One of Richmond Hill’s unofficial “landmarks” is not a home, not a restaurant but a shuttered laundry and dry cleaner’s.
In the late 1920s Clifford Beatty of Great Neck got the idea to start what became Vortex Laundry at 129-09 Jamaica Ave., and it was an immediate success. In 1935 he took over another laundry and renamed his business the Ideal Vortex Laundry Service. Beatty was so proud of his operation that he gave daily tours to the general public. He also provided many jobs to local residents, employing hundreds at his peak.
After World War II business really took off with the introduction of Beatty’s Cupid Diaper Service at the same address. With the prosperity of the Eisenhower years, most mothers could afford to send out their diapers to be cleaned.
In the mid-1960s, following the advent of the disposable diaper, Beatty tried out a new concept, starting the Day Rental Uniform Service and Uniforms for Industry, from which companies would only rent the uniforms they needed rather than buy them. The rentals were cleaned and delivered to your door, all in one service.
Business at the 1.72-acre site ceased in November 2002. The soil and groundwater were found to be contaminated in several spots — a common situation at old drycleaning sites — by solvents and petroleum that spilled from machinery and underground storage tanks.
Major cleanup efforts began in 2011 and are scheduled to be complete this year.