Sol Schildkraut, a short, personable man born to Jewish immigrant parents, opened up a small Ford dealership in South Jamaica in June 1911. It was located at 94th Avenue and 166th Street.
In 1911 Queens was still principally a rural area with many active farms. For this reason he sold Ford tractors and light trucks. The Schildkraut dealership became a popular hangout for local farmers as they sat around drinking whiskey and swapped stories.
In the 1920s and ’30s the farms of Cambria Heights, Saint Albans, Laurelton and Springfield Gardens were wiped out in a building boom. As farms and farmers became extinct, Schildkraut switched exclusively to automobiles, introducing the popular Ford V-8 on his lot in 1932.
He moved to a brand-new large building at 164-26 Liberty Avenue, at the corner of Merrick Boulevard, in 1935, at the height of the Great Depression. A tough man in a tough business, Schildkraut made his dealership No. 1 for Ford sales not only in Queens but all of geographic Long Island. He held that position into the late 1940s with the addition of Ford’s Mercury and Lincoln Continental models.
His great success enabled him to build an estate in Cedarhurst, LI. But mass population shifts of people leaving for Nassau and Suffolk counties in the late 1960s eroded Schildkraut’s dynasty. Low sales forced him to close his doors and turn in his dealer certificate on April 29, 1972, ending 61 years in the business for one of the most successful car dealers in Queens history.