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Text and Images from 'History of Long Island City' by J. S. Kelsey 1896
The Star was born before Long Island City was incorporated, the first number being issued on October 20, 1865, when the territory hereabouts was part and parcel of the town of Newtown. The faith of its founder was so strong that a thriving city was destined to spring up along the river front from Newtown Creek to Astoria and Bowery Bay, that he christened the newspaper venture ‘The Long Island City Star and Newtown Advertiser’.
Star Bulding 41 Borden Avenue
Very few successful newspapers were ever stated under more modest auspices. It was the creation of Thomas H. Todd, who graduated from the office of the ‘Flushing Journal’, whee he had served during the extended period between the years 1851 and 1865. He commenced as an apprentice and ended his connection with the office as general superintendent and manager of the business when he determined to "strike out for himself." The late Charles R. Lincoln, editor of the ‘Journal’, was his warm friend and trusted advisor, and the venture was made with his fullest approval, Mr. Lincoln at the time making this prediction: "That section is destined to be a great business center; for a young and enterprising man no better opening, to my mind, presents itself. You may have a hard struggle for the first year or two, but the field is sure to develop, and you cannot but grow with it. See that you stick to it and work; and, most important of all, don’t run in debt."
With small capital, a Washington hand press and the necessary types and other appliances, the young prospector set up business on Vernon Avenue, near the corner of Fourth Street, in the building now occupied by John W. Petry as a hardware store.
A fairly good job printing plant was connected with the office and a thorough canvass of the neighborhood was made for the securing of patronage. The first job of printing turned out to on the presses was a carpenter’s business card.
Star Editorial Office
Every encouragement was held out by the business men of the period,and the office force, which consisted of the ‘boss’ and a man and boy, were kept fairly busy in the struggle for "making both ends meet" in the unpretentious printing establishment.
Fortunately, within a month after opening day, the friendship and patronage of the late Oliver Charlick, president of the Long Island Railroad, were secured, and a liberal share of the railroad printing materially aided in finally placing the venture upon a secure and paying basis. Mr. Charlick proved a good and true friend, and his esteemed favor and patronage were retained until the day of his death.
First Issue of the Star
The first issue of the 'Star,' as above noted, was given a hearty welcome in Hunter's Point, Ravenswood, Astoria, Dutch Kills, and other quarters of
the town of Newtown, it being the only newspaper published in the township.
Hunter's Point at this period was small but steadily growing and the outlook was promising. Being the railroad
center of the Island, with a magnificent water front, excellent ferries, and broad avenues opening out into the country, everything pointed to the speedy
materializing of a populous city. Mr. H. S. Anable, at that time manager of the Union College property, was an
enthusiast in the belief that an important future was in store for the neighborhood, and the publisher was
induced to unfurl and put upon record the first name-banner of the coming city in titling the newspaper
'The Long Island City Star.'
Star Counting Room
The newspaper business grew and prospered from year to year. Job printing increased in volume.
Factories, dwellings, and stores multiplied. Many needed and desirable public improvements were
carried forward to successful completion, and all this forward march along the lines of progress
led, in 1868-1869, to the agitation for incorporation which finally culminated in 1870, in the
setting up of the city. The 'Star' took prominent part in the preliminary work of the first charter
and subsequently, without avail, arrayed itself against the dangerous principle of giving
arbitrary and unlimited power to the Mayor as was done in the ill-starred "Revsion," which was
carried through the Legislature in 1871.
The 'Star' during its career has had several "fittings," In 1868 removal was made from its birth-spot
to the old Foster building, a little further south on the avenue, near the corner of Third street;
and from there, in 1870, it marched still nearer the business center by taking up more roomy
quarters in the Schwalenberg building on Borden Avenue. Here many improvements were made to meet
the growing wants of the times. The old hand-press was discarded, a new and improved and fast running cylinder purchased, and
many important additions were made to every department of the plant which had already developed
into one of the most complete to be found in the country.
Job Composing Room
A liberal subscription list grew apace and the 'Star' soon made its way into every quarter of
the township. John Bragaw and Peter Hulst, old and well-known residents of the Blissville section
(both now deceased), were the first citizens to have their names enrolled upon the subscription
book, each paying his two dollars in advance, greatly to the surprise of and delight of the publisher,
who handed to them two of the first newspapers that came from the hand-press.
The Daily Star
In the spring of 1876, the long contemplated plan of a daily issue was finally decided upon, and
on Monday, March 28, the first number of the 'Long Island City Daily Star' made its appearance.
Now really came the tug of war in right good earnest. Small and insignificant as it was, the paper
proved an expensive and wearing daily tread-mill. The political ring that controlled the city
was against a "daily enemy," and vowed that they would starve it out; but they "reckoned without their host."
The publisher knew well the field and the obstacles he was to encounter, and had carefully counted
and provided for the cost of battle. For four long years it was a losing game and thousands of
dollars were sunk in the struggle for saving it from shipwreck. But the clouds of adversity were
gradually broken and scatered and success finally won, and in the spring of 1880, the balance
sheet made known the gratifying fact that the "Daily was paying its way." Better and more
commodious quarters were now again essential and two large floors were leased for a term of five years
at 72 Borden avenue. Upon their being specially fitted and provided with steam power, elevators
and all the modern appliances, the new offices were occupied on the first of May, 1880, and the
business of both Daily and Weekly, from that time forward, commenced to boom in a manner that was
exceedingly gratifying. The dark days that had been experienced and the mountains of discouragement
that had been overcome were at last happily relegated to the rear.
