The new, top of the line American Airlines Terminal at
Idlewild Airport introduced "jetways". This innovation, quickly copied by the
other airlines, enabled passengers to pass from the terminal to the plane without
setting foot on the tarmac or dealing with inclement weather.
A brutal winter storm buries Queens. A slashing blizzard measures
more that 18 inches by noon. Packing a howling 35 mph wind, the mercury dips
to a frigid seven degrees. The deep freeze slows the borough from digging
out. Long Island tallies 26 dead. LIRR erases the day off its calendar.
January 11, 1961
Two crucial but unconnected elements of Queens transportation
went into operation. The Throgs Neck Bridge, a 13,410 ft steel suspension bridge
linking Queens to The Bronx, opened to traffic. A mere 3.5 miles to the south of the
new bridge, the Long Island Expressway was completed. The L.I.E. was comprised of
various sections, some of them previous roads, and built under one standard
construction plan to link together and form the 13-mile Queens stretch. The $92
million bridge was designed by engineer Othmar H. Amman and built mainly to ease the
congestion on the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge. The expressway linked the Queens-Midtown
Tunnel to the Nassau County line, and eventually to Riverhead in Suffolk County.
Flushing Meadow is to close for construction of World's
Fair. The price tag is about a billion dollars, with exhibitors putting up
structures costing an additional $550 million. On the 16th, the Queens Botanic
Gardens close. Skating was allowed in the NYC Building through April.
An unusual shipment arrives at Idlewild Airport. The body of Charles
"Lucky" Luciano, who died in Italy, is en route to St. Johns Cemetery
in Middle Village. Its arrival creates confusion within US Customs Service
over the possibility that the coffin might contain narcotics or diamond contraband.
Although officials have a right to do so, they did not open it.
"Gotham Goes Wild For Glenn,' as "Astoria Girl First to Greet
Astronaut." Connie Valis, 14, rushes through the crowd of 2,000 at LaGuardia
Airport and presents a bouquet of carnations to Mrs. Glenn, who first exits from
the aircraft. Colonel Glenn, following his wife off the plane, is so impressed that
he stops waving to the people, grabs Connie's hand and warmly thanks her and her
teacher, Mrs. Anne M. O'Connor, assistant principal of Junior High School 10, Astoria.
On opening day of the baseball season, Manager Casey Stengel of the
hapless Mets reports, "The attendance got trimmed again." (this was Stengelese
meaning that the Mets are playing terribly.) "We were a fraud. All those people
came out to watch us play. We had them believing we had a better team this year,
but we didn't look it. The starting pitcher was lousy and the infielders were
worse." After six balks by his pitchers in the game, Casey walked out the mound
and gave a demonstration to his pitchers on how to throw a baseball.
An era ends as the 6:09 PM to Ozone Park leaves Penn Station. The
'forgotten spur' was destined to become part of the IND service to the Rockaways,
but was overlooked when the Transit Authority instead reroutes the service through
Brooklyn. As the train grinds to a stop, a long battle to save the service ends for
all time. The city cannot see spending the $3.9 million to upgrade the line for 184
Sonny Weblin buys the NY Titans football team for more than
$ one million. He changes the team name to 'Jets' to reflect 'the modern approach
of his team and the star-studded performances he hopes his team will produce.'
For the next two decades, the Jets will play at Shea Stadium, in Flushing. Football
enthusiasts claim that Jet's quarterback Joe Namath deserves credit for putting
the 'super' in Super Bowl III.
June 14, 1963
The City Council began hearings on a Con Edison proposal to build the world’s largest atomic power plant on the East River in Ravenswood, Queens. The Ravenswood plant was to generate one million kilowatts (1,000 megawatts) of electricity and come online in 1970. The reason for the hearings was a bill to block the building of reactors in the city. Outside City Hall a crowd of over 100 protesters marched with signs saying: “No A-plant in New York” and “Don’t Make an Ash Out of Us.” Con Ed withdrew its application to build the plant on January 6, 1964 as a result of ongoing public protests. Instead, in 1965, Ravenswood Unit 3, a 1,000 megawatt conventional plant with a generator known as “Big Allis” began operation.
February 7, 1964
The British rock and roll band "The Beatles" landed at JFK
Airport aboard Pan Am Clipper flight 101. The press corps snapped hundreds of
photographs as the Fab Four walked down the stairs and on to American ground-to
the delight of hundreds of fans. Less than three months after the assassination
of President John Kennedy, The Beatles took New York by storm as they performed
on the Ed Sullivan Show two nights later. It was American rock and roll with a
British twist and a sound that became their own.
