BY JAMES FARRELL
The Queens Historical Society will host events on everything from electricity to documentary filmmaking and offer tours of historic sites as part of its 2017 spring season. The group announced its events for the upcoming months on Feb. 25 at its historic Kingsland Homestead House headquarters.
Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing) attended the announcement and spoke of the importance of preserving history in Queens. His office allocated $5,000 in funding for the historical society in the fiscal year 2017 budget.
This year’s lineup features seven events between March and May as well as a number of exhibits and collaborations, all of which are focused on educating curious residents on Queens’ rich history.
On March 6, the first day of a new after-school program known as “Now it’s Electric!” will kick off. Geared toward 7th and 8th graders, “Now It’s Electric!” is a pilot program hosted by Con Edison that teaches children about the history of electricity—from its advent in the late 19th century to modern times.
“We’re really excited about this program also because it’s science wrapped up in historical context,” said Daniela Addamo, the historical society’s education and outreach director.
The Queens Historical Society will also revive its archaeology workshop, which will begin in April and allow schoolchildren to enjoy mock archaeological digs.
There will also be a number events geared towards arts and culture. On March 12, the historical society will host a talk with Steve Vazquez, a photographer who documents life in Queens through a website and Instagram account known as Queenscapes. Vazquez will display his work and talk about it during an event titled “Queens as the World’s Borough.”
On March 26, filmmaker Dan Hendrick will be on hand to present his documentary, “Saving Jamaica Bay,” which chronicles the fight to preserve the historically polluted Jamaica Bay. And on May 7, author Elizabeth Uhlig will be hosting a signing of her children’s book, “Lovely Toys from Long Ago,” which uses historical objects to teach the alphabet.
On April 23, Chris Hanway, executive director of the Jacob Riis Settlement House in Long Island City’s Queensbridge Houses, will give a talk on the settlement house’s past, present and future. The Settlement House Movement dates back to the late 1800s and established many centers that provided social services to vulnerable communities. The Jacob Riis Settlement House, which is one of the oldest settlement houses in the city, moved to Long Island City in the 1950s from the Lower East Side, according to Richard Hourahan, curator and collections manager for the Queens Historical Society.
“Settlement houses are still very active,” said Hourahan. “They’ve gone back to their roots, bringing a lot of arts and culture besides social services.”
Additionally, the Queens Historical Society will be doing a number of collaborative initiatives.
“The task of documenting is much more than one organization can do,” Hourahan said.
With the New York Landmarks Conservancy, Hourahan will be coordinating tours to at least four historic sacred sites, including St. George’s Church and the Jewish Reform Temple. In June, Hourahan is co-curating an exhibit with Flushing Town Hall titled “Taking It To The Streets,” which will feature the photography of Frank Oscar Larson, who has captured the streets of Queens and New York City at large. In July, the pair will team up for a series of workshops with a photographer from the International Center of Photography that will teach attendees the basics of photography, sending them out to the streets of Flushing to take photographs. The photos will be part of a self-curated exhibition at Flushing Town Hall.
Reach James Farrell at (718) 357-7400 x 127, firstname.lastname@example.org or @farrellj329.