This scene is on Cross Bay Blvd. at a commercial building in Ozone Park
The Greaser/James Dean statue
Residents of Ozone Park and Howard Beach tend to be familiar with one of the area’s most conspicuous oddities, the greaser on the clock.
Hoisted up on an office building along Cross Bay Boulevard, a statue of a ’50s greaser clad in blue jeans — hands thrust into the pockets of a black leather jacket — leans back on the brick facade of a law office at 109th Avenue.
What they might not know is that the figure was put there by George Schneider, the longstanding member of the business community in charge of Schneider Real Estate.
Schneider died on May 2 at 87 years old. He is survived by his wife, Mary Ann, his daughters Linda Schneider Bancalari and Debbie Ann Schneider, stepson Raymond Simpson and seven grandchildren.
The real estate entrepreneur was born and raised in Richmond Hill and lived in Howard Beach and Ozone Park for most of his adult life, before moving to Long Island in his old age. He began his Ozone Park-based business in 1955.
Schneider Real Estate turned into a recognizable name in South Queens, and even extended into a mini-business empire in the neighborhood. Its original quarters were located around 107th and Cross Bay Boulevard, where Schneider had set up a number of different businesses in his namesake: Schneider Travel and Schneider Insurance, in addition to a building that morphed over time from ice cream stand to consignment store among other businesses.
His daughter Debbie Ann Schneider still lives in a Schneider Real Estate home that she inherited from her dad.
“The people that are on my block, they’re like, ‘Your dad sold this one to that person and that one to this other person.’ But everybody comes back to the man on the building,” she said, referring to the greaser statue.
Next to Schneider Insurance, Debbie Ann said that her father used to put out dune buggies and hot rod cars to attract attention.
For the real estate company he wanted to get a statue of a burglar. “Like a robber — stealing — like we’ll steal a house for you, it’ll be so cheap,” Debbie Ann said. But when he couldn’t find a statue of a cat burglar, he went with another symbol of a lawless antihero: a member of the greaser gang subculture that gained prominence in the ’50s.
Many call it the James Dean statue, after the “Rebel Without a Cause” star.
“His main objective was so that people would stop and look at it, you know? And it worked,” Debbie Ann said.
This post on the scenes of Queens focuses on one of the MTA and NYC Transit’s most recognizable depots, the Rockaway Blvd. Station in Ozone Park, where the A trains go to and from Lefferts Blvd. and Mott Ave. destinations before going to their destinations in Richmond Hill and Far Rockaway. Although at times it’s mostly not recognizable as tourists and gentries keep confusing the two trains upon each trains arrival and wind up stuck an inconvenienced or causing irritable delays asking commuters if it’s the train going to the beach and airport despite the convenience of hanging timeline monitors or available MTA apps easily available on their thousand dollar cellphones.
But this isn’t about griping over oblivious commuters not paying attention to detail (even though it’s obvious I been waiting years to get this off my chest), the reason why this station is getting way belated attention is because of recent news that has relevance to what is not here and what is here at this very busy transit stop that is linked to about 6 bus transfers on Cross Bay and Rockaway Blvd.
Let’s acknowledge what’s here first. About 4 or 5 years ago, the MTA run by Governor Cuomo was renovating and upgrading dozens of stations while finally building the 2nd Ave transit line. And in certain stations of these long overdue infrastructure upgrades, the MTA thought, “hey since where already here and all this time to make our scheduled completion, why not put some art at these stations?”
And one of those stations is the one profiled here and this is the exhibition:
This was installed back in 2017. Besides the title which acknowledges the integrated bus/train transit hub in this location and conveyed by the web little colored lenses, it’s not really that imaginative or aesthetically pleasing. Besides, to the eye of the beholder, it doesn’t look safe to lean on and would be a big detriment in the winter time for those long train delays on the platform, especially for night owl workers who have to wait longer because of limited surface. But it actually does serve a purpose. It makes the sights of the boulevards more colorful if you peer through them or through the eye of the celly.
Cross Bay Blvd. before…
All these harbingers take on new colors considering a recent report of how the MTA is slow walking the ADA compliance upgrades because of how they are spending commuter tax dollars trying to fight various lawsuits that forced them to finally make stations accessible for the handicapped and infirm
The MTA has denied a request from a disability rights group to disclose how much it is spending in taxpayer dollars to fight several lawsuits claiming it discriminates against its disabled customers.
The groups — which include the Brooklyn Center for Independence of the Disabled (BCID) — claim in their lawsuit that the transit agency has violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by renovating stations without adding elevators and failing to maintain existing elevators. They also claim an overall lack of subway accessibility is a violation of New York City’s Human Rights laws.
