The new International Marine Terminal at the North Beach Airport
is dedicated. As thousands watch, the giant Yankee Clipper taxies across Bowery
Bay into Riker's Island channel. The tremendous four motored airliner, carrying
nine passengers and 5,260 pounds of cargo, lifts from the water, circles once,
and points east across Queens. It is scheduled to arrive at Lisbon, Portugal,
in 26 hours.
November 15, 1940
The 6,300-foot long Queens-Midtown Tunnel opened. President
Franklin D. Roosevelt broke ground for the tunnel only four years earlier. Highly
developed construction methods enabled the rapid building of the double tunnel.
Huge fans in the ventilation towers at each end brought fresh air into the tunnel.
The first toll was 25 cents for the two-axle automobile. 4.4 million vehicles
traversed the tunnels in its first year.
An editorial in the Long Island Star-Journal thunders, "Queens
is a growing borough and new communities are springing up annually. Schools
are severely over crowded. Of the 111,486 students in school, 18,990 are now
on five hour schedules. We need new schools!" In 1941, there were 361,517
families; in 1930 there were only 280,064.
Herbert Ricard, Librarian at the Long Island Collection of the Queensborough Public Library, along with residents of Elmhurst, discussed creating the Newtown Historical Society to commemorate the 300th anniversary of Newtown in 1942. He said, “places are being torn down and unless something is done to mark these sites, coming generations will be totally unaware of the historical importance of their neighborhoods. Many landmarks and traditions that should not be lost to America are to be found in the Newtown section …”
The Borough of Queens gets a statue courtesy of Newbold Morris, President
of New York City Council. Officially, 'Civic Virtue', but popularly called,
'Fat Boy', the monument depicts a muscle man towering majestically overhead.
MacMonnies, the sculptor, carved it with the hero trampling a woman underfoot.
A marble foot crushes her neck. Banished from City Hall Park, the city places
it in front of Queens Borough Hall with official blessing but without general
public approval. About 120 people, mostly Borough Hall employees, are on hand
for the dedication.
Construction began on a new airport on the site of the Idlewild
Golf Course. The City of New York contracted for the placing of a hydraulic
fill over the marshy tidelands of Jamaica Bay. The airport, renamed Kennedy
International in 1963, is today a portal of entry into United States for millions
of people from around the world.
Queens launches a campaign for raising $9,000,000 in war bond sales.
A one-day rally in front of Borough Hall raises $242,000 in war bonds and $2,875
in war stamps.
March 12, 1943
Governor Thomas Dewey ordered an investigation of what he called “disgraceful conditions” at Creedmoor State Hospital in Queens Village. Those conditions had led to an outbreak of amoebic dysentery, which had killed nine patients. In late February, one patient had beaten another patient to death. At the same time, Queens District Attorney, Charles F. Sullivan, brought these matters before a grand jury. It would be the third time in 8 years that a grand jury had looked into the affairs of Creedmoor. A 1935 investigation revealed that there were 15 violent deaths in 12 months. A 1939 report stated that patients were brutally beaten. Initial findings of the probe disclosed that attendants at Creedmoor were making only $54 a month and that, out of the normal attendant staff of 500, there were 157 vacancies.
May 31, 1943
Arguably the most famous New York Jet, Joe Namath, was born in
Beaver Falls, PA. He achieved immortality after leading the NY Jets to their
1969 upset Super Bowl III victory over the heavily favored Baltimore Colts, 16-7.
After signing for an unheard of $400,000 as rookie with AFL's NY Jets in 1965, his
best season came in 1967 when he completed 258 passes for 4,007 yards and 26
touchdowns at Shea Stadium, the then home of the Jets. "Broadway Joe" was inducted
into the Pro-Football Hall of Fame in 1985. A notable quote, "to be a leader, you
have to make people want to follow you, and nobody wants to follow someone who
doesn't know where he is going."
During World War II, rubber and gas shortages bring back 5 A.M. milk
delivery by horse carts in Flushing. The Oakland Golf Club uses a tally-ho wagon
to shuttle golfers from the LIRR station in Bayside.
Mobster Louis (Lepke) Buchalter is buried in Mt. Hebron Cemetery
in Flushing. The last chapter of the life of a man who soared from a small-time
mobster into public enemy in only 12 years ended. All the dramatics that mark
the funerals of big time gangsters are absent. There are no coaches of flowers,
$5,000 gold coffin, or long list of underworld mourners.
October 26, 1944
Mayor LaGuardia and other dignitaries spoke from the platform of a huge concrete mixing machine in a ceremony to mark the beginning of the paving of the first 10,000 foot-long runway at Idlewild Airport. It was slated to be the largest such facility in the world. LaGuardia also announced that the city had already made plans for a temporary administration building to be followed by a permanent administration building with ticket offices and passenger accommodations. The airport opened to commercial traffic in 1948. Idelwild was renamed Kennedy Airport.
