Issue 1 • Volume 1
QUEENS NEW YORK
ST.ALBANS WE GOT THE JAZZ
Centered on the intersection of Linden Boulevard and Farmers Boulevard, about two miles north from JFK Airport in Southeast Queens. The neighborhood is apart of Queens Community Board 12 and is considered a residential middle class neighborhood. When most people think of historical affluent black neighborhoods in NYC, Harlem, Brooklyn and the Bronx often standout but the borough of Queens has a rich history as well.
St. Albans is named after England's first martyr Saint Alban. The land was part of a grant from Governor Stuyvesant in 1655 to the Dutch. The area was mainly farms, forest and marshland. By the 1800's, the neighborhood started to form into a community with street lights illuminating the area. Linden Boulevard was called at the time Central Road and Farmers Boulevard was Freeman's Path. The village became part of New York City in 1898.
In the late 1800's to early 1900's, there was a land boom in the area and plantations were sold to developers for $700 an acre. The redevelopment of the neighborhood created a modernizing effect and as a result the population increased, police protection was granted, a firehouse was built and six schools including my Alma mater Andrew Jackson High School (now Campus Magnet) was created. The St. Albans Golf Club opened in 1919 for residents along Merrick, Linden and Baisley Boulevards. As result, Addisleigh Park was developed in 1926 overlooking the golf course and each home sold for $13,000 or more, which was very expensive at the time. Addisleigh Park is located north, south and west of Farmers and Linden Boulevards. It is a small section of the larger St. Albans neighborhood. The area was an exclusive affluent white neighborhood with restrictive covenants to prohibit the sale to African Americans. In 1948, the Supreme court ruled against these restrictions and by 1952 many affluent African Americans moved to the area. What is noteworthy was while the neighborhood was restricted to blacks they allowed famous African American entertainers to purchase homes in the community. One of the early trailblazers to lead the way for many entertainers to purchase a home in St. Albans was Jazz musician Clarence Williams and his wife Eva Taylor in 1923. They desired a place with open space reminiscent of their Louisiana background. Other musicians followed such as Fats Waller who is credited as the first Jazz musician to purchase a home in Addisleigh, Ella Fitzgerald. Milt Hinton, Count Basie Lena Horne, John Coltrane, Mercer Ellington, Eddie"LockJaw" Davis, Illinois and Russell Jacquet. In September of 1952, the magazine Our World called Addisleigh Park home to the “richest and most gifted” African-Americans in New York. St. Albans was not only a residence to a flourishing Jazz community but many prominent people lived there as well such as Jackie Robinson, Babe Ruth, Roy Campanella, Bob Cousy, James Brown, Roy Wilkins, W.E.B. Du Bois, LL Cool J and A Tribe Called Quest, grew up here, among
many others. St. Albans was not only a glamorous place for the rich and wealthy African-American but once the restrictive covenants was lifted many blue collar families joined the community in the 1950's. Our world magazine notes that "they often saved up enough to leave the high rent of Harlem and the Brooklyn ghettos." The salaries for residents ranged at the time from $4,500 (postal worker) to $100,000 (executive or entertainer). Lionel Di Silva, a wealthy building contractor was the first African-American to build his home in Addisleigh Park for a staggering $42,000. Many whites who fled the area sold homes for large profits to AfricanAmericans who were anxious to be apart of the community. Homes purchased for $8 to $10 thousand was sold for $20 to 40 thousand. Many of the local celebrities enjoyed the idea that when they were in the community it allowed them to be free from fans who swamped for autographs. The place was a safe haven to raise their children and enjoy the quality of life. The privacy allowed them to be ordinary citizens with a little seclusion that Harlem or Brooklyn couldn't offer. After the the white flight, the U.S. Postal Service tried to abolish the names "St. Albans and "Addisleigh Park" to re-designate the area as "Jamaica 33" and "Jamaica 34". The change would place St. Albans and Addisleigh Park from a dazzling suburb to underwhelming Jamaica zone. The AfricanAmericans in the community rallied against this because such zoning would affect property values. They were also proud of the names and the respect it had earned in NYC. The zoning battle was won and consequently it allowed home owners to raise the price value on properties based on the area alone. Today, the neighborhood is about 90 percent African-American and according to the NY Times the average household income is distinctively higher than the surrounding areas in Southeast Queens. The St. Albans Golf Club is no longer in the community. The Great Depression forced the course owners to sell and the property was eventually seized by the Federal Government.
