William Hallet III, his wife and five children were murdered by his slaves, a black man and his Indian wife. The two were arrested and executed at Beaver Pond in Jamaica, the man by hanging and the woman by burning. This was the first recorded capital crime in Queens County. The location of their farm, at Newtown Road and 43rd Street for years was regarded as a sinister place best shunned at night. They were buried at the Hallet family cemetery near today’s Goodwill Park in Old Astoria Village.
January 24, 1812
An earthquake is felt for over a minute in Queens County.
Although most of Long Island sits on glacial deposits, bedrock outcroppings
similar to those found in Manhattan exist between 21st Street and the East River.
Small faults running through these rock formations start in Queens and are the
source of many slight tremors felt recently in this area.
January 4, 1821
Out of a Jamaica printer's shop, the Long Island Farmer
published its first issue. The Farmer was a weekly paper for throughout most of
the nineteenth century. Later it became a daily, and in 1926 it changed its name
to the Long Island Daily Press. The Jamaica based paper published under this name
from 1926 to the 1960s changing to the Long Island Press by 1967 The paper served
Suffolk, Nassau, Queens, and part of Brooklyn and had a format and fold similar
to the New York Times. (This writer delivered the Press in Nassau County from
1972-74.). The rival Long Island paper, Newsday, established in 1940, eventually
usurped the Long Island Press, which folded in March 1977.
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
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.
January 2, 1890
The Steinway Free Circulating Library opens. Later merging
into the Long Island City Library, then the Queensborough Library, it is now
the largest circulating library in the country. Throughout the changes, for
over one hundred years, benefactor William Steinway's portrait watches browsers
from a position of honor on a wall at the library's Steinway Branch.
January 1, 1898
The City of New York charter went into effect. The law was
passed in May 1897 to incorporate the city and consolidate over 40 entities into
one municipality -- Greater New York. The Borough of Queens encompassed Long Island
City, and the towns of Flushing, Newtown, Jamaica, along with the Rockaway peninsula
which (were part of the town of Hempstead). The Queens County of old (1683-1898)
also included the eastern towns of Hempstead, North Hempstead, and Oyster Bay which
elected not to join greater New York becoming Nassau County in 1899.
January 7, 1900
St. John’s Hospital at Jackson Avenue and 12th Street in Hunters Point was formally opened. Bishop Charles E. McDonald delivered the blessing. In the Long Island Star’s words “The formal opening was...one of the most intensely impressive events in the history, not alone of the community in which the noble edifice has been raised, but also of the entire Borough of Queens and the whole of Long Island. The hospital is the culmination of years of arduous labor and earnest, persistent, devotion on the part of the Sisters of St. Joseph, led by the sister superior in charge, Sister Mary David.”
January 16, 1909
Ethel Merman born in Astoria. The Tony Award-winning musical
comedy entertainer who popularized songs by George Gershwin, Cole Porter and
Irving Berlin, among others. Merman's Broadway performances include Girl Crazy
(1930), Annie Get Your Gun (1946), and Call Me Madam (1950). Biographers describe
her as "a Broadway singing giant with a brassy, larger-than-life star persona
and a uniquely powerful, heart-felt voice." Merman's belt-it-out rendition
of Berlin's "There's No Business Like Show Business" has become the
anthem of the entertainment industry. She died in 1984 and is still fondly remembered
by friends from her old neighborhood.
January 28, 1913
The first trial trips of the electric trolley were run across
the Queensboro Bridge from Manhattan to Woodside. The next day regular service began.
January 17, 1918
Freight train service begins on the Hell Gate Bridge. The bridge,
dedicated in March of 1917, began passenger train service in April of that year. A
rail link between New York City and New England was finally realized. It is the
largest four lane rail bridge in the world when constructed, able to carry the weight
of dozens of locomotives. Built from each side of the Hell Gate, when the two halves
met in the middle they were off less than half an inch!
January 21, 1928
The IRT (Interboro Rapid Transit) Number 7 elevated line reached
Main Street, Flushing. Parades with floats and speeches took place in both Manhattan
and Flushing to celebrate the completion of the line. The price seemed to be right
for most people, who rode from downtown Flushing to Grand Central Terminal and Times
Square for only a nickel (5 cents). Dignitaries and commoners made the first
Manhattan to Flushing run but NYC Mayor Jimmy Walker missed the train.
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.
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.
Rapid transit service to the communities east of Flushing, a popular
home sector, is a top transportation need, urges civic organizations. The should
link the Flushing 'L' with the Long Island Rail Road and send rapid transit
lines over the rail tracks. Businessmen in Bayside/Flushing raise funds to engage
engineers and lawyers to advise them on the construction problems involved,
feasibility of dual operation, and legal questions that might arise in the
operation of a city owned service over the facilities of a private company.
January 12, 1954
Controversial radio and television “shock-jock” host Howard Stern was born in Jackson Heights, Queens. Though a shy, awkward youth, he knew from the age of five that he wanted to be on the radio. He would realize that dream and dramatically change the medium of radio. In June 2004, Clear Channel Communications paid a reported $1.75 million in fines to settle indecency complaints against Stern. The self-anointed "King of All Media" later announced that he had signed a $500 million deal with the Sirius satellite radio where, as of January 1, 2006, he can broadcast without FCC restrictions. Notable quote: “Late night television is ready for someone like me... standards have gone to an all-time low.”
January 16, 1958
Subway service extended to Mott Avenue in Far Rockaway, Queens.
Now designated the "A" train, it is the MTA's longest line, stretching 31 miles
from 207th Street in Inwood, northern Manhattan, to Mott Avenue in Far Rockaway
or to Beach 116th Street in Rockaway Park, two stops at opposite ends of the
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.
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.
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.
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.
Citicorp Chairman John Reed snips a red ribbon opening the $250 million
Citicorp Tower at Court Square in Long Island City. The 48 story tower, the
largest structure between New York and Boston when built, is a harbinger of
the future for Queens. Long heralded as New York's fourth business district,
the area around the tower will soon boast millions of square feet available
to businesses and apartments for New Yorkers fleeing Manhattan's congestion
January 7-8, 1996
The "Blizzard of 96" socked Queens with over 20 inches of
snow. The 36-hour storm began on a Sunday afternoon and wrought havoc with the
city and northeast by Monday morning. Underground sections of subway routes
continued service allowing those intrepid souls that ventured out to make it to
work. Four-foot snowdrifts were reported in Long Island City and Fresh Meadows.
Air transportation in our borough was crippled. The local economy was set back
$50 million. As blizzards go, this one was fun for some but not for all!