One of the first schools in Queens opens in Middletown, a still
surviving hamlet of very old homes on what is today Newtown Road and 46th Street.
British and Hessian soldiers during the American Revolution undoubtedly marched
by it. A generation later, some schoolboys found $840 in gold coins in its walls.
The hoard was hidden by the schoolmaster during the Revolution. About 1850,
it was sold and became a kitchen attached a local dwelling. Pinpointed through
old maps, we are able to confirm that an old house stands on that spot today.
Does the old school house still exist after 282 years?
May 12, 1776
The Jamaica committee to execute the resolutions passed by the Continental and Provincial Congress passed a resolution stating that “no person be permitted to move into this township from the date hereof, unless he produces a certificate from the committee where he resided, that he has in all things behaved as a friend to the cause of American freedom. And whereas, sundry persons, in passing and repassing through this town have given just cause of suspicion that they are employed in aiding and assisting the unnatural enemies of America: Therefore, Resolved and Ordered, that all such persons passing through this township be taken up for examination.”
May 1782 saw the inauguration of the first regular ferry service between Horne's
Hook (today, 86th Street) Manhattan and Hallett's Cove, in Queens. It was the
second oldest ferry to Long Island after the one at Brooklyn. A large bell swung
between two uprights on either shore. Passengers wishing to cross, and finding the
boat on the other side of the river, rang the bell. On the opposite side, the
captain would ring the other bell assuring the waiting passengers that the boat
would be over right away. If the tide was strong, it required an hour and a half
May 22, 1827
Union Course Racetrack, located between Jamaica and Atlantic
Avenues in Woodhaven, was the scene of the contest for a $20,000 purse between
"Eclipse" representing the North, and "Sir Henry" the South. Southern planters
raised horses on their estates, and sent them north to the New York area to race.
The keen competition between the sections of the country, even at this early date,
brought intense publicity to the meet with some $200,000 wagered. "Eclipse" won.
May 6, 1848
The Astoria Presbyterian Church was organized. The original building on 27th Avenue in Old Astoria was dedicated June 11, 1847. In 1922, the church moved to its present location on the west side of 33rd Street between 31st Avenue and Broadway. Today the existing building is threatened with demolition.
Ground is broken for the Flushing Railroad. It was seen as a convenient
alternative to a Manhattan ferry service often blocked by ice and other hazards.
The railroad could not build through Greenpoint or Williamsburg and was forced
into Hunters Point, a deserted unsettled area. The rail company had to drain
a swamp, build a dock and arrange for ferry service into Manhattan.
“Winfield” was born. It was named after General Winfield Scott, Mexican War hero and General of the Army. In 1853, General Scott moved to New York and brought with him the Army's command center. He instantly became a member of high society and a local New York celebrity. Manhattan developers G.G. Andrews and J.F. Kendall founded this hamlet in northwestern Queens and named it in his honor. The neighborhood eventually became part of Woodside, and its name disappeared, but not before it was a major link on the Long Island Railroad and home to industry manufacturing Singer sewing machines and metal coffins.
Some text courtesy forgotten-ny.com
The governor signs a bill incorporating Long Island City uniting
into one entity, the Village of Astoria, along with the hamlets of Hunters Point,
Blissville, Dutch Kills, Ravenswood, Middletown, and Steinway. Long Island City, the
county seat for the six townships of Queens County (today Nassau and Queens) came into
existence partly through the efforts of Father Crimmins, a priest at St. Mary's Parish
in Hunters Point. When Greater New York was set up in 1898, the cities of New York,
Brooklyn, and Long Island City along with scores of smaller villages and hamlets were
consolidated into one of the greatest cities in the world.
The contract for construction of the pavilion and bathing houses for the North Beach amusement park was awarded to Henry Schaeffer of New York. It called for completion of 104 bathhouses by June 19 at a cost of $6,000. The pavilion was to be one hundred feet long by seventy-five feet wide. On the grounds was to be a magnificent fountain sending a stream one hundred and fifty feet high. Until the completion of the pavilion, the old Douglas mansion was to be fitted temporarily so refreshments could be sold there. It was the intention of Mr. Henry A. Cassebeer, President; William H. Williams, Vice-president; William Steinway, Treasurer; and George Steinway, Secretary of the Bowery Bay Land and Improvement Company that this park be “second to none, as a place of resort of respectable people seeking recreation.” On a Sunday, over 500 people strolled on the magnificent beach.
Samuel Lord, one of the founders of Lord & Taylor, died. He and his cousin George Washington Taylor, immigrants to New York, located their first small dry goods store on Catherine Street. The store moved uptown to a place on Ladies' Mile, which catered to the wealthier clientele of the "carriage trade.” The enterprise became a major fashion retailer. Today, the store is part of May Department Stores. He lived at the corner of Whitney and Broadway in Elmhurst. Nearby Claremont Terrace was a row of four houses built by Samuel Lord for his daughters. The one that remains (ca. 1854) was built closest to the train tracks.
