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09.02.2014
Forgotten NY was the first recipient of the Outstanding NYC Website award by the Guides Association of NYC in March 2015!
Forgotten New York is a program of the Greater Astoria Historical Society, a non-profit organization supported by the Long Island City community. I SERIOUSLY doubt that half of any New York City guidebooks even mention the two areas in southwest Queens we’ll visit today, ensconced on either side of Calvary Cemetery just east of Greenpoint, north of Ridgewood and in the middle of exactly nowhere. No subways come close to Blissvilleand Laurel Hill, and only one bus route, the Q67, deigns to ply a route through — and that comes once an hour on weekends.
The presence of Calvary Cemetery in southwestern Queens is due to the influence of the parish of St.
Though the great skyscrapers of Manhattan loom over the cemetery, its architecture is not to be overshadowed, as witness its grand Queen Anne gatehouse at Greenpoint and Gale Avenues. Blissville is the small wedge of Queens positioned between Newtown Creek, Calvary Cemetery and the Queens-Midtown Expressway; it takes its name from Neziah Bliss, inventor, shipbuilder and industrialist, who owned most of the land here in the 1830s and 1840s.
Blissville’s spine is Greenpoint Avenue, which was built in 1852 as a means of getting Manhattanites to Calvary Cemetery after its 1846 opening. Blissville’s original street plan is still evident as Review, Starr, Bradley and Gale Avenues (originally mapped as B, C, D and E Streets) run perpendicular to Greenpoint Avenue and 34th, 35th and 37th Streets (originally 3rd, 4th and 5th Streets), run parallel to it. Van Dam Street is a late addition to Blissville; it was cut through sometime in the early 20th Century (not sure when) as an extension south from Sunnyside as a way to facilitate traffic flow to Greenpoint Avenue and Brooklyn. I’ve long coveted a room on the western end of the motel which does indeed have a marvelous view of the city. While we were in Blissville, in mid-June, about a hundred choppers roared down Van Dam Street at the Queens Midtown.
A pair of ancient businesses on Bradley. The one on the left is long lost, but the dates at the top of the building remain.
Heavily industrial Review Avenue skirts the edge of Calvary Cemetery and is a busy truck route, since it is the only local route connecting Hunters Point and Maspeth.
The end of Review Avenue is at the southern gate of Calvary Cemetery, where it meets Laurel Hill Boulevard.
Laurel Hill (boxed) on this Brooklyn Eagle map from 1898, is surrounded here by Calvary Cemetery, Maspeth Creek, and Betts Avenue (now 58th Street) which runs north through New Calvary and Mount Zion Cemeteries. Laurel Hill today is known as West Maspeth, and, like Blissville, it is a small, isolated little village, with heavy industry dotted with ancient one-family houses. Until the 1920s, Queens street names trended toward the tried and true, with plenty of presidents, governors, Spruces and Elms, but further east, in what would be the Juniper Park area, 78th Street was Grieffenberg Street, 81st was Thew Street, and 84th was Gwydir Street; even further east, proposed streets east of Queens Boulevard in the Forest Hills area that now are a thicket of 60th Drives and 62nd Roads were mapped in alphabetical order, carrying odd, otherworldly names like Meteor, Nome, Occident, Thupman, Uriu, Yalu and Zuni. Many of Queens’ subway and el lines have preserved the old names, most of which haven’t been on street maps and signs for over eighty years. While other boroughs’ former street appellatives can be glimpsed in stone on older buildings, Queens prefers to preserve them on its subway and el signs. Meanwhile, along the mighty Newtown, there’s some controversy over what is to be done with the site of the old Phelps-Dodge copper refining and chemical production plant, a major source of employment for area residents for much of the 20th century until the company moved out in 1983.
On 54th Avenue, industry has forced its way in among the single family homes, many dating to the 1890s with no alterations, that are still scattered around. Most of Laurel Hill’s homes are simple structures dating to the late 1890s-early 1910s but some hint at more grandiosity, like this one on 46th Street with arched windows on the second floor.
Though it closed only in 1998 there is absolutely no sign that there ever was a Long Island Rail Road passenger station, Haberman, at 56th Road between 48th and 50th Streets.
