Monday, November 26, 2012
At the Plaza
I'm not sure why I'm so drawn to this building. We pass this way pretty often, to-ing and fro-ing between Brooklyn & Astoria, and there it stands, flanked by a parking lot and a shut-down BP station. At first glance, it's not an especially lovely structure, and it's clearly seen better days, but something about its vigil has a trace of romantic dignity.
29-14 Queens Plaza East (or 29-14 Northern Boulevard) was built as a branch of the National City Bank of New York, which later became Citibank. At that time the area right around Queens Plaza was a central bank district. You can still see the National Bank insignia, and traces of its deco facade.
Here's a more pristine image of a National City branch on Broadway at Lispenard & Canal
Yes, a grander building by far, but it still makes it easier to imagine the humbler 29-14 in better days. The building dates to 1931, but I don't know how long a bank operated at this address. The Long Island Star Journal reported a fire at the bank in 1946, but this didn't seem serious enough to cause major damage. More recently the building has housed an insurance business (see the Peter Demetriou sign on a side wall), Dodger Limousine Corps, the Juan Pananga Discotheque, the Mercurio 2000 Salsa Club (see the sign at the front), something intriguing called Hopply and Pupy), Roka Studios, and the services of Hinode (advertised in a '97 NY Magazine classified under Role Play). A James P. Demetriou, at this address, also had a number of registered trademarks for a variety of products. Those for frozen pizza, bread, and mink coats (Shadow Mist Mink, Blue Mist Mink, Smoke Mist Mink, Dawn Mist Mink ) are dead, but Just Ask "personal concierge" services is still active, and seems to be a going concern in Florida. 29-14 is currently available, and given the adjacent land around it, one fears for its future.