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1978-2010 Queensâ€™ Largest Weekly Newspaper Group MacDonald Park
Langston Hughes Library
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NAMES BEHIND PLACES IN QUEENS
QUEENS CHRONICLE, Thursday, November 11, 2010 Page 2
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QUEENS CHRONICLE, Thursday, November 11, 2010 Page 4
C M ANNIV page 4 Y K QUEENS CHRONICLE
Published every week by MARK I PUBLICATIONS, INC.
HONORING THEIR LEGACY
President & Publisher
SUSAN & STANLEY MERZON
• Joseph Addabbo Sr. ..................................... 6
Founders Raymond G. Sito General Manager Peter C. Mastrosimone Editor-in-Chief Liz Rhoades Managing Editor Michael Cusenza Assistant Editor Elizabeth Daley Assistant Editor Bryan Yurcan Assistant Editor AnnMarie Costella Reporter Terry Nusspickel Editorial Production Manager Tameka Curwen Editorial Production Assistant Jan Schulman Art Director Moeen Din Associate Art Director Ella Jipescu Associate Art Director Ehsan Rahman Art Department Associate David Abramowitz Corporate Sales Lisa LiCausi Office Manager Rosemary Ray Accounting Josie Torres Administration Senior Account Executives:
• Louis Armstrong ........................................... 7 • Arthur Ashe ................................................... 8 • John Jacob Astor ......................................... 8 • David Baisley ................................................ 9 • John Bowne ................................................ 10 • Guy R. Brewer ............................................. 11 • Arthur Cunningham .................................... 12 • William Douglas .......................................... 14 • Horace Harding ........................................... 16 • Townsend Harris ......................................... 29 • William Howard ........................................... 16
Jim Berkoff, Beverly Espinoza
• Langston Hughes ....................................... 18
• John Jackson.............................................. 19
Donna DeCarolis-Folias, Patricia Gatt, Maureen Palumbo, Al Rowe, Stuart Tarragano
• John F. Kennedy ......................................... 20
Proofreaders: Theodore E. Regan
• Rufus King................................................... 22
Contributors: Lloyd Carroll, Ronald Marzlock
• Tadeusz Kosciuszko ................................... 22
• Fiorello LaGuardia ...................................... 24
Steve Malecki, PJ Smith, Theodore Parisienne
• John Lefferts ............................................... 24
Andrew Benjamin, Simon Fong, Emily Kaiser, Cynthia Murray, Lisa Fraser
• Francis Lewis .............................................. 12
Office: 62-33 Woodhaven Blvd. Rego Park, NY 11374-7769 Phone: (718) 205-8000 Mail: P.O. Box 74-7769 Rego Park, NY 11374-7769 Fax: (718) 205-0150 E-mail: Mailbox@qchron.com Web site: www.queenschronicle.com
• • • • • • • • •
TOTAL CIRCULATION: SOUTH QUEENS EDITION CENTRAL QUEENS EDITION WESTERN QUEENS EDITION MID QUEENS EDITION NORTHERN QUEENS EDITION NORTHEAST QUEENS EDITION SOUTHEAST QUEENS EDITION EASTERN QUEENS EDITION QUEENS EDITION
• August Martin ............................................. 26 • Edward McGoldrick .................................... 25 • Conrad Poppenhusen ................................ 28 • Jacob Riis ................................................... 30 • Phil Rizzuto ................................................. 30 • Jackie Robinson ......................................... 32 • Henry Steinway ........................................... 32 • George Tilly ................................................. 33 PHOTO BY PJ SMITH
© Copyright 2010 by MARK I PUBLICATIONS, INC. All rights reserved. Neither this newspaper nor any part thereof may be reproduced, copied, or transmitted in any form, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, microfilming, recording or by any information retrieval system without the express written permission of the publishers. This copyright is extended to the design and text created for advertisements. Reproduction of said advertisement or any part thereof without the express written permission of MARK I PUBLICATIONS, INC. is strictly prohibited. This publication will not be responsible for errors in advertising beyond the cost of the space occupied by the error. Bylined articles represent the sole opinion of the writer and are not necessarily in accordance with the views of the QUEENS CHRONICLE. This Publication reserves the right to limit or refuse advertising it deems objectionable. The Queens Chronicle is published weekly by Mark I Publications, Inc. at a subscription rate of $19 per year and out of state, $25 per year. Periodicals Postage Paid (USPS0013-572) at Flushing, N.Y. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Mark I Publications, Inc.,62-33 Woodhaven Boulevard, Rego Park, N.Y. 11374-7769.
• Gerald MacDonald...................................... 24
• Joseph Totten ............................................. 33 • Robert Van Wyck ........................................ 34 • Roy Wilkins ................................................. 34 COVER PHOTOS BY PJ SMITH
PEOPLE BEHIND THE NAMES IN QUEENS 32nd Anniversary Edition
his year’s anniversary edition of the Queens Chronicle offers readers a chance to discover the borough’s roots. If you’ve ever wondered how the Horace Harding Expressway or Captain Tilly Park got their names, you will find the answers in the following pages. Some of the name derivations go back to the early settlers. Flushing’s John Bowne, who lived in the 1600s, promoted religious freedom, was banished and fought for justice for two years, finally winning his case in the Netherlands. His home, a street, and an elementary and high school are named after him. Francis Lewis, known for the boulevard and high school, was a real Revolutionary War patriot, who paid the price. The story of his life has many highs and lows. Military men are remembered in Captain Tilly Park, the Kosciuszko Bridge, Fort Totten and MacDonald Park. Many gave their names to our communities because
of their wealth, perseverance or both, including William Howard of Howard Beach, William Douglas of Douglaston, Henry Steinway of an Astoria neighborhood, John Jackson of Jackson Heights and John Jacob Astor, namesake of Astoria. Public officials are recalled at two Queens airports, three
parks, two expressways and a bridge. Authors Jacob Riis and Langston Hughes; athletes Phil Rizzuto, Arthur Ashe and Jackie Robinson; and businessmen Horace Harding and Conrad Poppenhusen are all profiled in this section. Also, look for stories on famed musician Louis Armstrong, well-known civil rights leader Roy Wilkins and hero pilot August Martin, who died delivering emergency supplies in Africa. And there are more to pique your curiosity. All told, 32 Queens locations are identified and their derivations given. We picked that number in honor of the Queens Chronicle’s 32nd anniversary. With each story is a separate bit of Chronicle or Queens history from 1978 to 2009. We hope you enjoy learning more about the names of Queens and will continue to read the Queens Chronicle for the next 32 years.
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Page 5 QUEENS CHRONICLE, Thursday, November 11, 2010
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Joseph Addabbo Sr. left a lasting legacy Congressman from Ozone Park represented Queens for 25 years by Cynthia Murray
He was the Democratic nominee in the You can’t get too far in Queens without race to replace Rep. running into one or another legacy left by the Albert Bosch, a late Rep. Joseph Addabbo Sr., whether it’s the Republican who left bridge, federal building or health clinic chain Congress to begin a named for him or something less obvious but judicial career. just as lasting. In Congress, AddabA Democrat, Addabbo served in the U.S. bo may have been best House of Representatives for 25 known as a voice Joseph Addabbo Sr. years. Born in 1925, he lived in against Presi- PHOTO COURTESY OF THE E’S PREDECES Ozone Park his entire life. dent Ronald OFFICE OF THE CLERK, U.S. L C S NI Addabbo graduated from St. R e a g a n ’s HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES John’s Law School in 1946, defense and began practicing law in buildup. Named chairman of his hometown. He became the defense spending subcompresident of the Ozone Park mittee in 1979, he was an outMen’s Association in 1948 and spoken critic of Reagan’s presided over its board for 11 increases in military spending in years before successfully running the early ’80s. Addabbo routinely for Congress in 1960. called for deep cuts to the administration’s budget, notably proposing to cut defense by $30 billion in 1983. Although Addabbo was never able to reduce defense spending by billions, he successfully eliminated funding for the MX and Pershing missiles Reagan wanted to deploy in Europe, against the wishes of many of the people living there. Addabbo’s health began to fade shortly after he was reelected to his 13th term in 1984. In 1985, he spent four month at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC with a cancer-related kidThe Congressman Joseph P. Addabbo Memorial ney ailment. Bridge crosses Jamaica Bay. He returned to work for two months the UEENS CH RO EQ TH
YEAR 197 8:
32nd Anniversary Edition
E PAPER, , TH IS OR
QUEENS CHRONICLE, Thursday, November 11, 2010 Page 6
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The Addabbo Federal Buillding in Jamaica. following year, but lapsed into a coma in March 1986. He died a month later at the age of 61, and was buried in St. John’s Cemetery. To honor his long history of serving Queens, a number of area sites bear his name, including the Addabbo Federal Building in Jamaica, the Addabbo Family Health Center in Jamaica and the Rockaways and the Congressman Joseph P. Addabbo Memorial Bridge, which links Howard Beach to Broad Channel across Jamaica Bay. PS 64 in Ozone Park also
PHOTO BY PJ SMITH
bears the congressman’s name. Addabbo not only left a lasting impression on Queens, but on his family as well. His son, Joseph Addabbo Jr., followed in his political footsteps. In 2001, Addabbo Jr. was elected as the New York City Council representative for the 32nd District, serving the two terms voters said all city officials should be limited to. He made a successful run for the New York State Senate’s 15th District seat in 2008 and was Q re-elected just last week.
ANNIV page 7
Museum, school, arena honor jazz legend by Peter C. Mastrosimone
to New York, to play in the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra, the top black band of the time. Paul Simon told us long ago that Rosie is He also switched from the cornet to the saxothe queen of Corona, but outside of Italian ice phone. But he soon moved back to Chicago makers, surely its king must be its most cele- and started cranking out the hits which, biogbrated trumpeter: Satchmo, America’s ambas- raphers say, “set the standard and the agenda sador of jazz, the great Louis Armstrong. for jazz for many years to come.” Armstrong and his wife, Lucille, moved In 1929 he came back to New York, and in into the house at 34-56 107th St. in 1943. succeeding years developed his unique singing Though there was still much to come from style, taking full advantage of new microArmstrong, including his best-selling phones that added more warmth to vocals. hit, “Hello, Dolly!” and the song for When the Depression hit, the jazz C S O D MM N RA UT which he is probably best rememindustry suffered, but Armstrong ST bered today, “What a Wonderful remained a worldwide star. In 1932 World,” he had made his mark he was given the nickname that on music long before. stuck, Satchmo, short for satchelArmstrong was born to a mouth — a description of how his poor family in New Orleans on mouth contorted when he played. Aug. 4, 1901, a date only conThose contortions resulted in some f irmed after his death because of the best jazz sounds ever heard. records were shoddy and Armstrong He had his personal problems, howhimself was unsure of his birth date. By the ever, marrying several times, getting busted time he was 13, he was already making a for marijuana possession and getting on the name for himself as a cornet player, and at 18 wrong side of the Mafia, which was deeply he had spots in two groups, Kid Ory’s Band involved in the music business. At one point and the Tuxedo Brass Band. he went to Europe to evade the mob. When he was just 20 he started playing the It was after his return to the states that he trumpet solos that fueled his fame, one of the married Lucille, his fourth and final wife, and first jazz performers to do that. Soon after he came to Corona. Their home is now the Louis joined an exodus of jazzmen north to Chicago Armstrong House Museum, open to the public so he could play in the band headed by his and operated by Queens College. mentor, Joe “King” Oliver. Only then did he Armstrong wasn’t known only for music begin earning enough as a musician to quit but also his civil rights activism. When he diddoing day jobs like hauling coal to make ends n’t think President Dwight Eisenhower acted meet. quickly enough to enforce Brown v. Board of In the mid-’20s, Armstrong briefly moved Education during the 1957 school integration
OR FOUR SF MO ER
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Page 7 QUEENS CHRONICLE, Thursday, November 11, 2010
Louis Armstrong made his home in Corona
Louis Armstrong loved spending time with children, often talking and even playing music with PHOTO COURTESY QUEENS COLLEGE them in front of his home in Corona. crisis in Little Rock, Ark., he risked his career by publicly criticizing the White House. He also refused to go to the Soviet Union on behalf of the U.S. State Department, saying, “The way they are treating my people in the south, the government can go to hell.” He wouldn’t play in his hometown of New Orleans until the Civil Rights Act of 1965 became law — perhaps remembering criticism he had received earlier in his career for performing before segregated audiences. And he
helped fund the movement led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. A generous philanthropist, Armstrong died in 1971, shortly after decreeing that any money made from his songs would go toward musical education for children. In addition to the museum, two other Queens facilities are named for Satchmo: IS 227 in East Elmhurst, the Louis Armstrong Middle School, and the Louis Armstrong StaQ dium in Flushing Meadows Park.
