Ridgewood was originally occupied by the Mespachtes Indians. Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries the community was dominated by farms operated by Dutch settlers. Arbitration Rock was placed at Onderdonk and Montrose Avenues to end a long standing border dispute between Kings County and Queens. The name Ridgewood derives from the fact that the area was a heavily wooded place with an elevated terrain. During the second half of the 18th century and up until Prohibition Ridgewood was home to many brewery workers. The breweries were primarily just over the border in Brooklyn but several were in Ridgewood. There were also knitting factories. In 1906 Gustav Mathews bought a great number of farms and built Mathews Plats, a complex of more than 800 six family brick row houses. Each was three stories in height. Between 1908 and 1914 Paul Stier constructed on a similar scale between 67th and 70thavenues using tan brick and lumber of a very high quality. Flushing was established by English settlers who received patents for it from the Dutch in 1654. The name of Flushing is an anglicization of the Dutch “Vlissingen,” a village in Holland. In 1657 English Quakers arrived in Flushing. Stuyvesant attempted to persecute these people. The residents of Flushing supported the cause of religious freedom and issued the Flushing Remonstrance as a rebuke and protest to the Dutch intolerance. The Dutch government repudiated Stuyvesant and supported Flushing’s advocacy of religious freedom. Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries Flushing was world famous for its horticultural gardens and nurseries. Thomas Jefferson was a frequent buyer of plants developed and grown at Flushing nurseries. Many wealthy New Yorkers built country homes in Flushing during the second half of the 19th century. Apartmenthouses were built in the 1920s as the subway system was extended to Flushing in the 1920s. The 1939/40 and 1964/5 World’s Fairs were held in Flushing and made the area internationally famous. Today Flushing is known as the location with the most diversified population in the world.
Maspeth is named for the Maspet Indians who inhabited the headwaters of Newtown Creek. It was the first European settlement in Queens County (1642). De Witt Clinton maintained a summer residence in Maspeth. He was the governor of New York from 1817 until 1828 and was the person most responsible for constructing the Erie Canal. Mt. Olivet Cemetery was opened in 1852. Maspeth grew industrially at a very rapid pace after the Civil War—diverse products such as lumber, linoleum, rope walks, glass and ceramics were manufactured and numerous industrial raw materials were processed.
Prior to the last quarter of the 19th century today’s Glendale was called Fresh Ponds. Its earliest settlers DeBevoise’, Van Cotts, Devoes, Wycoffs were either Dutch or French Huguenots who had emigrated to Holland. A fertile land blessed by water it supported a flourishing agriculture until it was developed for residential housing and small industry following the Civil War. In 1869 a realtor named Schooley renamed thecommunity Glendale in honor of his hometown of Glendale, Ohio. The many cemeteries one finds in Glendale are a consequence of the Rural Cemeteries Act of 1847. This piece of legislation was enacted by the New York State Legislature to relieve the density of burials in churchyards in urban areas. Glendale along with neighboring Ridgewood was a predominantly German immigrant community during the late 19th and early 20th cenutries. From the 1890s until 1920 Myrtle Avenue was noted for its picnicgrounds. During the first quarter of the 20th century matches, silk and textile factorie abounded along with breweries and silent movie studios. The largest employer in the 1940s was Atlas Terminal.
Middle Village was settled by the English in the 17th century. It was named for its location as the midpoint of the Williamsburgh and Jamaica Turnpike (presently, Metropolitan Avenue). This turnpike was built in 1816. Following the Civil War the community became primarily German. A housing boom occurred in the 1920s and once again following World War II. From its inception until around 1850 Middle Village was a farming community. In 1852 many farms were transformed into cemeteries. The main businesses in Middle Village during the latter half of the 19th and early decades of the 20th centuries catered to the needs of those visiting, maintaining and constructing its cemeteries. Following the Civil War and continuing through World War II Germans and people of German ancestry comprised the largest ethnic component of Middle Village’s population
The Kew Gardens Corporation was formed in 1912. Over the next 34 years it developed a residential community based upon Hampstead Garden Suburb in London and the Russel Sage Foundation’s Forest Hills Gardens. Its goal was to create an upscale community with all the civilized amenities—a country club, a park, a church, a hotel and a restricted commercial area, The streets were laid out and landscaped in a manner sensitive to the topography. At one time or another celebrities lived in Kew Gardens—Charlie Chaplin, George Gershwin, Dorothy Parker, Will Rogers and Dorothy Parker. Luxury apartment buildings contributed to the community’s ambience of gentility—Kew Hall, the Mowbray, the Shellball, Beverly House and the Kew Gardens Plaza. Kew Gardens suffered severely from the Depression of the 1930s—The Country Club went bankrupt and closed as did the Kew Gardens Corporation. However, this period also witnessed the birth of Kew Gardens as a haven for German Jews fleeing the Nazi regime.
The name Rego Park is derived from that of Rego Construction Co., Inc. (Rego is an acronym for Really Good!), the firm that developed the community in 1926. The core of the development was 525 eight room houses costing $8,000 apiece. The first stores were built on Queens Boulevard and 63rd Drive a year later. Apartment buildings such as the Court, Remo Hall and Marion Court were erected in 1928. Prior to 1926 the land was devoted to agriculture. During the 1800s large farms provided produce for New York City whose population was increasing spectacularly. Large landholders were primarily of Dutch ancestry from 1800 until 1850 and overwhelmingly German immigrants from1850 until 1900.
Forest Hills Gardens is a 142 acre planned community designed by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. and architect Grosvenor Atterbury in1909. At the time of its creation Forest Hills Gardens was considered the most enlightened and innovative of the newly emerging suburbs. It balances architecture, streets and public spaces and greenery. It is highly planned with subtle changes of emphasis—brick, timber, trees, green expanses and architectural styles (Tudor, Arts and Crafts, etc.). Each block has a distinctive vista. In 1923 the Forest Hills Gardens Corporation purchased the community from the Russell Sage Homes Foundation.
Forest Hills was born in 1904. It’s father was Cord Meyer, Jr. who purchased 600 acres along today’s Queens Boulevard in a Queens area called White Pot. This land consisted of 16 farms the largest belonging to Backus Ascan. In 1909 Meyer sold to the Russell Sage Homes Foundations the 142 acres which the latter developed as Forest Hills Gardens. Initially covered by single family houses the 1920s witnessed an explosion of apartment houses especially along Queens Boulevard. Celebrities who have called Forest Hills home include: Paul Simon, Arthur Garfunkel, the Ramones, David Caruso, Carroll O’onnor and Jerry Springer.