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27.11.2015
John Thomas North (pictured), originally a Yorkshire mechanic, became a friend of the future King George V and was worth $10 million in 1889? King George V of the United Kingdom was a member of the Society for the Prevention of Calling Sleeping Car Porters "George"? 19 crewmen of the Russian oceanliner SS Czar received the Silver Sea Gallantry Medal from King George V of the United Kingdom for rescuing 102 survivors from a burning ship in October 1913?
Forgotten New York is a program of the Greater Astoria Historical Society, a non-profit organization supported by the Long Island City community.
A road runs from the East River to the tip of the North Fork of Long Island, running through Long Island City, Woodside, Jackson Heights, Flushing, Auburndale, Bayside, Douglaston, Little Neck, Great Neck, Munsey Park, Port Washington, Muttontown, East Norwich, Oyster Bay Cove, Cold Spring Harbor, Huntington, Northport, Smithtown, Stony Brook, St. In Queens, Northern Boulevard has been called Jackson Avenue (the stretch west of Queens Plaza still is) Bridge Street, and Broadway; a Flushing enclave and LIRR station still bear the name Broadway after the old road. Surprisingly, Art Moderne architecture turns up quite a bit in industrialized areas; perhaps the style was ideally suited for it.
You can tell that the Blackman Kitchen and Bath Showroom was adapted from what was possibly a residential building, from the peaked roof and dormer window. On the south side of the boulevard, west of Prince, we have a very odd building with a Dutch-style roofline and a bell tower. One of the entablatures shows a griffin or lion rampant (standing on left foot, as the heraldic term goes). King Road trails off to meet College Point Boulevard at the old Serval Zipper Tower, a focal Flushing touchstone for anyone who has sat freezing in the upper deck at Shea Stadium watching the Amazing Mets drop another one, as your webmaster has done on repeated occasions. King Road is in the old trackbed of the Long Island Rail Road Whitestone Branch, which was abandoned in 1932 but would come in awfully handy today, though as a non-driver, I lament the abandonment of any railroad branch. Since the mid-1860s Northern Boulevard has been blessed with a wide mall between Main Street and Union Street. The large flagpole at Main and Northern Streets is a rare Spanish-American War memorial, dedicated in 1950 to the memory of Whitestone-born Alfred J. Also at Main and Northern there used to be, from the 1870s to the 1940s, cast-iron and zinc Neptune Fountain depicting the Roman god of the sea and a bevy of mermaids. The traditional Roman fasces consisted of a bundle of birch rods tied together with a red ribbon as a cylinder around an axe. Flushing Town Hall has been converted from a crumbling ruin surrounded by chicken wire, as it was when I arrived in Flushing in 1992, to a wonderfully restored jazz, performance and lecture hall.
I like the little survivor across from Town Hall next to the massive new Wingate Inn (if an 8-story building can be called an inn). There’s a building on Northern and Union Street, formerly an art framing place and computer retailer still home to a number of businesses, but also showing remnants of its 1920s Art Deco beginnings. Did artists prior to the 20th century imagine that their work would be used in pop culture or advertising? Flushing’s Armory, opened in 1905, is smallish as NYC armories go, but it is the only castle-shaped armory in Queens (a large armory in Jamaica is more Deco in construction). Union Street has a cornucopia of signs covering its commercial buildings both north and south of Northern Blvd.