Currently, a little over a quarter of the NYC’s 472 subway stations have elevators, slightly more than what the MTA agreed to after settling an accessibility lawsuit in 1994. The agency agreed to make 100 stations accessible by 2020 at the time, a figure it has exceeded.
In June 2020, BCID executive director Joe Rappaport filed a public request asking the MTA for the full amount it has spent for outside counsel. The agency, last month, denied the request on the basis of how it was worded.
“Please be advised that records are not maintained in a manner which permits practical retrieval because the MTA does not categorize or index payments made for legal services in the manner requested,” the MTA wrote in its response.
The agency released a document containing the retainer fees, but the dollar figures were blacked out.
At the MTA’s monthly board meeting on Wednesday, Gothamist asked MTA Chairman Pat Foye if he would release the dollar figure for how much the MTA has spent on lawyers fighting the six accessibility lawsuits. Foye said he would check with the Freedom of Information Law office about getting the numbers. But he wouldn’t commit to releasing them.
“I can’t commit to that because I don’t know what the issues are, but I will talk to the FOIL people,” he said.
The MTA did not return an earlier request from Gothamist for comment about how much it has spent on outside lawyers fighting the six accessibility lawsuits or why it denied the public records request Rappaport filed.
To make matters worse, this station wasn’t even included in the MTA’s 55 billion dollar infrastructure plan enacted by the embattled Governor Cuomo last year much to the chagrin of former NYC Transit president Andy Byford and enabled by the typically feckless and lazy Mayor de Blasio, who has been defiantly deliberately absent when it comes to transit system in the city he runs.
Even though Cuomo’s MTA continues to obstinately refuse to be accountable for their spending, they can’t obscure the fact that they prioritized decorative improvements over essential ones. Besides the stupid Rockaway Blvd. addition, the MTA’s costly decisions to deny easier access for the city’s most vulnerable commuters for the sake of art is apparent in stations in Manhattan like the Park Ave. South 28th St. Station east side entrance where they commissioned an expansive grandiose floral mosaic on the walls and the 6th ave 23rd St. Station where they commissioned an artist to install portraits of his dogs wearing human clothes. While the 28th St. Station does have an elevator on the west entrance (but no art), the prioritization to put sucky art on the walls at the 23rd St. Station instead of elevators is even more negligent considering that there’s a residential building for the blind down the block from this station.
It’s easy to see why the MTA would try to counter these lawsuits and hire the most expensive law firms to defend their abominable insouciance of the rights of their disabled and aged customers (and let’s not leave out parents with toddlers and babies in strollers who should also be called as witnesses), because they spent more effort making city transit more convenient and pleasant for instagram, tumblr, flickr and twitter by turning stations into ersatz galleries.
While these exhibitions make for great social media sharing, with more city and state funding lost on account of stupid MTA board decisions and inevitable settlements compounded with the low ridership from the pandemic and it’s aftermath in addition of steady subway crime, the future of NYC Transit is heading for a shitty horizon.
But at least the aesthetics will be nice.
This heinous predatory advertisement is hanging, or more appropriately and ironically squatting rent free on the railing of the abandoned Rockaway Rail Line on Atlantic Avenue in Ozone Park. This enterprise probably and presumably illegally hung this up here assuming that the eviction moratorium will expire on schedule on the new year.
What kind of person would call an eviction hotline during a pandemic and while another outbreak is happening? The kind that would get the number from a scuzzy billboard on an dilapidated and long dead transit line.
This scene was captured over a week ago, December 2020.
Ozone Park, Queens, New York
The 106th Precinct in Ozone Park, Queens is egregiously obstructing commuting public space on both sides of the street with police vehicles and their cars, notably on top of a handicap cut curb ramp and by a public park named after a cop who died in the line of duty. The cop the park was memorialized for, Officer Nicholas Demutiis, got killed trying to stop a car thief that ran him over on that same block.
This falls in line with what the NYPD has been doing at their other precincts as they turn the areas around their taxpayer funded buildings into makeshift fortresses, especially with all the frequent protests that has occurred in the last five months along with a majority of citizens calling for defunding and abolishing of the police and the budget cuts that followed in July. A recent incident that got some viral attention involved a reporter from bike advocate news site Streetsblog who got stopped, questioned and also threatened for arrest when she exposed the NYPD using a playground as parking lot for their vehicles (with permission by the NYC Parks dept).
But the 106th truly stands out for their brazen territoriality of public space. And to show that their annexing of sidewalks isn’t a new thing, this precinct has been parking vehicles on this sidewalk and the one across the street for quite a while now.
Although what the NYPD is doing here with absolute impunity is obnoxious and in contempt for the citizens they are supposed to protect, this probably would’ve got rectified if the recent budget cuts enacted by the woke City Council cronies didn’t include terminating the building of a new precinct in under-served areas of Southeast Queens. Maybe some of these spacehogging cops would have got transferred over there when it got completed.
