September 02, 2006

Cool Weather At Last

Steinway ParkingNow that the weather has finally cooled down a bit, I can really enjoy my new bicycle. Jon and I went riding on Friday to explore those parts of Queens unknown to us. I told him I wanted to see Steinway & Sons - where they make Steinway pianos - so he looked it up on Mapquest and off we went.

We rode into a strong wind North of Astoria Park along the East River up until the Con Edison plant where we made a right on 20th Avenue. It was up hill for about 3/4 of a mile but finally evened out around 32nd Street. (Con Edison's plant is on a huge piece of real estate by the way.) We eventually made a left onto Steinway Place and headed toward the legendary piano factory. Approaching the factory from 19th Avenue, I was a little disappointed. It didn't look anything like the elegant pianos produced inside. It looked like a big brick monolith with parking.

To make myself feel a little better I took this picture of Jon fooling around on his bike.

We continued down the block a ways and found the main entrance which looks like the front door of one of those fancy brick mansions.
Steinway Jon

And here is a detail of smaller bronze sign attached to the brick.
Steinway Sign

We followed Steinway Place to its end. And at the end we found Astoria Energy which I never knew existed. It apparently opened in February and works together with Con Ed to provide electricity to northern Queens. Awesome would be the appropriate word to describe the enormity of the plant. I wanted to take pictures but I was reluctant because there was a guy walking around the grounds with a big wrench. I smiled at him when he caught me looking through the fence and he did smile back in turn - real friendly like. I'm sure I could have taken pictures no problem but I didn't feel like testing the situation. After all, our mission was to get exercise - not do a photo essay on Astoria.

So. . . we got back on our bikes and headed out for more exploration. We got back on to 19th Avenue and made a left on Steinway Street because there was an old brick building I wanted to check out. I'm not really sure what it was but it had the New Amsterdam seal on it. Here are some pictures. It could have been the building for the water treatment plant which was right nearby and not smelling so sweet I might add.

It's at the corner of Steinway Street and Berrian Place

Here is the building.
Cool Old Building

And here is the New Amsterdam seal - a detail from the building.
Cool Old building detail 2
Contained in the seal are two barrels, a wind mill and two beavers. The barrels represent the flour that is milled by the wind mills and the two beavers represent the fur trade. The New Amsterdam seal is often found on municipal buildings in New York.

Before this ride, I'd never even heard of Berrian Place. Jon and I saw this as a further opportunity to explore. Either a water or sewage treatment plant or both make up most of Berrian Place. This was the less aromatic part of the ride. When we could we turned off onto 45th Street and picked up 19th Avenue going East.

We continued until we rode to the Rikers Island Bridge (see below). As long as I've lived in northern Queens I've never gone this far north either alone or with someone else.
Riker's Island Bridge

Rikers Island, as you probably know, is an enormous prison in the East River.
Riker's Sign

Not only was this my first time seeing the bridge but it was also the first time I've seen a Bail Bonds establishment. Isn't this a cute sign? It says "Are you tired of coming to Rikers? We get your loved ones out." Apparently Bad Apple is a well establish bail bonds business.

We continued on into East Elmhurst and eventualy rode back home. We rode a little over 10 miles and I felt really good afterwards. Jon continued on after I quit and rode an additional 10 miles or so. He's so good.

The cooler weather is so much better for exercising. Don't you think?

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