Henry Hemmerdinger built up his father Morris’ rag business from a small factory in Williamsburg to one of the largest scrap fabric processing businesses in the country, located in Glendale, Queens. The family history and that part of the story were detailed in the first part of the story of Atlas Terminal. Henry turned an old farmstead and some factory buildings in the heart of Glendale into an industrial park for his business and his many tenants. By the time of his death in 1946, Atlas Terminal employed thousands of people, all working in the thirty-one buildings in the park. Atlas was now one of Queen’s major employers.

Henry’s only child, Monroe inherited the family business. An heir can sometimes kill a business that his or her family invested their lives to build, or they can succeed beyond their parent’s wildest expectations. Monroe set out to be the latter kind of heir. He was the culmination of his parent’s hard work, the grandson of an immigrant success story. Monroe was the first in his family to attend college; he matriculated from the elite Horace Mann School to Brown University, where he was the captain of the Brown swimming team. Following college, he enlisted in the Navy during World War II.

After his father’s death in 1946, Monroe began making his mark on the company. He enlarged the Terminal in 1949, bringing the total number of buildings to 40, over 800,000 square feet of space. The terminal had its own railroad line snaking through it, eight miles of track, with a switching engine to guide the freight cars around. Railroads were the preferred method of transportation at the time, not trucks, and from the terminal, the various companies could load their goods, and transfer the cars to hook up with the freight trains on the LIRR Montauk line that would carry those goods across the country.


In my past life, I used to work in the garment industry. In fact, much of my work history in New York City was in that industry, in one capacity or another, until the economy crashed in 2008. When I was first starting out, back in the 1980s, I used to work in Soho for a small design company. This was back when some of the buildings there were starting to become artists’ lofts, and retail spaces were being carved out of the ground floors of others. But at that time, most of Soho still hummed with industry, much of it garment related. It was so much different than the urban shopping mall it is today.

One of the businesses near my job was a scrap processing company. “Waste” is what this is often called, the gathering and reprocessing of scrap fabric from cutting rooms, damaged goods, rags, etc. that can be reused for various purposes. If you think about how many millions of yards of fabric are spread out and cut up into clothing, bedding, furniture covers, tabletop, and bath, whatever… you can imagine that just there alone, you’d have tons of scrap. That scrap can be further cut up into fill for mattresses or upholstery, or broken down and reprocessed into new fabric for all kinds of uses. We used to see large, compressed bundled pallets of scraps leaving their place all day long, being loaded into trucks and taken away for processing.

This waste, when reprocessed into new fabric was also called “shoddy.” Because it was a lesser composite fabric, often used for the most utilitarian purposes, and not as strong as newly woven goods, the adjective “shoddy” became a common word in referring to inferior goods, work or product. That name is as old as the mid-19th century. The waste industry was huge in a city like New York, where the garment center was king, and one of the driving engines of the New York City economy. The industry got the nickname “the rag trade,” but specifically, the men who dealt in scrap became known as “rag pickers”, or “ragmen.” That may have sounded derogatory, but who cares? As we shall see, a ragman could become rich.


Following approval from Community Board 5’s Transportation Committee, the full board approved a proposal for bike lanes in Ridgewood and Glendale with a 29-5 vote this week. Queens Courier reports that the DOT will implement the first phase – outlined in solid blue lines on the map above – this summer. According to the Courier, one set of lanes runs parallel on Woodward and Onderdonk avenues from Flushing Avenue to Cooper Avenue, with another set along Harman and Himrod streets from Evergreen Avenue to Metropolitan Avenue.

The DOT also promised to evaluate an even larger network of bike lanes in the area, particularly in Maspeth and Middle Village. Those lanes will not be implemented until 2015. CB5 had worked with the DOT on this extensive proposal for several years.

