The name “Fresh Meadows” derives from the same Dutch source that gave us “Flushing.” The latter is an English version of Vlissingen, a Dutch town whose name means “salt meadow valley.” After Flushing, originated in the 1640s, had been established for a while, colonists started to move to its southern reaches (but not as far as Rustdorp, the next town south, today’s Jamaica.) They found the area suffused with meadows and swamps fed by fresh, or salt-free, water springs, and so named it Fresh Meadows.
The same etymology applies to Fresh Pond Road in Ridgewood: when European colonists arrived, they found non-saline ponds and named a road for the largest one.
What had previously been part of the Fresh Meadows Country Club was purchased by the NY Life Insurance Company and the complex was finished in 1949. It was called by architecture critic Lewis Mumford “perhaps the most positive and exhilarating example of community planning in the country.” The project contains several privately owned dwellings but most of it consists of three-story buildings and some high-rises. There are 3,000 families and about 7,800 units.
One of the major east-west local routes through Fresh Meadows is 73rd Avenue, a road with an over-200 year old pedigree. In colonial Fresh Meadows the preferred method of marking property lines between farms was to place rows of blackened stumps along the boundary, and before the name Fresh Meadows caught on the area was called Black Stump. Fresh Meadows was thought to be a rather more welcoming name, and Black Stump Road was renamed in the 1920s as part of Queens’ renumbering system taking effect at the time. Today, it’s lined with handsome single-family Tudor homes.
Motor Parkway overpass, 73rd Avenue at 199th Street, Fresh Meadows
While making your way through the southeastern part of Fresh Meadows as you get close to Cunningham Park, you may spot the occasional white-painted overpass crossing the street. They’re not old railroad trestles or park paths… instead, they mark one of America’s very first parkways designed for automobile traffic.
In 1904, the auto age had arrived in Long Island and industrialist heir William Kissam Vanderbilt helped ring it in with a road race that became known as the Vanderbilt Cup Race. It was one of the very first auto races and attracted drivers from the world over.
The Cup Race was run in Nassau County on Jericho Turnpike, Bethpage Turnpike and Hempstead Turnpike–all now busy highways but in those days they were farm-to-market, unpaved roads.
At Pidgeon Meadow Road and Auburndale Lane along the southern edge of Flushing Cemetery is a remnant of the rural past: the Wesern Riding Club serving the Kissena Park bridle path. It’s surprising to see an active stable in any New York City neighborhood, but Auburndale remained semirural in character until well into the early 20th Century.
Unfortunately the century-old stables may not be in Auburndale much longer, as reports have surfaced that its owner has put it up for sale to local developers, who may build mixed-use residential and commercial buildings on the site. (more…)
Already in the second week of the US Open Tennis.com decided to pen a love letter to Louis Armstrong Stadium, the second-largest stadium inside the National Tennis Center. The stadium has its quirks:
The seats are cramped, the wind swirls inside, and there are no architectural or decorative touches to please the eye. Designed and built in minimalist, modernist 1964, it’s just a concrete bowl with enormous steel light fixtures towering over it… Armstrong has what city planners would now call “a circulation problem.” Outside of Rome, it may be the most restless tennis court in the world.
Louis Armstrong was once slated for demolition, but now plans call for a revamp, expansion, and a new retractable roof. (Because the stadium was built on a landfill, it never received a roof due to concerns that the soil couldn’t support the weight.) Former United States Tennis Association president Slew Hester first spotted the stadium back in 1977, when it was abandoned and covered with snow. The arena hadn’t been in use since the 1964 World’s Fair. The USTA had outgrown the West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills, so the move was made to Flushing Meadows. The rush to prepare the site for the US Open “explains why there were no bells and whistles in the design, as well as the jerry-rigged quality of its construction.” The appeal, of course, rests in the nostaliga of the building. As the author puts it, “Armstrong has a strange appeal, one that makes me wonder if memories and nostalgia don’t ultimately trump all questions of aesthetics and taste.”
Hooters is set to reopen in late August at 61-09 190th Street in Fresh Meadows under new management after it closed last October, the Queens Courier reported. The restaurant shuttered after a franchise agreement between the corporate parent and Strix Restaurant Group ceased. New operator Marc Phaneuf told the Courier that the location, near Fresh Meadows Shopping Center, saw good business. Strix had rebranded the location as Bud’s Ale House, but it wasn’t successful and it closed in April. Phaneuf plans on spending $1,000,000 to renovate the building and add three times as many televisions. It might also serve as a test location for the chain’s forthcoming new uniforms, he said. The location will hire about 100 staffers. GMAP
A shipwreck, a conspiracy, magic, monsters and love at first sight. The Hip to Hip Theatre Company kicks off its summer season with The Tempest, Shakespeare’s romantic thriller about a deposed duke. After 12 years on a deserted island, the duke uses magic to raise a storm at sea while seeking revenge on the foes who purloined his dukedom. Hip to Hip will present The Tempest and Love’s Labor Lost at 10 Queens venues — Crocheron Park in Bayside, Cunningham Park in Fresh Meadows, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park’s Unisphere, Gantry Plaza State Park in LIC, Lost Battalion Recreation Center in Rego Park, O’Donohue Park in Far Rockaway, Socrates Sculpture Park in Astoria, Sunnyside Gardens Park, St. Albans Park and Voelker Orth Museum in Flushing — over the next two months. Founded in 2007 by Queens-based actors Jason and Joy Marr, Hip to Hip strives to provide fantastic theater at accessible locations. Its name comes from a phrase in Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors. Details: Free Shakespeare in the Park, first show on July 24, O’Donohue Park, vicinity of Seagirt Boulevard at Beach 17th Street, Far Rockaway, 7 pm. (more…)
It’s New York State Museum Week, and the living is easy, especially in Queens. Starting today through June 16, five local cultural venues will offer discounts and promotional offers to visitors. Mention “Museum Week” and receive a complimentary collectible at the Louis Armstrong House Museum (while supplies last) along with a 10 percent discount in the gift store. Bring a friend for free with two-for-one admission at the Noguchi (above), King Manor and Moving Image museums. At the Queens Botanical Gardens, there will be half-off admission. Meanwhile, the Queens County Farm Museum will offer free tours. Statewide, participants include about 250 venues, stretching from Manhattan’s 5th Avenue, where El Museo del Barrio will have free admission on June 11, to the Hyde Collection in upstate Glens Falls, where visitors will receive a free poster.
No need to run away and join the circus, it’s right here. From today until June 16, the Big Apple Circus isn’t clowning around with its dazzling mix of playful pooches, astounding acrobats, ascending aerialists, jocular jugglers and a contortionist who appears to have no backbone. As part of its 35th anniversary celebration, Big Apple is performing Legendarium, a nostalgic look at the 19th century, when the circus was born. A ringmaster introduces the acts while recalling pivotal moments in circus history and offering fun facts. (i.e. Frenchman Jules Leotard invented the flying trapeze in 1859, but he is best know for designing the traditional trapeze garment that bears his last name.) The fun takes place under the climate-controlled Big Top, where no seat is more than 50 feet from the ring. Details: Big Apple Circus, Times vary, Cunningham Park, $20-$60.