Historical sketch of Queens

The Borough of Queens of the City of New York was formed on January 1, 1898, from the former townships of Newtown, Flushing and Jamaica, together with Long island City and a small portion of the town of Hempstead, embracing the Far Rockaway and Rockaway Beach district of that town. This territory, forming the western portion of the old County of Queens, was reorganized at the time mentioned and became the County of Queens, while the eastern portion of the former county received a new organization and became known as the County of Nassau.

The first settlements in this territory were made by individual Dutch farmers from 1637 to 1656, under grants from the Director-General and Council at New Amsterdam, in what may be described in a general way as the districts forming the present Long island City. They were under the direct supervision of New Amsterdam authorities and were known as the "Out Plantations." The remainder of the present borough was settled entirely by colonists from various parts of New England under grants from the Dutch authorities at New Amsterdam. They received township governments, but modeled after the Dutch form, and their villages received Dutch appellations. There were, however, originally no Dutch settlers among them except in one or two isolated cases. In course of time many Dutch bought lands among them. These settlements were made as follows: In the spring of 1642 a Patent was issued to Rev. Francis Doughty (for himself and a party of associates) of the remainder of the land included in the former town of Newtown. Under this patent a settlement was begun, principally along the Mespat Kill, afterwards known as Newtown Creek, but it was destroyed in the Indian war of 1643. In 1644 Heemstede (Hempstead) was settled by a company from Watertown, Wethersfield and Stamford in New England. In 1645-6 Vlissingen (Flushing) was settled, and in 1652 Middelburg (Newtown), in the old Doughty patent, in both cases by colonists from Massachusetts and Connecticut, while in 1656 Rustdorp (Jamaica) was settled by a party from Hempstead and Flushing. The above were the only settlements ibn the territory of the borough for a long period, except that in 1656, after the second Indian war, the inhabitants along the Mespat Kill were for a short time gathered for security into a village called Arnhem, on what was known as Smith's Island in the Mespat Kill; this village was abandoned in 1662.

The history of Hempstead and Jamaica was uneventful during the Dutch rule, but in Flushing and in Middleburg there was considerable dissatisfaction, the people of the latter place going so far as to attempt to put themselves under the jurisdiction of Connecticut and to alter the name of their town to Hastings in 1663. After the surrender to the English in 1664, these towns were organized for the purposes of civil administration into what was known as the West Riding of Yorkshire (in analogy to the civil divisions bearing the same name in Yorkshire, England), with a Sessions House for judicial and administrative business at Jamaica. The names of the towns were now changed, but Heemstede being so similar in form to the English town of Hempstead, and Vlissingen being so well known to the English under the name of Flushing, these forms were retained, while Rustdorp reverted to its Indian name of Jamaica, and Middelburg received the name of Newtown, together with a patent in 1667 by which the former Out Plantations were added to it. In 1683 these towns, together with the eastern town of Oyster Bay, were united to form the County of Queens with its court house and other county buildings at Jamaica. This organization remained undisturbed until after the Revolution. In 1814 Jamaica, then with a population of 1500, became an incorporated village, as did Flushing in 1837, with a population of about 2000. Soon after the introduction of steam navigation, and as early as 1811, Astoria began to attract attention as a place of suburban residence and in 1839 it was incorporated as a village. About 1853-4 Whitestone (formerly a mere hamlet) began to grow from the establishment there of a factory of tinned and japanned ware, while College Point owed its growth as a village at about the same time to the setting up of a factory of hard rubber ware, though it was not incorporated until 1880.

In 1836 the Brooklyn and Jamaica Railroad was opened, its first time-table taking effect on April 26 of that year. On March 1, 1837, under the auspices of the Long Island Railroad, it was opened through Queens County to Hicksville, and to its terminus in Greenport in 1844. The New York and Flushing Railroad was opened June 26, 1854, its East River terminus being a dock at Hunter's Point near the mouth of Newtown Creek, from which it connected a few times daily with one of the Harlem boats for the lower part of New York. In 1861 the terminus of the Long Island Railroad was changed horn Brooklyn to Hunter's Point, soon after which the latter place began to grow rapidly until, in 1871, with Astoria, Dutch Kills and the surrounding districts, it was incorporated as Long Island City.


Website: The History Box.com
Article Name: Historical sketch of Queens
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina


BIBLIOGRAPHY: Historical Guide to the City of New York; Anonymous, New York., F.A. Stokes Co, 1913.
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