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The swoosh of a tennis racquet at Arthur Ashe Stadium is as iconic as the crack of a baseball bat at Citi Field. Standing in Flushing Meadows Park, Arthur Ashe Stadium is the centerpiece of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Since opening its doors in 1997, the stadium has been home to the U.S. Open and the last of each year’s four Grand RONALD RE Slam tournaments, TE AG A D replacing Louis Armstrong Stadium as the primary venue. The stadium is the largest outdoor tennis venue in the world, boasting 22,547 seats and 32 courts. The four-level structure also features state-of-the-art broadcast and audio systems, 90 luxury suites and five restaurants, including a two-level private dining space for the players. The grandness of the facility is matched by its namesake. Tennis great Arthur Ashe Jr. changed the game forever when he won the U.S. Open in 1968, ending a 12-year drought for U.S. men in the tournament. Born in Richmond, Va., in 1943, Ashe made history again when he became the f irst African-American male to win a Grand Slam title. During his career he went on to win two more Grand Slam titles, ranking him among the best ever
QUEENS CHRONICLE, Thursday, November 11, 2010 Page 8
Stadium named after tennis legend Ashe
TS RICHM VISI O AN
Tennis legend Arthur Ashe won three Grand PHOTO COURTESY USTA Slam titles.
Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing Meadows Park. from the United States. Among his many achievements, Ashe founded the National Junior Tennis League and was captain of the U.S. Davis Cup team. In addition to his contributions to the game, Ashe is also remembered for his civil rights achievements, recognized particularly for his work to help end racial
PHOTO BY PJ SMITH
segregation in South Africa. Ashe retired in 1980 after undergoing heart surgery a year earlier. Three years later he contracted HIV from blood transfusions after having his second heart surgery. Ashe remained a community activitist until he died at age 50 in 1993. He founded the Arthur Ashe Foundation for the
Defeat of AIDS, the disease that eventually took his life. In his memory, Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day is held annually prior to the U.S. Open at the USTA to continue his efforts to help children through tennis. Every August, the facility welcomes thousands of participants including tennis superstars Venus and Serena Williams, Andre Agassi and Andy Roddick as well as such celebrities in the past as Britney Spears, Jessica Simpson and the Jonas Brothers. Also named after the tennis great is PS Q 161 in Jamaica.
Astoria, named for a man who never lived there Village turned industrial area, now home to large Greek population by Elizabeth Daley
his steamboat trips down the East River from Flushing. In 1664, William Hallett purHalsey decided to name his new chased 2,200 acres of what was village “Astoria” after John Jacob to become Astoria for one blan- Astor, an extremely wealthy fur ket, four kettles, seven coats and merchant with whom he was some wampum. Since those acquainted through trade. It was days, property values have Halsey’s hope that naming risen significantly. the village after Astor N ORTE ED BY SH Steinway Street, might compel him to N named for the famed donate a bit of piano-making famimoney toward its ly, bustles with development. Alas, activity, and the Astor at 76 when Hell Gate, a land the village was mass known for its incorporated, was too dangerous rocky coast, old and sickly to even is now home to a bridge take a carriage ride down by the same name known for Astoria’s yet unpaved streets. its own rock problems. It is said Astor gave $500 towards Astoria has very little to do with the development of the neighborJohn Jacob Astor, for whom it was hood which bears his name. named. Stephen Halsey was really According to Bob Singleton of the man with a plan for the area. the Astoria Historical Society, the A New York merchant and son funding was used to construct a of a carpenter, born in 1798, parsonage for St. George’s church. Halsey took it upon himself to The structure stood on 27th travel to the state capital to obtain Avenue until just a few years ago, a charter and begin to settle the when it was torn down after the region, which he had admired on city refused to grant the building A
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landmark status. “Astoria is still one of the most architecturally significant communities without a shred of protection,” Singleton said Despite Astor’s paltry gift, in 1839 the village of Astoria was incorporated with a boundary of 25th Avenue to the north, 31st and Crescent streets and 30th Avenue on the east, Broadway on the south and the East River on the west. Halsey had purchased nearly all the land between Hallets Cove, named for the family who used to live there, and Pot Cove. He used his own wealth to build Astoria’s infrastructure, because in the old days, New York City was not set up to pave roads or provide running water. In fact, Queens and the other outer boroughs only became part of New York City in the 1890s. In the past, Astoria was part of its own city — Long Island City. Halsey died in 1875 in the village he founded, recognized by all as “the father of Astoria.” He was buried in his family’s vault at the
Stephen Halsey, founder of Astoria, above. John Jacob Astor, for whom it was named, right. IMAGES COURTESY WICKIPEDIA
Dutch Reformed Church. A tiny stone reading “Stephen Halsey family vault 1842” marks his grave. Since Halsey’s time, the area has changed greatly. “From the 1840s to the 1870s it was considered very elegant,” Singleton said. “There were mansions all the way up the East River.” One, the Steinway Mansion, still remains on 41st Street. As industry developed on the water around it, the Steinways helped to create a network of trolleys and Astoria changed. A ferry boat to Manhattan conveyed passengers and cargo to and from Astoria, departing from a terminal on Astoria Boulevard until 1936. What was once a bucolic coun-
try village quickly turned into a center of manufacturing. “Astoria has always been a place where artists and artisans have crossed paths,” Singleton said, recalling the development of the film industry in the area and the craftsmen from the Steinway factory whose trade was piano building. “The very first word that was ever photo- copied was the word ‘Astoria,’” Singleton said. The inventor of the copy machine, Chester Carlson, created the process in an Astoria laboratory. Today the neighborhood is home to the largest Greek population outside of Greece, and to many other immigrant groups. Q
ANNIV page 9
Jamaica jewel provided public water by AnnMarie Costella
there. The pond was created a century before when area farmers dammed three Baisley Pond Park is both a beautiful streams in order to power their mills. place to visit, and a great place to play. Baisley was born on Nov. 15, 1792 and Whether you want to r un, bike or died on Jan. 19, 1875 at the age of 82. His rollerblade, get in a game of tennis, hand- wife, Sarah, died less than four years later ball, basketball or cricket, or spend quali- on Dec. 2, 1878 at the age of 81. Both are ty time with your kids at the playground, interred at Prospect Cemetery in Jamaica. this 109-acre park has space for it all. Although the the couple lived to a ripe There are also several peaceful and old age, at least two of their children shady alcoves — the perfect did not. Their son David died on CUOMO setting for a picnic along Dec. 10, 1858 at age 35 and RIO A I S M with a lush variety of plants daughter Sarah died on Sept. and wildlife to observe. 25, 1856 at age 22. They also The Jamaica park is also rest in Prospect Cemetery. host to many community Baisley sold the pond for events throughout the year, $26,000 to Williamsburg including the Souther n Water Works Company, with Queens Gospel Festival and the ag reement that the f ir m several summer puppet shows. could buy as much of the adjoinBut beyond its modern status ing land as it desired for $300 an as a jewel in southeast Queens, Baisley acre, as reported in the New York Times Pond Park has a rich and colorful history on Nov. 16, 1852. — one that dates back thousands of years. What was then the City of Brooklyn In the 1800s, shortly after the park was had been using local wells for its water acquired by the city, workers digging supply and purchased the pond in anticithrough the sediment unearthed the par- pation of needing alternate sources. tial remains of an American mastodon — New York City transferred the northern a prehistoric tusked mammal similar to section of Baisley’s land to the Parks elephants and mammoths. A statue com- Department in 1914, and in 1919 it was memorating its discovery was erected in opened to the public. At that time it was Sutphin Playground, where it continues mainly a rustic preserve, but became to intrigue children and adults alike. modernized as Queens moved from a The park and its 30-acre pond are rural to urban setting and hundreds of sinnamed after farmer David Baisley, who gle-family homes were built in the area. owned the property in the early and midRecreational facilities were added to 19th century and operated a grain mill the park during the 1930s as part of the
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PHOTO BY MALCOLM PINCKNEY/NYC PARKS DEPARTMENT
The area is home to eight different kinds of dragonflies and a myriad of birds including Canadian geese, black birds, cardinals, herons, sparrows, mockingbirds, egrets, doves and starlings. Baisley Pond Park is bounded by North Conduit Avenue, Baisley Boulevard and Lake View Boulevard East in Jamaica. Q
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Page 9 QUEENS CHRONICLE, Thursday, November 11, 2010
Farmer Baisley’s pond: now a beautiful park
Religious freedom makes Bowne special A founding father of Flushing suffers hardships for a principle by Liz Rhoades
made his way to the Netherlands, where he brought his case to the Dutch West India There are no paintings or drawings of Co. and won. Bowne was gone two years. He faced Flushing founding father John Bowne, but he remains an unforgettable presence through- hardships, as did his wife, who was left to run the farm herself. But he returned bearing out the community. Bowne, a merchant and farmer, is most documents for Stuyvesant ordering him to allow people of all faiths to worship remembered for standing up to tyranfreely. nical Dutch Gov. Peter ZZARD CL Bowne left extensive writings in Stuyvesant, who refused to let OS BLI AY his diary and wrote after he Quakers meet in what was returned to New Amsterdam on then New Amsterdam. Jan. 30, 1664: “and the same day Bowne thus became the first I came to my own house, being person to address religious the first house I ventured into in freedom in the New World. the country, where I found my Born in England, he came family in good health. Praises to to Boston in 1648, eventually the Lord forever!” married and moved to Flushing The Flushing farmer’s house is one in 1661, where he bought land from of the oldest surviving structures in New York the Matinecock Indians for eight strings of wampum, about $14. The farmer built his City and the oldest in Queens. Part of its house at 37-01 Bowne St., which still stands. uniqueness lies in the fact that nine generaHis wife, Hannah, was a Quaker and tions of Bownes occupied the house, keeping Bowne converted, allowing members to meet the furniture, clothing and artifacts intact. It was purchased by the Bowne House Hisat their home, in defiance of Stuyvesant’s torical Society in 1947 and was open on a edict. The Flushing man was arrested in 1662 regular basis for tours until 2000. Some renobut refused to pay the fine imposed for his vations followed its closure but the group disobedience or leave the Dutch province. eventually ran out of money. Last year, the historical society donated He was jailed, deported and eventually
AJ’s VILLAGE CHEMIST
the house to the city Parks Department as part of the Historic House Trust. The move enables the society to continue to run the historic house and be responsible for its content, but the HHT owns it. An estimated $5 million upgrade expected to begin soon will include restoration work on the house and creation of a visitors center and offices in the former garage. The project is supposed to take two years. In his later years, Bowne served in the provincial assembly of New York, and he is listed in the “Encyclopedia of Quaker Genealogy” as an active member and treasurer in 1691. The Quakers continued to meet at Bowne’s house for 30 years. In 1692, he sold the group land near his home for a meeting house that remains in use today on Northern
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Boulevard. Bowne died in 1695, at the age of 68. He outlived two wives, was married three times and had 16 children, although five died at a young age. His descendants included Robert Bowne, the founder of a financial printing company that still exists; Walter Bowne, a mayor and the namesake for Bowne Park; and Samuel Parsons Jr., a landscape architect and city Parks Department superintendent. Aside from his eponymous house, which will be open to the public when restoration is complete, is the street where he lived. Bowne Street runs from Northern Boulevard to Rose Avenue in Flushing. PS 20 at 142-30 Barclay Ave. bears his name as does John Bowne High School at 63-25 Main St. Its specialty is agriculture. Q
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The Bowne House on Bowne Street in Flushing is the oldest dwelling in Queens. Farmer John PHOTO BY PJ SMITH Bowne fought to allow the Quakers to meet.
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Thoroughfare’s namesake possessed Southern charm, New York attitude by Lisa A. Fraser
the people there were white. After speaking out against the unfairness, Brewer told one It was first known as New York Boule- reporter that for the rest of his term, he was a vard. But 28 years ago, the street in South pariah. That led him to Queens. Jamaica that is now a bustling strip of auto The South Bronx and central Brooklyn, repair shops, laundromats and York College, along with Harlem, had already elected black was renamed in honor of witty, no nonsense leaders. But Queens, being predominantly Assemblyman Guy R. Brewer. white, had yet to do so. Brewer served the community from 1968 Activists in southeast Queens soon began to 1974. During those years he was a cham- to set their sights on the New York Assembly pion of the black community. He was credit- seat for the 29th District. After defeats in ed with helping to develop York Col1949 and 1954, in 1964, Queens became lege when the City University of the fourth borough to elect an New York wanted to expand EW NAME, T African American to the Assembly. N H A S within the Jamaica area. He His name was Kenneth Brown. also helped ensure that the St. But in 1967, he ran for a Alban’s Naval Hospital, judgeship and Guy Brewer which was set to be shut replaced him. down, was turned into someIn Jamaica, Brewer never thing beneficial to the comstopped fighting to improve his munity. community, which was predomiBut long before that, it was nantly black and 50 percent middle Brewer’s way with words and class. He denounced a proposal by the unabashed ability to stand up for himself at U.S. Department of Agriculture to use some a time when blacks had just begun to fight of the St. Albans site as a quarantine holding for their rights that led him to Queens and station for imported animals. into the public eye. “It is a crying shame and an indication of In 1941, Brewer, a realtor, moved to the low esteem in which these officials hold Jamaica from Harlem in hopes of establish- a black community ... I know that neither ing a black suburban community. man nor beast are quarantined when they are He was a district leader in Washington healthy,” he said, laying out a proposal to Heights, but soon left Manhattan’s political turn the site into either senior citizen housarena after speaking out against a choice by ing, a community hospital or a veterans hosthen Tammany Hall boss, Clarence Neal, to pital. withhold money from Brewer’s district by Brewer — a Georgia native — was resending it to another district leader because elected in 1970 and 1972. He favored capital
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punishment, was pro-choice and believed that all high school graduates should have equal opportunity to enter college through open admissions. Brewer died of prostate cancer in 1978 at the age of 74. On Sept. 11, 1982, New York Boulevard was renamed for him. The location was chosen because it was where Brewer purchased a building to house the United Democratic Club, an organization he founded when there were no black elected officials in Queens. It is now called the Guy R. Brewer United Democratic Club. At the time, the stretch was the longest
PHOTO BY PJ SMITH
street in the city to be named in honor of an African American. It extends 3.7 miles from Rockaway Boulevard near JFK Airport to the Jamaica business district and transportation hub. In Queens, Brewer became a local legend for his quick wit, sarcasm and eloquence when debating. He was also the first black person elected to serve as majority whip in the state Legislature. “He was a fighter for negro rights all his life,” said his wife, Marie Brown Brewer, after he died. “When people told him it was impossible, he insisted it was inevitable. And Q he was right.”