Newspaper Composition Room
Daily and Weekly editions of the 'Star' for Greenpoint had been added to the list of publications and they,
also, were steadily forging forward in public favor in that populous and prosreous section of the city of Brooklyn
known as the Seventeenth Ward.
The business of the 'Star' had grown to be large and remunerative. The foundation was well and
securely laid with an eye single to the rearing of a superstructure that would insure the most complete
and thorough-going journalistic independence, for the good and behoof of all the people whose
inteests it was established to espouse.
After five years of laborious effort, the daily was adjudged a fixture and success, having been
triumphantly established as one of the permanent enterprises of the city. It was the acknowledged,
energetic and reliable recorder of passing events, while the Weekly had years before come to be
the great home newspaper of the city and the adjoining townships, and wa favored with a yearly subscription
patronage unsurpassed by any of its island contemporaries. During all these years the 'Star', from
time to time, has been out and in--(oftener out than in)--with the loal politicians and the managers of the city government,
but it never deviated from the even tenor of its way in championing the cause of the tacpayers.
It has never, srictly speaking, been the organ of any man, public or private interest, political clique
or faction, and herein, unquestionably, has been considered its phenomenal success as a business
Present Three-story Building Erected
Newspaper Press Room
In the spring of 1885 the lease of the offices at 72 Borden avenu was about to expire in the month
of May. All efforts failed in securing a renewal of the lease, the owner of the building alleging
that the jar of the steam presses endangered the structure and annoyed his other tenants. Yhis
ultimatum was not definitely know until about the fifth of April, and the premises were to be
vacated on the first day of May. Quick movement and speedy determination were demanded, and it
was decided that the time had arrived when the 'Star' should have its own office building. On
the fifteenth, plans had been prepared by Architect James Denne (lately deceased). On the twentieth, upon
the securing of estimates for the erection of the three-story building, twenty-two by eighty feet,
the contract was awarded to John T. Woodruff, under an express agreement that "the job must be rushed."
On the following day, Mr. Woodruff set a large gang of men at work, and the solid twelve-inch thick
walls fairly "walked up." Fortunately, good weather followed, and at twelve o'clock noon of May
1, the roofers were topping off the completed structure. In the afternoon, machinery, presses,
etc., after an early issue in the old quarters of the 'Star' of that day, were removed and set
in position, and an all-night's struggle of a force of machinists, boiler-makers, etc., enabled the printers
to get the daily issue of May 1 out upon the street promptly on time from the commodious press-rooms
of its own handsome three-story headquarters. Contractor Woodruff exceeded all his previous records
as a hustler in the wonderful manner in which he handled this job, and for months afterwards the
'Star' building was pointed out by the passerby as Contractor Woodruff's "quicker than a wink job."
Job Press Room
The new building, with the capacious rooms of its thre stories, has proved a model of convenience
in every respect. The first floor is utilized for the business quarters, press rooms and compositors,
job printing department, and the arrangements as to light, steam heat, etc., are perfectt and
unsurpassed in every regard. The second floor front is occupied as the editorial rooms, and the rear
as the stock rooms for the storage of news, book and writing papers, cards, cardboard, etc. The
third floor is set apart as the newspaper composition room. It is spacious, heated by steam, well lighted,
and thoroughly ventilated, and, all in all, is one of the coziest and best adapted for its purpose
to be found on the Island. On this floor, also is the newspaper file room, where, conveniently
for reference, may be found copies of every issue of the 'Star' from 1865 to date--the Weeklies
substantially bound in volumes of two years each, and the Dailies in volumes of six months.
Facilities and Business Enlarged
Since the occupancy of this new building many improvements, from time to time, have been made, and
each succeeding year has seen numerous additions to the machinery and other appurtenances of the
establishment. The circulation of the several editions of the Daily and Weekly issues has steadily
advanced; the advertising patronage has grown in a corresponding degree; and the business of the
job printing department has so developed in volume of work and character of output to rank the
office second to none in the vicinity of New York. One of Hoe's celebrated three-revolution
newspaper presses and a folding machine for trimming and putting in convenient form for mailing
purposes and delivery to carriers copies of the 'Star' as they come from the press, insure prompt
and speedy handling of every issue.
Then and Now
The territory now embraced in Long Island City had a population in 1865 of some 7,000 to 8,000
souls. The population is today upwards of 50,000. The 'Star' had kept pace with this development,
and from a small and insignificant sheet in '65 has grown to an eight-page newspaper well filled
with the cleanest and choicest reading matter, and is classed by popular verdict as ranking among
the leading and influential papers of the Island. Its circulation has increased from a few hundred
to some twelve thousand per week, and its roll of workers has grown from three at the beginning to
thiry-six, as exhibited by the payroll of September 28, 1896.
Daily and Weekly Star Issues
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