Braid manufacturer Oscar Dietzel and his wife Maggie were on their way back on the Long Island Rail Road from a Manhattan Beach, Brooklyn outing on August 26, 1893. In the Dietzels’ time, the Long Island Rail Road reached Manhattan Beach, leasing a section of the New York and Manhattan Beach Railroad from 1882 to 1925. The Land of Fifty-Six: In eastern Laurel Hill, almost in Maspeth, 56th Avenue, Road and Drive come together, with 56th Terrace a half-block away. The Clinton Diner at Maspeth Avenue and 56th Road, is a local truckers’ favorite and has appeared in more than one motion picture. Laurel Hill was world headquarters of Hagstrom Maps, whose plant is shown here on 54th Road near 48th Street.
Hagstrom's NYC Subway Map originally appeared in 1936 and continued, with modification, into the 1950s after which it was redesigned.
Your webmaster is an inveterate street map collector; I own close to five hundred street maps from around the country.
When I was beginning to collect Hagstrom in the early 70s they were beginning to modernize their cover design with Helvetica type and streamlined art.
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s Hagstrom used a distinctive yellow color scheme with either red or green type and a new logo. Hagstrom had always published specialty maps in addition to street maps, including subway and bus maps.
After becoming part of the Langenscheidt Publishing Group, Hagstrom found itself part of a stable of companies producing 4000 US and international street maps.
After I sent in several corrections in 1981, Greg Christiano of Hagstrom asked me in to interview for map researcher.
I was between jobs again in ’92 and for the heck of it, interviewed again at their Laurel Hill plant. Historical Guide to the City of New York, Frank Bergen Kelley and the City History Club of New York, Frederick A.
For that reason, its architecture has held on to the past longer than most Queens locales, though the Boker Mansion and Flessel’s Tavern have fallen to the wrecking ball since Forgotten New York began operations in 1998. Tough times actually began for the cultural institution before that, according to Brustmann, when the state Legislature decided to eliminate member items, or discretionary funding, for elected officials to dole out to nonprofits in their districts.
After the bottom dropped out of that monetary avenue beginning in 2010, the institute fell on hard times. Manufacturer Conrad Poppenhusen’s philanthropy and good will was, in good measure, responsible for College Point’s early development.
Today the Institute is used as a community center and features karate and piano lessons, summer band concerts, a fire department museum and Native American exhibits, while the ballroom is rented for wedding receptions.


Manufacturer Conrad Poppenhusen (1818-1883) arrived here from Germany in 1854 and converted College Point into a virtual company town. The institute acquired the work in 1870 and hung in the main hall until 1980, when the building was intended to be sold as well as the artworks.
Friedrich Spangenberg, a German painter, born in Gottingenin 1843, died while ascending Mt.Vesuvius, June 8, 1874. Renowned sculptor Hermon Atkins MacNeil has an important place in the history of College Point and in the annals of the Poppenhusen Institute. When he moved to College Point in 1900, MacNeil had already won attention and several awards for his work but a series of important commissions soon established him as a major American sculptor. MacNeil had his home and studio at 121-01 Fifth Avenue in College Point, where he remained until his death in 1947. The Institute’s kindegarten is now used as a theatre space and has some original school desks, blackboard and photos of some 19th Century classes. Years ago,1979 to be exact,I walked on a cold november day to that institute,only to find it all boarded up and deserted.A govt. I remember attending the Poppenhusen Institute during my teenage years for free Tae Kwon Do and dance lessons, along with an assortment of other activities, all for free or a very low rate.
Nautica, known for its crisp, clean, all-American clothing and home collection, launched a groundbreaking campaign at New York's JFK International and LaGuardia Airports this December. Airports, with their high-dwell time, are filled with multi-tasking, tech savvy travelers who are ready to spend: Nautica saw 530 total orders as a result of this innovative concept! The icy conditions on the runway at New Yorka€™s LaGuardia Airport led this Delta flight to skid off the runway. In Kentucky, traffic backs up as more than 50 miles of Interstate 65 southbound is shut down from the weather. The massive snow in Kentucky left hundreds of drivers stranded on two major highways, where snow totals reached nearly 2 feet. In New York, a flight from Atlanta carrying 125 people skidded off the runway at LaGuardia Airport while landing and crashed through a fence.
Schools, government offices and legislatures in the South and Northeast were shut down for what could be one of the last snow days at the end of a winter that's been brutal for much of the country.