The government built a Naval Hospital and eventually this evolved into the Veterans Administration St. Albans Primary and Extended Care Facility. The demographic makeup of the neighborhood has changed since the Jazz Legends resided here. The Afro-Caribbean community has grown in population since the 1980s and few people of European descent reside in the neighborhood. Unlike other neighborhoods where white flight created social and economic destruction, St. Albans for the most part maintained a great image in the Southeast section of Queens. My research, was interesting as the local St. Albans Library had a small archival history on the community. This was disappointing because many of my questions about the area was unanswered. I decided to further my research by going through the Queens Archival History located at the Queens Central Library, in which 90 percent of my questions were answered. Often I realized that the old timers in the community were just as accurate as the information stored in the library. You may wonder what made me choose this location to write on. It was simple, the PEOPLE! Growing up here, you are able to see, beauticians, city workers, musicians, entrepreneurs, doctors, lawyers athletes, domestic workers all find a place to call home in the area. I love the contrast of people from different social spaces able to live peacefully with each other. I grew up in the adjacent lower income neighborhood locally called BrickTown. As a child riding my bicycle through Addisleigh Park, seeing the homes and the mural of the jazz legends it inspired me to achieve greatness. Things are not perfect but you have elders in the community visible to help. Summer time come check out a concert at Roy Wilkins Park or kick it with us at the Black Spectrum Theatre. Come walk the same streets as some of our great AfricanAmerican pioneers; who knows what may dawn on you.
Back in the days, before I was Cool J I used to hang up on the corner, pumpin' games people play Sittin' on a garbage can, rhymin' to my man Talkin' bout big money and future plans I always told the brothers, if I got a contract When the money started flowin', I'd be back To do a jam, against all odds Introducing rapper 1 from Farmers Boulevard - LL COOL J
HISTORICAL LANDMARK In 2011, the Landmarks Preservation Commission voted to make Addisleigh Park a Historical Landmark. It is estimated that more than 400 homes in this section of St. Albans is now considered apart of this redistrict. The residence in the picture to the left was Milt Hinton's home. Located at 113th Avenue and Marne Place. Addisleigh homes are typically Tudor or Colonial English style homes. Below is a map of area documented historical. The Historical Landmark helps put a stamp on the communities rich history but also as resident establishes pride. These homes are now protected from developers and property owners to maintain its aesthetics.
THE LIBERTY ROCK Located at the junction of Farmers Blvd & Liberty Ave. The Rock commemorated the veterans from the community who served in the military in Southeast Queens. In 1968,The Liberty Rock was painted the pan-African colors as a symbol of black power. Tony Tims who is photographed to your left, is a resident who has lived in the community for over 50 years. According to Mr. Tims "the community painted The Liberty Rock red, black and green, to show pride, unity and strength." The monument is known locally as "The Rock" and on a nice summer day you can see locals playing chess, cards and music in the area.
Renowned House of Worship
ST. ALBANS CONGREGATI ONAL CHURCH St. Albans Congregational Church was establish at its present location 172-17 Linden Boulevard in 1959. Rev. Robert Ross Johnson started the ministry out of his living room in 1953. He is a renowned clergyman who has established a positive presence in community. He is one of the founders of the nearby York College on Jamaica avenue. Currently the Senior Minister is Dr. Henry T. Simmons who was installed as the Pastor in 1991. He continues to be a beacon of the community like Rev. Ross.
THE GREATER ALLEN CATHEDRAL The Greater Allen Cathedral is located at 11031 Merrick Blvd, The congregation dates back to the 1800's and like the St. Albans Congregation Church they too have established a positive presence in the community. The congregation has had many pastors who have done phenomenal things in the neighborhood such as the Allen Community Senior Citizens Center which provides housing for seniors in the community, Cancer/HIV Aids support groups, the spiritual life counseling are among the few things they have developed to service the people. Rev. Floyd Flake is the current Minster and under him the church has seen a vast growth. He is also a former US Congress of the 6 District that understands the connection of African-American church in the community.
THE LOW END THEORY “Back in the days on the Boulevard of Linden, we used to kick routines and the presence was fittin.” —ACTQ on Check the Rhime The Low End Theory was the second album for the hip hop musical group A Tribe Called Quest. The album was one of the genre's finest masterpieces connecting the group's Jazz heritage and Hip Hop all in one musical ride. For many hip hop fans this was the bridge between generations. The mural in picture was designed by Vince Ballentine on the Nu Clear Cleaners at 192-10 Linden Boulevard; the place ACTQ performed on the roof top in the Check the Rhime music video.
