The Bellerose, Glen Oaks and Floral Park neighborhoods in Queens were among the very last parts of the borough to be developed, starting right after the end of world War II. The last virgin lots of farmland were sacrificed for the exploding population of men coming home from the service wanting to get married and start a family. In 1948 a shopping center had to be built to accommodate the needs of the new homeowners. On Union Turnpike between 247th and 248th streets, rows of stores were built on both the north and south sides of the roadway.
On Sept. 15, 1922, Joseph Sendek, a Hungarian immigrant and professional wood carver, bought a 20-by-30-foot house at Queens Boulevard and 55th Avenue with his wife Mary, for $4,000. The lot was 52 feet wide and almost 170 feet deep.
The 1940 Census had six of their children living there: Mary, Victor, Edward, Ernest, Richard and Eleanor. The boys’ occupation was listed as “butcher.”
If you were born and raised in Ridgewood and you still remember your first small-screen box television set, chances are good it came from Ulan’s on Myrtle Avenue.
Ulan’s was a fixture in Ridgewood for four decades. It was located at 55-01 Myrtle, on the corner of Saint Nicholas Avenue, in what had been Roxy Clothing Store.
As late as 1937 the region of Union Turnpike from about 168th Street all the way east to 232th Street contained nothing except the Hillcrest Golf Course Hillcrest Riding Academy and The Hillside Park Riding Academy.
Suddenly all at once, starting in 1937, the neighborhood was developed by various builders such as Chevy Chase Homes at Union Turnpike and 188th Street, Paul Roth’s Holliswood Homes at Union and 188th, and the biggest player of all: Gross-Morton Homes, which practically covered the whole area from about 170th to 190th streets.
In 1928 the community of Laurelton Homes was one of the most beautiful and affluent communities in Queens. It was built by the Gross Morton Organization, which constructed upscale homes for an upper working class.
Gross Morton broke all records by selling 570 homes in less than three months in 1928. More than 10 percent of the one-family homes built in all of New York State that year were sold by Laurelton Homes.
Fresh Meadows got its start as a farming community. It first had the name Black Stump, due to how farmers marked their land by placing blackened, charred tree stumps along their property lines.
In 1923, Brooklyn attorney Benjamin C. Ribman purchased 141 acres of land, hired A.W. Tillinghast to build a golf course and christened it the Fresh Meadows Country Club. It was the site of the 1930 PGA Championship and the 1932 US Open. Babe Ruth played there after his baseball career ended.
As the second year of the 1939-40 New York World’s Fair was drawing crowds of people to Queens, the Regency Park housing complex was being built a stone’s throw away, on the west side of Main Street in the new neighborhood of Kew Gardens Hills.
The only other buildings in the area at the time were the Hepcke Dog Kennels and the Kew Gardens Dog Kennels.
In 1934, after the sale of alcohol became legal again, Arthur J. O’Keefe, a widower, decided to turn his home at 59-28 Little Neck Parkway into an inn. At that time the only businesses for blocks around were Joe’s Riding Academy, located at 54-47 and Alfred Allen’s Greenhouse at 54-40 Little Neck Parkway.
O’Keefe was lucky that the zoning where he lived allowed him to go commercial. Years later, to add a touch of class, he changed the name from O’Keefe’s Inn to the Arthur J. O’Keefe Restaurant. He adorned the eatery with photographs of his favorite movie stars and other entertainers, such as Kate Smith, Judy Garland, Joan Davis and Bing Crosby, to name a few. It’s unknown if any of them ever came to the restaurant, but their photos added a mystique.