Nearly 20 ForgottenFans enjoyed Forgotten New York’s Little Neck-Douglaston tour this past weekend. Unusually for recent tours, this time the weather was threatening, but rain only started falling as the tour was ending. Little Neck and Douglaston are far richer in Colonial history and artifacts than many would immediately expect, and this tour mined that history, shining a light on several hidden artifacts.
Above is shown Zion Church, whose grounds are entered via a lengthy path from Northern Boulevard just east of Douglaston Parkway.
In 1931, workers excavated the north side of Northern Boulevard just west of Little Neck Parkway. The boulevard, formerly known as Broadway and also as the Flushing and North Hempstead Turnpike, was being widened to its present condition as the Automobile Age was in full flower. However, a cemetery containing remains of Matinecoc Indian families, longstanding in this region of Queens, was in the way.
The Matinecoc Indians, a branch of the Algonquin group, had occupied the lands of eastern Queens for centuries before Europeans arrived. While the Matinecoc tribes gradually sold off their holdings to the Dutch and British in other parts of Long Island, giving the lands a peaceful transfer, Thomas Hicks (of the Hicks family that settled Hicksville) forcibly evicted the Matinecocks in Little Neck. Decades after Hicks, and well after American independence, some Matinecoc remained. Members of the Waters family, prominent among the tribe, still live in homes along Little Neck Parkway north of Northern Boulevard.
Q’Stoner writer and the man behind Forgotten New York Kevin Walsh just announced a guided walking tour of Little Neck and Douglaston. It’s happening on Saturday, September 13th, beginning at noon at the Little Neck Long Island Railroad station and lasting for about three hours. (It ends in the same place.) Some details on the tour: “Here are some of Queens’ most outstanding vistas and some of its most beautiful and historic architecture in the neighborhood Forgotten NY’s Kevin Walsh calls home. Also included are gorgeous tree-lined streets, bayside vistas, hidden alleys and historic churches and cemeteries in this surprisingly historic region.” Tickets cost $15 for Greater Astoria Historical Society members and $20 for the public. Interested in attending? Just email email@example.com.
With about 130,000 residents, Queens is home to more war veterans than any other borough in New York City. This weekend various neighborhoods honor their war heroes with Memorial Day parades, including biggest one in the country (Little Neck/Douglaston).
The Maspeth Memorial Day Parade (Sunday, May 25th, at 1 pm) is always an emotional display of patriotism and gratitude. This year, it honors local veterans and women. Retired Capt. Laura Zimmermann is the speaker, and other honorees are Leo J. Wasil, who flew 35 combat missions as a radio operator, mechanic and gunner in World War II; Anthony Simone, who fought in the treacherous Mung Dung Valley during the Korean War; and Jane Crowley, who joined the United States Marine Corp Women’s Service in 1943. The parade begins at 1 pm at Walter A. Garlinge Memorial Park, 72nd Street and Grand Avenue, and proceeds down Grand to the Frank Kowalinski American Legion Post 4 and Knights of Columbus on 69th Lane, where there’s a memorial service at 2 pm.
Forest Hills, Sunday, May 25th, noon, starts at Ascan and Metropolitan avenues, proceeds to Trotting Course Lane, ending at St. John Cemetery. Grand marshals are Monsignor John McGuirl, pastor of Our Lady of Mercy Church; Community Board 6 Chair Joseph Hennessey; and Mayor’s Office of Veterans’ Affairs Commissioner Terrance Holliday.
College Point, Sunday, May 25th, 2 pm, starts at 28rd Avenue and College Point Boulevard and heads to 5th Avenue and 119th Street. State Senator Tony Avella is the grand marshal. Poppy Queen is Isabella Joan Hollaway.
Howard Beach, Monday, May 26th, 9:30 am, begins with Memorial Day Mass at Our Lady of Grace Church at 101st Street and 159th Avenue. The parade kicks off at 11 am in Coleman Square and takes its time-honored route through Old Howard Beach, visiting the Vietnam War memorial at 99th Street and 157th Avenue, the World War II memorial at Assembly of God Church at 158-31 99th Street and then St. Barnabas Church at 159-19 98 Street.