ATRIBE CALLED QUEST Southeast Queens has always boasted some of the greatest rappers of all time from Run DMC to LL COOL J to 50 Cent but A Tribe Called Quest or ACTQ for many fans, are musical geniuses. Hailing from St. Albans, the group is originally compromised of Q-Tip (rapper/producer), Phife Dawg (rapper), Ali Shaheed Muhammad ( DJ/producer) and Jarobi (rapper/hypeman). Only 3 out of the 4 members grew up in the neighborhood. Ali Shaheed Muhammad is from Brooklyn but he met Q-tip in High School, where the four men formed the group. The name was given to them by Afrika Baby Bam from the group The Jungle Brothers. The group is known for their Jazz samples and Afrocentric look and rhymes. Phife Dawg passed away on March 22, 2016 due to complications relating to diabetes at the age of 45. On November 19, 2016 he was honored with a street renamed after him.
MTA CAN I KICK IT
How to get here ? Simple take the LIRR to the St. Albans Station. The north staircase goes down to the south side of Linden Boulevard between Newburg and 180th Street while the south staircase goes down to a short tunnel leading to the dead-end street of Foch Boulevard. You will also see the beautiful Mural of our Jazz and Sports Legends who lived in the area. OR E Train to Jamaica Center Followed by the Q4, Q5, Q42, Q83, Q84 & Q85. Alternatives at Jamaica Center is the Jitney aka the Dollar Van. Please note although we refer to it locally as the "Dollar Van" the price to ride is $2.00. You can also take the F Train from 179 on hillside avenue then followed by the Q3 or Q77 Bus Lines. (Please note you may have to transfer to another line Q4)
Work Cited - References
PHOTO'S & REFERENCES “ST. ALBANS (Jazz Greats), Queens.” Forgotten New York, forgottenny.com/2002/11/st-albans-jazz-greatsqueens/. “Turrets, Trumpets, and Baseball Greats.” Archpaper.com, 19 Dec. 2014, archpaper.com/2011/02/turrets-trumpetsand-baseball-greats/. St. Albans Station (LIRR).” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 10 May 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Albans_station_(LI RR)#/media/File:St._Albans_LIRR_station.jpg. “A Portrait of St. Albans.” PDN Photo of the Day, 7 June 2016, potd.pdnonline.com/2016/06/38783/. “The Rock On Farmers Blvd.” Dr. Ben Carson's Accomplishments, Awards, Honors, and Community Involvement, www.facebook.com/pages/The-Rock-OnFarmers-Blvd/122494071150656. “St. Albans Congregational Church, St. Albans, NYC.” Mid-Century Mundane, 8 July 2012, midcenturymundane.wordpress.com/2012/0 7/08/st-albans-congregational-church-stalbans-nyc/. Buettner, Russ. Cleanup Jamaica Queens NO MORE, cleanupjamaicaqueens.wordpress.com/tag/g reater-allen-african-methodist-episcopalcathedral/page/1/. Spellen, Suzanne, and Montrose Morris. “Queenswalk: A Look at St. Albans.” Brownstoner, 22 May 2013, www.brownstoner.com/history/queenswalka-look-at-st-albans/.
ARCHIVES Copquin, Claudia Gryvatz. The Neighborhoods of Queens. Citizens Committee for New York City, 2007. Morales , Tina. “Newsday.” 21 Oct. 1999. Q-Tip, et al. The Low End Theory. LL COOL J, et al. Mama Said Knock You Out. Saint Albans Library Branch - reviewed archived history of St. Albans. Queens Central Library Branch - reviewed archive history of St. Albans. “Saint Albans Congregational Church .” Our Pastor, www.saccucc.org/our-pastor. “Allen AME Cathedral History .” History, www.allencathedral.org/gacny-history/. Young , L Masco. “Our World Magazine .” St. Albans/ Addisleigh Park , Sept. 1952. “Two Good Reasons to Visit St. Albans, Queens.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 19 Jan. 2018, www.nytimes.com/2015/08/23/nyregion/twogood-reasons-to-visit-st-albans-queens.html. Speri, Alice. “Historic Black Enclave in Queens Gains Landmark Status.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 1 Feb. 2011, cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/02/01/queen s-neighborhood-gains-landmark-status/.
St. Albans (Queens- New York)