Queens County was chartered. English governor Thomas Dongan
organized the province of New York into twelve counties, ten of which exist
today. There is no evidence in documents for almost 200 years that Queens was
named for the controversial Catherine of Braganza -- the earliest mention found
only in the 1890s. Other counties created at this time were New York County
(Manhattan), Kings (Brooklyn), Richmond (Staten Island), Suffolk, and Westchester,
Duchess, and Dukes. When Queens joined Greater New York and became one of the
five boroughs in 1898, Nassau County (embracing the towns of Hempstead, North
Hempstead, and Oyster Bay), became a separate county in 1899.
November 24, 1694
The first meeting at the Quaker Meeting House in Flushing
took place. Situated at 137-16 Northern Boulevard, this house of worship was
built on a three-acre plot purchased in November 1693. The Bowne House, built
in 1661, still stands nearby. Today, the Meeting House still serves as a house
of worship on Sundays and is open to the public by appointment.
November 20, 1713
Captain Richard Betts of Maspeth Kills is buried in
a grave he dug many years before. Betts, aged 100, was the last surviving settler
who founded Newtown Township in 1652.
November 7, 1775
A vote was taken in Jamaica on the issue of active opposition to the Crown and the Patriot cause. It was voted down three to one. In January, a band of 600 militia, sent by Congress, arrived in Queens County to disarm the Loyalists, so they could not interfere with others who wanted to defend liberty.
November 16, 1777
Three men died in the Hell Gate while attempting to navigate
the tidal strait. Crossing from Horn's Hook (Gracie Point in Manhattan) to Hallett's
Cove, just south of the Old Astoria peninsula in Queens, the boatmen met their
match in the swirling currents, eddies, and whirlpools that were Hell Gate.
The HMS Hussar, a British frigate supposedly carrying gold and silver
to pay British troops, struck Pot Rock in Hell Gate, took on water, and sank just off the
Bronx coast near North Brother Island. This sinking, at the height of the American Revolution,
was not suspicious at the time since the British controlled all of the seas in and around
New York for the duration of the war, 1776-1783.Over time the sea floor and channel
have been blasted and dredged into submission. While most likely on the river's murky bottom,
the Hussar's exact whereabouts are unknown.
November 21, 1848
Cypress Hills Cemetery opened. It is part of the “Cemetery Belt” along the Queens-Brooklyn border (Cypress Hills is two-thirds in Queens and one-third in Brooklyn). Today, almost 5 million (almost three times the number of living residents) are buried in 29 Queens cemeteries.
Plans were finalized for the foundry and sawmill of the Steinway Piano factory in Astoria. By the spring of 1873, these and boiler and engine houses were complete. Piano making operations were transferred gradually from Manhattan to Queens, however the giant piano case factory did not open until 1879. Along with moving their business, the Steinways created an entire village for their workers with housing, transportation links, and schools.
Mayor Patrick "Battle-Axe" Gleason is elected Mayor of Long
Island City on November 3. The colorful and controversial public figure refuses
to give up his seat on the Long Island City Board of Alderman until forced to
do so by the courts.
The Queens Chamber of Commerce announces plans for linking Flushing
and Jamaica Bays with a canal. The Degnon Contracting ompany, dredging Dutch
Kills, is building and grading streets in its 125 acre site in preparation for
factories and warehouses. Degnon is also filling in marshes between Corona and
Flushing with ashes under contract with the New York City; 300 acres in Flushing
meadows begin development.
November 11, 1929
72,000 vehicles crossed the Queensboro Bridge during a 24-hour period. This was slightly less than 40 times the number that had crossed in 1910 on the same date. When the bridge opened a year early, in 1909, it averaged less than 75 vehicles an hour!
November 10, 1932
A driving rain and wind storm left widespread damage throughout Queens and Long Island, disrupting traffic and train service, swamping waterfront communities and flooding practically all principal highways. Several deaths were attributed to the storm. Flushing River and Flushing Bay overflowed onto Northern Boulevard in Flushing and Corona and further to the east, on College Point causeway. Water on these highways was more than four feet deep. Trolley service was completely halted. Roosevelt Avenue became the only entrance and exit to Flushing. Special police were on duty there to direct traffic. Thousands of Long Island Railroad commuters were delayed on their way to work when rain washed out tracks. Jamaica Bay also backed up, inundating trestles and low-lying sections of track. Twenty-eight buildings were declared unsafe after the storm.