Laurelton, Monday, May 26th, 9 am, Francis Lewis and Merrick boulevards to the Veterans Memorial Triangle, 225thStreet and North Conduit Avenue.
Little Neck-Douglaston, Monday, May 26th, 2 pm, Northern Boulevard between Jayson Avenue and 245th Street, 2 pm.The closing ceremony is held in the parking lot of Saint Anastasia School, Northern Boulevard and Alameda Avenue, where awards are given, honorees are acknowledged, and refreshments are served. World War II heroes are the grand marshals, including Rocco Moretto and John McHugh Sr., who stormed the beaches of Normandy during D-Day; Thomas Dent; John W. Peterkin; and Lucy Salpeper, who joined the Navy Waves and cared for injured soldiers.
Ridgewood-Glendale, Monday, May 26th, 11 am, starting at the Ridgewood Memorial Triangle at Myrtle and Cypress avenues and ending at the Glendale War Monument at Myrtle and Cooper avenues. Charles Dunn, a member of Glendale’s VFW Sergeant Edward R. Miller Post 7336, is the grand marshal.
The only road that connects Douglaston and Little Neck north of Northern Boulevard runs between Douglas Road, at the eastern edge of Douglaston at Udall’s Cove Park, and Little Neck Parkway alongside the Long Island Rail Road. The city has never really settled on a name for the road, and thus it’s known by a variety of names depending on what part of the route you happen to be on.
Until Hagstrom listed it in the 1970s, it had never made city maps, either, which leads me to believe the road in its complete route is a relatively recent connection. Area residents have been calling it simply “the back road.”
Plans are moving ahead to build a two-story commercial and community structure at the Scobee Diner, which closed in 2010 in Little Neck. Queens Courier reports that the BSA just granted the developers a variance to build. The proposed building will hold a CitiBank on the first floor with a drive-through ATM and a dentist’s office on the second floor. There will also be 17 parking spaces. The plans will now move to the Department of Buildings, although there is no word on the construction timeline yet.
A walk through the neighborhoods of the northern part of Queens, College Point, Whitestone, even Bayside, will reward the urban enthusiast with glimpses of the small Long Island North Shore towns they used to be. There are town centers at 14th Avenue and 150th Street in Whitestone, along College Point Boulevard between 14th and 18th Avenue, and Bell Boulevard between Northern Boulevard and 35th Avenue. The spaces between these town centers, once meadows or farmland, have been filled with block after block of one and two-family homes and seem to have been thoroughly “folded” into a uniform Queens fabric: definitely not the dense, urban feel of a Soho or a Park Slope, but not the thoroughly suburban atmosphere of a Levittown or Hicksville.
The two “northeasternmost” of Queens’ neighborhoods, Douglaston and Little Neck, however, have a different tone: they somehow seem carved out of the rather exclusive, monied precincts of the Nassau County townships immediately to the east, Great Neck and Manhasset. Both neighborhoods are served by a short shopping strip along Northern Boulevard, and the area’s hilly topography doesn’t lend itself to block upon block of similar-looking ranch houses.
The Moderne bank at Little Neck Parkway and Northern Boulevard, with its formidable eagle, was designed in 1927 by Paul LaVelle, who had previously worked with Stanford White. Little Neck National Bank was initiated by local realtor Bryce Rea, William Hutton and the aforementioned William Van Nostrand. It has been a Chase branch for over 30 years.
Across the street from the Chase was the Scobee diner, where future CIA director George Tenet bussed tables back in the Super Seventies. The diner opened in 1965, but closed in 2010, citing a catastrophic rent increase from the landlord. The diner was finally demolished in 2013, and a Citibank will rise in its place.
Man oh man, this house is ugly. It’s way out in Little Neck, at 252-42 Brattle Avenue. It’s asking $2,880,000. All we’ve got are photos of the exterior in all its glory — balconies, winding staircase, and some massive arched windows. Although there aren’t any interior photos, the listing tells us it is huge, and we can see the backyard’s sizable as well. But does all that space justify such a large price tag?