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Guy R. Brewer Blvd.: in honor of a fighter
Francis Lewis—a true American patriot Signer of the Declaration made major sacrifices in adopted country by Liz Rhoades
than Lewis. His Whitestone home was destroyed by the British, his wife taken prisoner — she later died — and he He lost his money, his home and lost most of his hard-ear ned his wife during the American FOR ELMHUR wealth. Revolution, but Francis Lewis ED S D D Born in Wales, Lewis was will always be remembered in orphaned at an early age, but Queens for a major thorhis aunt allowed him to get a oughfare, high school and good education and he later park named after the patriot apprenticed with a London who sacrif iced so much in business. the pursuit of liberty. After moving to the colonies According to historians, in 1738, he set up a successful many of the men who signed the trading company in New York City Declaration of Independence suffered because of it, probably none more and Philadelphia. He traveled to Europe and is believed to be the first American businessman to visit Russia. He was twice shipwrecked off the coast of Ireland. Lewis grew rich supplying goods to British troops during the French and Indian War. It was during that period in 1756, while Lewis was serving as clothing contractor for British troops at Fort Oswego, that he was taken prisoner by the French and sent to France, where he was held for seven years. After his release, the British government, in thanks for his service, awarded Lewis 5,000 acres of land in Whitestone. He returned to New York City and the business world and quickly became rich. History books say he was “one of the most opulent men in New York.” But he was respected for other things as Patriot Francis Lewis made major sacrfices well. Lewis was known for his independent and patriotic character, integrity and during the American Revolution. intellect. RD EDITION EVA A UL
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Francis Lewis Park is located in Whitestone on land that was part of his estate before the PHOTO BY PJ SMITH British burned it down during the American Revolution. The merchant retired in 1765, at the age of 52, and moved to Whitestone. The community today is largely made up of land he owned. . Lewis served as church warden for 25 years at St. George’s Episcopal Church that still stands on Main Street in downtown Flushing. Lewis got involved in the Revolutionary
Cunningham Park named for comptroller WW I vet died his first year in office by Simon Fong
bridle paths, playing fields and picnic groves. During the same year, LaGuardia In 1934, Hillside Park, composed of a dedicated the plaza at the center of the series of parcels of land in the Fresh Mead- park in Cunningham’s memory. ows area that the city had acquired starting A bronze bust of Cunningham was in the 1920s, was renamed for W. Arthur unveiled in 1941, and was installed on a Cunningham, who served as city comptrol- granite pedestal in the park. Not long ler for only a few months. after the dedication, the bust was mutilatCunningham was born in Manhattan ed by a vandal, who severed one ear. in 1894. He was raised in Brooklyn, Cunningham’s widow was so shaken where he attended St. James by the incident that she requested Academy. He earned his LLB the sculpture not be returned A N M ES C OM ALD degree from Fordham Law to its public setting. The bust ON School in 1915, but postwas consigned to storage poned his law career to for more than 60 years. serve his country in World Today, Cunningham’s War I, distinguishing himbust, with both ears in self in combat as a major in place, is temporarily on the 69th Regiment. display in the conference After the war, he served as room of the Forest Park counsel and later vice president Overlook in Kew Gardens. of the Textile Banking Corp. until The 358-acre Cunningham Park 1933, when he was elected city comp- provides sports facilities including 25 troller on Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia’s baseball diamonds, 20 tennis courts, one “fusion ticket” of Republicans, Democ- full basketball court and two soccer fields. rats and Independents. Recreational activities include bicycling, But Cunningham died unexpectedly jogging, barbecuing and picnics. on May 5, 1934, after suffering a heart Cunningham Park boasts an active attack while horseback riding in Long events calendar and may be best known Island. He was only 40 years old. for hosting the annual Big Apple CirIn 1936, development of the southern cus, which entertains families every part of the park was completed by the spring for a two-week run. The park Works Progress Administration and the also has annual performances by the Parks Department. The new area provid- New York Philhar monic and the Q ed tennis courts, playgrounds, stables, Metropolitan Opera.
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The bronze bust of W. Arthur Cunningham was sculpted by Emil Sieburn shortly after FILE PHOTO his death.
movement in 1765 by attending the Stamp Act Congress. He eventually help set up the New York state government. He served in the Continental Congress from 1775 to 1779 and was instrumental in getting supplies to the troops and spent much of his fortune on the fight for independence. As a result of signing the Declaration of Independence in the summer of 1776, the British destroyed Lewis’ Whitestone home that fall and took his wife prisoner. She was eventually released in an exchange, but the hardships led to her death in 1779. Lewis was heartbroken and left Cong ress, but remained on the Board of Admiralty until 1781. He lived in retirement in Manhattan with his sons and died in 1802 at the age of 89. Although he was listed as the fifth richest signer of the Declaration of Independence, it is believed he lost most of his wealth during the war. Lewis and his wife had seven children but only three lived to adulthood. Their only daughter married a British Navy officer and settled in England, refusing to see or correspond with her parents. Their son, Morgan, served in the army during the Revolutionary War and went on to become the third governor of New York. Their other son became a successful merchant. Despite his tragic life, with its many highs and lows, Lewis’ legacy lives on. The most popular and overcrowded high school in the city is named after him. Located on Utopia Parkway in Fresh Meadows, the school’s teams are known as the Patriots. PS 79 in Whitestone also bears Lewis’ name as does a park in Whitestone overlooking the Whitestone Bridge. The 16-acre park, the site of Lewis’ home, is bounded by Third Avenue, 147th Street, the East River and Parsons Boulevard. Also named after the patriot is Francis Lewis Boulevard, the longest street exclusively within Queens, which runs northsouth through Whitestone, Bayside, Auburndale, Fresh Meadows, Hollis, Cambria Heights, Springf ield Gardens, Q Laurelton and Rosedale.
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Douglaston was home to a notorious playboy William Douglas fancied himself an earl by Peter C. Mastrosimone
Four years after George Douglas died, the North Shore Railroad came through the area. Occasionally the apple does fall far from William Douglas donated an outbuilding to the tree, and the life of William Douglas use as a station. The NSR, later folded into the exemplified the exception. Long Island Rail Road, christened the depot Douglas lived the high life in late 18th-cen- Douglaston in return. The name stuck. tury New York, dining at Delmonico’s, loungDouglas kept sailing and carousing, espeing at the Union Club, racing yachts across the cially with his friend James Gordon Bennett, Atlantic. He competed against friends for one of America’s richest men. Bennett was $5,000 per contest, and only lost once, accord- commodore of the New York Yacht Club; ing to a look back at his life published by the Douglas was vice commodore. Rumor had it Daily Star in 1940. In 1871 he won the that the pair would entertain female America’s Cup, yachting’s top prize, friends at Douglas’ mansion, drinkBEACH TEEN D S AR at the tiller of Sappho, a schooner ing champagne from the women’s he bought for $50,000. shoes in their decadence. Douglas’ playboy lifestyle They played other sports as stood in sharp contrast to the well, and were credited with staid ways of his father, George bringing polo to the United States Douglas. The elder Douglas was in 1876 when they held a tournaeducated at Columbia University, ment together in Manhattan. religiously devout, a naturalist and a The two were also close in that philanthropist. While William might drop Bennett became engaged to Caroline tens of thousands of dollars on a yacht, May, the sister of Douglas’ wife, Adelaide. George was more inclined toward altruism, The sisters were the socialite daughters of a giving, for example, $30,000 to the American prominent doctor, William May. Bible Society before he died in 1862. But the engagement, combined with the George Douglas had come to the area that dangers of heavy drinking, resulted in the end would eventually bear his name in 1835, buy- of the friendship between Douglas and Bening a farm on what was then known as Little nett. One New Year’s Day, during a gathering Neck Peninsula. He filled the land with exotic at the May home, a drunken Bennett relieved plants and trees with the help of a friend, the himself in the fireplace in front of everyone. well-known landscape architect Samuel Par- The scandal led to a duel between Bennett and sons Jr. His family lived there in a magnificent his ex-fiancee’s brother, which both survived, 1819 Greek Revival manor house, now the and to Douglas becoming a recluse in the Douglaston Club, located at West Drive and manor, which Caroline also moved into. Manor Road. Douglas became increasingly eccentric, and IAL OF HO : TR W 87
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Stately homes like this one on Douglaston Parkway are common in the community.
William Douglas’ wife, Adelaide, and his yacht, the Sappho. PHOTOS COURTESY
PHOTO COURTESY NYC
THE DOUGLASTON-LITTLE NECK HISTORICAL SOCIETY
was resented by the townsfolk for, among other things, persecuting anyone he found fishing on his land and trying, unsuccessfully, to claim the title “Earl of Douglas.” He died at 76 in 1919, described in his New York Times obituary as a “capitalist and yachtsman ... widely known for his defense of the America’s Cup against British challenges.” In 1906 he had sold his estate for $300,000 to the Rickert-Finlay Co., and the development of Douglas Manor, as the peninsula is known today, began. It’s one of either four or six distinct communities that comprise Douglaston, depending on who’s counting. The 2007 book “The Neighborhoods of Queens” breaks Douglaston into four pieces: The Manor, as the people there call it, encompassing all the peninsula down to the LIRR tracks; Douglaston Hill, between the railroad and Northern Boulevard; Douglaston Park, from the boulevard down to the Long Island Expressway; and Douglaston proper, from the LIE to the Grand Central Parkway.
Others recognize Doug Bay in the north and Winchester Estates in the south as distinct communities. Either way, Little Neck and Marathon parkways comprise Douglaston’s eastern border, while Alley Pond Park and the Cross Island Parkway mark the western edge. However it’s broken down, Douglaston remains one of Queens’ most desirable locations, much of it designated as historic districts. The Manor especially is highly exclusive, with homes on the water typically going for $3 million to $5 million. In the southern section, $1 million for a single-family house or $200,000 for a one-bedroom apartment is nothing unusual. Douglaston’s history is kept alive by the Douglaston-Little Neck Historical Society, its present maintained by the Douglaston Civic Association and its future educated at some of the city’s best schools. The Douglases would be glad to know how fine a community their Q old estate and its surroundings became.
