dennis Walcott.
The project, which is being managed by DDC, is anticipated to begin construction in winter 2022 with an estimated completion date of summer 2025.
“I want to extend my deepest thanks to Council Member Karen Koslowitz for her decades-long advocacy and financial support for a new library, and to Mayor Bill de Blasio, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, and his predecessor Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz for securing the funds needed to build it.”
“The residents of Rego Park have been waiting for the construction of a new library for a very long time, but thankfully we’re here today to see this next step forward,” said Borough President Donovan Richards.

Live music returns to Forest Hills Stadium

Live music returned to Forest Hills Stadium for the first time since 2019, giving thousands of concert-goers in Queens a reason to celebrate and a brief return to normal.
The historic outdoor venue officially reopened on Friday, July 23, as Brandi Carlile took the stage before 8,000 fans, kicking off the stadium’s summer concert series on a high note.
The 14,000-seat capacity venue, located at the West Side Tennis Club, will soon be hosting additional live performances, after a season of concerts were lost due to the pandemic.
As part of New York City’s “Homecoming Week,” the stadium will also host a free concert on Friday, August 20, as announced by Mayor Bill de Blasio last month.
Mario DiPreta, CEO of the West Side Tennis Club (WSTC), says the reopening of the unique venue comes at a time when fans need it most. After hosting a successful first live show back, DiPreta recalled what it was like to welcome live music fans back for the first time in over a year.
“It was amazing to make sure that we could actually do a concert again and get back to some sort of normalcy,” said DiPreta. “The energy was amazing, the crowd was singing to the music. It’s one of the most amazing venues and unique too, there’s not one like it in the world.”
Built in 1923, the outdoor concert venue sits on 13 acres owned by the private tennis club, which played host to the US Open until 1977. It’s where Arthur Ashe became the first African-American to win a Grand Slam tournament in 1968, and it’s where Billie Jean King played while she campaigned for equal prize money and opportunities for women in tennis.
The stadium also hosted legendary musical acts in the 1960’s and 1970’s, including Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, and Simon and Garfunkel. In 1968, The Beatles were flown into the stadium by helicopter before performing in front of a sold-out crowd.
“It’s where legends walked the grounds, from tennis to music,” DiPretta added.
But following the US Open’s departure to Flushing Meadows in 1978, the structure began to decay and deteriorate, eventually leading to a denial of landmark status by the Landmarks Preservation Commission in 2011.
WSTC even weigned the option of having the stadium replaced with luxury condominiums, before voting the idea down. The stadium was in need of rehabilitation if it was ever going to host live concerts again.
That’s when promoter Mike Lubo made a cold call to the WSTC pro shop, seeking an alternative site for a band to play a gig. Lubo, who grew up on Long Island, was aware of the legendary performances and artists who took the stage at Forest Hills Stadium decades ago.
“In one of the great turn of events, the stadium was not landmarked, which enabled us to come in and do the stuff we did,” said Lubo, now the lead promoter for the venue. “The day after the first phone call, I came out here with a structural engineer.”
Lubo recalls the engineer describing the site as “feeling like a warzone”, and Lubo likened the place to, “a dumping ground for three decades.”
But a commitment was made by Lubo and his team to keep the “bones” of the stadium — built upon first-generation U.S. Steel and poured concrete — and to focus on leading the venue into the 21st century.
After holding their inaugural concert in 2013 with Mumford & Sons, gradual improvements were made to the site’s amenities and safety, including new seats, new aisles and a new world-class stage.
“Our happiest moment was when we finally put real bathrooms out here,” said Lubo.
Now there is a commitment to upgrade the stadium following each concert season. From just one single show in 2013, to well over a dozen just a few years later, the revival of a historic venue is well under way.
But that was all put on pause last March. Live entertainment came to a halt, along with the venue’s expected 2020 concert season. It would be another 16 months before fans flocked to Forest Hills Stadium once again.
“We were probably the first major industry to fully shut down,” said Lubo. “It’s been a long run of scheduling and rescheduling. Our first priority is that the bands, the crew and the fans are safe.”
When COVID-related restrictions were lifted for New Yorkers in June, it allowed for the venue to host live shows once again. Under current guidelines, shows do not require proof of vaccination. Tickets for shows are available at
Lubo said it was an emotional return for some when the stadium hosted fans again for the first time in over a year.
“Music and communal gathering is such a big part of what it means to be human,” said Lubo. “I think people really have been missing that in their life.”

