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Queens Chronicle

Bank’s exhibit offers glimpse at history

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Posted: Thursday, February 18, 2010 12:00 am

“Every time I pass by I cannot help but to stop and enjoy the view,” said Yvonne Chung as she stopped to admire the archaic-looking buildings in A Walk Down Flushing Avenue in 1929.

Located at Grand Avenue and 69th Street, this photo series of the “old” Flushing Avenue sits in the bank windows of the Maspeth Federal Savings bank, known to some as one of the busiest parts of the neighborhood.

“A lot of customers come in and inquire about this exhibit because this is a very popular area,” said David Daraio, the bank’s assistant vice president.

Daraio worked closely with Christina Wilkinson, president of the Newton Historical Society, to showcase the bank’s first exhibit — a fleeting glimpse at life in Maspeth and Ridgewood one month after the historic Wall Street crash of 1929, the event that helped ignite the Great Depression.

“These photos represent a snapshot of life, the people of this community were the inspiration for this exhibit,” Wilkinson said. “Several of the buildings featured in the series are still standing with different uses today.”

Another part of the exhibit offers insight into the lives of the residents 80 years ago, including the “German Restaurant and Lunchroom,” which highlights a fancy roof with classic details that are supported by a series of glass windows. The lunchroom served many on a daily basis, during and after the workday. The building continues to stand strong as an eatery even today —the German restaurant has been replaced by a pizzeria.

“Its hard to believe that maybe my grandparents ate in that restaurant years ago,” said Anthony Mickalauskas, general manager of nearby Maspeth Press. “These photos took me back — looking at old buildings and seeing how Maspeth really is today.”

Maspeth Press has been around since 1928, when Mickalauskas’ great grandparents decided to start the publishing company.

Wilkinson also worked with Mickalauskas to create the layout of the slides.

“It took us about two weeks to create this and I really enjoyed every moment of it,” he said. “I look forward to doing more.”

As for Chung, she believes “each part of the five boroughs should have something like this on every corner.”

Wilkinson hopes the photos will promote a greater appreciation for the history and heritage of Queens and anticipates presenting more photo exhibits later this year.

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