I’ve done a couple of pages on Flushing, but I rarely feature historic Flushing High, a landmarked Collegiate Gothic building dating to 1915. A couple of Flushing Freedom Trail signs remain here and there, but the red line painted on the sidewalk connecting the Quaker Meetinghouse, John Bowne House, Kingsland Mansion, etc.
The Flushing YMCA bus shelter ads reflect the recent demographics of this now-heavily Asian neighborhood. Conversely, Flushing’s Irish seem to be invited to leave the good old USA and ride the Celtic Tiger, which roared in 2006 and had been silenced by 2008.
The SE corner of Northern and Parsons features a mystery building with dormers and a clock tower, now home to a variety of businesses. Parking lots (and the undersides of overpasses) are often repositories of the streetlighting designs of yesterday. You say you like this building, the Greystone, on 149th Street just north of Northern but there’s no vacancies? At Murray Street. Bugler, according to lore, is the #1 selling brand of loose tobacco in American prisons.
Roosevelt Avenue was created in 1915 and named for President Theodore when the IRT Flushing el was built, and a roadway was conveniently built under its right of way.
When the el was extended to Flushing’s Main Street through a tunnel in 1928, a local route, Amity Street, was widened as an extension of Roosevelt all the way to its confluence with Northern. Just past Roosevelt Avenue, there are the remnants of the go-go Fifties and Sixties again, with a drive-in orthopedic shoe store across the street from a drive-in dry cleaners.
James, Port Jefferson, Rocky Point, East Shoreham, Wading River, Calverton, Riverhead, Aquebogue, Jamesport, Mattituck, Cutchogue, Southold, Greenport, Orient and Orient Point, and would go further were an ocean not in the way. I wish I knew more about the Serval tower, but there doesn’t seem to be a wealth of information floating around about it.
Called the Daniel Carter Beard Mall after one of founders of today’s Boy Scouts who spent part of his life in Flushing, it is dotted with memorials to war dead and lined on both sides with historic structures from the 17th, 19th and 20th Centuries. Kennedy, a commander in the war and, among other positions, a member of the NY State Assembly and New York state senate. There is the Quaker Meetinghouse  and Civil War Memorial (1865) and lesser sites, such as a horse trough presented to the ASPCA (1909) and the NY Telephone Building, which is a survivor in this region of constant change (1915). Though adopted by Italian fascism in the early 20th Century, the symbol seems to have avoided the stigma that the swastika acquired after its adoption by the Nazis.
A more modest structure quite possibly going back to the 1800s has been obscured by modern signing.
The great masters probably wouldn’t have liked that the color has been bleached out, the art cropped, and the dimensions stretched out. It features a terrific hand-lettered copy of Futura Condensed, almost matching it stroke for stroke.
This is the last of its older residential buildings, its carriage driveway long overgrown with weeds.
The entablature is very unusual: a tower surrounded by 5 dice, each presenting, in order, 1 through 5 pips, topped by a crown.


The road became the dividing line between Jackson Heights and Elmhurst as local streets radiating from it were cut through, and in the 1920s beautiful garden apartments were built there as the el was able to bring workers to Manhattan within 30 minutes.
Roosevelt Avenue, and its el, have been described as the most ethnically diverse piece of real estate on the planet since along the route can be found dozens of ethnic enclaves from around the planet. It is a precolonial trace used by Native Americans before Verrazano and the Dutchmen who followed him caught sight of the lengthy island along whose north shore it limns. On a sunny Sunday in the fall of 2006, though, I was on my way to a ramble in the Bronx when I discovered yet another Flushing classic house on Sanford Avenue being demolished by wreckers so that the Fedders buildings so beloved by New Flushingites and the developers who cater to their wishes could have their way, adding to the destruction of a neighborhood I have called home for the past 13 years.
A succession of bridges have been employed here, including the drawbridge shown at left, opened in 1906.
Best is likely a cement plant, but College Point Boulevard is beginning to change its character as luxury housing has started to spring up along its southern stretch, chasing out the last of the strip clubs. According to Political Graveyard, his burial site is unknown, so this location will have to suffice. Vivid accounts of what this great landmark once looked like, and what became of it, can be found at cinematreasures. An old dormered building occupied by a porno video palace is apparently on its last legs and may be marked for demolition. Reverse course and travel west far enough on Roosevelt and you will pass through Corona, Jackson Heights, and Woodside; at Queens Boulevard, Roosevelt Avenue becomes Greenpoint Avenue and runs through Blissville before crossing the viscous Newtown Creek and entering its namesake Brooklyn neighborhood, finally ending at the East River just past the old Eberhard Faber pencil factory. Dismounting from the bus to chronicle the travesty, I decided instead to wander along nearby Northern Boulevard and register the remnants of a bygone Flushing that stubbornly cling there.
On Christmas Eve in 1913, Flushing residents gathered to light the tree and hear a concert by a 26-piece Parks Department band. According to the YMCA website, the organization was founded in 1844 and in 1891, James Naismith invented basketball under the YMCA’s employ.
Till then, from eastern Flushing, two-lane 150th Street went through north to Cross Island Parkway and was a major route to the bridge. You will be shrouded under an el most of the way, and incidentally, pass by Nancy Reagan’s childhood home near 149th Place. However, it did last fairly far into the 20th Century; the current span, which elevates the boulevard far above the river so that boats can pass and connects traffic with the spaghettilike intechange of the Van Wyck Expressway and Grand Central Parkway, dates to October 1980.
If Neptune’s your guy, you can still visit him at the Bailey Fountain at Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn. The surface section of Northern Blvd, which joins the elevated part at Prince Street, is welcomed by a fleet of cement trucks.



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