Richard Bruntnel receives a land grant in Dutch Kills. His farm embraces
the modern communities of Sunnyside and Blissville.
A devastating hurricane sweeps through the Hell Gate and storms across
Queens leaving a 15 mile path of destruction.
July 12, 1771
Dow Ditmars, Astoria’s most famous doctor, was born. After graduating from Princeton, he took up medicine and practiced in South America for a while. He moved to Astoria in 1816 and established a medical practice that continued until his 90th year. He died in Astoria in 1860. The present-day Ditmars Boulevard is named after him.
July 4, 1776
Francis Lewis of Whitestone voted for independence at the Continental
Congress in Philadelphia. A few weeks later he signed the Declaration of Independence.
Born in Wales, he immigrated to the United States in 1735 and established mercantile
houses in New York and Philadelphia. He participated in the French and Indian
War; was captured, and taken as a prisoner to France; on his return the colonial
government gave him 5,000 acres of land in recognition of his services. His
estates were lost during the American Revolution and he died in poverty, aged
90 and was interred in Trinity Churchyard.
Calvary Cemetery receives its first internment. Today it contains over
three million internments making it one of the largest cemeteries in the country.
July 25, 1859
The Long Island Railroad began construction of a new railroad line to Hunters Point. 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.
July 19, 1911
The toll on the Queensboro Bridge was abolished. According to those interested in the automobile business, this would give Long Island City one of its biggest boosts. “Automobilists” had found that they could locate their factories here and escape the high rentals in Manhattan and still be in reach of the bit automobile center around Broadway and Fifty-ninth street. It was understood that three other firms were looking for space in Long Island City, while six big factories were already located in Long Island City, which was predicted to become one of the most important automobile centers in the country.
The first traffic lights in Queens are switched on along the 'el' structure
along Queens Blvd. in Sunnyside between 34th Street and 49th Streets.
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 designed by the famous bridge designer Othmar Ammann.
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.
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.
During “operation marijuana,” Sanitation Department crewmen descended on Maspeth to wipe out the biggest marijuana “farm” found anywhere in the city. It was estimated that enough plants to make 2,000,000 “reefers” were destroyed. About 2,000 pounds of the “dope weed” were yanked out and carted away to an incinerator. Some of the plants were as much as eight feet high. Even without the Maspeth farm, Queens’ marijuana crop was the largest of any borough. It was estimated at 11,000 pounds, enough to make 11,000,000 “reefers”, worth at least $5,500,000 on the drug market.
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.
July 6, 1975
At a few minutes to 6 pm two horses went to the post at Belmont
Park in New York. This was an extraordinary race matching Ruffian, the Champion
two year old filly of 1974 and Foolish Pleasure, the Champion two year old colt
of 1974. Both horses had gone through their seasons undefeated. Ruffian was
½ a length in front of the colt when her leg snapped. It took 30 strides
to stop her, but it was too late. A broken leg for a thoroughbred horse is too
often a death sentence. The following day, Ruffian was put to sleep. The race
proved that only death could beat her.
July 13, 1977
At about 9:30 PM, Queens and the rest of New York City were plunged into darkness in the 1977 Blackout. The blackout was confined to New York City, so power was restored to Queens by
1:45 PM the next day, but not before there was widespread looting in the borough and other parts of the city.