LONG ISLAND CITY —When rapid growth started transforming the neighborhood about a decade ago, Frank Carrado, 82, a lifelong resident who knows "every rock here," realized a lot of the old buildings of the industrialized area would soon be gone.
So when his daughter gave him a simple digital camera in 2005, he decided to chronicle the changes before most of the neighborhood he grew up in began to vanish.
A portion of his collection can be seen at an exhibit on Friday and Saturday at the New York Irish Center in Long Island City, along with some old images of the neighborhood collected by the Greater Astoria Historical Society.
Carrado, who is known as the unofficial mayor of Long Island City, took pictures of old shops, streets, and factories. He also photographed the new buildings that keep replacing the old ones at a pace unseen in the old industrialized neighborhood where time appeared to stand still.
“The old people don’t like it,” he said. “They are not used to the new things.”
When Carrado was born in 1930 in an Italian-American family on 10th Street, times were tough. The family had seven children but their father kept his job as a sanitation worker during the Great Depression and “worked three days a week, which was great,” Carrado said.
At that time, the neighborhood was full of factories, said Carrado. “But you could get everywhere in 5 minutes. That’s why it’s a goldmine now.”
A Korean War veteran who worked in the trucking industry, Carrado has seen many buildings torn down, including the Cangro Transmission building (an old courthouse which later became a hotel and a Masonic hall) at 50th Street and Jackson Avenue.
He also captured images of a residential building on the corner of 47th Avenue and 5th Street, and a garage on 11th Street and Jackson Avenue.
And Carrado still keeps taking photos. “You haven’t seen nothing, yet,” he says about the changes in Hunters Point. “Long Island City is getting bigger and bigger.”
The exhibit will be on display on Friday, July 6 from 6 to 8 p.m. and on Saturday, July 7, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the New York Irish Center at 10-40 Jackson Ave.