Design

by
1

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.

by
1

When I moved to Flushing in 1993, my building was a few blocks away from the Long Island Rail Road station we are taking a look at today — the (to some) inexplicably named Broadway station. Broadway in Queens runs from the East River at the Socrates Sculpture Park on Vernon Boulevard to the heart of Elmhurst at Queens Boulevard — miles to the west of fabulous Flushing. Yet here the Broadway LIRR station sits. How can this be?

Until about 1920, all of Northern Boulevard from the Flushing River to the city line in Little Neck was named Broadway. West of the Flushing River, Northern Boulevard was known as Jackson Avenue, because it was built as a toll road by John Jackson in the 1850s from the waterfront through Astoria, Woodside and the Trains Meadow area now called Jackson Heights.

by

General George E. Lawrence Square (actually a triangle), defined by Parsons Boulevard, Elm Avenue and 147th Street along 45th Avenue, can be found across the street from Flushing Hospital. It honors a St. Francis College graduate (my alma mater) who was a star quarterback at Penn, graduated with a medical degree and began his practice at Flushing Hospital, heading obstetrics and gynecology for many years.

Lawrence served with the “Fighting 69th” Regiment during WWI, receiving two Silver Stars for valor. He rose to Lieutenant Colonel at the end of the war and had risen to Brigadier General by World War II.

The square named in 1951 for Gen. Lawrence (1881-1949) was originally owned by the Flushing Garden Club, which allowed patients from Flushing Hospital to maintain the grounds.

You may guess, though, the reason for my post today is the identifying sign, which probably goes back to the 1951 renaming.

by

Today we continue our exploration of the border between Little Neck and Douglaston. When I left off last week, I had just traversed the new shortcut between Little Neck and Douglaston Hills. It’s a short wooden footbridge over a creek running through Udalls Cove Park, a 30-acre salt marsh that effectively delineates the border between the two neighborhoods north of Northern Boulevard. I had chanced upon the former St. Peter’s African Methodist Episcopal Church on Orient Avenue, formerly known as 243rd Street.

by
1

Little Neck and Douglaston are sister neighborhoods in the far northeast of Queens. The border between what were two tiny towns on the north shore of Long Island in the colonial and postcolonial eras, before they were absorbed into Greater New York along with the rest of Queens in 1898, has long been a puzzlement. Some chroniclers say it’s Marathon Parkway, which stands in for 250th Street. I think that allows way to little territory to Little Neck, however, and you’ll forgive me for being partial: I have been a resident of Little Neck since 2007, and reside an Eli Manning touchdown pass, or Geno Smith interception return, from Nassau County.

Despite the fact that the neighborhoods are adjacent, easy entrance and egress between them has long been difficult. There are only two roads between the two neighborhoods near the shoreline: Northern Boulevard, the mother road of Long Island, and a twisting road running between Douglas Road and Little Neck Parkway called by its residents Sandhill Road in its western section and 39th avenue in its eastern part. The city’s Department of Transportation cannot decide between the two and so has a sign on the Douglaston end calling it “Bayshore Boulevard.” Its eastern end is not on city maps at all and so the city disdains posting a street sign.

I’ve discovered a new way to get to Douglaston from Little Neck, though, and it’s all due to a short wood bridge that the NYC Parks Department built just recently.

 

by

When most New Yorkers think of Murray Hill, they likely think of the area on the east side of Manhattan, just south of the United Nations between 34th and 42nd Street and east of Madison Avenue…and they well might, since its tree-lined streets harbor beautiful brownstones, high rise buildings and townhouses. It is home to prominent professional, political and social clubs, as well as the recently renovated Morgan Library – a must visit for both NYers and visitors alike.

But this week, we’ll talk about the “other” Murray Hill, a neighborhood in Queens so secret that it toils in the shadow of its bustling, ambitious older brother Flushing. Like its namesake in Manhattan, it too is home to aged, eclectic and unusual architecture…but sadly, unlike Manhattan’s Murray Hill, its uniqueness is vanishing as we watch. It’s in Queens, after all.

