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Queens

Queens

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Published by Theresa Collington
William Leuchtenberg
William Leuchtenberg

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Published by: Theresa Collington on Mar 06, 2010
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12/06/2010

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Nineteenth-centuryElmhurst,thenknownas NewtownVillage.photo
by
Vi
Seyfried.
Under
the
Number7Line:
RooseveltAvenue,
Jackson
Heights-Elmhurst
Border,June3o,
r999.
Here
g3rd
Street
is alsonamed
in
honor
of
Manuelde
Dios
Unanue.Photo
byJean
Anne
Leuchtenburg.
A
rra'.*'
\LL
Lr
A
r,',rt
\
b97\
r
otz-L
William
E.
Leuchtenburg
QUEENS
grew
up
in
a
place
now
closing
in
on
a population
oftwomillion
which
does
not
get
a line
in
the
history
texts-unlike
much
less
populous
communities
such
as
Boston,Charleston,
and
San
Fran-
.
A
land
where
LateWoodland
people
-roamed
and
both
the
Dutch
and
the
Unionfackunfurled,
an
area settled
nearly
two
centuries
Chicagowas
muchmorethanan
outPost'
home
totwo
Signers
Declaration
of
Independence'
it
has
rarely
been
regarded
as
"his-ic."
In
themorethan
seventy
years
that
I
have
known
it,
few
have
t ofit,
if
theyhave
thought
of
it
at all,
as
an"American
place'"
s,
a county
of
New
York
State
and
since
1898
one
of
the
five
of
NewYork
City,
occupies
thenorthwestern
sector
of
Long
above
Brooklyn.
It
is
bounded
onthe
southeast
bythe
Atlantic
n,
onthe
north
by
Long
Island
Sound
andthe
East
River,
a strait
does
a
right-angle
turn
to divide
Queens
from
Manhattan
Island
to
west.
To
the
east,
two
other
Long
Island
counties(the
firstof
themu,
for
centuries
part
of
Queens)
meander
all
theway
to
Montauk
very
grateful
for
literatureon
Queens
thoughtfully
sent
meby the
folklorist
Ilana
of
the
Queens
Council
on theArts,
author
of
The
International
Express,an
t
brochure
on
the
Number
Seven
line;
fon
Peterson,
co-editor
with
the
prolific
Seyfried
of
anindispensable
guide
to
researchsources
onthe borough;andRoger
,
who
has
written
extensively
and
brilliantly
onethnicity
in
Queens
 
