Fresh Meadows, Queens (History)

(Neighborhoods In Queens)

Fresh Meadows is a residential neighborhood in the northeastern section of the New York City borough of Queens. Fresh Meadows is located on the northeast side near Hillcrest, bordered to the east by Cunningham Park, to the south by Union Turnpike and St. John’s University, and to the west by South Flushing. The neighborhood is part of Queens Community Board 8 and is served by the United States Postal Service as ZIP codes 11365 and 11366.

 

HISTORY

The name “Fresh Meadows” dates back to before the American Revolution. Fresh Meadows was part of the Town of Flushing, which had large areas of salt meadows, such as the original “Flushing Meadows”. The wetlands in the hilly ground south and east of the village of Flushing, however, were fed by freshwater springs, and thus were “fresh meadows”. Fresh Meadows Road (which today follows the same route under a number of names, including Fresh Meadows Lane and part of Utopia Parkway) traversed the area, and served as the route from the landing place at Whitestone to the village of Jamaica.

During the American Revolution, British troops were encamped in the area. General Benedict Arnold drilled his troops in the area, on the current location of M.S. 216. To facilitate the transport of military supplies from British ships using the Whitestone Landing and the troops encamped further east, a new road was built to connect the Fresh Meadows Road with Hempstead. This road began at what is now the intersection of Utopia Parkway and 73rd AVenue, near a local landmark along the Fresh Meadows Road: the remnants of a large tree that had burned after being struck by lightning, and that was known as the “Black Stump”. The road took its name from this feature, and was called “Black Stump Road.” During the 19th century, a farming community known as Black Stump developed in the area. Black Stump School was located at present-day Utopia Playground, at 73rd Avenue and Utopia Parkway.For several years, the woods of Black Stump were rumored to be haunted because people heard strange sounds coming from the woods.In 1908, the mysterious sounds were discovered to be coming from a recluse who lived in a small hut and sang Irish folk songs at night.

Fresh Meadow Country Club opened in 1923.The country club was named after an area northeast of Flushing even though it was actually located southeast of Flushing, just south of what is presently the Long Island Expressway near 183rd Street. The golf course was designed by A.W. Tillinghast. The PGA Championship was held at Fresh Meadow Country Club in 1930, and the U.S. Open was held at the course in 1932.In 1937, the golf course hosted a charity game between John Montague, Babe Ruth, Babe Didrikson, and Sylvania Annenberg, a game that was watched by 10,000 fans, some of whom rushed the golf course and left Babe Ruth’s shirt in tatters.

In February 1946, the land was sold to New York Life Insurance Company,and it became the Fresh Meadows Housing Development. New York Life Insurance Company did not allow black individuals to live in the Fresh Meadows Housing Development. It was also built to house local World War II veterans. The complex and its eponymous shopping center were among the first in the United States designed primarily to accommodate automobile rather than pedestrian traffic. In 1949, Lewis Mumford described the Fresh Meadows housing complex as “perhaps the most positive and exhilarating example of large-scale community planning in this country.”

Until 2004, the neighborhood was home to Klein Farm, the last surviving commercial farm in New York City, located on 73rd Avenue between 194th and 195th Streets.Efforts by local residents and civic officials are currently under way to reopen the farm.

In October 2011, a book written by Fred Cantor and Debra Davidson that chronicled the history of Fresh Meadows was released.

Today, the area has Cunningham Park,and the Long Island Motor Parkway, a disused highway now used as a biking/walking trail also goes through the area as part of the Brooklyn–Queens Greenway.

 

DEMOGRAPHICS

Fresh Meadows is home to an estimated population of 13,286. Its residents have a median income of $75,123, and the neighborhood has a cost of living at approximately twice the national average. The neighborhood has historically and traditionally been home to one of New York City’s most thriving Jewish communities, with the Jewish population at one time making up as many as 90% of all people who live in Fresh Meadows. Today, there is an increasing presence of younger Asian American families, Israelis, and Bukharian Jews living in the neighborhood.