In conjunction with the Greater Astoria Historical Society, the Queens Chronicle presents noteworthy events in the borough’s history.
On August 8, 1978, the federal government gave New York City $134.5 million in transit grants, most of which were slated for the 63rd Street line and an underground connection between the IND Queens Boulevard line and the new station in Queensbridge (at 21st Street). At the time, it was felt that the line could be open by 1981. In fact, the line to Queensbridge did not open until October 1989. Construction of the connection to the Queens Boulevard line did not begin until 1994 and was completed in 2001, at a cost of $645 million.
In August 1935, former Queens resident Will Rogers and his pilot Wiley Post were killed in a plane crash near Point Barrow in Alaska. Rogers, well-known cowboy humorist, philosopher, court jester and serious advisor to United States presidents, was a former resident of both Forest Hills and Kew Gardens. He first came to Queens in 1918, when he leased a house in Forest Hills for a year. While living there he aided a local charity by putting on a cowboy show that was a tremendous neighborhood success. He later rented another house in Kew Gardens. Tragically, his car once accidentally struck and killed a grocery clerk on Northern Boulevard in Flushing. Although the incident was an accident, Rogers investigated and found that the clerk was struggling to support a wife and 12 children. He became a continuing contributor of clothing and money to the family.
On August 10, 1884, an earthquake, measuring 5.2 on the Richter scale, one of the largest ever recorded in the city, struck the eastern United States. It was felt in Queens and as far away as Maine and Virginia. Unlike most earthquakes in this area, this one did have enough force to “throw down chimneys.” Although a truly strong earthquake has never struck the immediate area in recorded history, both Boston and Charleston, South Carolina, experienced severe temblors in colonial times that were felt as far away as New York.
For further information, call the Greater Astoria Historical Society at 718-278-0700 or log on to their web site at www.astorialic.org.