Glendale is a middle class neighborhood in the west-central portion of the New York City borough of Queens. It is bordered to the north by a section of the Montauk Branch of the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) in the western portion (Lower and Middle Glendale), and by Cooper and Metropolitan Avenues in the eastern portion (Upper Glendale). To the east, the border is the Rockaway Beach Branch of the LIRR, just east of Woodhaven Boulevard, and Forest Park, from south of Union Turnpike. Forest Park, along with a number of contiguous cemeteries, through which the borough line with Brooklyn runs, creates the southern border. Glendale’s borders are completed in the southwest and west (from Cooper and Wyckoff Avenues) by the Bay Ridge Branch of the LIRR, and in the northwest by Fresh Pond Road and the elevated BMT Myrtle Avenue Line, which, due to its private right of way, creates five dead-end streets north of 68th Avenue. Because Cooper Avenue runs slightly in a diagonal direction, and since Glendale is somewhat rectangular-shaped, it is part of Glendale’s borders at opposite corners of the neighborhood.
Originally named Fresh Ponds, this was a swampy area of land with fresh water pools. It was part of 74,000 acres (300 km²) of land collectively called Newtown, chartered by the Dutch West India Company in 1642.
By the mid-nineteenth century, Fresh Ponds was a thriving German farming community. In 1860, George C. Schott, a developer, was given a large amount of land in Fresh Ponds as repayment for a debt. He renamed the land Glendale after his hometown in Ohio. Nine years later, one John C. Schooley, a real estate agent, bought a substantial amount of property and also called it Glendale. Schooley laid out streets and divided his property into 469 lots, measuring 25 x 100 ft (7.6 x 30 m), which he then sold off for $300 each.
In 1847, The State Rural Cemeteries Act was passed in New York, which by 1850 put an end to the establishment of any new cemeteries in Manhattan. Cemetery owners were however encouraged to build in Brooklyn and Queens. Glendale quickly became almost encircled by cemeteries being located in what is called the “Cemetery Belt”. Among the cemeteries that surround Glendale are Saint John’s, Cypress Hills, Salem Fields, All Faith’s Lutheran, Mount Lebanon, Mount Carmel, Beth-El, Mount Neboh, and Union Field. Some of these cemeteries are the resting places of many famous people, including Jackie Robinson, Mae West, and Harry Houdini, at whose tomb devotees gather each year on Halloween to see if he can pull off the ultimate escape trick and return from the grave. Cypress Hills Cemetery is the site of the New York City Police “Arlington” and also contains the graves of Confederate soldiers who died in local prisons and hospitals. It also was one of the earliest military cemeteries and its most unique resident is a circus elephant.
In 1869, a railroad stop at 73rd Street (then named Wyckoff Avenue) was opened by the South Side Railroad, which was sold in 1874 to the North Side Railroad, which then was merged into the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) in 1876, becoming part of the Montauk Branch. In 1927, the station burned down and was never replaced. In 1998, service to the Glendale station was discontinued and most recently, the last passenger service through the area was discontinued. However, freight trains still operate, although in recent years controversy over trains transporting radioactive waste through the community has arisen. All goods shipped by rail with a destination on Long Island (Brooklyn, Queens and Nassau and Suffolk counties), must come through the Fresh Pond/Fremont Yards, located in Glendale, which is the crossroads of the LIRR Montauk Branch, the Bay Ridge Branch (which serves the docks and float barges in Sunset Park, Brooklyn), the Bushwick Branch and the New York Connecting Railroad, which connects them all to the rest of the country by traveling north to Selkirk, New York and across the Hudson River to New Jersey and west. The biggest product currently shipped from here is municipal waste and construction and demolition debris. During World War II, most of the aircraft and military equipment made on Long Island was shipped by rail through this area.
Farms continued to provide the backbone of the economy until World War I, though development was beginning along Myrtle Avenue, Glendale’s main thoroughfare, as many family-run stores began opening and steam powered trolleys were introduced on “The Avenue” in 1891.
After World War I, Glendale’s economic base shifted from farming to textiles and breweries. The largest employer was the Atlas Terminal, a vast industrial park, consisting of 16 buildings (factories). It was demolished in 2004 and replaced by a massive shopping center called The Shops at Atlas Park, which opened in April 2006. Because of the skilled work force living in the area and the many small machine shops located here, Glendale played a big part in the war effort during WWII and, especially in the “Manhattan Project”, which produced the first atomic bombs. Traditionally, Glendale was home to a large and active community of German immigrants. And while this group is still heavily represented in the neighborhood, most of the local businesses have become more Americanized over the generations.
ZIP code controversy
While having always been part of Queens, until the late 1970s Glendale and neighboring Ridgewood were served by the Brooklyn post office and its 11227 ZIP Code in Bushwick. This ended after the 1977 blackout, which was accompanied by riots and looting in Bushwick. Ridgewood and Glendale disassociated themselves from Bushwick in 1979. Since then, with the help of then-Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro, the two areas were granted a Queens ZIP Code, 11385.
However, in 2007, there was a movement by Glendale residents to obtain their own ZIP code since sharing a zip code with Ridgewood has caused many problems due to auto-fill features programmed into most computer databases. As a result, most Glendale residents receive mail addressed “Ridgewood” and have difficulties when arranging deliveries or hiring plumbers, electricians or contractors. The incorrect, misleading Ridgewood address causes many of them to go to the wrong location. This is because identically numbered streets in Queens are often broken into separate segments by barriers like railroad tracks, highways and cemeteries.
In 2012, the quest to obtain a unique ZIP code for Glendale (the unused 11384 has been suggested) was again brought to the forefront by Congressman Bob Turner (NY-09) and Assemblyman Mike Miller (D-38).This request was again denied by the USPS although the postal service headquarters did offer a compromise. The USPS modified its software to include “Glendale” as a preferred community name for the identified area.
As of 2014, this software modification by the USPS has not yet been updated in the City Map web site, which still displays Queens community names based solely on names associated with ZIP codes (this map can be found on the NYC dot gov web site). As a result, locations several miles away from Ridgewood such as 80-00 Cooper Avenue (The Shops at Atlas Park), 72-25 Woodhaven Boulevard (Trader Joe’s) and 75-11 Woodhaven Boulevard (Home Depot) are listed by City Map as being in Ridgewood despite being located in Glendale, in Rego Park, or possibly even in Forest Hills.
In Glendale, many ethnic groups are represented. Most residents of Glendale are of German, Irish, and Italian descent. Like nearby Ridgewood, Maspeth, and Middle Village an influx of Eastern Europeans and Hispanics has moved into Glendale in recent years.