Tag Archives: Queens Historical Society

Star of Queens: Richard Hourahan, collections manager at the Queens Historical Society

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Alina Suriel

Background: Richard Hourahan was not enthusiastic about history in his youth, and had primarily been interested in business, math and physical science. He studied chemistry for a short time as an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania before being drafted as a soldier into the Vietnam War. After he got back to the United States he resumed his studies to finish a degree in business school and a master’s degree in computer software. It was only after a career in software database and archival work that he began to pursue an interest in historical knowledge and preservation.

Occupation: Collections manager at the Queens Historical Society

Community Involvement: Hourahan’s presentations can be seen by audiences all throughout Queens in various locations, with an estimated 7,000 people having attended an exhibit he produced for the World’s Fair Anniversary Festival in 2014. The Queens Historical Society also takes history right to members of the public in other ways, with lessons in local classrooms and satellite exhibits with participating locations, such as Queens College.

Biggest Challenge: Hourahan says that creating programs to appeal to people of different communities and backgrounds is one of his biggest challenges, especially in Queens, largely known as the most culturally diverse community in the world. A big part of his job is breaking barriers and speaking to people of different languages and socioeconomic backgrounds, so he tries to tell stories that can the whole community can relate to by telling historical stories though various perspectives. He also focuses on connecting to his audience.

“They talk to you, they ask questions, they know stuff,” Hourahan said. “I find I have to get outside myself, and so I try to listen to people.”

Inspiration: “Queens is my biggest inspiration,” Hourahan said. “It is. You just have to go out and walk around.”


Bronx-Whitestone Bridge marks 75 years, more than 2 billion vehicles

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo: MTA / Patrick Cashin

The Bronx-Whitestone Bridge, which connects Queens to the Bronx, celebrates 75 years Tuesday.

Since opening on April 29, 1939, about 2.2 billion vehicles have crossed the span, the MTA said. Nearly 109,000 vehicles used the bridge on an average weekday last year.

Photo: MTA / Patrick Cashin

“This is a milestone anniversary for the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge, which is not only used by commuters and weekend travelers but also serves as an economic engine, providing a crucial link in the transportation of goods in the tri-state area,” MTA Bridges and Tunnels President Jim Ferrara said.

The bridge was constructed as a way for drivers from upstate New York to travel to Queens and Long Island without needing to go through Manhattan or central Queens and “became a key factor in the growth of Long Island after World War II,” according to the transit agency.

Photos: MTA Bridges and Tunnels archives

Robert Moses, who as chairman of the Metropolitan Council on Parks, proposed building it as part of his planned Belt Parkway system, and wanted the bridge to open in time for the 1939-1940 World’s Fair at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, the MTA said.

The project was completed in 23 months and opened the day before the start of the fair, according to the transit agency. At the time of its construction, its 2,300-foot main suspension span was the fourth longest in the world.

To commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge, MTA Bridges and Tunnels will host three exhibits featuring historical images from the agency’s special archive. The first exhibit will open June 22 at the Queens Historical Society. Another will open in July at a still-to be-determined Queens venue, and a third exhibit will be held this fall at the Bronx Historical Society.

Here are some figures on the bridge via the MTA:

  • In its first full year of operation, the bridge was used by 6.3 million vehicles. In 2013 it was used by 39.6 million.
  • Total cost of the bridge: $19,657,000
  • Passenger toll when opened: 25-cents; in 2014 E-ZPass $5.33 or $7.50 cash
  • Height of towers above mean high water: 377 feet
  • Width between cables: 74 feet
  • Length of main span: 2,300 feet
  • Number of cables: 2; length of each cable, 3,965 feet.
  • Total number of wires in each cable: 9,862
  • Total length of the cable wires equals 14,800 miles



Queens Taste returns April 29

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy Dominick Totino Photography

The Queens Economic Development Corporation (QEDC) wants more people to — literally — have a little taste of Queens.

The organization announced its Queens Taste 2014, the borough’s premier food and networking event, which will take place at the Sheraton LaGuardia East Hotel in Flushing on April 29.

As Queens is known for its vast cultures and diversity, foodies attending the event can expect dozens of vendors, serving everything from Mexican to Portuguese food, and a range that includes sweet, savory, crunchy and creamy. At $100 a ticket or $175 for two, people will have access to the food and the ability to network with hundreds of others.

“I look forward to Queens Taste all year,” said Seth Bornstein, QEDC executive director. “It is so fun on so many levels. The food. The drinks. The people. The venue. The celebration.”

Clients of Entrepreneur Space, a food and business incubator that the QEDC operates in Long Island City, will be on hand with artisan specialties, including gourmet cheesecake balls and designer meatballs. Long Island City’s SquareWine headlines a spirits group that includes Queens Brewery and Punzoné Vodka among others.

Besides the food, the QEDC and the Queens Historical Society will host a table dedicated to show memorabilia from the 1939-40 and 1964-65 World’s Fairs as the borough is celebrating the 75th and 50th anniversaries of the events.



Star of Queens: Patricia B. Sherwood, president, Queens Historical Society

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com


COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: The Queens Historical Society (QHS) works to preserve the history of the borough. As president of the QHS, Patricia Sherwood leads the board of directors and assists the executive director in carrying out the society’s mission.

Sherwood hopes that the QHS will be able to preserve the community’s history so that future generations of Queens residents will be able to enjoy it.

Sherwood has been on the QHS’ board of directors since 2007. She worked her way up the ranks to be voted vice-president of operations and then president of the board.

The society was founded in 1968 and is located in the Kingsland Homestead in Flushing

BACKGROUND: Sherwood moved from Manhattan to settle in Parkway Village, Queens in 1961. She said she has been involved with preservation projects since 2000.

Throughout the years, she has worked with organizations including the Queens Preservation Council, the Queens Historical District Council, the Women’s Club of Forest Hills and many others.

“That’s what I do in my spare time,” Sherwood said.

She describes her full-time job as being a mother and a grandmother.

INSPIRATION: Sherwood wants to make sure that New York is not automatically associated with the borough of Manhattan.

“I always felt [Queens] was an orphan borough,” she said.

FAVORITE MEMORY: Sherwood says one of her favorite memories is working with people from different cultures throughout Queens. She calls Queens a “United Nations” of cultures.

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: Sherwood cites a lack of financial resources and the low number of volunteers who are willing to help preserve Queens’ history as the biggest roadblock to her mission.

“It’s a lack of resources,” she said. “It’s a lack of people who want to work on the communities other than their own.”