Kevin Walsh

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Brownstoner recently took a look at historical and culinary highlights centered on or near Bell Boulevard, the “main street” of Bayside, Queens. But the neighborhood is large and goes far beyond that stretch, with a deep history in film, theater and sports, as well as eclectic architecture.

Here are some of Bayside’s historical and architectural highlights.

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Bayside, in northeast Queens, was first settled by the British around Alley Creek, the East River inlet now leading to Alley Pond Park, in the early 1700s. It was first named Bay Side in 1798 and by the time the one-word spelling appeared in the 1850s, it was a small but potent community, giving rise to governmental leaders and statesmen.

The neighborhood has always retained a small-town atmosphere centered around Bell Boulevard. The street is named for Abraham Bell, an Irish Quaker who was a partner in a shipping firm and owned a vast farm in the area, and has nothing at all to do with Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor who obtained the first patent for the telephone. The city, however, has added to the confusion by naming P.S. 205, as well as its playground at 75th Avenue and 217th Street (a couple of blocks from the boulevard), Bell Park and later, Telephone Park, in honor of the inventor.

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View of Citifield from the Passerelle Boardwalk over Corona Yard

With the recent completion of the United States Open tennis tournament at Arthur Ashe Stadium and the now-expected ascension of the New York Mets into the National League baseball playoffs for the first time since 2006, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park finds itself at the center of New York City’s professional sports life as summer 2015 draws to a close. Let’s take a look at some of these venues as well as the park itself.

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Ridgewood Theatre, 55-27 Myrtle Avenue between St. Nicholas and Putnam avenues

Myrtle Avenue, one of the lengthiest streets in both Brooklyn and Queens, runs for nearly 15 miles from Jay Street MetroTech complex in the heart of downtown Brooklyn, east to Jamaica Avenue at the former Triangle Hofbrau.

It was first laid out in 1835 from Fulton Street to as far as Cripplebush Road, an ancient Kings County track now largely replaced by Bedford Avenue. It was extended in 1839 to Brooklyn’s Broadway, and again in 1854 as the tolled Jamaica Plank Road out to Jamaica. (Most of NYC’s toll roads of this type were made “free” around 1890-1900.)

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RKO Keith’s, Northern Boulevard and Main Street

Since the mid 1600s, the heart of Flushing (named by early Dutch cartographers Vlissingen, later bowdlerized to Flushing by the settling Brits) has been the T-shaped intersection of the present Main Street and Northern Boulevard. In its early years Flushing was a hotbed of religious conflict, as the New Netherland colony Director-General Peter Stuyvesant was intolerant of any other religion but the Dutch Reformed Church; the colonists’ burgeoning religious independence led to the creation of the Flushing Remonstrance, a display concerning which can be found at Flushing Library; and the travails of John Bowne, whose early-1660s home still stands on Bowne Street.

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There’s a Broadway in every borough. The most famous runs the length of Manhattan and continues into the Bronx and Yonkers beyond that; another forms the border of Bedford Stuyvesant and Bushwick in Brooklyn; another serves as a spine of West New Brighton in Staten Island and runs past the Staten Island Zoo; and then in Queens, whose Broadway runs from Ravenswood to Elmhurst and serves as one of Long Island City’s key shopping arteries, joining Steinway Street and 30th Avenue.

Queens’ Broadway, which attained its present length only in the early 20th century, is an amalgam of a number of roads: Broadway in Ravenswood ran southeast to the now-demapped Ridge Road near Newtown Road; and the eastern part between Woodside Avenue and Queens Boulevard is the easternmost section of the colonial-era Hellgate Ferry Road, which connected Elmhurst and the East River; twisting Woodside Avenue follows most of its route today. The routes were joined in the years before the new IND subway was routed along a lengthy section from Steinway Street to Queens Boulevard in the 1930s.

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Nestled in the heart of Middle Village, Juniper Valley Park — which sits between Juniper Boulevards North and South, Lutheran Avenue and 71st Street on the west and Dry Harbor Road on the east — is almost intentionally situated far from the crowds and noise that the subway bring. It’s one of the youngest of Queens’ larger parks, having been created in the 1930s.

Middle Village lies between Maspeth and Forest Hills and was named in the 1830s after its position along Metropolitan Avenue, which was laid out as a toll road between Williamsburg and Jamaica in the 1810s. A roadhouse as well as several small dwellings and farms arrived in the area, which had come to be considered midway between Williamsburg and Jamaica, hence its name. Large cemeteries such as Lutheran/All-Faiths, Mt. Olivet and St. John’s arrived after 1850 or so, and attracted Sunday visitors; restaurants and saloons sprung up in the area to serve the crowds. In time, more streets were laid out and were lined by dwellings.

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It was the hottest day of the year, and I spent it in Far Rockaway. The plan was simple. I would take the A train — which runs through Brooklyn Heights, downtown, Fort Greene, Bedford-Stuyvesant and East New York through the heart of Brooklyn and Woodhaven, Queens and runs across Jamaica Bay — and take it to its farthest limit: the Mott Avenue station in Far Rockaway.

There are many things to see in Far Rockaway: historic commercial buildings, a Monticello-inspired post office, impressive churches, lovely homes, and more.

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In a borough largely ignored by NYC’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, the magnificent garden apartments of Jackson Heights are a happy exception. Today’s Jackson Heights is a neighborhood of handsome six-story co-operative apartments, most of which surround a central garden.

They appeared — seemingly out of nowhere — beginning in 1914 when the entire area was not much more than a swampy meadow. The Queensboro Corporation and developer Edward MacDougall built now-landmarked housing along today’s 82nd Street; the area became known as Jackson Heights honoring John C. Jackson, who laid Jackson Avenue, now Northern Boulevard, out across the meadow beginning in 1859.

The boundaries of Jackson Heights proper are fairly well-defined, from the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway on the west to about 90th Street on the east, and from Roosevelt Avenue on the south to the Grand Central Parkway (and LaGuardia Airport) on the north.