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Harding influence can be seen across Queens Financier supported parks and infrastructure plans in New York by Michael Cusenza
including the Interboro and Grand Central, aimed to increase mobility to Queens residents are familiar with the f ive boroughs, as well as Long “the service road,” but how many Island and Westchester, by connecting know the historical f igure, Horace a series of parks. Harding was a supporter of Moses’ Harding, for which a portion of the design for what would become the parallel feeder to the Long Island Long Island Expressway, Expressway, among other which in Queens was built things, was named? DUCED IN S O OM TR along the former Horace According to the city IN Harding Boulevard and Parks Department, completed in 1958. In Horace Harding, who 1929, part of New York was born in 1863 and State Route 25D, now 24, died in 1929, was a sucwas named Horace Hardcessful banker and busiing Expressway, which nessman in the late 19th runs parallel to the LIE from century who operated severQueens Boulevard to the Nasal companies, including New sau County line, except where broYork Municipal Railways System, American Exchange Irving Trust, ken by Flushing Meadows Park. In 1985, Parks renamed PS 206 Bronx Gas and Electric, American Express, Continental Can Company, Playground on 62nd Drive, between Public Service Corporation of New 97th and 98th streets in Rego Park, Jersey, Southern Pacif ic Company, Horace Harding Playground due to United States Industrial Alcohol, its proximity to the eponymous American Beet Sugar Company and expressway. It is jointly operated by the Parks the Wabash Railway. A native of Philadelphia, Harding and the Department of Education, and believed in expanding infrastructure, features a baseball field, two basketand embraced master city planner ball courts, a volleyball court, a sandpit, Robert Moses and his vision of park- wooden play equipment, a sprinkler and several concrete animal sculptures ways. Moses’ plan, which led to the con- including a dinosaur, a turtle and a Horace Harding Playground in Rego Park and, at right, a sign for New York State Route 25D, which was Q struction of 16 parkways in the city, porpoise. named the Horace Harding Expressway in 1929. PHOTOS BY MICHAEL CUSENZA AND PJ SMITH Assistant Editor
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Goats led to founding of Howard Beach Leather maker and developer William Howard didn’t let a fire ruin his plans by Andrew Benjamin
purchased 150 acres of marshland west of Hawtree Creek, near the Aqueduct The history of Howard Beach can be Race track site, with plans to breed traced back to goats, leather and a goats. He bought additional land in hotel. 1897. The earliest residents were Canarsie Howard eventually lost his goat herd and Rockaway American Indians. Then due to the climate. The Mexican-bred the English settled the area, attracted by animals could not adapt to the cold, wet the bountiful fishing sites at Hawtree weather of the marshes. A big rainstorm Creek and on Jamaica Bay. was said to have drowned the last of the In the 1770s, the land was given herd, probably in 1903. the name Remsen’s Landing, Howard build a brick buildCHOOL BOA after Col. Jeromus Remsen, ing on Centreville Avenue, S R NS who led the Queens County where he continued to overregiment during the Revosee the manuf acture of lutionary War. A prosperleather products, including ous landowner, he also footballs made from held the largest amount of goatskin. He’s credited as land in the area. He died in the father of modern foot1790. ball in south Queens. One hundred years later, In 1899, he began construcRemsen’s Landing — by then tion on his dream project, the called Ramblersville and even Little three-story landmark Hotel Howard, Venice — would evolve not only in built on a pier jutting 2,000 feet into name, but aesthetically. That change Jamaica Bay, which he also constructed. would come from one man’s vision. The Howard opened in 1904. LocatWilliam Howard was born to Irish ed at the end of 99th Street off Jamaica immigrants in St. Paul, Minn. in 1857. Bay, the hotel served as a place where His father, Andrew, moved the family the wealthy and famous could gather. to Califor nia in the early 1870s to It had recreational facilities, a billiards establish himself as a leather merchant. room and accommodations for100 The business would be the source of people. the younger Howard’s wealth. Howard also built 14 cottages north William Howard manuf actured of the hotel. But tragedy stuck when a gloves in Brooklyn made from angora fire consumed both the inn and the bungoat skins. In the early 1890s, he galows on Oct. 24, 1907. The blaze was D
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32nd Anniversary Edition
An ad for the Hotel Howard, which opened in 1904 but burned down just three years later. PHOTO COURTESY QUEENS HISTORICAL SOCIETY
believed to have started from a cigarette. Howard gradually bought more land, filling in the swamps, and formed the Howard Estates Development Co. in 1909. By 1914 he had amassed 500 acres. He laid out several streets, water and gas mains and built houses — all east of Crossbay Boulevard in what’s now known as Old Howard Beach. The western marshlands wouldn’t be developed until after World War II. The community changed its name to
Howard Beach on April 6, 1916. Howard died on Aug. 5, 1919. Today, Howard Beach encompasses the neighborhoods of Old Howard Beach, Rockwood Park, Lindenwood and Hamilton Beach, the former Ramblersville. It is a thriving community of mostly single-family houses with high property values, It is home to a diverse population that’s primarily Italian, Irish, Q Jewish and Latino.
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Langston Hughes gets fitting tribute Corona library named after author by Lisa A. Fraser
because it still wasn’t being taught in the school system, and we needed a place for The Langston Hughes Community young people to go and find that material,” Library and Cultural Center in Corona was said Andrew Jackson, the executive director the first public institution to be named after of the Langston Hughes Library. “They did the famed poet and author. a survey of Queens and realized there were Formed in 1969, just two years after no libraries that had any collections on the Hughes’ death, the center was a symbol of black experience, so they decided we needthe well-organized community ed a library.” activism that arose in Corona The center first opened in 1969 S ENGINE 2 during the 1960s. It fulfilled and was run by the committee 94 LL’ I H the need to have a local place and local staff until the Queens that focused on the history Library took it over in 1987. It of the African diaspora and received funding from the aimed to nurture the black Library Services and Construccommunity that thrived tion Act, a type of federal fundthere at the time. ing designed to aid experimenThe library is an outgrowth tal projects in developing comof the civil rights movement munity libraries. and anti-poverty programs of the “For the community to make this 1960s. During that time, community cordemand and for the library system to sancporations were formed that determined tion this, it was an experiment in communiwhat services were needed in each neigh- ty library services, the first of its kind,” borhood around the city, which resulted in Jackson said. family daycare programs, community The Langston Hughes Library was first health centers, planning boards and com- housed in the space that belonged to a munity school boards. Woolworth’s store on Northern Boulevard. Another of the committees that arose in The full-length windows were a striking the Corona-East Elmhurst area was the feature that allowed passersby to discover Library Action Committee. the library within. “One of the things they realized is we The library’s aim was to take non-readers needed to teach our children their history and turn them into library users and readers. RICHMO 90: ND 19
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Writings from Langston Hughes and his photo at the library named after him in Corona. PHOTO BY PJ SMITH
“We realized in order to do that, you can do it through a book or the other way, through arts and culture — so we created a cultural arts program and after-school tutorial program called the homework assistance program,” Jackson said. Soon, the library outgrew the building and shelving space for books became scarce. Between 1985 and 1987, the Queens Library negotiated a letter of agreement that transformed the facility from experimental to a full branch status in the system that would raise the budget and start a process for new space. It moved to 100-01 Northern Blvd. in 1999. As the LAC was developing, organizers decided that Langston Hughes would be the best name, although he never lived in Queens.
Hughes was born in 1902 in Missouri and spent most of his youth in the Midwest. He was known for writing about the Harlem Renaissance and was a noted poet, author and journalist. He died in 1967. “We wanted our library to have the same impact that he had on American literature,” Jackson said. “He wasn’t just a writer on black American literature, he was an American author.” The library houses the only black heritage reference center in Queens County. Today it has over 45,000 volumes of print and non-print circulating material on the black experience, the largest circulating black heritage collection in the state. The library also boasts an extensive art collection, over 150,000 pieces, often disQ played on the second floor gallery.
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Area contains first buildings in U.S. inspired by garden city movement by Elizabeth Daley
and again in 1874 and 1875. At his retirement, Jackson was recognized Jackson Heights is today one of the most for his work at the QCAC in a resolution historic neighborhoods in Queens, named which noted “the generous and noble spirit of for the president of Hunter’s Point, Newtown liberality that has marked his course during and Flushing Turnpike Company, John C. the period of his official terms.” Jackson. When Jackson’s six-mile connecting turnJackson was born at the Staffordshire Pot- pike was completed it was pronounced the teries in England on April 7, 1809. He set finest road on Long Island. As a mark of sail for New York in 1830 and appreciation, stockholders of JackTS MOR became one of the most respected son’s company had dinner served E G E . P SN and well known citizens of to him on a silver platter. Queens in his lifetime. Though bearing Jackson’s In 1834, Jackson wed name, with the word “Heights” Martha Riker, daughter of likely added due to its elevaCapt. Andrew Riker. In 1839, tion, Jackson Heights develthe Jacksons set up a home at oped into what it is today under her birthplace in what is now the hand of Edward Archibald Long Island City. They raised one MacDougall, president of the daughter there and she grew up to Queensboro Corporation. marry into the Riker family. With knowledge that the Queensboro During his lifetime, Jackson had many dif- Bridge was to be constructed, MacDougall ferent occupations. He started out as an bought up land in the area and spent money importer of china and earthenware, moved on paving the streets so that people could easily to breed cattle and ended up an urban planner access Manhattan. of sorts, constructing a roadway — once The Queensboro Bridge opened in 1909, known as Jackson Avenue — from Hunter’s helping to populate the area, and on Oct. 30, Point to Flushing. 1911, the first baby born in Jackson Heights, He excelled in his careers, and during his Katherine Brace, was delivered at 55 26th first exhibit for agricultural awards at the (now known as 83rd) Street. Queens County Fair in 1852, he obtained a Though there were already buildings in prize for every single entry. Jackson was the area, MacDougall’s primary vision for elected vice president of the New York State Jackson Heights was formed between the Agricultural Society in 1854 and 1855. He years of 1912 and 1916, influenced by his was elected president of the Queens County 1914 trip to Europe. Agricultural Society in 1863, 1864, 1865 MacDougall was inspired by the garden AND TO EXP KL A AR
.S. TENNIS :U AS 91
city movement, founded by Sir Ebenezer Howard in England in 1898. Howard created a careful urban plan to balance industry, residences and agriculture. MacDougall wanted to use Howard’s framework to create better living spaces for Jackson Heights residents. However, MacDougall’s choice to develop buildings with courtyard gardens wasn’t entirely altruistic. The 1901 Tenement Act prohibiting cramped unventilated living quarters also played a role. The buildings were designed with attention to appearance and comfort, with close attention paid to allowing sunlight and air flow. When the elevated subway arrived along Roosevelt Avenue in Jackson Heights in 1917, the neighborhood was in business. With Grand Central Station only 20 minutes away, it became a desirable location to live. In 1919, the Queensboro Corporation introduced a “Cooperative Ownership Plan,” one of the first of its kind in the United States. Under the plan, the corporation was able to make immediate returns on its investments by selling units. At the age of 70 in September 1944, MacDougall died. His death was announced in the Jackson Heights News. Jackson died decades earlier in 1899. Today, Jackson Heights is one of Queens’ historic districts, bounded by 76th Street on the west, 88th Street on the east, Roosevelt
Page 19 QUEENS CHRONICLE, Thursday, November 11, 2010
Jackson Heights named for an entrepreneur
John C. Jackson PHOTO COURTESY BROOKLYN GENEAOLOGY INFORMATION PAGE
Avenue on the south, and Northern Boulevard on the north. An even larger portion of the community is recognized by New York State and the federal government as being historic. Jackson Heights is home to a diverse population including many South Asians, Hispanics and members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community. The area is known for its delicious food and for its gay pride parade which is the Q largest outside of Manhattan.
St. Michael’s Cemetery 72-02 Astoria Boulevard • East Elmhurst, NY Tel: 718.278.3240 • Fax: 718.278.2168
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Dear Friends: St. Michael’s has joined with the US Marine Corps Toy for Tots Program. The mission of the Program is to collect new, unwrapped toys and distribute those toys as Holiday gifts to needy children in which the campaign is conducted. Our friends and neighbors are facing trying economic times. Families are finding it hard to put food on their tables. Without our help children who suffer more during stressful times will endure the Holidays without a reason to smile. We are our brothers’ keepers! The children deserve our support. On Friday, December 3rd within All Souls Chapel beginning at 3PM the USMC will be present to accept and thank you for your donations. St. Michael’s knows that the families who rely upon us as their resource at times of need will respond. For further information, please call offering your aid, assistance and participation.
Queens airport named for beloved president Former Idlewild rededicated John F. Kennedy International in 1963 by Michael Cusenza Assistant Editor
ALEXANDER’ S 2: 99
John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States, was assassinated in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963. He was 46 years old, and left behind a wife and two small children. Kennedy was a World War II Navy hero, Democratic congressman and U.S. senator who defeated then-Vice President Richard Nixon in the 1960 presidential election. He ES IN REGO served less than OS L P C three years of his first term before he was gunned down. It’s been nearly 47 years since his death, but the beloved Brookline, Mass. native’s legacy has endured, thanks in part to the countless schools, parks and infrastructure named in JFK’s honor. Chief among these eponymous dedications in the city is John F. Kennedy International Airport in Jamaica, one of two major air travel hubs in Queens. LaGuardia Airport is located on Flushing Bay. Originally named Idlewild, construction on the airport began in 1943, with its first commercial flight taking off in July 1948 after the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey signed a lease agreement with the city to be the operator, which it remains to this day. ND FLUSH KA IN AR
QUEENS CHRONICLE, Thursday, November 11, 2010 Page 20
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The 35th president’s initials loom large on the approach to John F. Kennedy International PHOTO BY PJ SMITH Airport in Jamaica. That same year, the City Council voted to rename Idlewild New York International Airport, Anderson Field, in honor of Queens resident and National Guard Maj. Gen. George E. Anderson, who died in 1942. But locally, it was still referred to as Idlewild. On. Dec. 24, 1963, just one month after he was murdered as his motorcade passed through Dealey Plaza, the airport was rededicated John F. Kennedy International. According to the Port Authority, JFK is “the nation’s leading international gateway,” boasting more than 80 airlines operating out
of seven terminals and 125 gates. The airport, which covers 4,930 acres, including 30 miles of roadway, has a tremendous impact on the borough, city and state economies. Approximately 35,000 people are employed there, generating about $9.8 billion in wages and salaries. JFK’s two cargo facilities feature 430,000 square feet of warehouse and office space. In 2004, the Port Authority and the city penned a pact that ensures the agency’s continued operation of JFK and LaGuardia Q through 2050.