Fri. Aug 20, “Homecoming Week” free concert series
Sat. Aug. 21, Wilco & Sleater Kinney, Nnamdi
Sat. Aug. 28, Dropkick Murphys, Rancid
Thu. Sep. 9, King Crimson, The Zappa Band
Fri. Sep. 10, My Morning Jacket, Brittany Howard
Sat. Sep. 11, My Morning Jacket, Brittany Howard
Sat. Oct. 2, The Neighbourhood

The first and last thing you see in Woodhaven

There will be a homecoming this Sunday at Emanuel United Church of Christ as Father Elias Mallon returns to Woodhaven to speak at the 10 a.m. service.
Father Mallon grew up in Woodhaven and went to St. Elizabeth’s and then Archbishop Molloy High School. He was ordained in 1971 and has spent his life involved with the study of Roman Catholic-Christian-Muslim dialogue and peace building in the Middle East since 1985.
He has published many articles and two books on Islam, including the award-winning “Islam: What Catholics Need to Know.” His travels on the subject have taken him around the world.
He’s excited to be coming back to his childhood home, and although Emanuel will be somewhat new to him, Father Mallon has vivid memories of the area around the church.
“Some of my unhappiest times were spent near Emanuel Church,” he said, laughing. “St. Anthony’s was across the street and that’s where the ballfields were. And I hated playing baseball. I was so bad, teams used to fight to put me on the other team!”
But he does share one fond memory of St. Anthony’s.
“In the winter, they used to hose it down and turn it into a skating rink,” he recalled. “I liked that a lot!”
Sitting at the corner of 91st Avenue and Woodhaven Boulevard, Emanuel United Church of Christ has the unique distinction of being either the first or last thing people see when entering or leaving Woodhaven.
Over the years, Emanuel has been an integral part of the fabric of Woodhaven, opening its doors to welcome many community groups. Through their generosity, Emanuel has become known as “the friendly church.”
Emanuel has been part of Woodhaven for so long that it’s surprising when you dig into their history and find out it started out in Manhattan before branching out to Brooklyn in 1877 to serve a population that was rapidly expanding east.
During World War I, many of the congregation’s elders began leaving Brooklyn for the wide open spaces of Queens and Long Island. Emanuel soon followed, merging with a separate mission from Richmond Hill and purchasing a plot at 89th Avenue and Woodhaven Boulevard.
The 89th Avenue church building opened in 1924, and it lasted a little over a decade.
A year after its 60th Anniversary, in 1938, the City of New York took over the property and tore down the church as part of a project to widen Woodhaven Boulevard. For those familiar with the area, the old church sat at 89th Avenue at what is now the middle of Woodhaven Boulevard.
The congregation received $136,000 from the city, bought a nearby plot of land on 91st Avenue, and built the beautiful church that has welcomed travelers to Woodhaven ever since.
It is a true community church, serving as the focal point for Anniversary Day Parades, Boy Scout meetings, and as a place where community issues are hashed out during meetings of the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association.
More recently, Emanuel opened its doors as a COVID vaccination center so that locals and seniors could be protected against the deadly virus.
Emanuel has also hosted meetings and events of the Woodhaven Cultural & Historical Society for the last 29 years. And we have some good stuff planned in the coming months, so if you’re not on our mailing list, contact us at and get added.
Whenever the community has needed help, the folks at Emanuel have always generously opened their doors. They serve as a mirror for our community, reflecting the best that Woodhaven has to offer, where caring for your neighbors and caring for the community is more important than caring for oneself.
It is that strength that has kept Emanuel alive and well into their 144th year, and we thank them for all that they have done for our community.

Singh celebrates Eid al-Adha in Liberty Plaza

Felicia Singh visited Liberty Plaza in Ozone Park to observe Eid al-Adha with local residents and celebrate her recent victory in the Democratic Primary for City Council. She handed out sweets and masks to passersby, helping others check their voter registration status at times.
In November, Singh will run against GOP candidate Joann Ariola. Unlike many areas in New York City, District 32 has a significant Republican base, ensuring that the general election will be competitive. It is also the last Republican-held City Council seat in Queens.
If Singh wins in November, she will be the first woman, as well as first Indo-Caribbean and first South Asian person, to represent District 32 in the City Council.
“The Rockaways are great and so important, but we don’t talk enough about Ozone Park, Woodhaven and Richmond Hill,” said Singh, referencing the neighborhoods that make up District 32. “My first tour here was purposeful because we wanted to celebrate Eid with the community.”
Eid al-Adha commemorates the prophet Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son in obedience of a command from God. Before Abraham could carry out the deed, however, God provided a lamb to sacrifice instead.
Singh won the race to represent her district in June, earning a total of 4,684 votes – 52.5 percent – over lawyer Mike Scala’s 47.5 percent. She is the first woman of color to run for the seat on the Democratic line.
“We’ve been struggling for far too long and haven’t had someone who understands the issues our community is facing,” said Mahtad Phen, a volunteer from Singh’s campaign who first became involved in politics in 2018 when they volunteered for Alexandria Ocasio Cortez.
Since then, he’s been helping similar progressive candidates running to bring representation to their communities.
Singh believes her ability to build coalitions across the five boroughs makes her a strong candidate. She is endorsed by numerous organizations and elected officials, including State Senator Jessica Ramos and Rockaway Women for Progress.
In their endorsement, the group said Singh has the “intellect, resolve, integrity, and energy to represent the Rockaways.”
A central part of her political agenda is in addressing climate change and creating environmental sustainability. Her district is especially vulnerable to coastal flooding, and not just in the Rockaways where Queens meets the Atlantic Ocean.
“The more we wait to take on the climate crisis and reduce our carbon emissions, the more will be impacted in the north of this district,” Singh said. “We have to understand that high tides by 2030 are going to reach Ozone Park and start to impact everyday life.”
Her resilience plan includes a K-12 curriculum that is rooted in environmental science and funds to help families and individuals file claims for flooding caused by sewer backups.
She encouraged people to learn about their elected officials, talk to them and register to vote.
“Everything you have and everything you don’t have is a political decision made by somebody else,” said Singh, emphasizing the importance of civic engagement. “Even if you’re just talking to one person about getting involved and changing something in your community, that’s owning political power.”

