In the early 1900s, much of Queens was sparsely settled and wide open. The city fathers looked upon what is now Jamaica Estates and Woodhaven as an ideal location for a natural park. The latter location was selected, and Forest Park was built.Jamaica Estates would have made an equally great park, but instead developers bought 503 acres of the high ground — with an elevation of 65 to 100 feet — covered with hardwood trees such as oak, maple, elm and chestnut.
Right after World War II the rush was on to marry your sweetheart and buy a home of your very own. Returning veterans had an advantage, as they could buy one with no money down under the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, better known as the GI Bill.
Signed into law by President Roosevelt on June 22, 1944, the bill was designed to prevent a repeat of the infamous 1932 World War I veterans bonus march on Washington, which resulted in rioting, injury and death. By 1956, nearly three in 10 returning veterans had used the GI Bill to buy homes, farms or businesses, and 7.8 million had used it for education or training.
The Long Island Expressway was on the drawing board of Ole Singstad (1882-1969) as early as 1942.
Singstad is not a household name, but he was the engineer responsible for the Queens Midtown Tunnel.
The Thomas H. Roulston grocery store chain was once one of the largest in the five boroughs. Started by an Irish immigrant around 1888, it grew to 300 stores.
Roulston’s headquarters were located on Ninth Street in Brooklyn. Upon the founder’s death in 1951, the family chose to liquidate the business.
Along Metropolitan Avenue in Middle Village, No. 73-06 started out life in the 1920s as Morris Cotler’s Photo Studio. When the Depression hit, the store closed.
But in 1932 Jewish Russian immigrant Joseph Braudie, 52, a pharmacist, took a chance and bought the building with his American wife, Eva, 10 years his junior, and opened up Braudie’s Pharmacy. He sold not only medicines but a full line of photo supplies too. The Braudies, including children Benjamin, Reva and Eli, all lived above the store.
At the hub of Forest Hills at Queens Boulevard and Continental/71st Avenue still stands one of Forest Hills oldest landmarks.
This 63-by-162-foot Masonic Temple was erected in a Georgian Colonial style in 1927. However, in a few years a need for a bank arose and this valuable corner property became The Boulevard Bank, with George C. Meyer as the president.
Morris Park is a lost neighborhood of Queens that was named by developer Frederick W. Dunton on land owned by a Mr. Morris. It had an abundant amount of beautiful trees on the south side of Atlantic Avenue in the vicinity of Lefferts Boulevard, which would now be regarded as South Richmond Hill.
In the 1870s the Morris Grove area was a favorite spot for picnic excursions. In 1878 a train station was built there, at 124th Street; and then in 1886, it was replaced by the Morris Park Long Island Rail Road Station, which was erected on the south side of Atlantic Avenue at 120th Street, slightly east of Lefferts Boulevard.
At the height of the Depression, at 112-01 Queens Blvd. in Forest Hills stood a Chrysler Auto Dealership and the Seminole Parking Garage attached to it. But nobody had much money and the expensive Chrysler did not sell well, with the dealership folding in 1936.
In 1937 Topsy’s Cabin Fried Chicken first appeared in the Queens telephone directory in place of the dealership. The parking garage continued to operate independently.