President John F. Kennedy PHOTO BY CECIL STOUGHTON
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Remembering Rufus King and his legacy Founding father’s former home is a museum and park in downtown Jamaica by AnnMarie Costella
Parsons, an American jurist. A year later in 1778, King voluntarily joined the Continental In the heart of downtown Jamaica stands an Army during the Revolutionary War. After his important piece of American history — the tour of duty was over, he went back to studyformer home of Rufus King, which is now a ing law under Parsons and was admitted to the museum. Thousands of people visit the loca- bar in 1780. tion every year, but for those who haven’t King soon proved himself to be a gifted made the journey yet, the location’s namesake lawyer and his talent propelled him into a life may be somewhat of a mystery. of public service. He served in the Massachu“A visit to King Manor can remind setts State Assembly from 1783 to us of Queens’ agricultural heritage 1785 and was the youngest particiA F D T L ER HE while also allowing us to learn pant in the Continental Congress, S E S about the contributions one famserving from 1784 to 1787. ily made to our nation’s histoOn Feb. 21, 1787 he introry,” said Kathy Forrestal, the duced a resolution calling for a director of education at King convention in Philadelphia to Manor. “The King family were draft a new Constitution. There elected off icials, community he worked closely with Alexanleaders, anti-slavery advocates, der Hamilton to prepare the final military figures and farmers. The draft and was successful in getting it family history is incredible, and we learn ratified in Massachusetts. more nearly every day.” King served as an ambassador to Great Founding father Rufus King was a signer of Britain from 1796 to 1806, where he helped the U.S. Constitution as well as one of New shape American maritime policy. He retired in York’s first U.S. senators, an ambassador to 1806, but that proved short-lived as it wasn’t Great Britain and an early, outspoken oppo- long before his nation needed him again. nent of slavery. He ran unsuccessfully for vice King returned to the Senate during the War president in 1804 and 1808 and for president of 1812 and helped unify the nation during in 1816. this confusing time. Later he spoke against King was born on March 24, 1755 in Scar- slavery during the debates on the Missouri borough, Mass. His father was a prosperous Compromise. farmer and merchant, who was able to amass a “Rufus King was a major figure in early small fortune by the time his son was born. American history,” Forrestal said. “He played King graduated at the top of his class at key roles in many major events and yet does Harvard University in 1777 and began an not receive the attention that many of his peers apprenticeship studying law under Theophilus get, such as Jefferson and Hamilton. I hope Chronicle Reporter
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QUEENS CHRONICLE, Thursday, November 11, 2010 Page 22
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Visitors to the home of founding father Rufus King can gain insight into his life and how he LEFT PHOTO BY SUSAN DE VRIES, RIGHT COURTESY KING MANOR helped shape the history of early America. that people will remember that Rufus King took political stands that may not have been universally popular, such as opposing slavery, but were right, and that they will be inspired to follow his example.” King moved to New York in 1789 and bought King Manor in 1805. He lived there until his death in 1827. But this American patriot was not the only member of his family to make his mark in politics. His brother William King was the first governor of Maine, and his other brother, Cyrus King, was a U. S. congressman. His son, John Alsop King, served as governor of New York. Today, residents can visit King’s home and part of his former farm, located within an 11-acre park named after him, to get a
glimpse into how he lived. King described the house in the following way: “not fashionable, but convenient, the outhouse good, and the grounds consisting of about 50 acres, sufficient to give me pasture for my cows and hay for my horses.” In 1810 King planted 13 trees on the property to symbolize each of the 13 colonies. They are located along the 153rd Street border of the site. Today, only five remain. Also a testament to King’s legacy in Queens, a school in Fresh Meadows, PS 26, is named after him. King Manor Museum is located at 153rd Street and Jamaica Avenue in King Park. For more information call (718) 206-0545 or Q visit kingmanor.org.
Kosciuszko connects Queens and Brooklyn Bridge named in honor of American Revolutionary War hero from Poland by Michael Cusenza
nental Congress, charged with designing and implementing forts It seems New Yorkers have on various battlegrounds. Perhaps about as many variations of the his most enduring work came in pronunciation of “Kosciuszko” as planning the defense of the upstate years (70) the bridge has been New York town of Saratoga, site of connecting Queens to Greenpoint, the crucial Battle of Freeman’s Farm Brooklyn. and Battle of Bemis Heights. That’s Regardless of how you say it, the where British Gen. John Burgoyne 6,000-foot link is named in honor was forced to surrender to American of Tadeusz Kosciuszko, an Ameri- troops on Oct. 17, 1777 — widely can Revolutionary War gendeemed the turning point of eral who was born and the war. REOPENED I raised in Poland, and is Kosciuszko, who N IS 4 part of Interstate 278, during the revolution the Brooklyn-Queens became best friends Expressway. More with Thomas Jefferthan 180,000 vehicles son, was later named cross the bridge daily chief engineer at that looms 125 feet West Point, and sugabove Newtown Creek gested after the war and features metal eagles that it be made into a milon two of its towers: one white, itary academy. In 1802, Conrepresenting Poland, and an Ameri- gress authorized establishing the can bald eagle. prestigious facility that trains and According to the Polish Ameri- educates Army cadets to this day. can Cultural Center, Kosciuszko After being appointed brigadier was born in 1746 and studied general and receiving the Cincinengineering in Warsaw and Paris, nati Order Medal from Gen. France. He immigrated to what George Washington in 1783, were the American colonies in Kosciuszko returned to his home1776 and offered his services as land to help it regain independence. an engineer to the effort to attain Kosciuszko died in 1817 in independence. Switzerland at the age of 72. In the fall of that year, Poland did not break free from Kosciuszko was commissioned as P r u s s i a , R u s s i a a n d A u s t r i a colonel of engineers by the Conti- until 1918.
Portrait of Tadeusz Kosciuszko
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The Kosciuszko Bridge is part of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and connects Maspeth and Greenpoint, Brooklyn. FILE PHOTO
Kosciuszko’s name is commemorated at dozens of sites all over the world. In New York state, there are two bridges and two
streets that bear his name. The 1.1-mile main span of the bridge that ties the Polish enclaves in Maspeth and Greenpoint is
scheduled to be replaced by the state Department of Transportation in 2014. The project is expected to Q cost more than $270 million.
C M ANNIV page 23 Y K
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LaGuardia Airport’s final destination Queens landed the facility named for former mayor who helped city take off OPE JOHN P :P A 95
EB I CEL RATES
by Cynthia Murray Chronicle Contributor
LaGuardia Airport is an icon in Queens. Most of us have been stuck in the traffic it creates, many of us have traveled through its gates, and some of us even know the man for which the airport is named. But few know the story of how the area’s third airport arrived at its final destination in the borough. The idea of building the airport began with a verbal outburst by then New York City Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia. At the time, Newark Airport in New Jersey was the only commercial facility serving the New York City region. Upon arriving there with his ticket declaring his final destination “New York,” LaGuardia demanded to be taken there and ordered the plane to be flown to Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn. Known for being outspoken, after touching down at the airfield, the mayor gave an impromptu speech to the press, urging New Yorkers to support his plans to build another airport in the city. The introduction of an airport was only the beginning of LaGuardia’s contributions to New York. LaGuardia was born in 1882 in Greenwich Village to Achille LaGuardia, a Roman Catholic, and Irene Coen Luzzato, a Hungarian Jew. Despite being confirmed as a Jew, LaGuardia was raised Episcopalian. He graduated from New York University and later became the state’s deputy attorney general. LaGuardia was elected to the House of Representatives in 1916. He devoted much of his agenda to cleaning up the slums of East Harlem. His progressive ideas quickly earned him a reputation for being a tough- minded reformer. S AT AQUED AS U M
QUEENS CHRONICLE, Thursday, November 11, 2010 Page 24
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It was former New York City Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia’s public outburst that helped make Queens the final destination of FILE PHOTO LaGuardia Airport. In 1919, LaGuardia gave up his seat to become president of the Board of Alderman. He returned to Congress three years later, serving five more terms between 1922 and 1933, before running for mayor. The New Dealer was elected to the mayor’s office in 1934. He continued his work, championing for progressive issues. During his 10 years in office, he helped clean up corruption, overhauled public works and modernized the public transportation system. LaGuardia left office in 1945. Two years later, he died from pancreatic cancer at the age of 64.
In his honor, LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City is also named for him. But of all his projects, LaGuardia is best known today for the airport that bears his name. Construction began in 1937 to transform the vacant Gala Amusement Park, originally owned by the Steinway family, into what would later be touted as “the greatest airport in the world” by the aviation community. The airport was dedicated on Oct.15, 1939, as the New York Municipal Airport, and opened for business on Dec. 2. The project cost the city an estimated $40 million, but soon proved to be a huge financial success. The fees from parking and concessions alone brought in close to $1 million within the first two years. In 1947, the Port Authority took over the facility and renamed it LaGuardia Airport after the mayor that inspired its construction. Although the facility was one of the largest airports in the country when it was built, in 1961 it had to be completely renovated to accommodate the growing amount of traffic. New runways were paved and existing runways were extended to make room for larger airliners. Despite the renovations, traffic volume remained a problem for LaGuardia Airport. In 1984 the surge in passengers prompted the Port Authority to institute a Sunday-through-Friday “perimeter rule” banning nonstop flights to cities more than 1,500 miles away. Today, LaGuardia remains a major piece of one of the largest concentrations of airports in the world. More than 23 million people go through its gates each year. In 2010, the Port Authority announced plans to look into further expansion. The project’s goal is to create a unified, modern, and efficient layout for the airport. Once plans are finalized, the agency said the makeover would be done in phases so the runways could remain open throughout the Q construction.
Lefferts Boulevard MacDonald Park has humble roots salutes WWI soldiers ING MEADO SH W LU
32nd Anniversary Edition
by Liz Rhoades
The 1.4-acre MacDonald Park in Forest Hills honors those who fought in World War 1, but more recently has become one of the major symbols of the tornadoes and storm that hit the area in August. Named for Capt. Gerald MacDonald, who served as an Army engineer during the First World War, the site was devastated during the August storm when an estimated 85 percent of its trees were destroyed. Elected officials and emergency management personnel met there to call for federal assistance as nearby residents were shocked by the damage created by the heavy winds. The small park, located at Queens and Yellowstone boulevards and 70th Road, has been a public space since 1931. Although there is a statue of MacDonald in a uniform in the park, many people are unaware of the name’s origin. Chess and checkers players continue their games, seemingly oblivious to the tree loss and to the monument. The location was originally known as Thomas Harvey Square, selected by George Upton Harvey, a Republican who served as Queens Borough president. He named it after his father, who was a printer. A statue of World War I The park was renamed a year later at the request of Ameri- soldier Gerald MacDonald can Legion Forest Hills Post 630 and MacDonald’s brother, is situated in Forest Hills’ Henry. Gerald MacDonald had survived the war, but died in a MacDonald Park. car accident 11 years later at the age of 47 in 1929. PHOTO BY PJ SMITH Henry MacDonald, himself a WWI veteran, hired his brother-in-law, sculptor Frederic de Henwood, to design a bronze statue of his brother. The American Legion post donated $1,500 for the project and the statue was installed in 1934. Despite the recent loss of trees, the small park remains a vital link for seniors and other Q Forest Hills residents who enjoy its ambiance. CS
GAS TAN RST KS HU
18 YEAR 19
FLAKE RE OYD FL T FROM POL ITI ES IR
The origin of Lefferts Boulevard dates all the way back to 1869, when Manhattan Though it doesn’t approach the length or attorney Albert Platt Man purchased 200 stature of some of Queens’ more famous boule- acres of Queens farmland owned by John Lefferts for nearly $60,000. Lefferts, vards, Lefferts Boulevard is an imporwho served in Congress for two tant thoroughfare in its own right. A D C A E , EL U years, was the son of Pieter LefThe roadway, a little more than AQ M ’ S ferts, a lieutenant in the Contifour miles long, starts within the nental Army of Gen. George confines of Kennedy InternaWashington. tional Airport at its southern According to the Queens end and runs north to Kew GarLibrary, Man envisioned a gardens, where it ends at Kew Garden spot and refuge from city dens Road. life in Manhattan when he purAlong the way, Lefferts Boulechased the land. He recruited landvard meanders through Ozone Park scape architect Edward Richmond to and Richmond Hill, before taking motorists through tree-lined streets and a help lay out his proposed community, one of the city’s first planned garden areas, accordshopping district in Kew Gardens. ing to the library. Lefferts Avenue, now Lefferts Boulevard, became the main thoroughfare. Nearly 150 years later, Lefferts Boulevard still exists. The name “Lefferts” even survived a 1930s proposal to rename the street Richmond Hill Boulevard. And though the famous Lefferts family is more associated with Brooklyn, having resided in what is now Flatbush (the neighborhood Prospect-Lefferts Gardens is named after them), a litLefferts Boulevard as it looked in a postcard circa 1906. It tle bit of the Lefferts legacy was originally intended to be the main street of a planned lives on in Queens in the eponyQ PHOTO COURTESY JOSEPH DE MAY mous boulevard. community. Assistant Editor
ONGRESSMA :C N 97
by Bryan Yurcan
ANNIV page 25
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decades before being asked to help found St. Chronicle Contributor The McGoldrick branch of the Queens Andrew’s Avellino parish Library in Flushing turned a new page this in Flushing in 1914. Under his leadership a year. After five months of renovations the library officially reopened in September with small congregation of a fresh layout, new furniture, updated comput- just a few hundred grew ers and state-of-the-art self check-in and to more than 4,000. During this time Edward McGoldrick check-out machines. The $1.2 million project also included a McGoldrick was also PHOTO COURTESY OF new roof, floors, windows, and a teen room adminstrator of the SociST. ANDREW AVELLINO where you regularly find students receiving ety of St. Vincent de Paul and of St. Bartholomew’s Church in Elmhurst homework help after school. The priest’s commitment to community The branch has come a long way from its humble beginnings. It first opened its doors in reached beyond the church. He became well 1911 under the branch’s original name, Broad- recognized throughout Queens for building way-Flushing. The small and inconveniently schools and convents. McGoldrick was the located library closed only five years later rector of St. Andrew’s for 16 years before thanks to poor circulation. It took almost 15 falling ill. He died at age 60 in 1930. The branch would move twice more before years before it reopened in Murray Hill in 1930. and in 1974 moved to its present locaIt was during this time that the branch tion across the street from St. was renamed the McGoldrick ComET FUEL OVE J R PS Andrew’s at 155-06 Roosevelt munity Library after an area pastor Ave. Today, the McGoldrick and library trustee, the Rev. Library is one of the 10 busiest Edward F. McGoldrick. libraries in the borough. It serves Born in Ireland in 1867, a diverse community and is recMcGoldrick was ordained upon ognized for its international lanarriving to America in 1885. He guage collections; most notably served as the priest of St. Michael’s Q Church in Brooklyn for nearly two Chinese, Korean and Spanish.
