Heinrich Engelhard Steinweg, his wife and five sons immigrated from Germany. He soon Anglicized his name to ‘Henry E. Steinway.’ In 1853, he founded the piano manufacturing firm of Steinway & Sons in Manhattan. In 1870-1872, the firm was moved to Astoria, Queens, where Steinway still produces the finest pianos in the world.
Ground is broken for the Flushing Railroad. It was seen as a convenient
alternative to a Manhattan ferry service often blocked by ice and other hazards.
The railroad could not build through Greenpoint or Williamsburg and was forced
into Hunters Point, a deserted unsettled area. The rail company had to drain
a swamp, build a dock and arrange for ferry service into Manhattan.
December 12, 1853
The Myrtle Avenue and Jamaica Plank Road was opened from
western Brooklyn to Jamaica Avenue in Richmond Hill. The early 1850s saw the
construction of numerous plank roads made of hemlock, oak, and pine planks,
eight feet long and up to four inches thick. They were considered an improvement
from the dirt turnpike road which were nearly impassable in winter and early
spring due to freezing and mud. There was a tollgate at Cypress Avenue and the
plank road cut through Myrtle Avenue Park, now Forest Park. Planks soon rotted
planks making the plank road's success short-lived.
February 24, 1854
The "Astoria Hook & Ladder Company No 1"
is organized. Although four companies are ultimately created in the Village,
fire fighting remains hazardous and primitive at best. With no fire hydrants,
the Astoria Village relies on cisterns built at intersections. Equipment from
Astoria and later companies at Steinway and Long Island City can be seen today
at the New York City Fire Department Museum in Manhattan.
“Winfield” was born. It was named after General Winfield Scott, Mexican War hero and General of the Army. In 1853, General Scott moved to New York and brought with him the Army's command center. He instantly became a member of high society and a local New York celebrity. Manhattan developers G.G. Andrews and J.F. Kendall founded this hamlet in northwestern Queens and named it in his honor. The neighborhood eventually became part of Woodside, and its name disappeared, but not before it was a major link on the Long Island Railroad and home to industry manufacturing Singer sewing machines and metal coffins.
Some text courtesy forgotten-ny.com
June 24, 1854
Fashion Race Course opens in West Flushing capitalizing on
a sport that was popular in Queens since the early eighteenth century. Although
this trotting track closed in only a few years, it reopened as National Race
Course, leaving its name on Corona's National Avenue.
September 2, 1854
In College Point, Conrad Poppenhusen opened the India
Hard Rubber Comb Company. Licensed to manufacture hard rubber goods by Charles
Goodyear, Poppenhusen's factory made and sold a broad array of items for household,
industrial, medical, and luxury items. By 1877 the firm's product line included
surgical supplies, photographic goods, thimbles, funnels, soap trays, drinking
flasks, inkstands, insulators, and doll heads. Poppenhusen Institute (opened
1870) at 14th Road and 114th Street is a monument to Conrad's influence and
vision for College Point.
Queens suffered through a severe winter with temperatures averaging
19.7 degrees Fahrenheit. The Long Island Sound and East River were icebound for 30
days, halting sailing and stem-powered ships from delivering their goods to the
affected ports. Icebound ports prompted calls to expand the Long Island Railroad
making the free flow or goods and commuters available every day in Queens regardless
of the weather. Today, the Coast Guard patrols the rivers keeping them from freezing
over so that vital barge traffic for oil and other commodities flow freely in New
New York State Legislature passes a bill allowing the incorporation
of one of the first commercial banks in Queens County. The bank opens in Flushing
under the name 'Queens County Savings Bank'.
The Flushing, College Point & New York Steam Navigation Company was incorporated. The company was formed to produce a transportation alternative to the Flushing Railroad, which also operated two steamboats. Oliver Charlick, the railroad president, arranged timetables to please himself, eliminated popular trains and raised fares, thus ignoring entirely the wishes of the riding public. Several wealthy men of Flushing organized the new steamboat line to entice riders away from the railroad and its steamboats. The company’s first boat was, not surprisingly, named the Flushing. It began service on June 1, 1860.
July 25, 1859
The Long Island Railroad began construction of a new railroad line in Queens. It intersected the Flushing Railroad at Winfield Junction, in present-day Woodside, and ran along the new Jackson Avenue to Hunters Point. The first freight train pulled into Hunters Point on May 6, 1861. The coming of the railroad was perhaps the most important influence on the future industrialization of the Hunters Point area.
April 16, 1860
The steamboat "Flushing," built in Greenpoint Brooklyn, begins
her New York run charging a 10-cent fare. Chartered by the Federal Government during
the Civil War, the Flushing runs aground on the James River. Refloated, and brought
back to East River service, she is in use for only a few months before being sold to
a syndicate in Nova Scotia. After giving her a new name, they promptly send the
steamer to the South as a blockage runner for the Confederacy. Trapped in the
Savannah River, she is run aground and burned in December 1864.
