We’ve heard many times of the mammoth feat of removing the great ash dumps to build the New York World’s Fair of 1939 on what later became our great Flushing Meadows Park, but there was much more to it than met the eye on a personal level.
The actual work of clearing the area began on Dec. 10, 1935 in bitter freezing temperature. Despite the weather, work went ahead in order to clear a pathway to reach the actual ash dump — the removal of which officially started on June 1, 1936, with Mayor La Guardia at the controls of a steam shovel.
Although beauty was created, some people’s homes were in the way of the fairgrounds. On 51st Avenue and 111st Street, most people took the city’s settlement and moved, but others took their homes with them, refusing to see them destroyed.
Among the latter were Kasimir and Susan Babcany of 111-15 51 Ave., shown here, and their children, Edward, Mary and Vladimir. They refused to have their precious home meet the wrecking ball.
Gerosa Haulage of the Bronx was a specialist in the transporting of homes. Three brothers ran the operation. One loved the work so much he lived above the business until 1956, when he finally moved to the Throgs Neck section of the Bronx. An heir of the Gerosa family continues to do this kind of work in Englewood, NJ today.
The moving of some houses out of the way reflects the intense love Queens homeowners had then and have now for their slice of the American dream.