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Broadway-Flushing Historic District National Register Application

Broadway-Flushing Historic District National Register Application

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Published by Paul Graziano
Broadway-Flushing Historic District National Register Application
Broadway-Flushing Historic District National Register Application

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Published by: Paul Graziano on Mar 07, 2013
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NPS Form 10-900a
OMB No. 1024-0018 
(Rev. 8-86)
United States Department of the Interior 
National Park Service
National Register of Historic PlacesContinuation Sheet
B
ROADWAY
F
LUSHING
H
ISTORIC
D
ISTRICT
, F
LUSHING
, C
OUNTY
 
OF
Q
UEENS
, N
EW
Y
ORK
Section number8 Page 1 of 16
Statement of Significance
The Broadway-Flushing neighborhood, along with Bowne Park, is a remarkably intact architecturally andhistorically significant development spanning from 1900 to 1950. The history and development of thisneighborhood, and what defined Broadway-Flushing for over a century makes this section of the city locallysignificant under Criterion A in the area of community planning and development. The residential community isalso eligible under Criterion C, as it has an extensive inventory of period revival upper-middle and middle classdetached and attached housing.
Earliest Description of the Area
The Native American presence in northeastern Queens included the Matinecock, one of a group on western LongIsland linked by culture and language to others in the area surrounding Manhattan, including the Carnarsee,Rockaway and Massapequa. The Matinecocks were displaced by treaty or forced removal from what is nowFlushing by the first Europeans, English colonists who emigrated from New England and settled in 1645 underthe auspices of the Dutch.John Bowne, an English Quaker, moved to Flushing in 1655. One of the authors of the 1657 FlushingRemonstrance, the first document guaranteeing religious freedom in North America, Bowne was arrested in1662 by the Dutch for practicing Quakerism, which was illegal in Dutch New Netherlands. However, he was soonreleased and he returned to Flushing after 1665. His descendants remained in Flushing for more than 300years, and owned a large portion of what is now the Broadway-Flushing Historic District. Similarly, ThomasWillet, an English soldier in the Dutch service at New Amsterdam, settled in Flushing in the 1660s, and hisdescendants owned large tracts of Flushing to the east and south, including Auburndale. The Bowne and Willetfamilies intermarried in the eighteenth century.The modern history of Flushing began in 1732 with the establishment of the first commercial nursery in theUnited States, started by William Prince. A number of families, including the Parsons, Bloodgoods and Murrays,became prominent in the horticultural industry, especially during the nineteenth century. In the area east of thevillage center where Broadway-Flushing now lies, most of the acreage was owned by the Bowne, Willet andMurray families. Kingsland, the country seat of William K. Murray, was constructed in 1775 and was located onthe south side of Broadway (Northern Boulevard) near the present 156
th
Street. This part of Flushing becameknown as Murray Hill, as did a section of the east side of Manhattan.After the Revolutionary War, Flushing remained an isolated hamlet until the 1840s, when it began its transitioninto a resort for wealthy Manhattanites. Scores of substantial “cottages” were built in the center of town, andhistoric farmhouses and estates were rehabilitated and sold or rented as summer homes to the wealthy elite.After the Civil War, and the introduction of the Long Island Railroad, Flushing began to transform into a year-round suburban community and commercial center.
Oliver Charlick and the Long Island Railroad
The consolidation of the Long Island Railroad from a collection of competitive, independent rail companies to acentralized authority began under the stewardship of Oliver Charlick in the mid-nineteenth century. Charlick,prominent in the 1840s and 1850s as a New York politician and horse car railroad operator, gained control of the Long Island Railroad with Henry Havemeyer (a three-term mayor of New York).
 
NPS Form 10-900a
OMB No. 1024-0018 
(Rev. 8-86)
United States Department of the Interior 
National Park Service
National Register of Historic PlacesContinuation Sheet
B
ROADWAY
F
LUSHING
H
ISTORIC
D
ISTRICT
, F
LUSHING
, C
OUNTY
 
