Astoria, up in the northwest corner of Queens, was named after entrepreneur John Jacob Astor — though it is said he never actually lived in the area or even visited it.Lumber yards sprang up along the East River shore and homes were built in the late 18th century. As late as the 1930s families still lived in houses on busy Broadway, one of the main arteries in the community.
A brick building was built in 1920 at 29-02 30 Ave. in Astoria. Its first tenant was Academy Chemist Pharmacy, which was a compound pharmacy where they mixed the prescriptions custom-made for individual needs. By the 1950s it was no longer making its own mixtures and a new owner renamed it the DeRose Pharmacy. The business ran strong into the end of the 20th century. Unfortunately, it could not compete with the big chain pharmacies, however, and closed its doors in the 21st century.
The relatively small lot was vacant and ready for a change. It was converted into an eatery. It was on the market for one day and sold on July 1, 2014 for $2,800,000. The store is in a C1-3/R-6-A zone.
Corona, east of Jackson Heights along Roosevelt Avenue, is bounded by the Grand Central Parkway and Junction Boulevard. It was once known as West Flushing and was the home of the National Race Course from 1854 to 1856, when it was renamed Fashion Race Course, after a champion horse. The race track closed in 1866.
Corona got its name in 1870, when a developer began building homes on the old race track property. By the turn of the century, it had a moderate Jewish population mixed with Italian immigrant laborers. After World War I, when much of Queens was still farmland, Corona had its own newspaper, six public schools, two parochial schools and a “colored” congregational church.
Before the construction of the Interborough Parkway in 1933 one wasn’t quite sure where Kew Gardens left off and Forest Hills began. Even the name of the section of Forest Hills right up against Kew Gardens had a transitional flavor to it: Kew Forest.
On the north side of Queens Boulevard at the corner of 78th Avenue was the Kew Gardens Theater. The Pickman Building stands on the site today.
Ozone Park was developed early on partly because of its key position to Jamaica Bay. It was just a very short ride to Goose Creek or The Raunt, where people could enjoy the benefits of boating and fishing.
Ozone Park already had a population of 40,000 in 1921, which nearly tripled to 112,000 by 1930. Only 10 miles from Manhattan, it had trolley and elevated train service. The Long Island Rail Road ran 113 trains on weekdays, saying they would get you to the city in 23 minutes.
The Jamaica Bay Islands scattered through 20 square miles of marshes provide complete isolation and tranquility in Queens — and area residents like it that way. Some can trace their family roots back 100 years, staying put from generation to generation.
Prior to the building of the Cross Bay Bridge in 1939, you were transported to the Rockaway peninsula via the Long Island Rail Road, and one station on the way was called Goose Creek.
A row of lovely all-brick attached homes was erected on 69th Street between Northern Boulevard and 34th Avenue in 1931, with second-story apartments to produce income for the homeowners.
They were almost lost when the Brooklyn Queens Expressway came through the area, as planner Robert Moses & Co. seriously considered taking them under eminent domain and knocking them down. But after some community wrangling the block was spared.
When John V. Lindsay became our New York City mayor in 1966, one of the most controversial initiatives of his administration was to place a low-income housing project in the heart of Forest Hills.
Liberal Lindsay and his New York City Housing Authority chairman, Simeon Golar, were met with their first demonstration in December 1966 when 30 women picketed Borough Hall. They also were met with fierce opposition led by Jerry Birnbach of the Forest Hills Residents Association. A Manhattan congressman named Ed Koch later allied himself with the protesters.