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Queens Chronicle

The development of elegant Jamaica Estates

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Posted: Thursday, March 13, 2014 10:30 am

In the early 1900s, 503 acres with a natural park-like setting similar to Woodhaven’s Forest Park were purchased from the city by private developers. It was an area of almost one square mile, covered with hardwood trees such as oak, maple, elm and chestnut, and had an elevation ranging from 65 to 100 feet.

The developers were Timothy Woodruff, the former lieutenant governor of New York under Gov. Theodore Roosevelt, and Michael Degnon, the noted engineer who help build the first New York subway in 1904. They called their development “Jamaica Estates” and set its boundaries as Utopia Parkway on the west, Hillside Avenue on the south, 188th Street on the east and Union Turnpike to the north.

In 1910 strict requirements were set for builders. No home could cost less than $6,000, depending on location. All homes had to be detached with two stories.

The street in the photo, Kingston Place, is in the southwest corner of the Estates. Until 1930 it was called Adel Place, named after Queens County Judge Frank Adel (1885-1967), who also was president of the Queens Chamber of Commerce.

The Estates’ annual dinner-dances were held at the Hillcrest Golf Course, as well as barn and costume dances that are now a faded memory. The homes, however, have stood the test of time, their stateliness rivaled in Queens only by those found in Forest Hills Gardens.

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