Today we continue our exploration of the border between Little Neck and Douglaston. When I left off last week, I had just traversed the new shortcut between Little Neck and Douglaston Hills. It’s a short wooden footbridge over a creek running through Udalls Cove Park, a 30-acre salt marsh that effectively delineates the border between the two neighborhoods north of Northern Boulevard. I had chanced upon the former St. Peter’s African Methodist Episcopal Church on Orient Avenue, formerly known as 243rd Street.
Little Neck and Douglaston are sister neighborhoods in the far northeast of Queens. The border between what were two tiny towns on the north shore of Long Island in the colonial and postcolonial eras, before they were absorbed into Greater New York along with the rest of Queens in 1898, has long been a puzzlement. Some chroniclers say it’s Marathon Parkway, which stands in for 250th Street. I think that allows way to little territory to Little Neck, however, and you’ll forgive me for being partial: I have been a resident of Little Neck since 2007, and reside an Eli Manning touchdown pass, or Geno Smith interception return, from Nassau County.
Despite the fact that the neighborhoods are adjacent, easy entrance and egress between them has long been difficult. There are only two roads between the two neighborhoods near the shoreline: Northern Boulevard, the mother road of Long Island, and a twisting road running between Douglas Road and Little Neck Parkway called by its residents Sandhill Road in its western section and 39th avenue in its eastern part. The city’s Department of Transportation cannot decide between the two and so has a sign on the Douglaston end calling it “Bayshore Boulevard.” Its eastern end is not on city maps at all and so the city disdains posting a street sign.
I’ve discovered a new way to get to Douglaston from Little Neck, though, and it’s all due to a short wood bridge that the NYC Parks Department built just recently.
It’s the most diverse county in the world and the best tourism destination in the United States, so it’s no surprise that Queens is overflowing with wonderful Valentine’s Day activities and bargains. In fact, local chances for romance and fun related to this international holiday are so numerous that they run for more than two weeks and include everything from live music to a “love run,” hotel getaways, and even a blood drive for the do-gooders. Another photo and many more details are on the jump page.
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.
For centuries before the mid-1600s the Matinecock Indians, a branch of the Algonquin, had lived on the peninsula where Douglaston Manor is today as well as lands to the south and east, including today’s Little Neck (a “neck” here meaning a plot of land. The term is also seen in adjoining Great Neck as well as Gravesend Neck in Brooklyn.) Little Neck Bay’s wealth of seafood, including the huge oysters that grew here then, sustained the tribe. In the 1600s, European settlers also turned their attention to the area, not only for the clams but for the harbor, which offered easy access to water traffic. The British and Dutch soon had bartered, or some say swindled, the Matinecocks out of much of their ancestral lands, except for a small portion called Madnan’s Neck (possibly named for settler Ann Heatherton, “Mad Nan” although it could also have been shortened from the Indian name for the area, Menhaden-ock, “place of fish.”) In 1656, Thomas Hicks — of the Hicks family that eventually founded Hicksville — forcibly drove out the “last of the Matinecock” in the Battle of Madnan’s Neck at today’s Northern Boulevard and Marathon Parkway.
I love Fall. I love the cooler weather, the autumn foliage, pumpkins and Indian corn. To me, it’s not a season of death, but of new purpose. After a hot summer, everyone seems renewed in the fall, ready to start Big Things. We open new seasons at the theater, the opera, on television; it’s an exciting time of year, culminating in the holidays. January and February, well, that’s another story. But we’re not there yet, it’s still the middle of Fall, and that means peak leaf changing season. And what better place to see nature’s amazing palate of colors than in a park? In this case, Queens’ second largest park?
Ally Pond Park borders Douglaston on the east and Bayside on the west. Little Neck Bay stretches gloriously to the north, and Union Turnpike cuts the park off on the south. This part of Queens sits on a terminal moraine formed by the Laurentide glacier thousands of years ago. The ice deposited boulders and dug creeks and ponds. Today, the park encompasses fresh water ponds and natural springs, as well as salt marshes from Little Neck Bay, forming a very diverse biosphere, one of the great highlights of the park. (more…)
What a beauty in Douglaston! This historic Colonial is actually nestled in the woods, and looks like it belongs somewhere in Massachusetts, not New York City. The interior, which holds four bedrooms and three bathrooms, is very nice, with a renovated kitchen and a sauna in the master bath. There’s also a large deck that looks out onto the backyard, although the listing doesn’t provide a photo. For some New England living in Queens, $999,888.