Cab Calloway Orchestra to perform in Astoria

Christopher Calloway Brooks has been keeping his grandfather Cab Calloway’s legacy alive through his orchestra’s lively performances.
On Augutst 5, the Cab Calloway Orchestra will perform in Astoria Park as part of the Waterfront Concert Series presented by the Central Astoria Local Development Coalition.
The orchestra will perform a number of songs popularized by Calloway, including “Minnie the Moocher” which was the first album by an African American bandleader to sell one million copies.
The tune’s famous call-and-response “hi-de-hi-de-ho” chorus — improvised when he couldn’t recall a lyric — became Calloway’s signature phrase for the rest of his career.
Calloway rose to prominence performing at Harlem’s legendary Cotton Club in the 30s and 40s. He passed away in 1994 at the age of 86.
“I was honored, but I was always talking to my family about it,” Brooks said about taking over his grandfather’s band. “I was the only one with formal musical training in the family. It has continued to be a great honor throughout the years to carry forward his legacy.”
Brooks tries to recreate the experience of seeing his grandfather, including wearing his classic zoot suit on stage.
“I try to do a couple of costume changes in between numbers, and I think people can look forward to seeing that out in Queens,” Brooks said. “I adapt certain aspects of his performance style, but I also put my own stamp on it.
“I think as time passes, my intention for the orchestra is to do more new music and less repertory music,” he added.

Outdoor movies return to LIC Waterfront

The lawn at Hunter’s Point South Park has been transformed into a one-of-a-kind movie theater for a special series of summer screenings.
Titled CinemaLIC and organized by the Hunter’s Point Park Conservancy, the movie series will allow audiences to enjoy films on a 30-foot screen in front of incredible views of the Manhattan skyline from the Queens waterfront.
This past Sunday, the series kicked off with a screening of the 2019 live-action Lion King remake. Upcoming screenings will feature classic summer blockbusters, including Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark on August 26 and Jaws on September 12.
All screenings begin shortly after sundown (weather permitting) and admission is always free. Food and beverages are also available for purchase.
Now in its seventh year, the CinemaLIC series has become a favorite summertime activity for locals and visitors alike. Rob Basch, president of Hunters Point Parks Conservancy, is excited to invite audiences back into the park.
“It has been a challenging year-and-a-half, but nothing says summer in Long Island City better than an outdoor movie on the waterfront,” Basch said. “We look forward to seeing everyone’s smiling faces and our community coming together to enjoy some beautiful evenings.”
Founded in 1998, the Hunter’s Point Park Conservancy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving and improving the LIC waterfront. The organization hosts free events throughout the year, including yoga classes, concerts, and children’s programming.

For more information on the screenings or the conservancy’s work, visit or

‘Rotation Garden’ for once-barren traffic circle

An intersection in Lindenwood received a colorful makeover.
The new public art installation incorporates colorful seasonal plantings to beautify and improve the traffic circle at the intersection of 153rd Avenue and 88th Street.
It was created by Queens Botanical Garden (QBG) and the artist team Combo Colab in partnership with the Department of Transportation (DOT), Councilman Eric Ulrich, and the Howard Beach Lindenwood Civic Association.
The installation, which was funded by a $38,500 grant from Ulrich to QBG, will remain in the traffic circle for 364 days.
“It was lots of brick and asphalt, not much more,” said Ulrich of the intersection. “This pop-up art installation will bring nature and a wonderful artistic display to a once empty eyesore.”
Rotation Garden creates a focal point where art and plantings are woven together to be contemplated from every angle.
The installation encourages discovery from afar and a new landscape emerges from within the circle, a structure of wonder, a counterpart to the existing towering trees wrapping the roundabout.
Plantings with popping colors flood the base ring and accentuate the movement. Rhythms of painted surfaces on the wood sync with the planting palette and add a kinetic layer enhancing the interaction with the pedestrian and vehicular traffic alike.
“With the help of the Queens Botanical Garden and Combo Colab, ‘Rotation Garden’ adds color and greenery to transform the street into an inviting and attractive amenity for residents and passersby,” said Queens DOT Commissioner Nicole Garcia.
Last week’s ceremony to welcome the installation was also bittersweet for Ulrich. The councilman’s budget director, Matthew Pecorino, passed away suddenly on June 30 at the age of 40.
“This was one of the last projects Matt worked on in my office,” Ulrich said. “He worked very hard on making sure this particular item got into the New York City budget, so I’m glad to remember him today.”