Board Approves Proposed Bike Lanes in Ridgewood and Glendale [Queens Courier]
Bike Lanes Look Likely for Ridgewood and Glendale this Summer [Q’Stoner]
Bike Lane Proposals Moving Ahead for Ridgewood, Maspeth, and Middle Village [Q’Stoner]

Map courtesy of NYC City Planning, via Queens Courier


The fine large Italianate wood framed villa that John Siney built in 1856 was befitting his station as a successful owner of a stage coach line that ran along nearby Myrtle Avenue in Glendale. Mr. Siney had married into the Wyckoff family, one of Long Island’s oldest Dutch families. They, along with others, had first settled this part of Queens as far back as the 1640s. By the Civil War, the farmland of Queens closest to Brooklyn and Manhattan was dotted with growing small towns and transportation to and from the shipping ports of both of those cities was vital to the area. John Siney did quite well with his coach line.

His house was known far and wide as the finest house in the town of Fresh Ponds, which by the 1860s had renamed Glendale. So it should come as no surprise that a wealthy entrepreneur would buy it in the 1880s and make it his home. Glendale had become a town with a large German immigrant population, and one of the most successful of these was Henry A. Meyer. His story can be found in Part One of this tale.

Henry Meyer was a tobacco man. He had risen from sleeping on his first American employer’s floor to buying that business and turning it into a very successful pipe and chewing tobacco manufacturing and distributing company. His Bushwick Tobacco Works produced six types of tobacco, the finest and most popular of which was called “Ivanhoe.” As Meyer, his wife and their seven children settled into life in Glendale, he started looking around at the remaining farms in the area, hoping to bring tobacco production to Queens.

Tobacco growing at the time was not relegated to the Southern states; in fact, Pennsylvania was one of the country’s largest tobacco growing states, with Connecticut not far behind. Tobacco was also grown in New York, and although no one was growing leaf tobacco in or around the New York City area, Meyer figured there was a first time for everything. He would grow his own tobacco in Queens. He started to look around for a farm.


A comprehensive proposal to bring 9.5 miles of bike lanes to Ridgewood and Glendale is making serious headway. Queens Courier reports that Community Board 5’s Transportation Committee unanimously approved the plan this week. The vote also included an approval for DOT to study Phase 2 of the proposal, which includes additional lanes throughout Middle Village and Maspeth. No big surprise on the vote since CB5 worked closely with the Department of Transportation on this proposal for several years. According to Queens Courier, “Bike lanes in Phase 1 will run along three sets of parallel streets as well as a portion of Myrtle Avenue between 61st Street and 65th Place and Fresh Pond Road between Myrtle and Catalpa avenues.” If the full board approves the proposal, the DOT will construct the first phase of bike lanes this summer.

The DOT plans to implement the second phase, including routes along Metropolitan, Eliot and Grand avenues, in the spring of 2015.

Bike Lane Proposal Making Headway [Queens Courier]
Bike Lane Proposals Moving Ahead for Ridgewood, Maspeth, and Middle Village [Q’Stoner]

Map via NYC DOT


Glendale is part of that vast land holding called Newtown, established by the Dutch West India Company in 1642. We often think of Queens as a 20th century phenomenon, because so much of it was farmland for so long. Parts of it weren’t developed as residential until this last century, but there is more to Queens history than just the 20th century. Originally called Fresh Ponds, Glendale, like much of Queens, has been around for a long time.

Fresh Ponds was a sleepy little village surrounded by farms owned by the descendants of the original Dutch families, as well as later English and other arrivals. Transportation is of paramount importance to any community, and by the early 1800s, Myrtle Avenue, which was then a plank road with a toll, made its way from Jamaica Avenue in Ridgewood down to Flatbush Avenue and Downtown Brooklyn. This enabled farmers to take their produce and livestock to the busy piers and markets of Brooklyn, or even Manhattan, by way of the ferry. Travelers did the same, making Myrtle a very busy road.

