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‘Blissville’ Explores Remote, Forgotten Triangle of Queens By Sunnyside, Greenpoint

An 1891 map showing Blissville. Courtesy of Hank Linhart

Nov. 2, 2017 by Nathaly Pesantez

SUNNYSIDE — A “docu-poem” released earlier this year provides a window into Blissville, the name of the forgotten neighborhood wedged between Sunnyside and Greenpoint, now recognized as part of Long Island City.

“Blissville”, the nearly hour-long video by Hank Linhart, a Brooklyn based media artist, shows the daily rhythms of the still-existing, but not as thriving area bordered on the south by Newtown Creek, on the east by Calvary Cemetery, and on the north by the Long Island Expressway, over several decades.

The neighborhood, named after Neziah Bliss, the industrialist (also the namesake to Sunnyside 46th Street – Bliss Street station), first became known to Linhart in the late 80s, after he wandered into the Calvary Cemetery and saw a woman picking mulberries from a tree and eating them.

Linhart tried to talk to the woman, but she ran off and he eventually found himself in a nearby corner store, where the owner had a photograph of a “Blissville Market” hanging on the wall.

A photo of the Blissville Market hanging at a shop in Blissville. (Courtesy of Hank Linhart)

“I never heard of it,” Linhart said. “He [the owner] said, ‘Yeah, this is Blissville’.”

The realization inspired Linhart to research the small corner of Queens and attempt to capture the character of the remaining community, incorporated into Long Island City in the late 19th century, through its residents and structures. Moments shown in the video include factory space on 37th Street owned by Wonton Food Inc., the largest fortune cookie manufacturer in the United States, and the Colbar Art facilities on 35th Street known for their Statue of Liberty replicas.

The video also explores a Romani community that existed in the 1930s about a mile away, with footage from a woman who lived in that village until she was 6.

“It’s not a straightforward documentary like most people are used to,” Linhart said. “I spent a lot of time shooting the feeling of Blissville.”

The diverse history of Blissville led Linhart to sift through New York City’s public libraries, archives from Robert Moses, and even circus archives from the New Deal-era Works Progress Administration, which the group of nearby Romani were linked to.

Work on “Blissville” took off in 1989 and was steady until 1996, when Linhart became involved in other projects. The “docu-poem” resumed in 2012, and wrapped up before spring of this year.

Linhart hopes that the visual tableaus of Blissville will inspire people to look at their own lives and communities, and think about what constitutes a community.

“It’s about a complex little community,” Linhart said. “It’s not the most beautiful little place, but it has real community.”

The film, which has been screened in venues since May, will play its last show of the season at 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 9 at the Roosevelt Island Historical Society, located at 524 Main Street on Roosevelt Island.

A section of Greenpoint Avenue and Bradley Avenue, part of what some still remember as Blissville. (Google Maps)

20 Comments

Hanging out with Hank

Hank will there be a red carpet for Oran Juice Jones at the premier? Any plans to maybe dub some of OJJ’s music in the film? How about a documentary on Ernie Roth? Thanks for your consideration in the above-mentioned ideas.




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Hank L.

Please go to blissvillestories.org

Stories about Blissville, photographs, and old movies can be posted there.

New screenings dates , locations of the video will be posted there.

Also you can send me your email address to be put on a mailing list about future screenings. hlinhart@gmail.com




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What is the email address (for future screenings)?

Thank you, Hank. Many people want to hear these accounts,and there are so many more stories to be shared, now while some of the people who remember them are here to tell them.




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Rolling in Dough

Liz F just purchased all of Blissville with her game show winnings. She hired Neil as her head of security. Barbara is her new personal assistant. First thing on the agenda is to evict Fat Al and his mother Sheila….then El Loco.




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Hank

Please send an email with your address so you can be put on a mailing list for future screenings.




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None

The “Blissville Post of the American Legion was located on 47 ave betw. 47 and48 street til the 70s




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Anonymous

I hope he plays it around Sunnyside, Blissvillle’s neighbor. Now if someone did the same for Laurel Hill and Winfield, the roots of our neighborhood will be known all around.




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Hank

Please send an email with your address so you can be put on a mailing list for future screenings.




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Native of Blissville

Read the prior thread about the Trolley. Blissville mentioned prior to this thread. We are naming a street in Blissville after Bruno….because it’s a dump.




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Anonymous

The only Neziah Bliss I ever heard of is one of our own Sunnysidepost commenters! Thank you for this article. Cant we get another showing of this film in the area? People would attend with more word out about this.




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its official, DNC screwed Bernie

wow, this is really cool! ill have to check it out, you never hear ANTHING about Blissville.




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