Unchanged Queens - A story by Harrison Magee
The excerpt below was provided to us as a response to our posting a photo of the A.H. Harris & Sons Construction Supplies building in Long Island City on our Queenscpapes Instagram page a couple weeks ago. That day we asked our IG audience to tell us what they know about this ordinary old school Queens corner.
One particular IGer, named Harrison Magee gave us more than we bargained for. While Harrison guessed the wrong street corner, he told us a little story of a nearby location that looked very much like the first building pictured above (see Harrison’s photo of the John B. Scola Training Center directly below A.H. Harris)
A little bit about Harrison - He is a born and raised Queens resident with parents who were also born, raised and STILL live in the borough. He’s been with the Bricklayers Union for the past 5 years and tells us that he has always been involved with working class organizations and unions in the fight to improve working conditions.
Harrison adds, “I went to schools in Glen Oaks and Flushing, and I am lucky to have got a great education because of the diversity of the classmates around me. Queens helped me to think I can go anywhere in the world and always feel a little at home.”
Here’s what Harrison says about the Queens corner above:
“This is actually still currently the site of the John Scola Training Center of the Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers Union Local 1. It is the facility where the city’s best trowel tradesman and tradeswoman practice the crafts of bricklaying, tile setting stone setting and building restoration.
It is also where they teach new generations of apprentices who acquire skills and building traditions that go as far back as before the oldest bricks in this city.
We are the true old school, and like many industries we face challenges with modernization. This building is where we strive to stay on the cutting edge, even as the industry looks light years in front of us.
It is up to all of us to defend the spirit of the neighborhoods that we care about and paint the future that we see! They can break our buildings but not our union – we rely on your support in the community and we pledge you ours.
Together we can preserve the kind of city that bricks represent – one that never fails to spark our imagination and that brings us joy even as the world around us will change.”
Words and photos by Harrison Magee and Adolfo Steve Vazquez