Forest Hill and Rego Park historical chronology

by Jeff Gottlieb*

1000 B.C. Algonquin Indians settled in present-day New York City. Mattinecock tribe in north and central Queens.

1609 Henry Hudson explored New York Harbor. Stepped ashore on Coney Island.

1626 Dutch bought Manhattan Island from Indians for 60 guilders ($24.00).

1642 Dutch governor issues charter to Maspeth (Newtown Creek area) colony. Indian revolt ends Rev. Doughtry's colony in 1643.

1645 Town of Flushing (Vlissingen) settled. Area was from College Point in north to "The Hills" in south, and from Flushing Creek (west) to Little Neck (east).

1652 Middleburgh colony formed on what is today Queens Boulevard, just east of Broadway. English settlers purchased their land for a shilling an acre in 1656.

1655 Town of Rustdorp (Jamaica) settled, near present-day Kennedy Airport.

1664 England took Dutch colony of New Netherlands. Middle burgh colony name changed to Hastings.

1665 Long Island City area added to Hastings and township created called New Towne (later named Newtown). White- pot was southeast part of New Towne area.

1673 New Towne population estimated at 99 male adults. Population was engaged in farming.

1683 Queens County established by British. Named after Queen Catherine of England, wife of Charles II.

Whitepot School erected at Yellowstone Avenue (Boulevard) and Woodhaven Avenue (Boulevard) by Remsen family, Furmans, Springsteens, and other farmers. Crops included hay, straw, rye, corn, oats, vegetables, etc.

1756-1763 Newtown militia fought in French and Indian War. Abraham Remsen, of Whitepot, took part in the Battle of Fort Niagra, on Ontario Lake (1759). British dr6ve French from Canada.

1776-1783 British occupy Queens during the Revolutionary War. Despite efforts of Captain Abraham Remsen and Colonel
Jeromus Remsen, the Newtown militia (Fourth New York Regiment) are defeated in the 1776 Battle of Long Island.

1798 Jeromus Remsen dies and is buried in the family cementery (now a New York City landmark) at today's Alderton Street and Metropolitan Avenue.

Brooklyn and Jamaica Turnpike (Jamaica Avenue) built to 168 th Street. Metropolitan Avenue opens as a toll road
between Williamsburgh and Jamaica. Ascan and Herman Backus emigrate from Saxony, Germany, to Fresh Pond Road (today's Ridgewood) and take on farm jobs.

1829 Ascan Backus begins buying up parcels of farmland in Whitepot. He becomes the most influential and prosperous farmer in that area of Newtown, due to New York City (Manhattan) produce needs. and U.S. Army purchases during the Civil War (1861-1865). Backus dies in 1880.

1860 Timothy Jackson expands Willow Glen Farms and develops a race course in the area now used by the Jamaica subway yards.

1873 Hoffman Boulevard, named after New York City Mayor, then New York State Governor, John Hoffman, developed from Long Island City to Jamaica. The two-lane road would later be called Queens Boulevard.

1875 Maple Grove Cemetery opens. Long Island Railroad Hopedale Station, at Union Avenue (later Turnpike) and Hoffman Boulevard, Whitepot, opens as mourners flock to new cemetery in Town of Jamaica.

1893 Newtown manufacturer and real estate owner, Cord Meyer, purchases the estate of Samuel Lord (a founder of Manhattan's Lord and Taylor) in Newtown. Developing roads, putting down sewer and water pipes, Meyer builds up the area he names, in 1897, Elmhurst. The name is derived from the elm trees in the vicinity.

1894 City of Brooklyn starts to buy up woodland to create Brooklyn Forest Park.

Greater New York created, with the boroughs of Manhattan, Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, and Staten Island. Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester choose not to join New York City.'

1904 Cord Meyer Company formed. From 1904 to 1908, land was purchased or stock given (in exchange for land) to families living on both sides of Hoffman Boulevard, Whitepot. By 1998, the Meyer property includes 600 acres from 65 th Avenue (west) to Union Turnpike (east) and from Metropolitan Avenue (south) past Flushing Swamp (Present Meadow and Willow Lake Lane area) to East Forest Hills (now Kew Gardens Hills).

1908 Forest Hills named after nearby Forest Park and the rolling hills and woodlands of Whitepot. Cord Meyer sells 142 acres of land south of the Long Island Rail road to the Russell Sage Homes Foundation. Margaret Olivia Slocum Sage approves of the building of Forest Hills Gardens homes for the poor. and middle-income workmen of Manhattan. Development of the property becomes so expensive that only the rich can afford the homes.