February 21, 1861
The first postmaster is appointed in Long Island City.
Postal service was founded by Benjamin Franklin in the early years of the
republic, and post offices were soon set up in stores in Jamaica, the Alley
in Flushing and Newtown. Mail was delivered by circuit riders on horseback
who traveled out to Long Island, then back, on a regular basis. The recipient
used to pay for the postage until stamps were introduced in the mid-1800s. Today
post office stations exist for Far Rockaway, Floral Park, Flushing, Jamaica, and
Long Island City.
Thomas Todd founds the Long Island Star. Starting as a weekly paper,
then expanding to a daily, Todd successfully runs a newspaper in Queens independent
of political parties. In the 1930s, the paper absorbs Flushing's North Shore
Journal and becomes the Long Island Star-Journal. It lasts until the mid 1960s.
March 25, 1867
The first serious fire in Astoria occurred. A stable, jewelry store and the second and third stories of the Odd Fellows Hall, abutting the stable, were destroyed. The firemen of the village fought the fire valiantly, even though one of their fire engines was out of service. Damage was in the thousands of dollars. Wooden buildings, inadequate fire mains and equipment, and poor safety regulations in industry resulted in a series of spectacular fires over the next decades.
The Bretonniere house at 57th Avenue and Hoffman Drive (now Queens
Boulevard) was destroyed by fire. During the American Revolution (1776-1783), this
had been the old Samuel Renne house which served as the headquarters for British Army
General Sir William Howe. Here, on September 3, 1776, Howe penned his famous report on
the August 1776 Battle of Long Island (also called the Battle of Brooklyn). British
officers and troops were billeted throughout Queens County until the revolution's end.
February 18, 1869
Sheet music publisher and Woodside developer Benjamin Hitchcock distributed 972 lots to shareholders of the new Village of Woodside. After convincing the heirs of the Kelley estate to develop their property, he came up with a novel scheme to encourage investors. All lots were priced at $300 (with monthly installments at $10). After he received 25% of the amount, a lottery determined the actual distribution of property, with
the best locations with buildings going first, and the less desirable at the end.
The Steinway Free Circulating Library opens. It is later absorbed into
the Long Island City Public Library, then the Queensborough Public Library.
Today, the portrait of founder William Steinway still watches from the wall
of the main Reading Room of the library's Steinway Branch.
May 27, 1870
The governor signs a bill incorporating Long Island City uniting
into one entity, the Village of Astoria, along with the hamlets of Hunters Point,
Blissville, Dutch Kills, Ravenswood, Middletown, and Steinway. Long Island City, the
county seat for the six townships of Queens County (today Nassau and Queens) came into
existence partly through the efforts of Father Crimmins, a priest at St. Mary's Parish
in Hunters Point. When Greater New York was set up in 1898, the cities of New York,
Brooklyn, and Long Island City along with scores of smaller villages and hamlets were
consolidated into one of the greatest cities in the world.
June 29, 1870
Jacob and Joseph Burroughs sell some 30 acres to the Trustees of
St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City. This, property, along with several later
purchases made from additional Burroughs siblings, becomes the nucleus for the New
Calvary Cemetery. Within its boarders, is a cemetery within a cemetery. Nestled at
the southwest corner of 58th Street and Queens Boulevard is the colonial Cumberson
The Centerville Race Track, southeast of the intersection
of Woodhaven and Rockaway Blvds. is sold to the New York and Hempstead Railroad
for $40,000. The railroad is not interested in racing horses, but wants the
property for a right-of-way. Between the 1830s and 1850s, ads for spring and
fall meets at the track list all the famous horses from that era. Centerville
was an important element of the nation's horse racing industry whose hub was
on the Hempstead Plains during the Nineteenth Century.
Plans were finalized for the foundry and sawmill of the Steinway Piano factory in Astoria. By the spring of 1873, these and boiler and engine houses were complete. Piano making operations were transferred gradually from Manhattan to Queens, however the giant piano case factory did not open until 1879. Along with moving their business, the Steinways created an entire village for their workers with housing, transportation links, and schools.
March 1, 1874
The horse car line along Borden Avenue from Hunters Point to
Calvary Cemetery opened. It was a trolley-like car pulled by horses along a set of
rails or tracks. The Roman Catholic Calvary Cemetery, in use since 1848, became a
major burial ground for families from Manhattan after the city forbid interments
south of 155th Street on the rapidly growing island. The expanding cemetery
eventually absorbed most the hamlet of Blissville.