-
AMERICAN
PLACES
Point.
Queenscomprises
more
than
a
third
of
New York
City.
With
square
miles,
it
is
almost
as
big
as
Manhattan,
the
Bronx,
and
Island
put
together.
Despite
its
impressivesize,
no
tourist
to
New York City
think
putting
Queens
on
any
"must
see"
list.
In
the
432-page
Eyeuitness
Tr
Guide
to NeutYorft
Ciry,
Queensrates
less
thana
page
and
a half.
siders have
chosen
Queens
as
a
destination
only
if
they had a
p
catch
at
La
Guardia
or
Kennedy airports
or
were going
to
a
event-to
see
Tom
Seaver
and the Miracle
Mets
at
SheaStadiu
tennis
matches
at
Forest
Hills
or
Flushing
Meadows,
perhaps
to
bet
the
horses
at
Aqueduct
(where
Man
o'
War won
a
storied
victory'
ryzo)-and
even
thenthey
were
unlikely
to
be
conscious
of
beingQueens.
Only
once
in
belles
lettres
does
Queensemerge,
and
it
is
as
the
mare
world of
"spasms
of
bleak
dust"
presided over by the
faceless
tor
T.
f
.Eckleburg
with
his"blue
and
gigantic
eyes,"
their
irises
a
high,
peering
out
of
"enormous
yellow
spectacles
which
pass
over
a
existent nose."JayGatsby,
recalling
the
"desolate"
sighthe
encou
onajourney
from
West
Egg
to
Manhattan, ruminates:
This is
a
valley
of
ashes-a
fantastic
farm
where
ashes
grow
I
wheat
into
ridges and
hills
and
grotesque gardens;
where
ashes
the forms
of
houses
and chimneys and
rising
smokeand,finally, with
a
transcendent
effort,
of
ash-gray
men
who
move
dimly
and
al
crumbling through
the powdery
air.
Occasionally
a
line
of
gray
cars
crawls along an invisible track,
gives
out
a ghastly creak, and
comes
to
rest,
and
immediately
the
ash-gray
men
swarm
upwith
leadenspades
and
stir up
an
impenetrablecloud.
Those
who identify
with
Gatsby's
circle at
the Plaza havelong
Queens
as
a
vast
dumping
ground,
as
well
as
a
catchbasin
for
vices.
Youmay
spend
your
life
in
Manhattan,
but
you
spend eternity
Queens-in
huge
metropolises
of
the
dead, acre
upon
acre.
Of
ug
Ravenswood,
a
WPA
guide
wrote
in
the
r93os,
"There
is
hardly
a
of
vegetation,
andthe drab
cobblestone streets
stretch sordidly
to
river
front."
Queens
has
been
depicted
as
the
quintessential
locale.
twentieth-century
anomie
and
of
virulent
racism.
It
was
in
Queens
r964
that
Kitty
Genovese was
murdered, and,though
thirty-eightkids
to
take the
Number
Seven
el
into
Manhattan,boarda Grey-
OUEENS
nowledged
that
they had heard
her
cries,
none
came
to
her aid.
It
in
Queens,
at Howard
Beach,
that a
white
gang beat three
blacks,
ing
one
to
his
death
under the
wheels
of
a
car
on
ShoreParkway.
on a dreary
street
in
Queens
that
irascible
icon
of
bigotry,Archie
nker, dwelt.
Like
E,
Scott Fitzgerald'sprotagonist,
more
recent wayfarers
haverceivedQueens
to
be
something
to
be
gotten
through,
eyes
averted.
A
de
after
Gatsby's
journey,the noisomeCorona
Dumps
were
leveledcreate
the
1939
World's Fair,
but
traversingQueensremainedan
or-L
Travelers regarded
it
as
a
purgatory
to
be survived
as,
breathingexhaust
fumes
on
the
tortoise-paced
Long
Island
Expressway,they
toward
Sag
Harborand the
Hamptons
or,bound
for
Europe,
re
trapped
in
a
motionless
taxi,
the
meter
running,
on
the
Van
yck-a
name
to
send
chills
through
an]
tourist-as
the
minutesed
by toward takeoffat
IFK
for
Air
France
toOrly.
It
was
under-dably
hard
for
them
to
imagine
that
there
is
agreat
deal
more
to
ens
than
a soulless
concrete
wasteland
ofstrip
malls
and convenience
andthat,
not
so
long
ago,
Queens
was
a
green
and
appealingryside and
has reason
to
command
attention
now.
I
spent
most
of
the
first
twenty-one
years
of my
life iri
Queens,and,
h
I
was never
a
habitu6
of
the
Plaza
(save
for
a
brief
stint,
atn,
as
a
bellhop),
I
shared
much
of
thedisdain
others
felt for
where
::lived.
Born
in
Ridgewood,
just
over
the
Queens
line
in
Brooklyn,
I
as
raised
in
a
number
of
Queens
communities-Woodhaven,
Astoria,
infield, and
especially,
through
allmy high
schooldays,
in
Elmhurst.
names,
I
can
now
see,
are
redolent
of
the
past.
Astoria
came
from
fur
merchant
]ohn
facob
Astor;
Winfieldfrom"Old
Fuss and
Feath-
"
the Mexican
War
hero
Winfield
Scott;
while
Currier
and
Ives
chose
oodhaven
as
a
locale
for
one
of their
engravings.
But
I
knew norhing
any
of
that
as
a
teenager
when
I
would
stare
out
of
the
darkness
of
|ackson
Theater
at
the
movie
screen
showing
the
young
hero
re-inghome
to
the
bluegrass
of
Kentucky
or
the valley
of
the
Wabash
wish that
I
came
from
a
real
place.
No
one
could
have asked
for finer
history
teachers,
but
never
did
any
them
suggest
that
Queens
had ahistory. Instead,
in
the
halcyon
days
FDR's
New
Deal,
they
focused
my
attention on
the
national
govern-
nt.
At
the
age
of
twelve,
I
earned enoughmoney
tutoring
neighbor-
 