OF
Q
UEENS
, N
EW
Y
ORK
Section number8 Page 2 of 16
Charlick (1810-1875), who was born in Manhattan, went into the liquor business started by his father at anearly age. In 1843, he was elected as an assistant Alderman, and by 1845 was elected Alderman and chosenPresident of the Board.
As president of the board during the latter part of his term, he frequently actedas Mayor of the city during the absence of Mayor Havemeyer; i
t was at that time that Charlick began hislifelong friendship with the mayor. After losing his next election, Charlick went into transportation management,including steamships, the Eighth Avenue Railroad and finally the Long Island Railroad. In 1861, he becamesuperintendent of the Hunter’s Point Ferry, which transported riders from the terminal at Hunter’s Point to theeast side of Manhattan. He was elected president of the Long Island Railroad in 1862 and maintained thatposition until 1871.According to
 A History of the Long Island Railroad 
distributed by the Long Island Railroad, May 1982,
While a capable administrator, Charlick had a great capacity for rubbing people the wrong way; his autocratic wayscreated trouble for the Long Island [Railroad] and he effected the trackage we use today by expressing hisdissatisfaction with the attitudes of local communities by routing lines and placing stations to punish them. It wasgenerally conceded that Charlick was a hardheaded business man and some of his policies have been the right ones;his road avoided many of the financial difficulties which plagued his rivals who expanded rapidly, and perhapsrecklessly, into areas Charlick had avoided…Nevertheless it was Charlick’s policies which led to the formation of therival South Side Railroad and its seizure of the south shore villages, to the formation of a strong Flushing basedsystem and, because he refused the initial overtures for Long Island operation of the Central Railroad of Long Island,drove that parallel, competitive, line into the camp of the North Shore group.
And from
History of Long Island 
by Peter Ross, Vol. 1, 1902,
In later life, Mr. Charlick again became prominent in New York City’s politics, and as a member of the Board of PoliceCommissioners his name was actively bandied about at a time when deals and dickers formed the professionalpolitician’s stock and trade in New York. He had hosts of enemies and troops of friends; by the former he wasdenounced for having committed practically every crime in the calendar; by the latter he was credited with brains,smartness and inflexible honesty…However, all that may be, it is certain that his career as a politician did not add tohis personal reputation, nor has it won for his memory the regard which is paid even to that of a respectablemechanic.
One might compare Charlick to Robert Moses, who battled to build his highway projects amid protests fromrecalcitrant governments and property owners. Charlick was steadfast in his refusal to compromise withmunicipalities in order to pursue his specific plans for expansion of the railroad network throughout Long Island.In many coastal towns, Charlick refused to build branch lines to connect them to the network. When thosevillages tried to build their own branches, Charlick would construct rail lines that went nowhere in order to cutthe municipalities off. Huntington Station and Port Jefferson Station in Suffolk County, both several miles fromthe center of those towns, are excellent examples of Charlick’s punishment of those municipalities for refusingto sign on to his plans.In his later years, Charlick bought the Willet Bowne house and estate, which was constructed in 1827 by adescendant of both of those prominent Flushing families. The 137-acre estate was bounded by Bayside Avenueon the north to Queens Avenue (46
th
Avenue) on the south, and from the Broadway Depot (approximately 163
rd
Street) to Cemetery Avenue (Auburndale Lane) on the east, with Broadway (Northern Boulevard) bisecting theproperty. The Willet Bowne house was located at the junction of Broadway and Sanford Avenue (approximately165
th
Street) on the north side. Charlick improved the train line and created the Broadway-Flushing station in1866, partially to create an easy commute to his country estate. After Charlick’s death in 1875, his daughter’s
 
NPS Form 10-900a
OMB No. 1024-0018 
(Rev. 8-86)
United States Department of the Interior 
National Park Service
National Register of Historic PlacesContinuation Sheet
B
ROADWAY
F
LUSHING
H
ISTORIC
D
ISTRICT
, F
LUSHING
, C
OUNTY
 
OF
Q
UEENS
, N
EW
Y
ORK
Section number8 Page 3 of 16
husband demolished the house and erected a mansion on the site, which burned in 1887. In 1908, most of theacreage that had made up Charlick’s estate was sold to the Rickert-Finlay Realty Company. 
Rickert-Finlay Realty Company
The Rickert-Finlay Realty Company, founded in 1904, was critical in shaping the pattern of planned suburbandevelopment in northeastern Queens and western Nassau County in particular, and Queens County in general,for close to half a century. Edward J. Rickert (1862-1935) and Charles E. Finlay (1862-1940) formed thepartnership, later joined in 1905 by Charles H. Rickert (1856-1939), Edward’s older brother. The real estatefirm, with offices at 1 West 34
th
Street in Manhattan, focused on hilly, picturesque parcels that were adjacent tothe Great Neck (later Port Washington) branch of the Long Island Railroad on the north shore of Long Island.The rail line was within easy commuting distance of Manhattan, especially with the completion of the East Riverrail tunnels. Additionally, with the recent advent of the automobile and completion of the Queensborough Bridgeand connection to Jackson Avenue (later Northern Boulevard), a speculative boom had begun throughout theborough of Queens. Ultimately, this would spur a ten-fold increase in population within three decades thatRickert-Finlay would capitalize upon.In all, the Rickert-Finlay company shepherded six known development projects: Bellcourt (1904), DouglasManor (1906), Broadway-Flushing (1906), Westmoreland in Little Neck (1907), East River Heights in Astoria(1907) and Kensington in Great Neck (1910) (Figure 1). By 1908, the company was advertising itself as “TheLargest Developers of Real Estate in Queens Borough – over 10,000 lots within the limits of New York City.” As related in the
1997 Douglaston Historic District Designation Report 
from the New York City LandmarksPreservation Commission,
The company’s typical strategy for selecting development sites was described by E. J. Rickert in a 1914 article in
 Architecture and Building
: “It was selected because it was on high ground, with a splendid outlook…and only fourblocks from a railway station. It was …noted for the magnificent row of maples and lindens, nearly a mile long,extending through the entire property.” The company described the progression of the firm’s ideas:The first property developed was Bellcourt in Bayside, which was improved along the same lines as had heretoforeprevailed on Long Island – that is, gravel sidewalks were laid, streets were graded and shade trees were set out, noother improvements, and, consequently, when Douglas Manor was developed, cement sidewalks were laid, macadamroads were built and trees and hedges were set out. Broadway-Flushing and Westmoreland, which came next, weredeveloped about the same extent as Douglas Manor, all then being considered the best improved properties on LongIsland.
The progression in planning principles, combined with the changing standards for middle and upper-middleclass subdivisions through the first third of the 20
th
century in metropolitan New York, are evident in eachdevelopment. Before New York City introduced the first municipal zoning code in 1916, deed restrictions andcovenants were commonplace to protect properties from undesirable uses, particularly in more upscaledevelopments. Using English common law dating back to William the Conqueror as precedent, boilerplatecovenants, such as a prohibition on slaughterhouses, factories, breweries and brothels were routinely placed indeeds before property transferred from one party to another in New York.Until its later development of Kensington, Rickert-Finlay did not dictate architectural style (Figure 2). Bellcourt,in Bayside, began with simple improvements and restrictions similar to other contemporary developments inQueens. Several hallmarks of the Rickert-Finlay deed restrictions were evident even at that time, including

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