Take the G to the sea the next two weekends

During the first two weekend in August, the C, E, F, and G trains will experience widespread diversions in Brooklyn.
The service changes will allow MTA workers to upgrade the Rutgers Tunnel, an aging piece of infrastructure under the East River that was badly damaged during Superstorm Sandy, and to install cables and WiFi equipment at the Jay Street/Metrotech, Borough Hall, and Hoyt-Schermerhorn stations.
Usually, service disruptions are a burden for New Yorkers. In this case, however, there is at least one silver lining.
The G, the snail-ish option for many Greenpoint commuters and the only subway line exclusive to the outer boroughs, will be extended to Coney Island for those two weekends.
Running on the F line, the modified G route will give the people of North Brooklyn unusually quick and easy access to the the iconic boardwalk and its beaches.
“We plan carefully to keep service disruptions to a minimum, but there are times when service changes can actually result in localized improvements for riders,” said New York City Transit acting vice president Demetrius Crichlow. “In this case, we are extending the G line by more than five miles and giving customers from Greenpoint and Williamsburg a direct route to Coney Island.”
The G train will stop at every station along the F line. A shuttle bus will substitute G train service between the Bedford-Nostrand Avenue and Fourth Avenue-Ninth Street stations, while F trains will be running along the C line.
The brief expansion of subway service is a welcome change during a summer in which North Brooklyn’s access to beaches has been crippled. In May, the Greenpoint stop of NYC Ferry suddenly closed due to a mechanical issue.
The ferry, which carried Greenpoint residents to the Rockaways in summers past, has been closed ever since.

Groups sue National Grid over North Brooklyn pipeline

The dramatic saga of the North Brooklyn Pipeline continued this past week with the filing of a lawsuit against National Grid, the energy provider overseeing the proposed project.
The lawsuit comes after two years of negotiations between National Grid and the state Department of Public Service, as well as regular protests against the project.
The North Brooklyn Pipeline project is a new gas pipeline underneath parts of Brownsville, Greenpoint, Bedford-Stuyvesant, and Williamsburg. Detractors argue that the pipeline would pollute the ground and water of multiple communities of color and low-income communities.
Despite the criticism, National Grid contests the new pipeline will allow for safer, more reliable, and more efficient gas supply in North Brooklyn.
The Cooper Park Resident Council (CPRC), which represents over 700 families in Williamsburg’s Cooper Park Houses, and the grassroots organization Sane Energy Project jointly filed the lawsuit.
“This is something that must be stopped and must be stopped immediately,” said CPRC vice president Elisha Fye. “I’ve been living in this community since 1953. We’re already impacted in this community with the oil spill that happened. A pandemic of asthma flooded this community, illnesses, deformities in pregnancies, not to mention the soil is still contaminated to this day.”
The suit alleges the city and state failed to undergo the State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) process required for any project that relates to the use of liquefied natural gas.
The lawsuit has already resulted in the issue of a temporary restraining order against National Grid, halting construction for the time being.
The University Network for Human Rights and the Pace Environmental clinic are representing the plaintiffs.
The lawsuit is just the latest in a long line of actions to attempt to halt the project. Beginning July 1, over 200 Greenpointers agreed to withhold $66 from their monthly gas bill as form or protest to the project.
In addition to the environmental impact of the pipeline, National Grid customers are concerned about the increased cost to the monthly bill to pay for the project. National Grid’s agreement with the state Department of Public Service allows for average raise of $5.56 per month in 2021 and $4.89 per month in 2022.
“Right now we don’t have a lot of faith that the Public Service Commission is going to do the right thing and reject this rate hike,” said Lee Ziesche, a community engagement coordinator with the Sane Energy Project. “That’s why the No North Brooklyn Pipeline coalition came together and decided on the gas bill strike as a tactic.”
“The state and the city really haven’t stood up to National Grid, it’s really only ever been the community,” Ziesche added. “After almost a year of confidential settlement negotiations that didn’t really involve community members, the plan that National Grid and the state came up with and filed in May just really ignored all the community’s concerns.”

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