1909 Opening of the Queensborough Bridge. Long Island Rail road is electrified, and a station developed at Continental Avenue and Burns Street (Station Square).

1910 Forest Hills Long Island Railroad station opens. Cord Meyer dies, leaving his son George in charge of the company. Public School 3 opens at Seminole Avenue, between DeKoven and Euclid Streets, with 75 pupils in two classes. The school is moved to its present loca tion at 108-55 69 th Avenue in 1921.

1912 West Side Tennis Club takes a vote on whether to move to Morris Park Estates (Bronx), Russell Sage Homes Foundation property (Forest Hills Gardens), or Kew Gardens. Forest Hills wins, with Kew Gardens being second. The movement to Dartmouth Street takes place in 1913. First Presbyterian Church of Forest Hills opens at Seminole and Gown. Congregation had services as early as 1908. First Forest Hills Library opens in Station Square.

1913 Trolley line inaugurated from 59 th Street, Manhattan, to Queens Boulevard (formerly Hoffman Boulevard), Forest Hills. The line is extended to Jamaica in 1914. Church-in-the-Gardens moves to present site on Ascan Avenue. St. Luke's Episcopal Church opens at Dartmouth and Austin Street. Present Russell Place location opens in 1923.

Beginning of construction in widening and improving Queens Boulevard to 200-foot width, finished in 1935. Temporary P.S. 101 opens on Russell Place, with 75 pupils. New building was constructed in 1924.

1915 Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Roman Catholic Church moves from Fife Street to Austin Street and Ascan Avenue.

1918 Private Kew-Forest School opens on Union Turnpike, off of Austin Street, with 55 pupils. Elevated railroad structure is built on Jamaica Avenue from 111 th Street to 168 th Street.

1920 Forest Hills population is 3,000 people.

1921 Forest Hills Theater, on Continental Avenue, opens up.

Forest Hills Gardens Cor poration buys Forest Hills Gardens stock from Russell Sage Homes Foundation. The "Gardens" is now a membership corporation.

1924 P.S. 99 (Kew Gardens School) is built at Kew Gardens Road and 83 rd Avenue.

1926 The Bristol (78-14 Austin Street), the first apartment building in Forest Hills, is built.

1927 The Cord Meyer Company Continental is erected (four stories high). It was later demolished and 70-20 108 th Street put up. Devon Hall (77-54 Austin Street) is constructed. Our Lady of Mercy Roman Catholic Church is built on Kessel Street, off of Continental Avenue.

1928 The Cord Meyer Kelvin (69-40 Austin Street) is built.

1929 Queensborough Chamber of Commerce Award goes to the Livingston (68-60 108 th Street), erected by the Cord Meyer Company. Holland House (73-37 Austin Street) is built, as well as Sutton Hall (109-14 Ascan Avenue, off of Queens Boulevard). Nassau Boulevard, between Flushing and Little Neck/City Line, is renamed Horace Harding Boulevard. It was built in 1928. Founding of Forest Hills Jewish Center, at Kessel Street and Stafford (69 th Avenue). Movement to present site at 106-16 Queens Boulevard in 1949.

Forest Hills has 18,200 people.

1933 Grand Central Parkway opens, from Kew Gardens to the Nassau County Line.

1935 Queens Boulevard private buses begin. The Interborough Parkway opens between Pennsylvania Avenue, Brooklyn, and Kew Gardens. Queens Boulevard, looking as it does today, is widened to 200 feet. Horace Harding Boule vard is extended to Queens Boulevard.

1936 IND Subway stations open at Woodhaven Boulevard, 63rd Drive, 67 th Avenue, 71 st Avenue/Continental Avenue, and Kew Gardens/Union Turnpike.

1937 Queens College opens with 400 students and 56 faculty members. Forest Hills High School is dedicated.

1939 Two-year World's Fair opens in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. LaGuardia Airport opens.

Queensborough Hall opens on Queens Boulevard in Kew Gardens. The Queens Midtown Tunnel opens, and the Belt
Parkway is finished.

Forest Hills' population is 32,500. Four public elementary schools (P.S. 99, 101, 139, and 144), with approximately 3,800 students, are functioning. Our Lady Queen of Martyrs has 375 students.

1942 The Midway Movie is constructed.

* Mr Gottlieb is a local historian and community activist. This is one of the many chronologies of the area that he has written. I want to thank Mr Gottlieb for permision to use this and other materials that he wrote.

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