Ricky Riccardi, archivist for the Louis Armstrong House Museum and author of “What a Wonderful World: The Magic of Louis Armstrong's Later Years,” leads this discussion. This is a teleconferenced program. First time callers please contact Mail a Book for access numbers, 718-464-0084.
Queens Village, located in east central Queens, is bordered to the north by Union Turnpike, to the east by the Cross Island Parkway, to the south by Murdock Avenue, and to the west by Francis Lewis Boulevard.
The area was settled by colonists in the 1640’s and became known as Little Plains. It was used as common public land for grazing cattle until the 1700s when a village was first established. The surrounding lands were gradually bought up and established as working farms.
From 1824 to 1834, the village was known as Brushville, named for Thomas Brush who opened a prosperous blacksmith shop as well as a number of other enterprises.
In 1834, the railroad arrived and the first station in Queens was established. Residents voted to change the name of the town from Brushville to Queens. Later, the Long Island Rail Road added “village” to its station’s name and thus the town became known as Queens Village.
1870 brought extensive development when Scott R. Sherwood, a prominent developer bought and subdivided a parcel of land south of the train station and divided it into 700 building lots.
By 1898, the population had grown to about 900. Still, the area remained largely rural. Many of the German descendants of the original farm owners continued to live there. In 1902, Interstate Park was opened, followed by Belmont Park in 1903.
But it wasn’t until the 1920s that Queens Village really began to take off. It was part of an overall housing boom that was spreading east through Queens from New York as people from the city sought the bucolic life.
Post World War II saw the arrival of veterans and their families, blacks and Latin Americans.
Today, many of those homes built in the twenties and thirties still stand. Charming and well maintained Dutch Colonials and Tudors currently house and continue to attract an interestingly diverse population.
The Encyclopedia of New York State. Peter Eisenstadt, Editor in Chief,
Syracuse University Press, 2005.
Home Town Long Island. Staff of Newsday, Newsday Inc. 1999
The Encyclopedia of New York City. Kenneth T. Jackson, Editor, Yale University Press, 1995.
The Story of Queens Village. Vincent F. Seyfried, Centennial Association, 1974.
The Queens Village Library owes its existence to two women, Mrs. William Wood and Miss Anne Doughty. In 1896, they realized the need for a library in the growing town. An appeal to Dr. Charles Henry Miller, a well known painter of the time, and the Shakespeare Club resulted in a traveling library being obtained from New York State.
This library was housed in the Dutch Reformed Church. It proved to be so popular, that the Shakespeare Club raised funds for an independent library which was started in 1899. In 1901, its stock of 427 books were turned over to the Queens Borough Public Library.
In 1904, the library moved to the Kissam Building on Railroad Ave. In 1914, it moved to the Post Office building then on 218th St. In 1925, it moved to the northeast corner of Jamaica Ave. and Vanderveer St.
In 1937 property was purchased between 94th Rd. and 94th Ave on the east side of 217th St. In 1939, Louis J. Bailey, then chief of the Queens Borough Public Library was granted $125,000 to build the library’s first permanent home.
On Sunday June 8, 1952 the new, modern building was dedicated and opened to an enthusiastic public the following day.