Put one foot in front of the other in Queens these days and soon you’ll be walking through art, nature, religious institutions, history, and even a piano factory.

Guided treks are everywhere. The first upcoming one, QueensWay Spring Tour, is set for Saturday, May 20, at 11 a.m. After gathering in Forest Hills, walkers will take a 2.2-mile route around the former LIRR Rockaway Beach Branch in Forest Park. Two nonprofits — Friends of the QueensWay and The Trust for Public Land – are spearheading an effort to convert some of this land into a public park similar to the Highline in Manhattan.

Then at 3:30 p.m., the LIC Art Stroll will kick off. With help from the Long Island City Cultural Alliance, participants will examine three new solo exhibitions by women artists, Charlotte Prodger’s Subtotal, Sam Anderson’s The Park, and Teresa Burga’s Mano Mal Dibujada, at SculptureCenter. Then they will head over to MoMA PS1 to check out Past Skin, a new, six-women show that explores the body, and several site-specific installations on view throughout the building.

On Sunday, May 21, at 9:30 a.m., NYC Audubon will lead a Bird Walk through Queens Botanical Garden. As the title suggests, the avian world is the main focus of this outing, and experts will help spot and identify creatures of flight in this urban oasis.

On the same day and in the same neighborhood, but at 1 p.m., the New York Landmarks Conservancy and the Queens Historical Society will offer Sacred Sites. With a focus on art, architecture, and history, the guides will take the group to the Friends Quaker Meeting House, St. George’s Episcopal Church, the Free Synagogue of Flushing, and Bowne Street Community Church.

Built in 1694, the first stop is the oldest house of worship in New York State and the nation’s second oldest Quaker meeting ground. St. George was established in 1702 as part of a Church of England mission. However, these days it conducts well-attended services in Spanish and Mandarin. The Free Synagogue, which dates to 1917, is the oldest Reform Synagogue in Queens. Finally, the Bowne Street church is one of the last real links to Flushing’s history as a Dutch Colony during the 17th century.

The weekend won’t last forever, of course, but there are two additional tours on the horizon. Jack Eichenbaum, who is the official Queens historian as per the Borough President’s Office, will lead a trek through Flushing’s Chinese community on Wednesday, May 24. After meeting at the New World Mall at 6 p.m., he will explain the area’s history, geography, demography, and topography and also give tips on culinary hot spots.

Then on Monday, May 29, Greater Astoria Historical Society volunteer Carolina Velez will host a jaunt through the Steinway & Sons piano factory in Astoria at 1 pm. Each Steinway piano has more than 12,000 individuals parts, and the factory is still in operation, putting them together. Partakers will be able to watch pianos being crafted as they learn about Steinway Village, which is the company town that the owners built in the 1870s.

Top photo: QueensWay/Richard Drake


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Pedro Valdez Rivera Jr. May 20, 2017 / 09:37AM
A borough wide civil war for the city owned Rockaway Beach Branch: There will be winners ad losers on this war altogether.

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