Queens’ Year in Review: Top Photos and Stories of 2011

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Queens' Year in Review 2011Graphic by Jay Lane
Queens' Year in Review 2011

Cuomo Sworn In – Andrew Cuomo took over the state’s top position at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Day and was sworn in later that morning.
Snow Much Better – The city was still digging out of the Blizzard of 2010 when another major storm fell on January 11. This time around, the city was ready and the streets were plowed by the next morning.Seminerio Dies – Former Assemblymember Anthony Seminerio passed away on January 6. Seminerio, pleaded guilty in June of 2009 to charges that he took nearly $1 million from hospitals, a school and other entities for actions he undertook as a member of the State Assembly. He allegedly used Marc Consultants – the consulting firm he ran for nearly eight years – to collect payments for actions he took as a state legislator.

Local hero rescues boy – Firefighter Antonio Velez of Engine 320 rescued a 12-year-old boy, navigating with his hands in black smoke, from a blaze that charred a home in Auburndale.

Hunters Point development – The development plan for Hunters Point South – complete with its view of the Manhattan skyline – was unveiled by Mayor Michael Bloomberg at the Waterfront Crab House in Long Island City on February 9.

Egypt is free – Egyptian flags waved freely and the words “We are free!” and “Mubarak, go to hell!” were chanted in Astoria’s “Little Egypt” on Friday, February 11.

Howard Beach’s Idol – Pia Toscano, a Howard Beach native, wowed audiences throughout the spring as she revealed her talents to the world on TV’s “American Idol.” Pia was voted off with only 9 contestants remaining.

QMA breaks ground – The Queens Museum of Art broke ground on its expansion project that will add 50,000- square-feet of new galleries, classrooms, event spaces, a cafeteria and museum shop.

Four Queens schools ordered closed – The city Panel for Education Policy had a busy workload as it voted to close or phase out 22 city schools – including four in Queens

RKO Keith Theater develops – Developer Patrick Thompson purchased the Flushing landmark for $20 million and plans to restore the historic lobby while building a 17-story tower with stores, 357 rental apartments and a community center.

Hevesi sentenced to four years – Former Comptroller Alan Hevesi was sentenced to up to four years in prison for his role in a pension fund pay-to-play scheme.

Walcott named new chancellor – After former magazine executive Cathie Black stepped down as school chancellor after only three months on the job, Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott took over.

Bin Laden killed – Osama bin Laden, the world’s most infamous wanted man and the mastermind behind the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, was gunned down during a firefight that ensued in the raid of his Pakistan hideout by a U.S. Special Operations Navy Seal team on May 1.

O’Neill’s Restaurant destroyed in fire – A five-alarm fire engulfed longtime Maspeth landmark O’Neill’s Restaurant in the early morning hours of Monday, May 2.

Forest Hills Tennis Stadium denied landmark – Though it’s a landmark in the eyes of some residents, the West Side Tennis Stadium was denied further consideration as an individual city landmark by the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

Weiner resigns – After weeks of denials and refusals to step down, Anthony Weiner announced his resignation from Congress on June 16.

Flushing teen on Jeopardy – Flushing whiz kid Rahul Francis appeared in the July 5 episode of “Jeopardy! Kid’s Week.” The 13-year-old boy wonder finished in second place. He accumulated approximately $20,000.

Gay marriage law signed – After a long engagement and some cold feet, New York finally said “I do.” The state Senate passed Governor Cuomo’s Marriage Equality Act by a 33-29 margin

Queens Earthquake – Queens was shaken by a 5.9 magnitude earthquake that truck Virginia – almost 300 miles away – on August 23 at 2 p.m.

Peninsula Hospital rescued – Peninsula Hospital was set to close on September 1, which would have made it the fifth hospital to close in Queens in the past decade.

Grand Station saved – The inclusion of Astoria’s Grand Station Post Office on a list of branches targeted for potential closure by the USPS led to local outrage and numerous rallies and petitions.

Hurricane Irene – Hurricane Irene hit New York City hard, covering an area of 700 miles and lashing the five boroughs with winds upwards of 80 mph.

9/11 10th Anniversary – This September 11 marked the 10-year anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center that claimed the lives of 2,606 people.

A memorial service and dedication was held at St. Michael’s Cemetery to honor those fallen firefighters, police and Port Authority officers who gave their life on 9/11.

Turner wins Congressional seat – Republican Bob Turner shocked Queens on September 13 by defeating Democrat David Weprin and capturing Congressional District 9.

Barbara Sheehan Convicted – Barbara Sheehan, who was arrested in connection with the shooting death of her husband, retired NYPD sergeant Raymond Sheehan, was acquitted of second degree murder but found guilty of criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree.

Egypt Releases Captive Queens Native – Queens native Ilan Grapel was released from Egypt in exchange for 25 Egyptian prisoners after being held in Cairo for four months.

Doors shut at Scobee Grill – “We are sorry we have to go. We are very close to a lot of people. We have regulars that are here twice a day, some of them,” said owner Harry Pallas. “All I can do is say goodbye.”

Resorts World Casino Aqueduct Opens – The rejuvenated Aqueduct Racino in South Ozone Park opened its doors and hit the jackpot, pulling in about $15 million in net profits, while gamblers bet almost $178 million during its first 10 days.

Fairway supermarket opens in Queens – located at 242-02 61st Avenue in the Douglaston Plaza Shopping Center’s Lower Level – held its ribbon cutting ceremony on Wednesday, November 16 with politicians, residents and Fairway officials on hand.

Local Scout Meets the President – Moments before meeting President Barack Obama in the nation’s capital earlier this month, Kevin Garcia, a Boy Scout from Richmond Hill, forgot everything he planned to say.

Patricia Dolan killed crossing Hillside Avenue – longtime Community Board 8 member, president of the Queens Civic Congress, Kew Gardens Hills Civic Association and the founder of the Flushing Meadows-Corona Park Conservancy, was struck and killed as she crossed Hillside Avenue on Tuesday, November 15.

Flight 587 remembered 10 years later

Flushing’s Palace Diner closing – The diner, which sits along the Long Island Expressway on the corner of Main Street and Horace Harding Expressway and has been a neighborhood mainstay for 35 years, will close its doors for good on Friday, December 30.