In Queens, you can find history in the most unexpected places. Take this gas station in College Point that Scouting New York visited last month. The typical retro service station has a sign in the window that says, “EST. 1868.” Hmm, that’s before the invention of the automobile.
It turns out that the Farrington family business was once a blacksmith shop that made horseshoes, so they’ve always been involved in the transportation industry. Sometime between 1917 and 1920, they adapted with technology and started servicing cars instead.
Legendary Steinway & Sons pianos are made right in Astoria, and the factory played a huge part in the development of the neighborhood starting in 1870. The history of this company town is just one of the many fascinating topics we learned about on the highly recommended Steinway factory tour.
Steinway & Sons was founded in 1853 in Manhattan by Henry Steinway (originally Heinrich Steinweg), a cabinet maker from Germany who had built his first piano in the kitchen of his home. (more…)
Over the months, we’ve featured a number of maps on QueensNYC – what can we say, we think maps are pretty interesting, especially the interactive ones. Here’s a roundup of maps that have caught our eye – we hope you enjoy them a second time around!
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.
A new book on Forest Hills is going to be released mid-February, aptly called Forest Hills, the latest in Arcadia Publishing’s popular Images of America series. Forest Hills was America’s first “garden city” and if you’ve ever strolled through Forest Hills Gardens in particular, you’ll see how green and garden-like it can be (in the warmer months, of course). The book will show you this through its more than 200 vintage images of the neighborhood.
Here at QueensNYC we love to talk about what’s shiny and new, but we are also fascinated with what came before, too. Over the weekend we came across The Old New York Page on Facebook. Sure, there’s a lot of Manhattan – and the photos are great – but Brooklyn and Queens are also featured from time to time. We are particularly smitten with this shot of the bungalows in the Rockaways from 1910.
If you’re riding the subway on a Sunday during holiday season, you might be in for a treat. From Queens Plaza in LIC to 2nd Ave in Manhattan, the MTA is replacing the M train with a vintage train, featuring cars dating back to the 1930s and 1940s. We took a ride this past weekend and it was a lot of fun.
It’s easy to forget that, well before these street numbers, apartment buildings, and train lines existed – before Queens was Queens – the area had been inhabited by Native Americans for thousands of years. Scholars believe that the Queens area was not densely populated, and that Native Americans lived in small groups mostly along the bays, creeks, and ponds, where they could fish (haddock, oysters), farm (maize, squash), gather (strawberries, chestnuts) and hunt (grouse, quail).
Image source: Todd Edebohls, grandson of Henry Edebohls
Over on Sunnyside Post, when the historical marker for the former boxing arena was announced, several older neighborhood residents piped up. Comments on the news piece started to fill with other memories of life in Sunnyside in the 1940s and 50s. It is really worth reading through the nostalgic comments and the priceless exchanges between old timers and newer residents. As one commenter responded, “Sounds like an episode of Happy Days.” (more…)
There’s a new monument in front of the Wendy’s in Sunnyside (GMAP) that’s attracting quite a bit of attention from passersby. The plaque is a nod to the Sunnyside Garden Arena, a boxing venue that stood on the site from 1945 to 1977.
Sunnyside Garden hosted professional and amateur fighters, and was the neighborhood’s biggest attraction in the heyday of New York boxing. (more…)
Eating our Emotions: The History of Food in Funerary Traditions – Ms. Sarah Lohman of FourPoundsFlour.com, dubbed as a “historic gastronomist” will be presenting a special talk about the history of funeral food at the Queens Historical Society (GMAP) as part of OHNY. In this lecture, she will look at the culinary traditions surrounding funerals throughout American history as well as taste some of the food that has offered solace through history. The event is free, but registration is ensures you get to sample plenty of traditional foods during the demonstration.