By the mid-1800s, a stage line and later omnibuses, which were horse drawn trolleys, were rolling through Fresh Ponds, so it’s not surprising that development came soon afterwards. The border between Brooklyn and Queens in nearby Ridgewood has always been a bit facile, so it shouldn’t be too surprising that the large German immigrant population that was settling in Bushwick, then Ridgewood, shouldn’t spread into Fresh Ponds. The settlers here were farmers, and they thrived in this area of freshwater ponds and rich land. The marshlands were drained, and a large German community developed, eventually becoming the largest German speaking community in Queens. That German heritage is still everywhere in Glendale.


Finback Brewery, which has been under construction in Glendale, is ready to release some brews! Brew New York reports that Finback started kegging its first batches of beer and is throwing three different release parties in Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan. They’ll be at the Owl Farm in Park Slope on Wednesday, January 22nd at 7pm; Jimmy’s No. 43 in the East Village on Thursday, January 23rd at 6pm; and the Station House Forest Hills in Forest Hills on Tuesday, January 28th at 7pm. Three beers will be on tap: the Finback IPA, the Double Sess Wit (a witbier brewed with ginger and Szechuan peppercorns) and the Puffin Smoked Porter, a “roasty” brew.

The tap room, located at 78-01 77th Avenue, isn’t yet open. Once it is, it’ll feature a large tasting room, a bar, a backyard, and possibly an event space. Keep up with Finback Brewery’s progress on its Facebook page.

Finback – NYC’s Newest Brewery – to Debut Next Week [Brew New York]
A Tour of the In-Progress Finback Brewery, Coming Soon to Glendale [Q’Stoner]

Photo via Facebook


Yesterday the New York City Department of Sanitation announced that it will expand its curbside collection of organic materials to Queens. The city is just launching its organics collection program — which includes food waste, food-soiled paper, and leaf and yard waste — to help the city reduce trash disposal costs and create renewable energy or compost. This April and May, the service will be rolled out to include portions of Glendale, Middle Village, and Maspeth — check out a PDF map here. The Department already provides organics collection in areas of Manhattan, Staten Island, the Bronx and Brooklyn.

So how does it work? The city gives single-family homes or buildings with nine or fewer residential units a brown outdoor organics bin with wheels, a lid, and a latch to dispose of compost material. The brown bins will be placed curbside on recycling day for collection by the Department of Sanitation. (Residential buildings with 10 or more units are not automatically included in the pilot but can enroll in the program on a voluntary basis.) For all the information, go to the Department of Sanitation’s website.


The Daily News confirms the arrival of another shopping center for Glendale; plans for the mall first surfaced in December. According to the News, “The original developers of the Atlas Park Mall, which went into bankruptcy and was later snatched up by mall giant Macerich, are planning to build a shopping center right next door.” The proposed Glendale Shopping Center will be designed like a suburban-style strip mall with white stucco buildings and green space. It’ll be built over six acres, and developers will not need any special approvals to build.

As reported earlier, the first phase of the project, which includes 137,000 square-feet of retail space, is expected to open in the fall of 2015. The second phase, with another 80,000-square-feet of retail, should be ready in the spring of 2016. When construction’s finished, the Glendale Shopping Center will be anchored by a supermarket as well as a number of shops and restaurants.

Atlas Park Mall Developer Plans to Try Again in Glendale [NY Daily News]
Shopping Center Possible for Glendale [Q’Stoner]


Queens Courier obtained a brochure by Schuckman Realty detailing plans for a 350,000-square-foot shopping center in Glendale. According to the Courier, “The center will be located on 8200 Cooper Ave., next to The Shops at Atlas Park, and will be built in two phases.” Phase One includes 137,000 square feet of retail, storage, parking and outdoor seating areas. It should be complete by the fall of 2015. The second phase, with an ETA of spring 2016, includes 80,000 square feet of retail. When complete, the mall will accommodate three anchor tenants, smaller stores, restaurants, and freestanding buildings with drive-thrus. Queens Courier has not yet received a comment or a confirmation of development from Schuckman Realty.

Plans Reveal New Shopping Center Could Come to Glendale [Queens Courier] GMAP