Located on Flushing Bay and the East River in the north of Queens, College Point was formerly an industrial area that became a quiet residential neighborhood rich with one- and two-family homes.
One manufacturer there was the Lily-Tulip Cup Corp., the result of a 1929 merger between the Tulip Cup Co. and the Lily brand. First operating in Manhattan, a few years after the merger Lily-Tulip moved its paper-cup manufacturing operations to a 38-acre plot at 15th Avenue and 117th Street, on Flushing Bay.
The company’s founder and president, Henry Nias (1880-1955), lived in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park with his wife, Sadie, and two German live-in maids. He had named his firm Tulip because his parents were born in Holland, which is famous for that flower. Upon his death, the Henry Nias Foundation was created to preserve his fortune.
During the terrible hurricane of 1938, record high tides from the bay topped the bulkhead and swept through Lily-Tulip’s machine shops and packing plant with the force of a tidal wave, almost destroying the business. Ten-foot-high piles of wet paper had to be cleared out.
But the firm survived, and through 1965 employed thousands of Queens residents. Then it announced it was moving to Holmdel, NJ, and many loyal employees moved with it. Three years later, facing competition from the Dixie and Solo paper cup companies, Lily-Tulip was gobbled up by the conglomerate Libbey-Owens-Illinois Corp.
Today the Pepsi Cola Bottling Co. and Pepperidge Farm, along with other smaller fims, occupy Lily-Tulip’s old location.