We will discuss "The Swans of Fifth Avenue" by Melanie Benjamin, a novel based on the true-life friendship between writer Truman Capote and socialite Babe Paley and the true-life scandals of New York high society from the 1950s to the 1970s. Copies are available at the Information Desk and as an eBook at queenslibrary.org.
Middle Village was named as such because it was the middle point from Williamsburgh to Jamaica on the Williamsburgh and Jamaica Turnpike Road, which is now Metropolitan Avenue. The name also has its origin in that it was the midpoint for farmers from eastern Queens who traveled to the ferry at Newtown Creek. Another origin of the name comes about because it is an anglicization of Middleburgh, Newtown's original name.
The Middle Village Community Library serves the area bounded by Woodhaven Blvd. to the east, Eliot Ave. to the north, 69th St. to the west, and the LIRR tracks and Cooper Ave. to the south. Middle Village was founded in 1850. It grew from farmland to a prosperous community after the New York City Council announced that no further burials would be permitted on Manhattan Island after May 1, 1851. The farmland was purchased by several church groups for cemeteries. Florists, monument makers, and taverns flourished as business and industry expanded.
The area thrived until the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge in 1883 when people found it easier to travel more rapidly. By 1902, the population reached 1,300. The community continued to grow steadily. By the 1940s, much of the farmland was developed with residential homes.
Until recently, the working-class neighborhood of Middle Village was predominantly Italian. Immigrants from Latin America, Poland, Soviet Union, and Ireland have been moving in, attracted by reasonable rents and central location in New York City.
Middle Village is made up largely of private and two-family homes. There are some garden apartments, though no real large apartment buildings like those found in nearby communities like Forest Hills or Rego Park and along Woodhaven Blvd. New construction, though, has been taking place in the area with the building of a number of multiple-dwelling homes on the blocks around Metropolitan Avenue and near Juniper Valley Park, a noteworthy local attraction and neighborhood favorite location.
Middle Village: 145 years of change. The Juniper Berry, June/July 1994, p.26.
The Library was opened in a shoe store in 1911. Later it moved to a seed store for eight years and after that it was located in several different stores. In April 1967, the branch was re-opened in a modern rental building on Metropolitan Avenue, a location that, after a number of years of being unoccupied, re-opened as a 99 cent store. Then, in July 1990, the branch moved to a new rental location a few blocks west, at 72-31 Metropolitan Avenue. This location, the present Community Library, occupies part of the street-level floor of the condominium building at the same 72-31 Metropolitan Avenue address, with the Library's entrance located on the building's western side, while the branch's meeting room is situated on the eastern side. Due to this unique location, from its outside appearance the branch appears quite small. But the reality is that inside, the branch is really a full-sized library facility with regular adult and juvenile rooms, programming for all age levels and, in the spring of 2005, the branch was the host for two art exhibitions.