May 17, 1907
The Lelance & Grosjean Factory in Woodhaven is paralyzed
with a strike when 400 employees walk out. Protesting working conditions, they
want more than the going rate of between $4.50 and $6.00 a week (for 10 hour
days). The strike grows. They demand a $1 a week raise. Management counters
with an offer of 50 cents.
May 3, 1914
Dr. Booker T. Washington delivered a talk at the Presbyterian
Church of Newtown, in Elmhurst, Queens. Born into slavery in 1856, he spent his
youth working in West Virginia salt mines. By 1881, he was President of the
Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, and the 1890s, he was the most prominent
African-American in the country and was advisor to Presidents as well as
captains of industry. Other African-American leaders, as W.E.B. DuBois resented
Washington's message of political accommodation in favor of economic progress.
When Washington died a year later, even DuBois acclaimed him as "the greatest
Negro leader since Frederick Douglass, and the most distinguished man, white or
black who has come out of the South since the Civil War."
Borough President Connolly arranged for the location of two big floating public baths. They were to be located at the foot of Tenth street, College Point, and at Keeler’s Dock in Whitestone. They would be open from 5 AM to 9 PM during the June 15th to September 15th season. An application was made to the Board of Aldermen for the necessary funds to operate the baths. During that month, the Health Department released statistics showing the population of the city would be 5,372,983 on July 1. The effect of the enormous immigration was evident in the reported fact that 45.4% of the white population was foreign born, while only 15.8% was native born.
May 12, 1928
Burt Bacharach was born in Kansas City, Missouri. He became one of the most famous American composers of the twentieth century. Among his well-known works, written during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, were: “Magic Moments,” “The Look of Love,” “What’s New Pussycat,” and many others. He moved to Kew Gardens at the age of four. In high school, he and classmates from Forest Hills High School, from which he graduated in 1946, played in a ten-piece band.
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.
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 …”
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."
Queens Post Offices prepares for new schedules under the recent
economy edict from Washington. Postmaster Moses Symington said after June 1
there will be only one delivery of mail per day. Business districts, with three
deliveries per day, remain unchanged.
Con Edison appeared to have joined President Johnson’s war on poverty when it announced that it would burn coal, not oil, in its newest multi-million dollar generating plant in Ravenswood. The switch, according to the utility, would create 1,000 new jobs in the Appalachian poverty belt. Scheduled for completion the following year, the plant was predicted to burn 2 to 2 ˝ million tons of coal annually. Earlier in the month, the Johnson Administration had urged Con Ed to drop a multi-million dollar Canadian project to purchase electric power and invest in coal power in Appalachia.
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.
May 8, 1978
David Berkowitz, aka as the “Son-Of-Sam killer”, was convicted of six murders, committed over a two year span. He claimed that his neighbor’s dog , Sam, had told him to commit these murders. His prey were young couples in their cars or unsuspecting women walking late at night. While he found victims in the Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn, he was quoted as saying that his “prettiest” victims were in Queens. He further explained: “I didn't want to hurt them, I only wanted to kill them."
May 6, 1985
The Noguchi Museum opens when Isamu Noguchi Foundation decided
to create a permanent display space for the work of Isamu Noguchi (1904-1988).
He moved to Long Island City in the early sixties to be close to his marble
suppliers and purchased the brick building (that forms the nucleus of the museum)
in 1975 to use as a studio and storage.
May 12, 1989
New York City Transit succeeded in its five-year goal of establishing graffiti-free bus and subway fleets as the last graffiti-covered train was taken out of service. Transit staff was deployed at terminals to clean each car after its journey down a line. Highest priority was accorded to graffiti, which had to be cleaned off or covered over before the car was put back in service. This program cost about $5 million/year. Yards in Kew Gardens and Flushing Meadows were placed off-limits behind barbed wire and chain link fencing. After white washing the cars, they got a coating of Tuscan red paint and were dubbed the “Redbirds.”
The roof of the Landmarked 1856 St. Monica's Roman Catholic Church
on the York College campus in Jamaica collapsed. Heavy rains finally undermined
the ailing structure as agencies in the city, state, and Landmarks Commission
clashed over its ultimate fate. Historically significant, it was one of the oldest
Roman Catholic parishes in Queens. Former Governor Mario Cuomo was an altar boy
there. "Naturally we regret the loss of a church that once served its parish so
well,' read a statement from the Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens. The
walls and campanile were ultimately shored up, and saved for a new building
on the campus of York College.
May 6, 2001
Forest Hills High grad Dennis Tito returns from a seven day
space trip aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket single-handedly (along with a $20 million
dollar ticket) throwing open the doors of space tourism. The 60-year-old California
money manager and multimillionaire in 1972 developed the 'Wilshire 5000', one
of the most widely used indexes in the securities market. Officials of the US
Federal Reserve System call his index 'The Barometer of the US Economy.'