But this could be easily rectified right now. These cops could just park their vehicles the proper way parallel to the curb like they used to do and how the citizenry parks them instead of curbstoning them like how scofflaw chop shops continue get away with it. Maybe the city can contact the management and owner of Resorts World to use their vast parking lot for free or sanction some curb space by the abandoned Rockaway rail line for them and the BOWL 360 parking lot too. Ultimately and unfortunately since that aforementioned NYPD will never be built because of the budget cuts, what should be done is take whatever funding is going to the Strategic Response Groups that are being deployed to all these protests and use it to build a new parking garage. It would be a more common sense use for millions of dollars being pissed away having hundreds of cops damage their bikes by banging them up and down while kettling people demonstrating against them.
Ozone Park, Queens, New York
It was about a year ago that I wrote a post called Affixing A Hole, observing and photographing grotesque cracks and craters on the streets and storm drains and the innovation that gets implemented by the city’s Department’s of Transportation and Environmental Preservation to deter people away from the hazards. Now it’s 2020 and it looks like shit hasn’t changed a bit.
Strolling through Ozone Park I saw a familiar sight, another hole smack dab in the middle of the intersection on 107th ave. and 106th st. with a traffic cone being used as a butt plug so drivers can cruise over with ease, just like the pics I took in Manhattan and around here last year, except this time city workers aren’t even trying to thoroughly cover it up.
Since this has been the default method for remedying damage to the blacktop, our city workers are not even trying to see if it can fit. They couldn’t even shove this bitch down far enough.
Fortunately that’s not a busy traffic area, imagine if there was a hole even more massive and heinous with a big ass objectile vainly trying to obscure it’s hazard…
Imagine no more, because here is the intersection of 96th St. and Liberty Ave
It’s stupefying. It really makes no sense why a dangerous blight like this isn’t immediately prioritized and promptly fixed.
It couldn’t be at a worst spot too, the street there is a one way going north which makes right turns problematic and with the green light on the avenue you have to compete with vehicles usually blazing from the west from Rockaway Blvd. which intersects with Liberty. It’s also a veritable commuting minefield for pedestrians being that the stairwell for the Rockaway Blvd. A Train is right there.
It’s also incomprehensible that this temporary “fix” was done by professionals, because it looks like it was assembled by a bunch of concerned good Samaritan hobos who just passed by and was so disgusted that they had to do something about it. But no, the proper markings are there in spray paint of where they have to cut and dig again.
This crater has obviously been here for a while too. Because it’s a certainty that giant orange thimble (bollard, whatever) was standing upright and was easily knocked down by one of our city’s many careless drivers. If you close it’s actually two thimbles (bollards). Maybe Polly’s D.O.T. thought the extra weight from the one inside would hold it steady. No dice kid.
Actually, that knocked down thimble is confirmation that hole has been like that for a while because Polly’s D.O.T. has used metal city corner garbage cans to act as a deterrence to protect drivers from wrecking their vehicles, and the one that was placed back on the corner obviously didn’t do the job they expected it to do.
Sure we’re still in an existential crisis of a global pandemic and economic uncertainty but this slacker ineptitude was going on for decades before there was a novel virus and frankly it’s still pretty expensive to live in the city despite an eviction moratorium.
And there’s the big ass factor that infrastructure repair and modernization was still going on because of it being an essential service. How else would all those ambulances be able to take all those COVID sick people to the hospitals and the cops able to get to the protests and engage in civil war with the demonstrators? So there really is no excuse for this shit. Especially even more since Mayor de Blasio decided to exploit the Black Lives Matter movement and painted a bunch of streets with the BLM slogan materializing his virtual signal tweets and yet the holes in Ozone Park still happen and get neglected on the regular. And get bigger and deeper too.
Strolling back to the base, I came upon the first sight and it looks like little Coney couldn’t hold the fort:
When it comes to road infrastructure and safety in South Queens, it still doesn’t matter and never even did.
Thanks to Queens Patch, who retweeted my story to Polly’s D.O.T., the Liberty Ave. crater at 96th street actually got repaired.
Looks like someone left, actually lodged a Capri Sun juice bag here for some reason.
Let’s see what’s underneath…
Shame! Shame on you NYC D.O.T.
Commuters are even afraid to drive over it.
Apparently, this pathetic Ozone Park Patch job is an established norm. Because this is what I found a block east on 97th.
Your city would prefer vehicle owners to get adjusted to this. Because the Mayor has a Black Lives Matter mural by Trump Tower to protect from getting splattered with paint.(And y’all thought he defunded the police.)