1940s New York: See what your neighborhood used to be like with this interactive map

Image source: 1940s New York

Have you ever heard of Nassau Heights in Queens? Today, it’s known as Middle Village. Did you know that Woodside was once called Woodside-Winfield? Welcome to 1940s New York, when the Queensbridge Houses were a new development, and Astoria was a predominately Italian and German neighborhood (the Greek population didn’t peak until the 1970s).

Using this interactive map, republished by the CUNY Graduate Center from a 1943 “NYC Market Analysis” newspaper feature, we can see snapshots of what life used to be like back in the day. The roads looked a lot calmer, with only a few cars and no lane markings; vertical store signs were abundant on commercial streets, too. The original population statistics and real estate information are viewable on the website as well.

The map shows all five boroughs, and when you click on a neighborhood, the site brings up the historical documents profiling that area. Scroll down on the left side of the site to see old descriptions of the boroughs and New York City in general.

So, have fun getting a glimpse of your neighborhood circa 1943, if you can even find it by its current name – Kew Gardens, Fresh Meadows, Briarwood, East Elmhurst, Rockaway Park, and others weren’t even on the map yet.

2 Comment

  • I love neighborhood history! The map was really fun to look over.
    Although it is my understanding that Woodside and Winfield were once two separate neighborhoods.
    Woodside was pretty much what you think about what’s around 61st Street and north of Queens Boulevard going to and past Northern Boulevard.
    Winfield was a small area south of Queens Boulevard centered more around 69th street. It was named after some general or other named Scott Winfield. This neighborhood history is evident today at the Blessed Virgin Mary Help of Christian’s Church, a.k.a. St. Mary’s of Winfield, to differentiate from the one in LIC.
    I once spoke to a person who worked at the Queens historical society about this topic. She grew up and lived in Woodside. She let me know that sometime back Winfield was absorbed into what is now known as Woodside. Residents of the area had felt split between being either from Woodside or Maspeth. I grew up and live in the area, and I can understand this. It feels like it’s own place but at the same time people either frequent or go by Roosevelt Avenue or Grand Avenue more than the other. Winfield is pretty central to both main streets.

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