November 23, 1939
Fire swept the 3rd floor Jackson Heights apartment of popular bandleader Woody Herman. Fortunately, Herman and his wife were out of town at the time. No one was believed to have been in the apartment at the time of the blaze. The fire, which appeared to have started in a davenport was a mystery to firemen and policemen. The floor, a wall and valuable furnishings in the living room were destroyed or damaged.
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.
November 17, 1942
Filmmaker Martin Scorsese was born in Flushing. Growing up
in Little Italy in Manhattan, he later earned a BA in English in 1964
and an MA in Film in 1966 from New York University. Mr. Scorsese's often unconventional
and peculiar views of New York City and the surrounding areas are depicted in his films.
The most memorable of these representations are in the films Mean Streets (1973), Taxi Driver
(1976), and Goodfellas (1990). Other renowned Scorsese movies are New York, New York; Raging
Bull; The King of Comedy; the controversial The Last Temptation of Christ; and most recently,
Gangs of New York. A true New Yorker, many of Mr. Scorsese's films have captured images of
a New York long gone.
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.
November 25, 1950
An extreme weather event, the "great Appalachian
wind storm" smashed Queens and the metropolitan area. The severity of the
winds saw a 24-hour wind speed average of 26.6 miles per hour. One sustained
wind hit 70 mph and Idlewild (now JFK International) Airport was socked by a
90-mph gust. LaGuardia Airport in northern Queens was closed due to high tides
caused by the heavy winds. The location of the two Queens airports at water's
edge makes them susceptible to such severe weather.
The 60th Street tunnel, an eleven million dollar project which links
the IND and BMT Lines in Long Island City is completed. Marie Leonard, 20,
of 30-02 Broadway, that month's Miss Subways, cuts the ribbon opening the
line. She is the daughter of Frank Leonard, a road car inspector at the Queens
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.
Donald Manes, then 37 years old, was elected to his first term as Queens Borough President. He was the youngest Borough President in history. Manes turned the position from merely a cermonial role into a more proactive political job. He served in the office until 1986, when he became embroiled in a kickback scheme, which tragically led to his suicide.
"The Paper" debuts on November 2 in Howard Beach, Ozone Park,
and Woodhaven. This weekly community publication becomes the "Queens Chronicle"
on September 28, 1984.
Jay "Stoney" Harrison 25, was being escorted back from the
DA's office to his Riker's Island jail cell on the morning of November 13 by
Detectives Keith Williams and Richard Guerzon. He was alone in the back seat
of the vehicle. Unknown to the two detectives, Harrison had stolen a gun at
the Kew Gardens courthouse. While on the Grand Central Parkway near the 94th
Street exit, Harrison opened fire. The two detectives died instantly. The car
careened off the road. Harrison, who escaped, was soon apprehended at his girlfriend's
apartment in East New York.
Charles "Honi" Coles, the elegant tap dancer
and resident of East Elmhurst, died in Queens at age 81. Born in 1911 in Philadelphia,
Charles was street tapping by the age of 12. He came to New York and performed
his difficult tap routines at the Apollo Theater, the Harlem Opera house, and
on Broadway with Charles "Cholly" Atkins. An extremely graceful dancer,
Honi danced with the bands of Cab Calloway, Fats Waller, Count Basie, Duke Ellington,
and performed with the Joffrey Ballet. Honi danced in the films The Cotton Club
(1984), Dirty Dancing (1987), and Tapdancin'. Later in life Coles taught dance
and dance history at prestigious eastern universities, performed occasionally,
and encouraged younger dancers. Singer Lena Horne once said, "Honi makes
butterflies look clumsy. He was my Fred Astaire."
During the election season, President Bill Clinton comes to St Sebastian's
in Woodside to stump for Chuck Schumer. Greeting the President is retiring Congressman
Tom Manton, leader of the Democratic Organization in Queens County. Schumer
go goes on to upset Senator D'Amato and win. In other races, Astorian Peter
Vallone is defeated handily by Governor Pataki. The governor is mentioned as
a strong vice-presidential candidate.
November 12, 2001
American Airlines flight 587 from New York JFK to Santo
Domingo, Dominican Republic, crashed in Belle Harbor, Queens, shortly after
takeoff. All 251 passengers and 9 crew aboard the Airbus A300 perished, as did
five people on the ground. Most of the passengers were people of Dominican descent
traveling to their native land. This sad event was particularly difficult, occurring
two months and a day after the terror attacks of September 11. A year later,
on November 9, 2002, the families and friends of loved ones lost in the disaster
planted a memorial grove of six oak and six serviceberry trees in Astoria Park.
As priests read the names, a bell tolled for each of the 265 deceased.