Maspeth is a small middle class and commercial community in the New York City borough of Queens. Neighborhoods sharing borders with Maspeth are Woodside and Sunnyside to the north; Long Island City to the northwest; Greenpoint, Brooklyn to the west; East Williamsburg, Brooklyn to the southwest; Fresh Pond and Ridgewood to the south; and Middle Village and Elmhurst to the east.
The area known today as Maspeth was chartered by Dutch and English settlers in the mid-17th century. The Dutch had purchased land in the area known today as Queens in 1635, and within a few years began chartering towns. In 1642 they settled Maspat, under a charter granted to Rev. Francis Doughty, making Maspeth the first English settlement in Queens;however, conflicts with the Maspat tribe forced many settlers to move to what is now Elmhurst in 1643.The settlement was leveled the following year in an attack by Native Indians, and the surviving settlers returned to Manhattan. It wasn’t until nine years later, in 1652, that settlers ventured back to the area, settling an area slightly inland from the previous Maspat location. This new area was called Middleburg, and eventually developed into what is now the town of Elmhurst, bordering Maspeth.
The name “Maspeth” is derived from the name of Mespeatches Indians, one of the 13 main Indian tribes that inhabited Long Island. It is translated to mean “at the bad waterplace” relating to the many stagnant swamps that existed in the area.
Columbusville was the name formerly applied to a section of Maspeth. It was a development of Edward Dunn that took place on 69th Place (originally known as Firth Avenue) between Grand Avenue and Caldwell Avenue during 1854–55, and was subsequently absorbed into Maspeth. The name fell into disuse in the 1890s.
Following the immigration waves of the 19th century, Maspeth was home to a shanty town of Boyash (Ludar) Gypsies between 1925 and 1939, though this was eventually bulldozed.