The National Weather Service had winter storm warnings in effect from Texas to Nantucket, and the forecast called for record cold temperatures in the same area on Friday. Any Brits cursing as they scraped ice off their windscreens this morning might like to spare a thought for those living in the north-east of the US.Residents had to dig their cars out of deep snow as the second major snow storm in less than a week pummelled Chicago, Detroit and Boston. Patrick’s in Manhattan, which bought land here from the Alsop family in the early 1840s. Bliss, a protege of Robert Fulton, was an early steamboat pioneer and owned companies in Philadelphia and Cincinnati.
Ferries plied the East River; and there was a ferry across Newtown Creek as well until 1855 when a drawbridge was opened. This triangle-shaped building at Van Dam and 35th Streets suggests it was done before 1916, the date at the top. This is a former stop on the Long Island Rail Road and a former important pedestrian and vehicular crossover, especially for the weekend crowds visiting the cemetery.
Old Brook School Road, named for an ancient school on Betts Avenue razed about 1900, skirted the southern edge of New Calvary Cemetery in Laurel Hill. 1900 Commercial Atlas above; also note Berlinville on the southern end of the map, which we will attend to presently. Zion Cemeteries, was renamed for the Betts family, which first settled in the area in 1656. An impossibly old little building at 46th Street (Clifton Avenue) and Waters Avenue (54th Road) has preserved by accident or design, ancient street signs marking the older names. The Flushing Line (#7 train) preserves Rawson (33rd), Lowery (40th), Bliss (46th), Lincoln Avenue (52nd) and Fisk Avenue (69th Street); the line’s original last stop in Corona was Alburtis Avenue (104th Street).
There seems to be more affection for the old names in Queens, as there’s a seemingly aboriginal knowledge that a borough full of numbered streets isn’t the natural order of things. A food warehouse is slated to be built here, while there is a proposal for an intermodal freight facility built nearby in conjunction with a cross-harbor freight tunnel. The shadow of Empire is on the horizon, about a mile away; but from Laurel Hill, Manhattan might as well be a hundred miles away.
The station used to service employees of the Haberman’s National Enameling and Stamping Company.
The spur ran alongside the Brighton line (today’s B and Q trains) and ran to the old Brighton Beach Hotel.
The whole mess is on landfill created by filling in Maspeth Creek, which used to extend north here.
The diner is near two former historic dwellings: the Queens Head Tavern, in use during the Revolutionary War and later a stagecoach stop, and the Sackett-Clinton House, built by Judge Joseph Sackett in the 1710s and later occupied by DeWitt Clinton, who held every important office in New York State at one time or another in the early 1800s. I got hooked by Hagstrom in the early 1970s when I made most of my early purchases with allowance money.
I was looking for their Philly edition, which of course was unavailable for the most part in NYC (in those days, out of town maps were available only in dedicated map stores).
I was not chosen (the job required a car to get around) but I enjoyed the tour around the plant in the days before computers and CAD.
Each time, the pay stated was lower than I would have liked to make, but still, I would have enjoyed working for them part time at least. Frank Padavan and former state Assemblywoman Nettie Mayersohn provided more than one-third of the funding to run the institute, at 114-04 14th Road. In addition, the institute held a variety of fund-raising events, like a haunted house and Taste of College Point, to generate some additional income.
Here I’ll show you some of the Institute and hopefully, membership can be augmented and some financial relief can take place. The Poppenhusen Institute, built in 1868 at what is now 14th Road and 114th Street, featured the nation’s first free kindergarten (est.


Poppenhusen opened a large rubber factory employing hundreds of immigrant workers and native College Pointers. He studied in Munich, and became known by his picture of Genseric, king of the Vandals, leading the empress Eudoxia and her children into captivity after the sack of Rome.
In 2012, the Institute has a full slate of July Sunday summer concerts and events scheduled. It was a great place for children to get involved in activities they would otherwise be unable to participate in, so it’s sad to see that it is struggling to remain open, but hopefully things will turn around.
There is also a theatre group there called the Phoenix Players which perform plays every few weeks or so. Stunning wall wraps in high traffic areas of each airport acted as virtual storefronts, displaying wares tagged with QR codes so travelers could order online right then and there!
