12 March 2010

Jackson Heights History in a Building

I like the look of this building on 37th Avenue in Jackson Heights, even if it does contain a Starbucks. It's so obviously different (white brick, not red), and of a different time (peaked roof, not flat). It reminds me of the sort of structure one finds on Main Street in four-century old towns in Connecticut.

The inscription above both the south and east entrances tell us it was built as the Queensboro Corporation. That august body, a real estate development concern, was founded in the early 20th century by Edward Archibald MacDougall, who did much to shape the look of Jackson Heights. The corporation spent $3.8 million buying area farms and then, between 1910 and 1920, built many of the handsome brick apartment building, with sumptuous inner gardens, that the area is known for. It also paved and graded streets and installed sewers and sidewalks, all between 70th and 92nd Streets, and Roosevelt and Northern Boulevard. It also built the distinguished series of Tudor structures along 82nd Street.

In 1922, the New York Times called Jackson Heights "the foremost garden apartment residential section in the world." Officials would come over from England, France and Japan to study MacDougall's model.

The round windows under the arches are particularly special, in my opinion. Too bad they're all mostly broken.

Here's a photo from 1948 from when the building actually functioned as the Queensboro Corporation. Hey, what happened to the trees?


Lori said...

The Queensboro Corporation had many of its members develop the Cord Meyer Corporation who later developed the massive group of garden apartments along the Queens Boulevard corridor. The Russell Sage Foundation bought a huge chunk of land from the Cord Meyer Foundation to develop Forest Hills. This building type is consistent with what Grosvenor Atterbury proposed for corner lots in Forest Hills. (The exact building type is also found at the Forest Hills stop, walking towards the development.) RSF used this building type to denote exactly what you're admiring: the Main Street feel. The building type was most often assigned to corner lots and commonly housed banks.

meribon said...

My husband's family constructed this building, so it's not as old as it might look. I happen to like that Starbucks - are there any other cafes in that vicinity? Sometimes you just need a latte and fast!

JO said...

Yes, there is Espresso 77 around the corner on... 77th street, north of 37th ave. I'm not a coffee fan, but people looove their coffee. I can't understand why anyone would go to Starbucks.
.... and taco bell down the block is always crowded too.

ercillor said...

One of those very nice shops sold lamps and framed pictures among other things. There were two pastel potraits of nineteenth century women in the window which my sister Audrey, a very young student at Music & Art High School and an aspiring artist began to copy one day. The owner came out and asked if she intended to sell her finished work. When she assured him that it was "just for practice" he let her continue. It was sometime in the late 40's.
That looks like a Hudson parked on the street ("Step Down Into A Hudson").