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McGoldrick Library: humble beginnings
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★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★ ★ ★ ★ Celebrated Author ANGELICA HARRIS ★ ★ ★ A NNOUNCES N EW PROGRAM O FFERINGS ! ★ ★ She will ask you some questions about your Her work has been hailed by Midwest Books ANGELICA HARRIS – is a fantasy ★ ★ company and what you envision in the future. and Renaissance Magazine and accredited in author, writing coach and Blog Talk Radio Angelica will work YOUR project within the media such as The Queens Ledger, The ★ ★ Host. Her latest novel, EXCALIBUR RECLAIMS YOUR budget. Queens Chronicle, Times Newsweekly, and The HER KING (Writers of the Round Table Press ★ ★ New York Daily News. She lives in Glendale 2009) and her two other novels, THE QUEST Public Speaker The writer of three with her husband and has two grown children. FOR EXCALIBUR and EXCALIBUR AND THE ★ ★ mythical fantasy books, Angelica can tailor a HOLY GRAIL, were accepted in the Royal speaking engagement for your school, company Success for Authors - Writers ★ Library in North Kensington and Chelsea, ★ or women’s group. Angelica is the mother and Coach - Angelica will help any aspiring London, England, for their historic accuracy Take Angelica’s ★ ★ spouse of special needs individuals. She knows writer with character study and how to build in King Arthur folklore. Harris is the creator the anxieties and the everyday struggles of a character bible. She will aid the writer with of Success For Authors, designed to help 10 WEEK ★ ★ dealing with family and medical issues first development which includes plot and research aspiring and established writers bring their CREATIVE WRITING hand. Harris is an advocate against domestic for a storyline and the who, what and wheres love for words to excellence on the page. ★ ★ violence. She is also a woman who fell victim to of building a book or short story to create a In addition to her novels, Harris was commisCOURSE abuse at the hands of family members, so ★ ★ great page-turner. Angelica also works with sioned by the Titanic Museum in Florida, Nova for Aspiring Young Adult Angelica knows the pain of victimization. college students in formatting essays and Scotia, and Southampton, England to develop ★ ★ She will help you discover the strength within and Adult Writers thesis reports. a short story/historical piece for display in the you – the ‘Holy Grail’ to help move you from museums. Angelica is active in her community ★ Geared to bring out the ★ the dark and into the light of working for the betterment of children. Harris Blogger Maniac - Take Angelica’s Hidden Author in You! empowerment. ★ belongs to the Queens Chamber of Commerce, ★ “Business Hero Seminar.” Do you need a at The Glendale Kiwanis Club, Tourette Syndrome blog or article written about yourself or your ★ A PLACE TO DANCE ★ Angelica Harris Inc. Association, Amnesty International—Against company and do not know where to start? Cultural Art Center Writing Magic is My Passion Domestic Violence, The Christian Children’s Let Angelica write it for you. She will listen ★ ★ Fund and the Society for Creative Anachronism. to your needs and what you want to achieve. 55-19 69th Street ★ ★ Maspeth, NY 11378 COMING SOON – Angelica’s memoir “LIVING WITH RAGE” (Round Table Companies 2011) ★ ★ ★ ★ A PLACE TO DANCE 917-704-4905 • 718-381-9552 ★ www.angelicaharris.com ★ 55-19 69th Street • Maspeth, NY 11378 ★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★
August Martin was black flying pioneer by Emily Kaiser
in 1946, Martin had great difficulty finding a pilot’s job. The commercial aviation sector was flooded with thousands of unemWhen it opened in 1971, August Martin ployed pilots looking for work following the war and it was espeHigh School in Jamaica was one of the cially difficult for African-American pilots, to whom these jobs first minority-focused magnet high schools were not yet open. for aviation in the United States. Martin worked as an aircraft maintainer at Willis Air Service in The school has since expanded to incor- Teterboro, NJ and flew part-time for Buffalo Skylines, El Al and porate additional programs in business and World Airways. To support his family when there were no flying law, communication arts, culinary arts and jobs available, he loaded ships on the New York City docks. medical technology, but the name still In 1955, Martin was hired by Seaboard World Airlines and stands in celebration of the first African- became the first African-American to captain a U.S.-scheduled American commercial pilot, Capt. August commercial air carrier. Seaboard was one of the largest air cargo August Martin Martin. companies in the country at the time, and the only one to have FILE PHOTO August Harvey Martin, or its corporate headquarters at Kennedy International AirSTORY S K ON EA “Augie” to his friends, was born port, then known as Idlewild. R B on Aug. 31, 1919 in Los Angeles. He was homeThe airline played a notable role during the Vietnam schooled by his mother, a schoolteacher, until the age War in the late 1960s, flying cargo jets from Washingof 13, when his family moved to New York City. ton State to the front lines. Through purchases in the There Martin attended DeWitt Clinton High 1980s Seaboard eventually became a part of what is School in the Bronx. Upon graduation in 1938, he now Federal Express. returned to California to attend San Mateo Junior In 1967, Martin helped to establish Negro Airmen College. International with Edward Gibbs, a civilian flight While at San Mateo, Martin’s ambitions quickly turned instructor at the Tuskeegee Airfield. NAI was the first black to flying. He worked for the Oakland Flying Service, fueling civilian aviation organization in the United States and today has and washing airplanes to earn money for flying lessons. After 31 chapters across the country. junior college, he entered the federally sponsored Civilian Pilot While on vacation from Seaboard in 1968, Martin, 49, volunTraining Program at the University of California. His first solo teered to fly a mercy mission for the International Red Cross to flight took place in 1940, in a Fleet Model 2 airplane, and by grad- Biafra, the eastern region of Nigeria embroiled in civil war at the uation he had earned his flight instructor rating, authorizing him to time. He died in a crash while attempting to land his plane durteach other aviation students. ing a severe rainstorm. The plane was loaded with emergency In 1942, Martin returned to New York, this time to work for the relief supplies. Navy V-12 College Training Program at Cornell University. The August Martin High School, located at 156-27 38th Ave., keeps following year Martin enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps. to the aviation tradition. Its Aviation Academy offers flying instrucHe was sent to Tuskegee, Ala. to train with the famed Tuskeegee tion both through their in-school flight simulators and at Republic Airmen, the first group of black pilots in the armed forces. He Airport in Farmingdale, LI. earned his Army pilot’s wings on Sept. 8, 1945. However, World By their senior year, students have the opportunity to acquire War II ended before his bombardment group was scheduled to go solo and private pilot certification and are eligible for internships at overseas, and Martin never saw combat. local airports. And in the spirit of Martin himself, upperclassmen Q After he was honorably discharged from the Army Air Corps can tutor younger students to earn extra flying hours. : CHRONICLE 99 19
ST NILE VIRU WE S
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August Martin High School in Jamaica offers an aviation program in keeping with its namesake. PHOTO BY PJ SMITH
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u t l a a r t g i o n ns o C To The
Page 27 QUEENS CHRONICLE, Thursday, November 11, 2010
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German visionary the father of College Point by Emily Kaiser
1852. Partnering with another recent immigrant from Hamburg, Frederick Koenig, Though College Point enjoys a growing Poppenhusen moved his factory to the population of 20,000, a small-town senti- small farming village of College Point and ment still runs through the community. in 1854 the India Rubber Comb Co. was Businesses boasting multiple generations incorporated. of family ownership thrive as they did The expansion of the business in the folwhen the original German immigrants lowing years brought a large number of moved to the area over a century ago, when new factory workers to the area. Poppenthe close-knit community emerged under husen made great efforts to build houses, the stewardship of entrepreneur Conlay streets, and encourage stores and rad Poppenhusen. local tradesmen to provide ameniIN FLUSHIN Poppenhusen was born April ties to this new wave of College E G CR 1, 1818 in Hamburg, Germany. Point residents. The educated son of a wealthy He built a cobblestone merchant, Poppenhusen folcauseway over what were lowed in the family tradition marshlands to connect Colwhen he was hired at age 20 lege Point with Flushing, now as a European buyer of whaleCollege Point Boulevard, and bone for the merchant H.C. in 1868 opened the Flushing Meyer. Meyer soon took him on and North Side Railroad, now the as a partner with his firm, and PopPort Washington Branch of the penhusen arrived in New York in 1843 to LIRR, to connect the town with New York. manage their American headquarters, locatIn the same year Poppenhusen built and ed on the Brooklyn waterfront. donated the Poppenhusen Institute, his The Brooklyn manufacturing plant most important and prominent contribution processed whalebone into many objects to the village of College Point. The instinow made out of plastic, including buttons, tute, which still stands at 144-04 14th combs, thimbles, spoons and medical Road, was designed as a vocational high implements. Within 10 years of Poppen- school, teaching useful trades to boys and husen’s arrival, however, the Brooklyn homemaking skills to girls. The first free plant grew obsolete, as the invention of kindergarten in the United States opened in hard rubber, newly perfected by Charles the basement in 1870, and there was a dayGoodyear, soon displaced whalebone as the care program for working mothers. material of choice in such manufacturing. Poppenhusen’s original charter specified Poppenhusen saw great advantages to the institute be open to all, irrespective of the new material and, not to find himself race, creed or religion, giving people the obsolete as well, obtained a license from opportunity to improve their lives. In this Goodyear to manufacture rubber goods in spirit, it held adult education programs, NDY’S MAS SA WE 0:
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QUEENS CHRONICLE, Thursday, November 11, 2010 Page 28
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The venerable Poppenhusen Institute in College Point reflects the ideals of the forward-thinking PHOTO BY PJ SMITH man who had such an influence on the community providing fodder for many future successful business owners in the area. The institute also housed a library, the village offices, the first homes of the College Point Savings Bank and the First Reformed Church, a courtroom and the Sheriff's Office. Two jail cells still remain. Poppenhusen spent $100,000 on the construction of the building, and donated an additional $100,000 in an endowment for teachers’ salaries and operating expenses, a generous total worth approximately $2 million today. He left for Europe in 1871 with the intention of retiring, but the Depression of 1873 and subsequent financial misman-
agement by his sons, to whom he left his businesses, left Poppenhusen with little of the wealth he had achieved. He returned to College Point, where he remained until his death on Dec. 12, 1863, universally revered as the founder and benefactor of the community. Despite a period of infighting and financial uncertainty in the 1970s and 1980s, when the building risked sale and demolition before that was barred through appeal to the state Supreme Court, the Poppenhusen Institute is central to the community today. It serves as a cultural center for College Point, offering karate classes to adults continued on page 29
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Townsend Harris named after diplomat Poppenhusen Prestigious Queens high school recalls an education advocate by Simon Fong
In an attempt to provide education for the city’s working class, Harris founded Townsend Harris High School is con- the Free Academy of the City of New sistently listed as one of the country’s York, which is now City College. best high schools by national polls. U.S. He later created another entity out of News and World Report ranked the high the Free Academy, which provided a school number 33 out of 100 in the secondary-level curriculum. The high nation, and it is currently the No. 1 school was named Townsend Har ris ranked high school in New York City by Hall, and survived until 1942, when the New York Post. Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia closed The prestigious high school the school because of budget N ROCK is named after Townsend Harconstraints. ES I AW H AS ris, an influential New York The high school was City merchant, diplomat refounded in 1984 as a puband school official. Harris lic magnet school for the was born in 1804 and died humanities with the efforts in 1878. He g rew up in of alumni of the original Washington County in school. The newly reopened upstate New York, and later Townsend Harris High School moved to the city, where he occupied a small building on became a successful merchant Parsons Boulevard, until 1995, and importer from China. when it relocated to a new building on Harris is largely credited for being the campus of Queens College. the first diplomat to open foreign trade The competitive high school requires between the United States and Japan. applicants to have a minimum grade President Franklin Pierce named Harris average of 90 and have standardized the f irst consul general to Japan in reading and math scores in the 90th per1856. In 1858, Harris successfully nego- centile to be considered for admission. tiated the Treaty of Peace and Com- Out of 5,000 applications, only 270 seats merce, also referred to as the Harris are open for the freshman class each Treaty, which secured trade agreements year, making it one of the hardest high between the United States and Japan. schools to gain admissions to. Along with his success as a diplomat, Since the inception of the new school, Harris was a strong proponent of free Townsend Harris has outperformed many education. He joined the New York City schools in the city, and even the country. It Board of Education in 1846, and is considered to be very strict in adhering became president of the board by 1848. to city Department of Education standards KING 265 L , TA IV AY
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continued from page 28
and children, group guitar and piano lessons, jazz classes and a resident theatre company. There are exhibits on the Institute’s history and both school and public tours are offered. Conrad Poppenhusen remains an honored presence throughout College Point as well. A statue of him stands in Poppenhusen Triangle, at College Point Boulevard and College Place. A playground between 20th and 21st avenues and 123rd and 124th streets also bears his name, as he sold the property to the village for one dollar in 1870. The Poppenhusen Branch of the Queens Library, at 121-23 14 Ave., was started with a core collection of books donated Q from the Poppenhusen Institute.
