The first traffic lights in Queens are switched on along the 'el' structure
along Queens Blvd. in Sunnyside between 34th Street and 49th Streets.
America's first supermarket opens in a vacant garage on Jamaica Avenue
in Queens. King Kullen Grocery Company is an immediate success.
November 10, 1932
A driving rain and wind storm left widespread damage throughout Queens and Long Island, disrupting traffic and train service, swamping waterfront communities and flooding practically all principal highways. Several deaths were attributed to the storm. Flushing River and Flushing Bay overflowed onto Northern Boulevard in Flushing and Corona and further to the east, on College Point causeway. Water on these highways was more than four feet deep. Trolley service was completely halted. Roosevelt Avenue became the only entrance and exit to Flushing. Special police were on duty there to direct traffic. Thousands of Long Island Railroad commuters were delayed on their way to work when rain washed out tracks. Jamaica Bay also backed up, inundating trestles and low-lying sections of track. Twenty-eight buildings were declared unsafe after the storm.
March 8, 1934
The end is at hand for Riebling's Greater New York Park and
Casino in Glendale. The amusement venue, in the path of the planned Interborough
Parkway, is razed. The park's destruction, along with a number of other similar
establishments along the Brooklyn Queens border, closed a colorful chapter that spanned
the better part of a century of the area's beer gardens and picnic parks.
College Point is in the news as fire sweeps the L. B. Kleinert Co.Factory,
at 26th Avenue between 127 and 128 Streets. The wind whips flamesfed by acids
and chemicals. The fire completely destroys one section of a top floor of the
rubber manufacturing plant. More than 125 employees are out of work.
Former Queens resident Will Rogers and his pilot Wiley Post were killed in a plane crash near Point Barrow in Alaska. Rogers, well known cowboy humorist, philosopher, court jester and serious advisor to United States Presidents, was a former resident of both Forest Hills and Kew Gardens. He first came to Queens in 1918, when he leased a house in Forest Hills for a year. While living there he aided a local charity by putting on a cowboy show that was a tremendous neighborhood success. He later rented another house in Kew Gardens. Tragically, his car once accidentally struck and killed a grocery clerk on Northern Boulevard in Flushing. Although, the incident was an accident, Rogers investigated and found that the clerk was struggling to support a wife and twelve children. He became a continuing contributor of clothing and money to the family.
July 11, 1936
The $ 60.3 million Triborough Bridge, connecting Manhattan, Queens and the Bronx, opened. The bridge is not simply a single span, but rather is a complex comprised of three long-span bridges, a number of smaller bridges and viaducts, fourteen miles of approach highways and parkways, parks and recreational facilities, and administrative offices for the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority. It was created by the famous bridge designer Othmar Ammann.
Trolley service ends between College Point, Flushing and Jamaica. Borough
President Harvey drives last trolley car. On hand is John Koznet, Jr., 83, who
rode the first trolley 46 years before in 1891.
October 4, 1937
Queens College opened on the grounds of a former facility
and school for truant and wayward boys. Now part of the City University of New
York (CUNY) system, its first president, Paul Klapper, opened with a staff of
56 serving 400 students. As of fall 2002, Queens College, at 65-30 Kissena Boulevard,
has an enrollment of 12,000 undergraduate and 4,500 graduate students taught
by over 500 full-time and 500 part time faculty.
The WPA and the NYC Tunnel Authority offices are besieged with applicants
for sand-hog jobs in the $58 million Queens-Midtown Tunnel. At completion, the
tunnel will change only 25 cents instead of the 50 cents collected on the Holland
Tunnel and the George Washington Bridge. Heavy traffic on the Triborough Bridge
at a quarter and a million cars over the Henry Hudson Parkway at a dime proves
that low tolls are just the thing to encourage the public.
January 21, 1939
Progress and suburban growth ousted the last farm in
Elmhurst. Developers bought the land to construct 96 houses. The last working farm
in Queens, the Klein Farm was recently sold. Efforts are being made to protect it
from development. Farmers in Queens supplied both flowers and produce to New York
in the 1800s. Our rich soil made many wealthy.
The papers were abuzz with news on the following month's
scheduled opening of the Worlds Fair. Grover A. Whalen, president of the Worlds Fair
Corporation, predicted it would not only bring Queens $100 million, but that visitors
would spend over a billion dollars in New York City. Residents near the fairgrounds
were encouraged to rent rooms in their homes for tourists. Advance sales of tickets
were brisk. For $7.50, one could get a booklet of 27 admission tickets. Season books,
at $15.00, were considered a bargain.
April 29, 1939
The Bronx-Whitestone Bridge opened to traffic. Spanning the East River between Ferry Point Park in the Bronx and Whitestone in Queens, the bridge was the first to link Long Island directly with the mainland. The primary reason for its construction was to provide access to the 1939-40 World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows. But as has happened with other New York City bridge spans, traffic increased over time to such a level that the Throgs Bridge was built in 1961 to relieve congestion on this bridge.
May 8, 1939
At around 5:40 AM, a 400-pound tiger escaped from the circus and “terrorized” the residents of Woodside. The “man-eating” animal, named “the Colonel,” gnawed its way out of a wooden crate in the main tent near Woodside Avenue. Those few residents about at the early hour were stunned to see the tiger dart onto Woodside Avenue, hesitate briefly and then sprint off again toward Roosevelt Avenue. Patrolmen, all bearing rifles, arrived in droves and the Hunters Point emergency squad rushed to the scene. This commotion awakened many Woodside residents, who had the unique experience of having their day begin with the spectacle of a tiger dashing down the street. The tiger was finally captured when it leapt into a tree in the backyard of 38-29 53rd Street. It was returned to the circus, put safely back in its crate and shipped to Massapequa by train.
A strike halts construction on the Queens Midtown Tunnel after
150 sandhogs refuse to report for work. Demands include one union run by union
men for all workers, a right to hold meetings and determine union policy, 30
minute lunch break in the open, and reinstatement of all workers fired for union
activity. These men were paid $12 for each 8 hour day. In the caissons they
receive $13.50 for each 4 hour period. Later in the month, over 11,000 WPA men
in Queens lay down their tools protesting new work guidelines. The biggest project
halted was the North Beach Airport.
October 15, 1939
The New York City Municipal Airport was dedicated. A few weeks later, on November 2, 1939, the name was changed to New York Municipal Airport-LaGuardia Field. A month later, on December 2, 1939, it opened to commercial traffic. On June 1, 1947 the airport was leased to the Port Authority and renamed LaGuardia Airport, after Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia who, incidentally, was also a pilot. A new Central Terminal Building was opened in 1964, enlarged in 1967 and again in 1992. The airport celebrated its 65th anniversary of commercial flight on December 2, 2004.
November 23, 1939
Fire swept the 3rd floor Jackson Heights apartment of popular bandleader Woody Herman. Fortunately, Herman and his wife were out of town at the time. No one was believed to have been in the apartment at the time of the blaze. The fire, which appeared to have started in a davenport was a mystery to firemen and policemen. The floor, a wall and valuable furnishings in the living room were destroyed or damaged.