The brick-faced neo-Gothic St. John’s Episcopal Church is one of southern Murray Hill’s relics; a parish has been here since the very beginnings of the enclave in the the 1890s. In 1920, this building on Sanford Avenue and 149th Place replaced an earlier church that had burned down.

by

Named for an 18th century family who owned property in eastern Queens and not the credited inventor of the telephone, Bell Boulevard has developed over 150 years from a dirt trace to harboring some of eastern Queens’ more entertaining samples of eclectic architecture.

From the NYC Landmarks Designation Report:

“Until the last decades of the nineteenth century, Bayside was primarily farmland. The property on which the house stands was acquired by Abraham Bell in 1824. A shipping and commission merchant operating in lower Manhattan, his firm, Abraham Bell and Company was involved in the cotton trade and in transporting immigrants from Ireland during the potato famine of the 1840s.

“His son, Abraham Bell 2nd, became head of the firm around 1835 and the company changed its name to Abraham Bell and Son in 1844. The Bells had homes in several locations: Bayside, Yonkers (where Bell Brothers operated a money-lending business) and in Narragansett Pier, Rhode Island.

“The Bell property covered approximately 246 acres and  extended from near the site of the current Bayside station of the Long Island Railroad at 41st  Avenue to Crocheron Avenue (35th  Avenue) and from Little Neck Bay to 204th Street. An unpaved lane, known as Bell Avenue (now Bell Boulevard) bisected the farm.The east section, closer to Little Neck Bay, was called the lower farm, and the west section, the upper farm. Near the center of the property, along Bell Avenue, the Bells built a house in 1842. It is likely that it was occupied by Thomas C. Bell and Eliza (Jackson) Bell, who married in 1840. The house was demolished in 1971.”

by

You might think San Francisco and Flushing have absolutely nothing in common, but they do share something. Way over in the extreme western end of Flushing, between College Point Boulevard, the Van Wyck Expressway, the Long Island Railroad and the Kissena Park Corridor, there’s a cluster of small streets unnoticed except by their residents and the people who work there.

One of the north-south streets is called Haight Street, the same name as the anchor street of San Francisco’s counterculture mecca, the Haight-Ashbury District — more colloquially, just The Haight. The Forgotten NY camera recently investigated both districts, and the contrasts are as different as the West and East Coasts.

Come and see where the smell of incense fills the air and where the smell of the Flushing River suffuses the nostrils …

by

In the colonial era, mile markers were often placed along the main road to inform the traveler of how many miles there were to go to the nearest big town, or how far away you were from it. In NYC, the now-defunct Post Road in Manhattan, Kingsbridge Road in upper Manhattan (now a part of Broadway), Kings Highway in the town of New Utrecht (now Bensonhurst, Brooklyn), Northern Boulevard in Jackson Heights, and Ocean Parkway, built in the 1850s, all had such mile markers. Ocean Parkway, in fact, had half-mile markers, only one of which, the 3rd mile marker, is still in place.

Railroads, too, have mile markers. I have been riding the Port Washington Branch of the Long Island Rail Road regularly since 1992 and have noticed the occasional mile marker along the route. Recently, though, I nailed down where most of them were, though most are in spots to inaccessible to photograph without getting killed by a train or risking arrest.

by

The Prince family opened the first commercial plant nursery in the USA in 1735, specializing in fruit trees. Patriarch Robert Prince learned horticulture from the remaining Huguenots (French Protestants) in the Flushing area, and the business flourished during and after the Revolutionary period. In the early 1800s, Robert’s son William opened the first bridge over the Flushing River that allowed wagon and cart traffic to enter from western Queens. Competing plant nurseries of the Bloodgood and Parsons families also opened, and in the 1800s, Flushing was known around the Northeast for horticulture. Eventually, though, as Flushing gradually became more urban, the nurseries moved out or failed. Today, the only reminder of the plant shops is Flushing’ street plan, which bears plant names from A (Ash) to R (Rose), and Prince Street.

The Prince family home was constructed at Broadway and Lawrence Street (today Northern and College Point Boulevards) by the Embree family around 1750, and purchased by the Princes in 1800. It was torn down in the 1930s as the area became industrial.

A NYS historic marker here, now long gone, said:

Prince Homestead stands opposite. Built by E. Embree 1780. Washington stopped here to see the Prince Nurseries during his trip to Long Island 1789.

When Washington visited the Prince nursery he was unimpressed, but when Thomas Jefferson visited the following year he made several purchases that were planted at Monticello in Virginia.