AMERICAN
PLACEShound
bus,
and
ride
for
nine
hours
to
Washington,
D.C.,
w
altogether
on
my
own,
I
spent
rhree
days,wide_eyed,
visiting
the
V
House,
Congress,
andthebrand-newmarble
palace
of
theUlS.
Sup
Court.
In
later
times,
I
would
venture
into
nationalpolitical
hi
especially
that
of
the
Roosevelt
administration,notinto
urban
historhas
only
been
in
the
pastyear,
as
I
contemplated
an
appropriate
r
for
an
essay
rohonor
myfriend
of
four
decades,
Shelion
iul.y.r,
gave
any
serious
consideration
as
a
historian
to
eueens.
Not
historicl
rhe
very
name
"eueens,"
I
havelearned,
derives
theconsorr
of
the
Stuartmonarch,
Charles
II.
That
designation
>nly
aftera periodwheneueens
was
part
of
thecolony
oi
N.*
N.
:rland.
In
1614,
aDutchman,AdriaenBlock,
was
the
first
Euronean
ay
eyes
on
Queens
as
henavigated
treacherous
Hell
Gate
(a
maelst.
:hat
scared
me
as
achild),
andanother
Du'tehman,
Governor
Will
(ieft,
purchasedQueens
from
the
Indians.
A
few
y."r,
"go,
-h.,
ectured
ara
medieval
abbey
in
theNetherlands,
I
stayed
i.,
tirdd.
vhat
Elmhurst
was
originally
called,
and
I
made
"
pointof
visiti
vindswept
Vlissingen,
whosenamesake,
rendered
into
b,nglish,
oday
as
thebustling
Queens
community
of
Flushing.
The
Queens
Vlissingen
providedthe
venue
fo.
o.r.
of
the
ear
hapters
in
thelong
struggle
for
religious
liberty
in
the
Western
phere.
A
zealous
Calvinist,the
governor
of
New
Netherland,Ituyvesant,
imposed
a
heavy
fineon
any
colonist
*ho
p.r.rritt.)uaker
to
enter
his
home;
half
of
thelevywent
to
informers.Inllushing
Remonstrance
of
1657,
atown
meetingreminded
Stuyhat
citizenswere
guaranteed
liberty
of
conscience.
Infuriated,
Stuy
etaliated
by
arresting
andimprisoningJohnBowne
fo,
trrr.ringitchenovertoQuakers
for
services,
though
he
himselfw"snot
"
Fri,n
Amsterdam,
Bowne,banished
from
the
colony,
won
vindication.)ouncil
of
theWest
India
Companyorderedthe
hot_tempered
govr
r"shut
his
eyes"
tononconformistworship
so
long
",
it
iid
,roi
dire
peace.
As
a
boy,
I
only
dimly
grasped
the
significance
of
..
Iouse,"
and
I
nevertroubled
to
visit
it
on
mymany
ridesonthe
N
even
trainfrom
Elmhurst
to
Flushing.
Only
subsequently
didIut
thatnine
generations
of
Bowne's
descendants
rived
in
that
h
'hich
still
stands.
In
1652,
five
years
before
theFlushing
Remonstrance,
New
Engla
ongregationalists
crossed
overto
Long
Island
and,
in
thelocale
ofiat
Elmhurst,founded
what
the
Dutch
called
Middelburghbut
the
yan-thought
of
as
a
"New
Town,"
to
distinguish
it
froilr
"
sertlemenr
had
been
wipedoutnine
years
earlierin-an
Indian
uprising
,n",
i'
:chester
County
took
rhe
lifeof
Anne
Hutchirrrorr.
?Th.
"school
I
ed
in
the'
e3o,,
N.-,'J#;tf
:LJl"j#?;#T
j::::lr1
.)
They
built
cottages
of
thatchand
stone;
laidout
f".-r;
.air.-d:;trapped
wolf
andfox;plantedcherry
orchards,lilacs,hollyhocks,sweet
william;
cultivated
,,Newtownpippin,,
apples;
picked
wild
wberries;
went
off
on"clamming
frolics',;
i,rg"
porra
on
which
skat_
glidedon
moonlit
winrernightE
.nd
erect.J
a
iristmil
in
a
terrain
rasslve
nut
trees
and
fresh
and
salt
meadows
that
calred
to
mind
bridgeshire.Before
long,.Newtown's
growerswere
marketing
flour
meat
in
thewealthy
Caribbean
colonies,
but
in
the
eighteeni.
..rr_
quarrels
with
the
British
(who
in
fi64
hadsucceeded
the
Dutch
as
)
cast
a
somber
cloudovertheflourishing
economy.ren
in
my
history
classes
in
eueens
,.hool,
I
studiedthe
Americanlution,
I
learned
of
the
Boston
Tea
party
and
Bunker
Hill,
but
not
in
ry74
Newtown
freeholders
had
created
a
committee
of
corre_ence
which
adopted
resolves
protesting
that
the
rate
acts
of
parria-were
"absolutely
intended
to
deprive
His
Majesty,s
mosr
dutiful
loyal
subjects.
.
.
of
their
most
inestimable
rightsandpriuil.g.r.,,did
I
know
that,after
defeatingGeorge
w"rhington
"i
th.
Bittre
LongIsland
to
the
south,
the
Briiish
occupied
N.i,tow.r,
as
well
as
aaica
andwhatthe
redcoats
were
pleased
to
call
"the
famous
and
tiful
townof
Flushing."
rn
r7gz,
the
British
forcestherewerehon-by
a
visit
fromHis
RoyalHighness
William
Henry,
Duke
of
Clar_
OUEENS
subsequently
KingWilliam
IV.Theoccupying
armydidnot
depart
until
r7g3,
seven
grim
years
later.
Newtown,
wheretenthousand
plundering
rJ.o",,
bi"uo.r".k.d,G..r_
Sir
William
Howe
resided
in
a
house
,iill
,h.r.
when
I
wasa
boy.
octagonal
Dutch
ReformedChurch
servedas
apowder
_"g"Jrr..
firewood,they
devastated
ail
rhat
was
reft
of
theprimeval
forest,
outthe
pews
of
the
First
presbyterian
Church,
and
evensawed
off
steeple;
the
pulpit
they
used
for
a
hitching
posr.
with
the
surrender
Cornwallis,
large
numbers
of
George
Itit
fotto*ers
abandoned
to
rebuildtheir
lives
in
the
Maritime
provinces.Loyalists
from
founded
the
cityof
St.John
in
New
Brunswick;
i
tilled
a
farm
in
Flushing.
its
first
mayor

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