Passengers carrying bags and bundled in heavy coats and scarves slid down an inflated chute to safety on the snowy pavement. A careful look in southern Calvary Cemetery (near old Penny Bridge) will reveal the Alsop family burial ground, which was incorporated into Calvary, with stones dating to 1743. Settling in Manhattan in 1827, his Novelty Iron Works supplied steamboat engines for area vessels. The map is still pretty accurate for the B24, but the 29 don’t come around here no more.
Usually single dates on the left and right show when the business was incorporated and the building was built, but in this case, we have a range on each side.
Penny Bridge (left) crossed the mighty Newtown here till the late 1930s; it was replaced by the Kosciusko Bridge in 1939. The area was first developed by Augustus Rapelye in 1853 and was named for laurel trees growing in abundance there.
Its original name is remembered by Laurel Hill Boulevard, which buddies up with the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway for most of its route from the old Penny Bridge Long Island Rail Road stop northeast to Queens Boulevard.
Today, its route is still definable by Laurel Hill Boulevard, the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, and 45th Avenue. Area residents generally oppose it since the project may add even more truck traffic to overburdened local routes.
Their children, in a rather macabre fashion, chose to include the instrument of their parents’ deaths on their memorial in Green-Wood. Passenger service ended in the 1920s, after which the tracks were removed, though existing tracks for the old line still remain in place for freight use by the New York and Atlantic and CSX Railroads from East New York north to Glendale, as well as the LIRR between Glendale Junction and Long Island City.
Occasionally though, Hagstrom would toss in a wild card, like their 1971 Queens edition with a green duotone of LaGuardia Airport on the cover.
By the early 2000s, as digitally drawn maps began to make a move, the typefont was changed.
1870), as well as a justice of the peace, the first home of the College Point Savings Bank, German singing societies, the first library in the area, a court room, the Sheriff’s Office with two jail cells, and a grand ballroom.
William Lawrence was the first British settler (College Point Boulevard’s name until 1969, Lawrence Street, honored the Lawrence family) and by 1838, Augustus Muhlenberg, rector of St. He also built the Flushing and North Side Railroad, now a part of the LIRR Port Washington line. By 1832 he had acquired acreage on both sides of Newtown Creek, in Greenpoint and what would become the southern edge of Long Island City. Perched on a hill, it is by far the tallest building in the area and can be seen all the way from Woodside and Long Island city.
Zion Cemetery at 54th Avenue and 58th Street, which is what Betts Avenue became when Queens streets were numbered beginning in 1915.
The porch has been repainted since I first photographed the signs in 1999, and the signs haven’t been painted over, so perhaps the owner has a sense of history. In the late 1800s German immigrants arrived, creating the Berlinville cited on the map seen previously. Their Philly map is the best of that town I have ever seen; it was discontinued in the early 90s.
Poppenhusen built water and sewage systems, a library, and the Poppenhusen Institute, which included the first free kindergarten in the United States. Liberty is veiled with the American flag, holding aloft the victor’s laurel wreath and sword, facing down. A large swamp, known as Wolf Swamp because of the presence of the canines, had to be drained to create the cemetery.
Bliss laid out streets in Greenpoint to facilitate his riverside shipbuilding concern and built a turnpike connecting it with Astoria (now Franklin Street in Greenpoint, Vernon Blvd.
When Greenpoint Avenue reaches Queens Boulevard, it becomes Roosevelt Avenue and is shadowed by the #7 IRT Flushing el most of the way to Main Street. He is recalled by the Institute, an avenue, an 1884 bust by Henry Baehrer at Poppenhusen Triangle at College Place and 12th Avenue, and by this bust in the Institute’s lobby. He must have told me the story a half-a-dozen times, as though he had never told it to me before. The bronze, which was completed in 1904 for a city park in Portland, Oregon, depicts a chief of the Multnomah tribe and his medicine man standing on a large, boulder-like pedestal.
Though most of Bliss’ activities were in Greenpoint, he is remembered chiefly by Blissville in Queens and by a stop on the Flushing Line subway (#7) that bears his family name: 46th Street was originally known as Bliss Street. Even the newer IND lines, built in the 1930s, continue the tradition with 23rd-Ely Avenue and Woodhaven Boulevard-Slattery Plaza subtitling older names.
The Long Island Rail Road, too, gets into the act; its Broadway station in Flushing on the Port Washington branch maintains Northern Boulevard’s old moniker, which fell out of favor by the 1920s.




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