Douglaston, Queens (History)

(Neighborhoods In Queens)

neighborhoods_queens_douglaston_300x300Douglaston, population 17,823 (2010 Census), is an upper middle class community in the New York City borough of Queens. Douglaston comprises six distinct neighborhoods: Douglas Bay,Douglas Manor, and Douglaston Hill, all located north of Northern Boulevard on the peninsula abutting Little Neck Bay; Douglaston Park, located between Northern Boulevard and the Long Island Expressway; and two areas south of the Expressway, Winchester Estates and an area simply known as Douglaston. The neighborhood is part of Queens Community Board 11 and New York City school district 26.

Douglaston is located on the North Shore of Long Island, bordered to the east by Little Neck, and to the west by Bayside. Douglaston’s two ZIP Codes are 11362 and 11363.

Douglaston represents one of the least traditionally urban communities in New York City, with many areas (particularly those north of Northern Boulevard) having a distinctly upscale suburban feel, similar to that of Nassau County towns located nearby (such as Great Neck).

The area is also known for its historical society and other civic groups, notably the Douglaston Civic Association and the Douglas Manor Association.

 

HISTORY

The earliest known residents of the area that would become Douglaston were the Matinecock Native Americans. Early Dutch settlers were drawn to the area by the rich land and abundant fishing. Thomas Hicks settled the area in 1656 on a peninsula first called Little Madnan’s Neck. In 1796, his estate passed to Thomas Wickes (1770–1854), and in 1819, to Wyant Van Zandt, a wealthy merchant, who built a large Greek Revival mansion in the area. Today, this mansion houses the Douglaston Club, a private club with tennis courts, social activities and swimming pools. In 1835, George Douglas bought 240 acres (0.97 km2) of land along with Van Zandt’s mansion. Upon Douglas’ death in 1862, the land was inherited by his son, William Douglas. Four years later, the North Shore Railroad extended its service to the area. William Douglas donated an outbuilding for use as the station house, and in thanks, the railroad named its new stop “Douglaston,” which soon was taken on as the name of the community.

Douglaston Hill is the oldest area of the community, and is characterized by turn-of-the-20th-century homes in Queen Anne and Victorian styles. It was laid out with very large lots in 1853, at the very beginning of a movement in the United States to create suburban gardens. The area was recognized as an Historic District of New York City in December 2004 by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission.

In the early 20th century, the Rickert-Finlay Realty Company of Manhattan purchased 175 acres (0.71 km2) of the Douglas’ family holdings, and formed the Douglas Manor Association, creating a planned community. Many of the houses in this area were built in architectural styles popular at the time, such as Tudor, Mediterranean, Colonial Revival, and Arts and Crafts. In 1997, New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission designated Douglas Manor as the Douglaston Historic District, ensuring that no new buildings or external alterations could be made without the commission’s approval.

Other areas of Douglaston were developed during the latter half of the 20th century. Douglaston Park contains a mixture of large, older homes as well as Capes, Tudors, and ranch-style homes dating from the 1960s. The areas adjacent to the Douglaston Shopping Center are occupied mainly by attached single-family homes built in the early-1970s, as well as four-story condominiums added in the mid-1980s.