Reformer Riis had strong Queens ties by Stephanie Andares
adults, seniors, families and immigrants. Alison Millan, its director of Immigrant Jacob Riis, a Danish immigrant and Services, said the settlement house caters Queens resident, who became a crusading to a diverse group of people and services, reformer for the poor in the late 1800s, is from new immigrants to third graders comremembered in Queens with a park and set- ing in for homework help. tlement house. The center’s locations include the Riis immigrated to New York in 1870, Queensbridge and Ravenwoods houses, PS where he spent five years as an itin166, IS 126 and Information Technoloerant worker, drifting from place gy High School. A Y T L O N RG H to place. “The slum is the meaJacob Riis Park in the RockJO E R sure of civilization,” said Riis, aways was designed in 1936 by who later became a photograParks Commissioner Robert pher and journalist, known Moses, who “envisioned Riis for his 1890 best seller, Park as a Jones Beach for poor “How the Other Half Lives.” immigrants accessible by pubHis book focused on the lic transportation,” according to recur ring problems of the the National Park Service, which working class and the poor, which now runs it. he saw firsthand as a police reporter at It was constructed on the site of one of the New York Tribune, where he worked the first U.S. naval air stations and features from 1877 until 1890. a restored art deco bathhouse. The beach is His role as an influential reformer led part of the Gateway National Recreation Riis to join the settlement movement, Area. which sought to improve society by bringTim McElhinney of Belle Harbor, said ing rich and poor closer together. He he and his family always enjoy going to founded the Jacob A. Riis Neighborhood Riis Park. “I have three boys, ages 8, 6 and Settlement House in the Lower East Side in 4,” McElhinney said. “The park is kid1899 to help immigrants with education, friendly and it’s somewhat of a secret in language and job skills. New York, and it has parking.” Over a century later, the settlement Riis is known for writing about the house is still a community-based nonprofit poor living conditions in Manhattan organization, now primarily serving in tenements, but he actually lived in Queens Long Island City’s housing projects. It pro- for more than 25 years, he and his wife vides comprehensive services to youth, settling in Richmond Hill in 1886. His ENDY’S KILL :W E 02
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Jacob Riis lived in Richmond Hill for more than 25 years, writing his books there. FILE PHOTO
Jacob Riis Park is popular throughout the year. Swimmers enjoy the ocean in the summer, while PHOTO BY STEPHANIE ANDARES walkers like the solitude during the off-season. wife died in 1905, and in 1912 Riis moved to Massachusetts. His books were all written in a small studio behind his 120th Street home. Richmond Hill historian Carl Ballenas, in his research on Riis, discovered a passage in which the reformer tells why he picked the Queens community to live in: “It was in the winter when all our children had the scarlet fever that one Sunday, when I was taking a long walk out on Long Island where I could do no one any harm, I came upon Richmond Hill, and thought it was the most beautiful spot I ever seen. I went home and told my wife that I had found the place where we were going to live, and that sick room was
filled with the scent of spring flowers and of balsam and pine as the children listened and cheered with their feeble little voices. That very week I picked out the lots I wanted. There was a tangle of trees growing on them that are shading my study window now as I write. ... So before the next winter’s snows we were snug in the house that has been ours ever since, with a ridge of wooded hills, the ‘backbone of Long Island’ between New York and us. The very lights of the city were shut out. So was the slum, and I could sleep.” Although his house on 120th Street is long gone, a triangle is named after the reformer at 115th Street, near the Long Island Rail Q Road tracks. Riis died in 1914.
Rizzuto Park honors Richmond Hill icon Famed Yankee shortstop starred in nearby high school playing baseball by Bryan Yurcan
the Year, Rizzuto played his first major league game. Shortly thereafter, The Scooter became part of the Yankee legend Phil Rizzuto may Yankees as a shortstop, known for his legendary sacrihave been small in stature, but it was fice bunts and double plays that helped lead the team his heart and desire that propelled him to five consecutive World Series triumphs in the 1940s to the Major League Baseball Hall of and 50s. In 1950, near the twilight of his 16-year career with Fame. It is those qualities and more that the Yankees, Rizzuto won the American League’s Most have endeared “The Scooter” to several Valuable Player Award. After playing with the Yankees from 1941 to 1956, Rizzuto moved to the broadgenerations of New Yorkers, and inspired officials and residents casting booth. He was an icon working for IEN BRO DY ADR to rename the former Smokey WPIX-TV/Channel 11 announcing Yankee R O Oval Park in Richmond Hill games, and was well-known for his malain honor of him. propisms and unique turns-of-phrase Rizzuto was bor n in behind the microphone. Rizzuto became Brooklyn in 1917, one famous for uttering the phrase “Holy The Scooter Cow!” whenever a notewor thy play of five children, during practices his swing the era of the ubiquitous occurred on the field. as a prep baseball It is perhaps all these qualities and more Brooklyn streetcars, and player for Richmond later moved to Queens. He that make him as beloved in Queens as he is in Hill High School. grew up mostly in Glendale and the Bronx, and inspired renaming the park after PHOTO COURTESY him in 2008, about a year after Rizzuto died at the age RICHMOND HILL was a two-sport star at Richmond of 89. HISTORICAL SOCIETY Hill High School, excelling in both baseball and football. The 4.4-acre park had been known informally as Rizzuto signed with the Yankees as an amateur free Smokey Oval since it opened in 1938, and was offiagent in 1937 at the age of 20. He supposedly got his cially named that in 1987. now legendary nickname from a minor league teamThe name refers to the park’s location across from a mate in Kansas City, in reference to the way that Riz- Long Island Rail Road terminus, which once made it a zuto “scooted” around the basepaths. landing area for soot and ash from steam locomotives. During his playing days, The Scooter was listed as It is also inspired by the oval-shaped mound at the being 5 feet 6 inches tall and weighing 150 pounds, front of the park. though some would say that figure is a bit generous. In 2008, Assemblyman Rory Lancman (D-Fresh However, despite not having an ideal athletic build, Meadows) suggested renaming the park for Rizzuto Rizzuto won millions of adoring fans with his hustle after members of the Sikh community who live in the and grit. area asked for a name change. The Sikh religion proIn 1941, after being named Minor League Player of hibits adherents from smoking, so celebrating religious ACADEMY INS A W
DHAVEN AC OO T W
YEAR 200 3:
32nd Anniversary Edition
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Rizzuto during his years playing shortstop for the Yankees, helping the team win five straight championships. PHOTO COURTESY BASEBALL HALL OF FAME
events in a park named “Smokey” was problematic. “Phil Rizzuto is the quintessential local boy who made it big, and Parks is honored to rename this park in his memory,” said Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe at the time of the renaming. And though the park may be the home to more cricket games than baseball these days, those who enjoy its natural beauty and the recreation it offers are reminded of the indelible mark Phil, The Scooter, Rizzuto made Q on Queens and New York City as a whole.
C M ANNIV page 31 Y K Page 31 QUEENS CHRONICLE, Thursday, November 11, 2010
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Jackie Robinson Pkwy. honors baseball legend Civil rights pioneer lived in St. Albans during his playing days by Bryan Yurcan
But the fans in Brooklyn supported Robinson wholeheartedly, and eventually his talent and character made In New York, perhaps more than any other city, base- him a favorite throughout the country. ball heroes of yore are highly revered. In addition to being a civil rights pioneer, Robinson And one name that usually stands out above the rest is was a star ballplayer. He made six all-star teams and was that of Jackie Robinson, the pioneering second baseman named the National League most valuable player in 1949. who became the first African-American to play in Major Playing before Queens got its Mets when many resiLeague Baseball when he debuted with the Brooklyn dents were Dodger fans, Robinson was loved here as well Dodgers in 1947. as Brooklyn. Robinson’s stature throughout the city and the In fact, Robinson was a resident of St. Albans borough of Queens was reaffirmed when the for many years during his playing days with AUSES P C , ILE ES former Interborough Parkway, constructed in the Dodgers, living near his teammate Roy AP 1935, was renamed for him in 1997. Campanella. Though born in Georgia and raised on Today in Queens, there are many structhe West Coast, Robinson became an icon tures named for the baseball pioneer, in the city due to his time playing with the including the Jackie Robinson Rotunda in Dodgers. Citi Field, the home of the Mets, and PS 15 After graduating from the University of in Springfield Gardens. But the most widely California, Los Angeles where he starred in known is probably the Jackie Robinson Parkboth baseball and track, Robinson became the way, which runs through much of central Queens. athletic director for a small college in Texas before The five-mile-long highway stretches from its east signing with the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro terminus in Kew Gardens west to the Brooklyn neighborLeague. hood of East New York. Along the way it passes through He was shortly thereafter discovered by Branch Rick- Cypress Hills Cemetery, where Robinson is buried. When ey, the general manager of the Dodgers, and signed to a it was finished in 1935, the parkway provided a continucontract. ous link from Brooklyn to Eastern Long Island via the Robinson was assigned to a minor league affiliate of recently completed Grand Central Parkway. the team, the Montreal Royals, in 1946. He finally got The roadway offers one of the more scenic drives in the call up to the major leagues six days before the start the city, passing through parks and cemeteries for much of the 1947 season. of its length. Robinson faced an unprecedented atmosphere as the As the city Department of Transportation puts it, the parkfirst player to break baseball’s color barrier. Many fans, way’s design “reflects an era of leisurely Sunday drives.” along with players and managers on opposing teams, Though it’s a worthy tribute, residents of Queens hurled racial epithets at him. The St. Louis Cardinals have never needed the renaming of parkways to be even threatened to strike if Robinson was not removed reminded of the impact Jackie Robinson had both here Q from the league. and beyond. S TIGER ES CU C IR
JACKIE R ON OB UP
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Jackie Robinson as a member of the minor league Montreal Royals one year before becoming a Major League Baseball player in 1947. Though he starred on the field in Brooklyn, Robinson lived in St. Albans, one of his many Queens connections. PHOTO COURTESY MINORLEAGUEBASEBALLCOM
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The Steinways: piano family of Astoria Musical entrepreneurs helped create jobs and infrastructure in Queens by Elizabeth Daley
battle, he worked making musical instruments, which were then among the few forms of enterEveryone who lives in Queens knows the name tainment. Life turned around for Steinway and he got Steinway. From the street to the mansion, from the playground to the piano factory, the Steinway married and established an instrument manufacfamily left an indelible mark on the borough they turing business in Germany. In the mid 1800s, his son, Charles, got involved with politics, rallying helped grow. Henry Steinway, patriarch of the Steinway for democracy against an absolutist prince. When dynasty, was born Heinrich Steinweg in 1797 in things didn’t go well for the younger Steinway’s cause, he had to flee the country and ended Germany. up in New York. The son of a charcoal burner, SteinOLDS CR Charles Steinway wrote to his then way’s early life was marked by personUS MH A A AH middle-aged parents inviting them to al tragedy. In the early 1800s, when join him in the city, and in 1850 Steinway was just a boy, his family’s they arrived with eight of his sibhouse and land were confiscated by lings. Only Henry Steinway’s oldest Napoleon’s forces while his father son, Theodor, stayed behind in Gerand older brothers were away in the many. military. The Steinway men learned the Steinway and the rest of his family ropes of the piano trade from New fled to the Harz Mountains, but during York’s best. Despite Henry Steinway’s the harsh winter, his mother and siblings, except for one sister, perished. Steinway’s father inability to speak English and his complete illiterremarried and had more children, and he and his acy, Steinway was able to start his own family sons eventually worked repairing roads and gath- company in 1853. Business boomed, but since the family proering wood to sell as fuel. One summer, Steinway and his father and duced virtually every single part of their handbrothers were out in the woods when a storm made pianos, they needed room to grow as arose. They sought shelter in an abandoned hut, demand for their pianos increased. In 1870, William Steinway, Charles’ younger but lightning struck, setting it on fire. Steinway was knocked out by the blast, and when he woke brother, bought up land in Astoria. The location was perfect for Steinway because it up, he discovered his father and his brothers had died. At around age 15, Steinway was an orphan was near the water. Raw materials could easily be and penniless, so he joined the army. Legend has hauled to factories that were to be constructed nearit, Steinway was awarded a medal for “bugling in by. William Steinway also acquired the Steinway the face of the enemy.” When not heading off to Mansion, which still stands on 41st. Street in Astoria. LUSHING AT F M DE
