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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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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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Crain’s takes a look at Jamaica, a neighborhood that it calls “ripe for a revival.” Despite the neighborhood being a major transportation hub, national retailers have long shunned the location because many of the people who pass through do not stick around. Locals also complain about the lack of options as far as dining and shopping. But it’s looking like things may change. There’s a 24-story hotel planned near the Long Island Rail Road stop as well as a $50 million, two-level retail complex planned for the corner of 90th Avenue and 168th Street. (The developers, Blumenfeld Development Group, hope to lure a major department store here.) Those plans still need to go through the city review process and construction isn’t expected until 2015. The hotel may open as soon as 2016. There are also a few signs of growth in the neighborhood happening now: CityRib opened up in the newish residential development Moda over the summer. As the restaurant owner says, “There’s great potential — the transportation to New York is effortless and easy and fast, and the area has a lot to offer.”

Sun Starts To Shine in Jamaica [Crain’s]

Photo by Esoteric_Desi