March 13, 1964
28 year old Kitty Genovese is brutally stabbed to death in
front of her apartment on Austin Street in Kew Gardens. At least 38 people hear
her scream for help or watch her being stabbed from their apartment windows.
For over 30 minutes, no one calls police. The case remains a parable of public
apathy. Her murderer, Winston Moseley is caught, and convicted. Nearly 40 years
later, he remains in prison.
From April 22 to October 18, 1964 and from April 21 to October 17, 1965, the
New York World's Fair at Flushing Meadow in Queens, New York, had a two year
run. Under the banner "Peace Through Understanding", the fair displayed
man's inventions, discoveries, arts, skills and aspirations in an expanding
universe. It had more than 150 pavilions, spreading over 646 acres of Flushing
April 17, 1964
Shea Stadium opens in Flushing Meadows, Queens as the New
York Mets play the Pittsburgh Pirates before 48,736 fans. The Mets lost, 4 -
3. The stadium, originally to be called Flushing Meadow Park, is later named
for attorney William A. Shea, who spearheaded the drive to bring National League
baseball back to New York.
August 15, 1964
The British rock group, The Beatles, performed at Shea Stadium
in Flushing. The band had a sell-out crowd of 55,600, a world record for attendance
at an outdoor concert. It was also the Beatles' largest crowd on any tour. Most
tickets were for $5.65 while some in the upper level were as cheap as $4.50.
The band earned a $160,000 share of the $304,000 gross receipts, also a record
at the time.
At the World's Fair, the seventy-two foot Cities Service bandwagon is
a success. Its fifty-member band plays jazz, classics, military marches and
a popular dance craze of the time, the twist. Fair attendees also enjoy fireworks
displays in the evening at the Fountain of Planets.
February 15, 1965
The Star-Journal reported the fire-bombing the previous day at the Queens home of civil rights leader Malcolm X, with the headline: “Dawn, Home Shattered-Police Guard the Fire-Scarred Home of Malcolm X-Cops Probe Bombing.” “Police today are still searching for leads in the fire-bombing of Malcolm X’s East Elmhurst home early yesterday morning. Their basic questions are: Who tossed the Molotov cocktail at the house on 23-11 97th Street? And why? Malcolm, who aroused his wife and four daughters at 2.30 in the morning to escape the flames, flew to Detroit that evening. Before leaving, Malcolm said of the bombing: ‘It doesn’t frighten me. It doesn’t quieten me down in any way or shut me up.’ A week later he would be assassinated.
April 19, 1965
Mayor Wagner signs Landmarks Preservation Law. The Landmarks
Law serves the following purposes: safeguarding the city's historic, aesthetic,
and cultural heritage; helping to stabilize and improve property values in
historic districts; encouraging civic pride in the beauty and accomplishments of
the past; protecting and enhancing the city's attractions for tourists, thereby
benefiting business and industry; strengthening the city's economy; and promoting
the use of landmarks for the education, pleasure, and welfare of the people of
the city. Queens, falling behind the other four boroughs during a generation's
worth of landmark designation, recently has taken this issue by storm.
Neighborhoods across the borough are now demanding this distinction for their
communities. To date, only a few blocks in Hunters Point, Jackson Heights,
Ridgewood, and Douglaston have this honor.
August 14, 1965
The last ship to be launched at the Brooklyn Navy Yard slid down the ways in a shower of champagne, spray and probably tears. Mrs. Bruce Solomonson, daughter of Vice President Hubert Humphrey, christened the USS Duluth, and at the same time sounded the death knell for the 164-year-old shipyard. It was scheduled to be closed by June 30, 1966. Cited as an economy measure by the Defense Department, many New York businessmen criticized the move that was estimated to result in a $1.5 billion loss to the local economy. In its heyday, the shipyard was the largest employer in the city producing, among many others, the battleships Maine, Arizona, and Missouri.
Pope Paul IV visits Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in Astoria, then travels
to the World's Fair to view the Pieta at the Vatican Exhibit. During his trip
to New York, he celebrates Mass in Yankee Stadium.
November 9, 1965
At 5:16 PM the famous New York City "Blackout of '65"
began. The entire city except Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn were affected.
A single relay near Niagara Falls failed, thus crashing the interconnected power
grid. The load lost was 20,000 megawatts of power (compared with the August
2003 loss of 62,000 megawatts). Three quarters of a million people were trapped
in the subways and many more stranded during rush hour. It took up to 13 hours
to restore power to seven states from Ontario and Quebec to eastern Massachusetts
to southern New Jersey to western Pennsylvania. In stark contrast to the August
1977 blackout, civil disorder in 1965 was rare.
