Recently, an old friend who grew up in Queens, shared with me her main recollection of coming to Long Island City back in her youth. It centered around subway rides to Queens Plaza to shop at a crowded flea market called QP’s Market Place, in order to purchase the 80’s teenage equivalent of Snapchat: black concert t-shirts.
Hmm, I thought, given the retailing magnet that this place was for someone living all the way on the other side of Queens, and the nostalgia people of a certain era have for physical locations that sold highly discounted and possibly semi-illicit merchandise, maybe the venue deserved a short profile?
Instead, a quick google turned up a historical treasure trove about the site that the market was located on. And previous chroniclers have already performed extensive spadework and risked limbs for cool photos. So to entice you to read their fantastic posts on it, I’ll share some interesting tidbits.
First though, to put things in perspective, the area we’re talking about is at the northern-most tip of Jackson Avenue, right before it hits the Queensboro Bridge exits/entrances and is renamed Northern Blvd (25A). It’s on the eastern side of Jackson, and backs onto Sunnyside Yards. Currently, Tishman Speyer is developing a 3-tower mega-mega-whatever on the lot, and any vision of its history has been eliminated – except on the web.
The location previously housed a large chemical factory built in the 19th century, one of whose founders perished on the Titanic. It remained such until the company relocated the plant to Baton Rouge in 1977. Around 1980, a consortium led by Bill Modell of Modell’s Sporting Good’s purchased the building and turned it into QP’s, which lasted about a decade and seemed to have delighted a lot of teenage rebels, fashion-rebels anyway. Then, like a lot of buildings in LIC, its use turned somewhat murky, but apparently at the beginning of the 21st century was partly claimed by artists, both graffiti and non, and put to use for some mayhem and debauchery. Let’s leave it at that and let you start digging in.
C.N. West Disinfectant Plant/QP’s Boxcar Marketplace – those were the days
Queens Plaza Trying Out in New Role: Retail Center – back in the late 70’s the city could barely even give LIC real estate away
Memories of QP’s Marketplace – “Man, this was THE place to go back in the 80’s for leather motorcycle jackets (MC’s, that is what we called them!), jeans, records and other assorted goodies”
Exploring an Abandoned Long Island City Chemical Complex – we’ve previously shared this photo-essay by the inimitable and intrepid Nathan Kensinger of Camera Obscura
Touring the Photographic Ruins of the CN West Disinfecting Company – even more great pics of this great hulk
LIC Megaproject Will be Built on a Graveyard – oh yeah, as to be expected. it was also at one time farmland and contained gravesites. Wasn’t everything once?