In September 1853, the directors of the Flushing Railroad made a decision that would forever change the face of western Queens. Instead of terminating their railroad in Williamsburg or Greenpoint, as originally planned they decided to choose the low sand hills and marsh of Hunters Point. The Brooklyn option had become complicated. Over their mayor’s veto Williamsburg insisted that the railroad stop a few miles from the waterfront. They suggested the cars would then have to get to the East River ferry on a single track. Horse teams would take an hour to negotiate the traffic and distance. By contrast, a direct rail line to the East River through relatively sparsely populated Queens simply had to contend with getting the right of way for the track from only a few reluctant farmers in Woodside and Corona. When the Long Island Rail Road also chose Hunters Point six years later, their Long Island Terminal became the most important community on Long Island.
Former Kew Gardens resident, comedian Sid Ceasar, who was born on Sept. 9, 1922, has a resume of acting credits that goes back to the 1940s. Although the influential American appeared infrequently in films; he is best known for his work on the 1950s, TV sketch-comedy series “Your Show of Shows.” Before becoming a comedian, Caesar studied the saxophone and clarinet at Manhattan’s Juilliard School of Music then played with various bands. During a tour of duty with the Coast Guard in WW II, he became a featured comedian in the service show Tars and Spars, and then again in its film version (1946).
After the war Sid appeared in nightclubs and in the Broadway hit “Make Mine Manhattan.” He began performing on the then novel medium of television in the late 1940s. Although his later career mostly comprised the occasional film, usually in cameo or novelty roles, Sid was nominated for a number of awards (including winning the Emmy — twice) and has a star in the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Throughout September 1962, thousands of Oregon pine piles were being driven deep into the marshy earth of Flushing Meadow, a former garbage dump, to support the billions of dollars of construction for the 1964-1965 World’s Fair. New highways were being built to connect the expected 70 million visitors to the fair with thruways, air terminals or piers. There were less than 600 days to the scheduled opening. Sixty-eight countries planned pavilions, and all 50 states were expected to be represented at the fair.
New exhibit opening Saturday, Sept. 29 at 1 p.m.: ‘Hunters Point through the eyes of a native son: The photographs of Frank Carrado’.
The Greater Astoria Historical Society is open to the public Saturdays, noon to 4 p.m. at Quinn’s Gallery, 4th floor, 35-20 Broadway, Long Island City.
For further information, call the Greater Astoria Historical Society at (718) 278-0700 or log on to its Web site at www.astorialic.org.