The papers are abuzz with Gloria DiCicco's Nevada divorce from
Pasquale DiCicco, the Astoria boy who made good in Hollywood. She cites 'extreme
cruelty.' Pat, an actor's agent, married the heiress, whose fortune was estimated
at $ 4.5 million, on December 28, 1941. DiCicco, the "Astoria Broccoli King's"
son, is planning to become a motion picture producer. Mrs. DiCicco assumes her
maiden name, Gloria Vanderbilt.
June 19, 1945
Queens roared its greeting to General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Allied Commander, who arrived at LaGuardia airport on his second stop of a whirlwind victory tour of the nation. The city was Eisenhower’s for the asking, the third person ever to receive its keys. The others being Admiral Dewey, upon his return from Manila Bay and General John J. Pershing, the victorious commander of World War I. There was a brisk 15-minute pageant of greeting at the airport, then the official party left on a 28-mile parade that wound up at City Hall-with ticker tape canyon on the last lap. Thousands upon thousands lined the route. After the City Hall ceremony, with 550 wounded soldiers, sitting in a special box, among the spectators, the General went to Gracie Mansion for lunch with the Mayor. The Mayor described the lunch as “potluck,” since it was meatless Tuesday. Next on the program was a ball game, the Giants against the Braves, and then dinner at the Waldorf at $18 a plate for some 1,500 guests.
June 14, 1946
Donald Trump is born. He grew up on Midland Parkway in Jamaica
Estates. Son of major Queens real estate developer Fred Trump, Donald made a
name of himself with a billion-dollar empire which included more than 24,000
rental and co-op apartments, a football team, an airline, and casinos in Atlantic
City. The jet-setter once quipped, "Money was never a big motivation for
me, except as a way to keep score. The real excitement is playing the game."
September 20, 1947
Former NYC Mayor Fiorello H. LaGuardia dies of cancer
at age 64, after a long illness. Fiorello, who earned a law degree from NYU,
served in WWI. He lost a campaign for a House seat in 1914 but won in 1917.
He was elected again in 1922 for five consecutive terms. LaGuardia lost in his
bid for the mayor of New York City in 1929, yet was elected the city's 99th
mayor from 1934 to 1945 being the city's first three-term mayor since the consolidation
of the five boroughs into greater New York in 1898. He and Robert Moses were
instrumental in opening the Interboro Parkway, the Triborough Bridge, the Belt
Parkway, and the 1939-40 New York World's Fair. LaGuardia Community College
in LIC and LaGuardia Airport are named after him.
November 29, 1947
The State of Israel was created by members of the United
Nations General Assembly, meeting in Queens. Long before the U.N. building in
Manhattan was built, the U.N met at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. It was in
that location that the nascent organization voted to create a new nation.
February 28, 1948
Actress and singer Bernadette Peters was born as in Ozone Park to her parents Peter and Marguerite Lazzara. She has two siblings, Joseph and Donna. Bernadette's mother was the
one who started her on the road to show business, securing a place for Bernadette on the show "Juvenile Jury" when
she was just three and a half years. Her mother suggested she changed her professional name from Lazzara to Peters
at age nine to broaden her appeal. The name 'Peters' came from her father's first name. Acknowledged as one of the
Great White Way's natural wonders, Bernadette Peters is a performer of unparalleled versatility on stage, film
and television. A quote: “you've gotta be original, because if you're like someone else, what do they need you for?”
June 5, 1948
The Queens Botanical Garden opened. It was born as an exhibit at the 1939 World’s Fair. The Garden moved to its present location at 43-50 Main Street in Flushing in 1963 to free space for the 1964-65 World’s Fair.
December 7, 1948
The “Freedom Train” rolled into Queens and stopped in Flushing for a four-day stay before going on to Jamaica for another two days. It carried priceless documents: the original Declaration of Independence, Constitution, Bill of Rights, Emancipation Proclamation and other important historical papers and artifacts. The train, officially known as “The Spirit of ’76,” was gleaming white with red and blue stripes. It had traveled 35,779 miles, the longest train tour in history. Since its first stop in Philadelphia, on Constitution Day, 1947, it had been in every state in the union. Queens was the 318th stop on its journey. About 22,955 school children and adults visited the train during its stay in Flushing. In its entire journey, over 3,255,000 Americans had visited the train.
February 13, 1949
In of the largest parades in Queens' history, 52,000
marchers in Jamaica protested the imprisonment of Cardinal Josef Mindszenty by
the Communist government of Hungary. The Star-Journal reported that Protestants
and Jews joined Catholics from all the 88 parishes in Queens in a display of
borough-wide unity. Placards read "We Protest Kangaroo Trials", "Communists Veto
God", and "It CAN happen here".