Historian to speak at Woodhaven meeting
by Ed Wendell
Jan 23, 2014 | 1543 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Queens historian Jason Antos with Leonora Lavan of the Woodhaven Cultural & Historical Society.
Queens historian Jason Antos with Leonora Lavan of the Woodhaven Cultural & Historical Society.
Queens Historian Jason Antos will be the guest speaker at the Woodhaven Cultural & Historical Society’s first meeting of the year on January 29 at 1 p.m. at Emanuel United Church of Christ, 91st Avenue and Woodhaven Boulevard. Admission is free.

The topic of this month’s presentation is Antos' latest book, Jackson Heights: Images of America, a well-researched history of the neighborhood full of many beautiful pictures. Documenting the history of Queens’ neighborhoods has become Antos' specialty, having previously documented Whitestone and Flushing.

Antos is also the author of the extremely popular Queens, NY: Then and Now, which is loaded with amazing images of Queens’ past paired up with pictures of the same locations as they appear today. The way Antos takes the “now” pictures from pretty much the exact same spot and the exact same angle as the “then” pictures is part of what makes this book special.

“I wanted photos that hadn’t been published in any other works,” Antos explained to me. “I must have looked through thousands of photographs from the various historical societies and from the Queens Library’s Archive.”

A lot of effort went into finding interesting images, followed up by painstaking research to identify the exact location where the original was shot.

“Sometime I’d have to use a magnifying glass, but nine times out of ten I’d spot at least one thing which would give away the location.”

Pictures of the past, particularly when it’s a location that you are familiar with, are always fascinating to look at.

“It shows how far we’ve come and how much things have changed,” Antos explained. “For example, in my book about Flushing I show homes along Ditmars Boulevard overlooking Flushing Bay. Those homes are still there today, but one of the notable things about that row of houses is that they had steps that led to the private bathing beaches located below. Today, that’s the Grand Central Parkway.”

Antos also wrote a history of Shea Stadium, which became his best-selling book overall (now in its third printing). Initially, he had trouble researching the book as Major League Baseball prefers to control all content about the game, so Antos had to rely on outside sources for all of the terrific pictures he collected.

“I had to rely on private collectors, newspapers and the Parks Department,” he says.

However, once the book came out, MLB was so pleased with the result that Antos was asked to be the technical advisor on SNY’s “Shea Goodbye” special.

“I got to go in the dugout, on the field,” he said. “It was pretty exciting,”

Antos brings a lot of expertise to his presentations and, if you enjoy looking at old pictures of Queens, you will enjoy the presentation on the 29th.

Looking further ahead, the Woodhaven Cultural & Historical Society will be presenting Jason Antos again at a special evening event on Monday, February 24, at 7 p.m. at historic Neir’s Tavern & Steakhouse, where a slideshow presentation of Queens: Then and Now will be given. Again, admission is free.

And later that same week, just in time for National Arts & Crafts Month, The Woodhaven Cultural & Historical Society will be visited by Michelle Cook-Lopez, owner of Cook’s Crafts, 80-09 Myrtle Ave, Glendale. That meeting will take place on Wednesday, February 26, at 1 p.m. at Emanuel United Church of Christ, and again, admission is free.

On a final note, a lot of a neighborhood’s history can be told through photos. We are in the early stages of planning what could turn out to be an interesting take on our own history here in Woodhaven. Do you have old pictures of the neighborhood floating around your home? Maybe some old home movies gathering dust in your basement? If so, and you’re interested in sharing, please drop us a line at projectwoodhaven@aol.com.

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