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The Steinways paved roads in the area, set up a small village and opened schools for the children of factory employees. When the children were old enough, many of them toiled beside their parents, as there were no laws against child labor in those days. The Steinways built houses for their employees to live in, however, the housing was created in part to allow the family to control their workers and prevent strikes by evicting rabble-rousers. Just one year after William Steinway purchased parts of Astoria, his father, Henry Steinway died, the patriarch of a musical empire. Steinway’s pianos had received world-wide recognition, and by 1915, “Steinway” meant piano, as evidenced by Irving Berlin’s song “I Love a Piano,” in which he croons: “I know a fine way to treat a Steinway.” Today Steinway Street is a bustling business district and the piano factory remains an important part of Queens’ industry, producing the same fine pianos it did over 100 years ago, at 1 Steinway Place in Henry Steinway Q Astoria. PHOTO COURTESY STEINWAY AND SONS
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Built as protection during Civil War
Gen. Joseph Totten FILE PHOTO
by Lisa A. Fraser
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the building of Fort Clinton in New York Harbor and was Chronicle Contributor later appointed chief engineer of the Army on the Niagara The old military fort that was built across from the Frontier. Throgs Neck Bridge in 1862 during the Civil War was not Totten was always at the head of his class, and in one always named after the innovative project’s chief engineer, biography, he is described as gentlemanly and greatly Joseph Gilbert Totten. beloved. The parcel of land in Bayside that stretches out into It was Totten’s engineering skills during and after the Long Island Sound was first deeded to William Thorne Jr., war that eventually elevated him to brigadier general. a Revolutionary War hero, and from 1640 to 1823, it was In 1818, he was promoted to major. In 1828 he rose to known as Thorne’s Neck. lieutenant-colonel and in 1838, he became colonel. Totten In 1823, the land was purchased by Charles Willet, was later promoted to brigadier general and chief engia descendant of a wealthy British family that setneer of the Army and served as inspector of the 1 ; 0 E -DA LIC YB tled in the area, and it then became known as U.S. Military Academy until his death in 1864. PO Y Willets Point. Totten was involved in the building of many Prior to the Civil War, the government surfortifications, such as Fort Montgomery on veyed the coastal strip and determined that it Lake Champlain. He was a regent of the would be best suited to further help prevent Smithsonian Institution and a cofounder of the access of enemy warships to New York Harbor National Academy of Sciences. from Long Island Sound. He died of pneumonia on April 22, 1864 in Brigadier Major-General Joseph Totten was Washington, DC, where he is also buried. He was the lead engineer designing the fort. In an 1856 arti75 years old. cle entitled, “Fortifying the Sound,” he expressed the need “He was no trifler with the realities of life, who dallied to quickly begin building it. with them for his pleasure, or who wielded them as instruHe began work on the design in 1862 when the Civil ments of ambition or self-interest,” said one general in his War was already in its second year. Years later in 1898, by eulogy of Totten. “To him, as to all true men, the meaning order of President William McKinley, the fort at Willets of life was concentrated in one single word — duty.” Point was renamed in his honor. He went on to say that Totten was gentle, kind, good, Totten was born in New Haven, Conn. on Aug. 23, 1788. modest and tolerant and wise, sagacious and shrewd. “Yet He graduated from the U.S Military Academy in 1805 as a simple and unpretending as a child, he died as he had lived, second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. surrounded by hearts gushing with affection, and the object Totten resigned from the corps a year later and went to of respect and love of all with whom he had ever been work with his uncle, Maj. Jared Mansfield, as a surveyor associated.” before he was reappointed to the corps in 1808, and was Fort Totten was designed in a triangular shape and was promoted to captain in 1812. rock-faced with stones found near the water’s surface, During the War of 1812, he served as the assistant engi- smoothed so that small boats could not successfully attack neer of the harbor defenses of New York City. He oversaw the fort. The walls were solid stone, eight feet thick.
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Captain George H. Tilly Park is named after the son of a prominent Jamaica family, who died while fighting in the PhillipineAmerican War in 1899. Tilly (1863-1899) was assigned to the Army Signal Corps and stationed at Lloilo, Philippines during the war. On May 22, 1899, he was dispatched to the island of Escalante to repair a damaged telegraph cable. Upon landing, Tilly and his men were attacked by the residents, because their uniforms, which they had been advised not to wear, inflamed resentment among the locals. Although, many of the men were able to escape, Tilly was killed. He was 36 years old. The land on which the park sits was once owned by the Tilly family. At the turn of the last century, the site was owned by the Highland Park Society, a group of Jamaica Captain Tilly Park is known for its scenic landowners. In 1908, the wooded land and Goose Pond. PHOTO BY PJ SMITH property was deeded R PLOT TO to the City of New York for $1 on conditions that the land would FO BL D always be used as a park. It was initially called Highland Park, but was changed to Upland Park in 1912 to avoid confusion with the Highland Park in Cypress Hills. In 1935, city officials changed its name to Captain Tilly Park in remembrance of his service. The 9.81-acre park is located between 85th Avenue and Highland Avenue in Jamaica Hill. It serves as a site for concerts Q and other events throughout the year.
It housed weapons that could be used to repel and attack at a short distance, though they never had to be put to use. During the Civil War and World War I, Fort Totten was used as a training camp for troops before they entered into battle. The fort also housed an Army hospital during the Civil War. In September 1995, Congress approved the closing of Fort Totten due to military cutbacks. However, it is still used by a reserve unit. The city fire and police departments use part of the property as a training center. The Department of Parks and Recreation is in charge of the rest of the fort, which is used as a public waterfront park. Park rangers regularly give Q tours of the roughly 60-acre space.
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Tilly Park named for a casualty of war
Page 33 QUEENS CHRONICLE, Thursday, November 11, 2010
Army engineer Totten created Bayside fort
Roy Wilkins: a great man and his park Civil rights leader and journalist remembered as articulate speaker by AnnMarie Costella
Wilkins is probably best known for his work with the NAACP, ERRATE ARRE serving as the group’s presiThe many Queens residents NS ST O M dent from 1955 to 1977 and who utilize Roy Wilkins playing a major role in shapPark, a 53-acre parcel in St. ing its direction. But his Albans, could learn a lot desire to help and inform from its namesake, a civil others began decades before. rights leader, journalist and Born in Missouri in 1901, ar ticulate speaker who Wilkins became interested in believed in using non-violent writing at an early age. As a stumethods to combat racism. dent at the University of Minnesota, he worked as a reporter for The Minnesota Daily, an African American newspaper. After graduating from college with a degree in sociology in 1923, he became editor of the Kansas City Call. Six years later he married Aminda Badeau, a social worker. The couple never had children. In 1931, Wilkins began what would be a long career with the NAACP, first serving as assistant secretary until 1934 and then as editor of The Crisis, the official publication of the civil rights group, succeeding E.B. DuBois. Although he no doubt had his hands full, Wilkins served as chairman of the National Emergency Civil Rights Mobilization from 1949 to 1950. That organization, composed of more than 100 national and local groups, sent over 4,000 The name of civil rights leader Roy Wilkins representatives to Washington in January lives on with a park and family center in St. 1950 to lobby for fair employment and PHOTO BY YOICHI R. OKAMOTO/WHITE HOUSE Albans. other civil rights. Chronicle Reporter
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Roy Wilkins Park is beautiful year-round, but especially in the fall when the leaves change PHOTO BY RIYAD HASAN color. That same year, Wilkins helped create the Leadership Council on Civil Rights with A. Philip Randolph and Arnold Aronson. The group went on to become one of the nation’s premier organizations in fighting for equality on behalf of all people, coordinating legislative campaigns for every civil rights law since 1957. Wilkins participated in the March on Washington in 1963, the Selma to Montgomery marches in 1965 and the March Against Fear in 1966. He believed in
Van Wyck’s namesake is crucial to Queens by Mitchell Epstein
renaming of Broadway north of In the 1901 election, Van Columbus Circle, which had Wyck, whose f irst mayoral The 14-mile-long Van Wyck been called Western Boulevard, campaign featured the slogan, Expressway is best known to and brought together the munici- “To Hell with Reform,” lost to New York City drivers for pal corporations in the city reform-focused Republican congestion and conveto adjust their finances nominee Seth Low. The AmerIC BEGINS nience as a connecand promote order. ican Ice Co. scandal was genEM D A N tion to many But Van Wyck’s erally seen as the reason for Queens neighboradministration was his defeat. hoods and scarred with corVan Wyck spent much of his Kennedy Airport. ruption. He was remaining years in Paris, where The expressaccused of accept- he died at the age of 69 in 1918. way was named in ing a $500,000 In addition to having the honor of Robert bribe of stock from expressway named after him, Van Wyck, the first the American Ice Co., there is also the Van Wyck mayor of the unified five but was cleared of any Boulevard stop on the E train, boroughs of New York City, who misconduct by then Gov. named in 1937 and MS 217 in was in office from 1898-1901. Theodore Roosevelt. Van Wyck Jamaica. One of Van Wyck’s greatest was also nominated for mayor The expressway is a northaccomplishments was breaking by the tainted and powerful south connector in central ground in 1900 on the city’s first political institution of the time, Queens, starting at the airport subway, which eventually con- Tammany Hall. and changing its name to the nected Brooklyn to Manhattan. A graduate of Columbia Law School, he was born in New York City in 1849 and became a successful lawyer. He was elected as a judge on the city court in 1889 and later served as chief justice. A large majority elected him mayor on the Democratic Party line. He signed into law the Van Wyck traffic sign PHOTO BY PJSMITH T
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32nd Anniversary Edition
Robert Van Wyck FILE PHOTO
Whitestone Expressway at the other end. Also known as Interstate 678, it opened in October 1950, cost about $30 million to build and was later linked to the Kew Gardens interchange at a cost of $40 million. The construction plan for that phase was created by Robert Moses and also included the creation of eight parks and other public spaces. From 1961 to 1963, the expressway was expanded between Grand Central Parkway and Northern Boulevard. More than 110,000 vehicles are estimated to travel along the expressway each day. That’s why its legend grew even more when Seinfeld character Elaine Benes, stymied by traff ic, famously acknowledged that “no one’s ever beaten the Van Wyck.” Q
achieving reform by legislative means and testified before many Congressional hearings. During his time with the NAACP, the organization was at the forefront of efforts that led to major civil rights victories, including Brown v. Board of Education, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. In 1967, Wilkins was recognized for his work with the NAACP, receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Lyndon Johnson. The following year, Wilkins served as chairman of the U.S. delegation to the International Conference on Human Rights. In 1977, Wilkins, retired from the NAACP at the age of 76. He died on Sept. 8, 1981 from heart problems related to his pacemaker, but his name lives on and his legacy will not soon be forgotten. The land that would become Roy Wilkins Park, was given to the city by the Veterans Administration in 1977. It was named after the civil rights pioneer on June 29, 1982 at the request of then-City Councilman Archie Spigner. “Roy Wilkins was an NAACP leader who contributed to the expansion of civil, economic and human rights and he is worthy of our recognition,” Spigner said. “I view my involvement in the naming of the park as one of my most significant contributions to the life of the community.” The park, which is bounded by 115th Avenue and Merrick and Baisley boulevards, features a tot play area, picnic tables, tennis, basketball, and handball courts, baseball fields, jogging path and comfort stations. One of it’s most interesting features is a four-acre vegetable garden, which families use to grow produce that they either keep or give to charity. “It gives me a great sense of satisfaction and joy whenever I visit or walk past the park,” Spigner said. “It is a community asset that has enhanced the life of everyone in the area.” In 1986 the city tur ned a 50,000 square-foot hospital building into the Roy Wilkins Family Center, which includes an Olympic-size pool equipped to accommodate the disabled. The facility also hosts a summer day camp for 300 children, afterschool programs, a counseling center and Q a variety of community events.
C M ANNIV page 35 Y K Page 35 QUEENS CHRONICLE, Thursday, November 11, 2010
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