March 15, 1966
St. Anthony's Hospital, a sanitarium for the tubercular poor,
closed it doors. Its last 260 patients were either discharged or transferred to
other facilities. In 1902, the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor purchased the old
Isaac Vandeveer farm in Woodhaven. It took twelve years to raise money and
develop the 700 by 500 foot site. When it opened in 1914, more than 400 patients
occupied the facility making it the largest hospital in Queens. They pioneered
many new treatments for tuberculosis, the number one killer of tenement dwellers.
Despite efforts to save the architecturally distinguished building and its
spacious grounds, the 90-year-old hospital was recently torn down for development.
December 4, 1967
Bert Lahr, the Cowardly Lion of the 1939 classic film the Wizard of Qz died of pneumonia at the age of 72. He was buried in Union Field Cemetery in Flushing. Although Lahr’s movie career never really caught on, he remained a life-long icon due to his role as the Cowardly Lion in Oz. Aside from that role, he is probably best remembered for his role in a Lay’s potato chip “Bet you can’t eat just one” commercial ad campaign. His vocal characterization of the Lion was also a strong influence on the voice of the cartoon character Snagglepuss.
April 1, 1966
Motorists driving on the Grand Central Parkway near the site of the former World’s Fair and Meadow and Willow lakes, reported seeing a large luminescent blue-green object, which looked “like a glowing dirigible that came into view and then descended into the lake,” at about 7:40 PM. A number of observers said that the object appeared to correspond to the descriptions of UFO’s reported in Michigan the previous week, which Air Force experts had attributed to swamp gas discharged from lake bottoms in springtime. This explanation did not satisfy everyone in Queens. Some thought that “maybe the Martians wanted to visit the World’s Fair, and didn’t know it was over.”
May 11, 1966
Bodine Castle is torn down by Con Edison. Last of the great
Ravenswood mansions that lined the East River shore, its large stone towers
inspired romantic stories. Its tunnels leading to the river were, as rumor
had it, a stop on the Underground Railroad. In reality, the house was built
in 1853 for merchant John Bodine. After becoming wealthy from the Cuba trade,
he ran, and lost, in the New York mayoral election of 1876.
The Finast Supermarket on 31st Street in Astoria offers 100 S&H
stamps for a $7.50 purchase, and 100 free stamps if the checkout clerk doesn't
say 'Thank You.' Corned beef sold at 59 cents, round roast at 79 cents and ten
cans of lemonade went for 89 cents.
January 22, 1968
The Board of Higher Education forms 'Community College Number
Nine.' Opening three years later, it is known today as Fiorello H. LaGuardia
Community College, named for New York's Mayor who was a devoted immigrant advocate.
The college offers 30 majors to nearly 12,000 students from more than 150 countries.
Over 70% of its students are from Queens; the largest contingent is from Flushing.
Its LaGuardia and Wagner Archives is a leading repository of the social and
political history of New York.
February 1, 1968
New Yorkers are digging out of a weekend blizzard and
the city was under a snow emergency with "More of Same on Way."
The cold and snow extends all the way to Florida where orange crops, as well
as tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, squash, and beans are destroyed.
Chester F. Carlson, the inventor of xerography dies. The word "Astoria"
is the first word photocopied in 1938 at his lab on Broadway and 37th Street.
January 12, 1969
In a game that stands out in sports history, the New York Jets
defeated the Baltimore Colts 16-7 in Super Bowl III. Quarterback Joe Namath had
brashly guaranteed victory over the Colts, who were 20-point favorites. The Jets'
offense also featured Don Maynard, George Sauer, Emerson Boozer, Winston Hill, and
Randy Rasmussen. A four-yard touchdown run by Nassau County's Matt Snell and three
Jim Turner field goals were all the Jets needed. The defense, led by Verlon Biggs,
Gerry Philbin, Al Atkinson, and Randy Beverly, held the mighty Colts to a mere seven
points. The victory established the AFL as a more than formidable rival to the NFL.
The Jets, ably coached by Weeb Ewbank, won the AFL Championship over Oakland at Shea
Stadium to get to the Super Bowl in Miami, Florida. The victorious Jets became the
first Queens based sports franchise to win a championship.
October 16, 1969
Behind a 5-hitter by pitcher Jerry Koosman and home runs
by Donn Clendenon and Al Weis, the New York Mets defeated the Baltimore Orioles
in 5 games to win their first World Series championship. Once the laughing stock
of the major leagues, the Mets, in only their eighth season, bested the Chicago
Cubs to win the East Division and then swept the Atlanta Braves in three games
for the National League crown. This 5-3 victory over the heavily favored Orioles
was enjoyed by 57,397 fans at Shea Stadium and by millions in New York and around
the country. During a tumultuous period in American history, the Mets' victory
had proven that the underdog can still win and that, perhaps, miracles do happen.