Just one week left in the New York Harriers winter scavenger hunt (read about its origins and rules in my first post in this series) and I still needed to hit a couple of outer boroughs. No time to waste.
Runners can check off the clues in any order we like within a three-week period. There’s also no minimum distance to run once we’re at a location – we could run around the block, take a picture, and go home.
But as I’ve been slowly building my strength again (knock on wood, feet feel good), I’ve wanted to challenge myself. In the last few weeks I’ve gone from running 1 or 2 miles at a time to a 5-mile run last time. So I thought another 5-mile run would be good for this one.
WINTER SCAVENGER HUNT RUN #7
- Clues: 2
- Miles: 5.06
- Time: 49:37
- Weather: 36º, partly cloudy
- Location: Corona, Queens – Long Island City
This past Monday, I decided to check off the clue that was the farthest location from my home. A subway ride to Corona, Queens would get me there and then I would run back in the direction from which I came and get a subway home. In another time, I would have probably just run all the way home to Morningside Heights. Today, running 5 miles across Queens felt like enough.
CLUE #17 of 25: Louis Armstrong House Museum
This clue was written as a mystery, my favorite kind of clue!
This house in Corona, Queens, was home to one of America’s most influential jazz trumpeters for almost 30 years
Once again, I was embarrassed to call myself a longtime resident of NYC and not already know this. An internet search taught me that Louis Armstrong lived in this quiet, middle-class neighborhood for 30 years until his death in 1971.
A fascinating February 2020 New York Times article – complete with incredible photographs – calls the home (and now museum) a “miraculously preserved house.”
According to the article, here’s how Armstrong came to live in Corona, Queens:
In 1939, he met his fourth and final wife, Lucille Wilson, a dancer at Harlem’s Cotton Club. Lucille, who spent part of her childhood in Corona, decided it was time for her husband to settle down in a house, a real house, instead of living out of hotel rooms. One day, when Armstrong was away at a gig, she put a down payment of $8,000 (around $119,000 in today’s money) on 34-56 107th Street. She didn’t tell him she’d done this until eight months later, during which time she made the mortgage payments herself.
Also, I love this part:
There was never a mass wave of gentrification or development here, and Armstrong himself was so concerned with blending in with his working-class neighbors that when his wife decided to give the house a brick facade, Armstrong went door-to-door down the block asking the other residents if they wanted him to pay for their houses to receive the same upgrade. (A few of his neighbors took him upon the offer, which accounts for the scattered presence of brick homes on the street to this day.)
And here’s a cool tidbit I did not know about Louis Armstrong:
He is the only person ever to have hit records in the ’20s, ’30s, ’40s, ’50s and ’60s.
Seriously, read the whole article. It’s great.
I took my photo from across the street – there was a man standing in front of the house and I felt too self-conscious to go right up to it for a selfie. I already felt like a tourist doing this.
A few minutes later I managed to get closer look and snagged a couple more pics while the man wasn’t looking. I got away with it!!!*
(*there is nothing illegal about this)
After putting back on my gloves and adjusting my bandana (which I would soon replace with my backup mask when I realized I would just be sucking in bandana cloth the entire run), I set out for 34th Avenue.
I’d never run along this road before, but according to Google Maps Street View, it looked like it would make for a much nicer run than Roosevelt Avenue or another, busier, road. I was so pleased to see that most of 34th had been closed off to car traffic!
It was like this for about a mile. This made for a really nice run. Of course, I still stopped or at least slowed down at intersections if I didn’t have the light, but for the most part this allowed me to run at the briskest pace I’d done in a long time. I felt great.
Eventually, 34th Avenue ended and I turned onto 25A through a busier part of Queens. Still flat. No major hills here. This slowly turned into Long Island City and more residential areas.
I hadn’t planned on hitting any other clues on the scavenger hunt today, although I knew one of them was probably pretty easy to find in this area. Lo and behold…
CLUE #18 of 25: Brewery
I found a brewery!
One of the scavenger hunt clues was “Brewery” – no specific one and nothing about having to go inside or buy anything, which just means you had to run past a brewery and take a photo.
This brewery in Long Island City is called Bierocracy which, in my humble opinion, is a great name. I may not be a huge fan of beer, but I will never turn up my nose at an excellent pun. Well done.
From there, I ran to the nearest 7 train making it a full 5 miles, and headed back home.
I was really happy about this run. The entire scavenger hunt has been like this, but this run in particular was such a jolt of unfamiliarity that it got me out of my head for a stretch. Not having the opportunity to be on autopilot kind of forces you to use your brain differently, resulting in what I think are generally positive mood shifts. It’s hard to wallow in self-pity when you’re wondering how to find your way home.
Anyway, be sure to check out that article about Louis Armstrong’s house, especially this part:
The most ostentatious room by far is the first-floor bathroom, which is covered in wall-to-wall gold-rimmed mirrors — as Armstrong once wrote, “It’s a pleasure to see yourself wipe your ass from all angles”