Saint Albans, Queens (History)

(Neighborhoods In Queens)

St. Albans is a middle class community in the New York City borough of Queens around the intersection of Linden Boulevard and Farmers Boulevard, about two miles north of JFK Airport. It is southeast of Jamaica, west of Cambria Heights and north of Springfield Gardens and Laurelton.The neighborhood is part of Queens Community Board 12,and is served by the St. Albans Post Office, ZIP Code 11412. The population within the ZIP code, according to the 2010 census, was 34,882 – a decline of 7% from the 37,452 of 2000.

 

HISTORY

Part of a land grant to Dutch settlers from New Netherland Governor Peter Stuyvesant in 1655, the area, like much of Queens, remained farmland and forest for most of the next two centuries.

By the 1800s, the plantations of four families — the Remsens, Everitts, Ludlums and Hendricksons — formed the nucleus of this sprawling farm community in the eastern portion of Jamaica Township. In 1814, when the Village of Jamaica (the first village on Long Island) was incorporated, its (the village’s) boundaries extended eastward to Freeman’s Path (now Farmers Boulevard), and south to Lazy Lane (called Central Avenue in 1900, then Foch Boulevard in the 1920s, and now Linden Boulevard), thus including parts of present-day St. Albans. In 1852, the old mill pond that is now at the center of Baisley Pond Park was acquired by the Brooklyn waterworks for use as a reservoir.

In 1872, the Long Island Rail Road Cedarhurst Cut-off was built through the area, but no stop appears on the first timetables. In 1892, an area called Francis Farm was surveyed and developed for housing. There were numerous Francis families farming in the eastern portion of the Town of Jamaica in the 1880s. Francis Lewis Boulevard (named for a signer of the Declaration of Independence, from Queens), which does not yet appear on maps from 1909, nor in 1910, is now the eastern boundary of St. Albans.

Soon, the first street lights illuminated the crossroads that is now Linden Boulevard and Farmers Boulevard. New shops clustered around August Everitt’s lone store. By July 1, 1898, a railroad station opened where the tracks crossed Locust Avenue (now Baisley Boulevard). The station was razed and replaced with grade elimination October 15, 1935. Today, the St. Albans station provides Long Island Rail Road service to Penn Station in Midtown Manhattan or Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn, with transfers available at Jamaica station.

In 1899, a year after Queens became part of New York City (and with the Town of Jamaica and the Village of Jamaica thereby dissolved), the new post office for the 600 residents was named St. Albans, after St Albans in Hertfordshire, England, which itself was named after a Saint Alban, thought to be the first Christian martyred in England. The name had been in use for the area since at least 1894 for the name of the school district, and the LIRR station was named St. Albans when it opened in 1898. A 1909 map also shows a St Albans Avenue and a St Albans Place in the area.

The St. Albans Golf Course, built in 1915, brought rich and famous golfers, including baseball star Babe Ruth. The Depression forced the golf course owners to try to sell, but plans for private development fell through. The land was seized by the federal government in 1942, and construction soon began on the St. Albans Naval Hospital, which opened in 1943.After construction was completed in 1950, the hospital had 3000 beds and contained a network of 76 wards. The hospital was turned over to the Veterans Administration in 1974 and more recently evolved into the Veterans Administration St. Albans Primary and Extended Care Facility.

Many famous jazz musicians used to live in St. Albans, particularly in some of the large houses in the small western enclave known as Addisleigh Park. The soul musician James Brown lived in St. Albans very near to the Veterans Administration facility. As a neighborhood adjacent to Hollis, St. Albans was one of the birthplaces of the “Hip Hop” and Rap music genres in the 1970s and 1980s.

St. Albans housing consists mostly of detached, one and two-family homes. Linden Boulevard is the major shopping street.

The neighborhood and the surrounding areas are considered the heart of Queens’ working class Black community, with 34% claiming Caribbean ancestry.

In 2011 The New York Times many foreclosures were occurring and there was a high level of unemployment. At that time, many black people were moving from St. Albans to the Southern United States.