LITTLE NECK PARKWAY

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After moving to Little Neck in 2007, I have taken a lot of photos in my new town, but have been saving them for the right time to use them, which would coincide with getting sufficient research. I’ve been frustrated in that — sources are scattered about and have been hard to pull together. I live in the northeasternmost extermity of New York City, and my own particular corner of Little Neck was the site of a 1907 development by Rickert-Finlay called Westmoreland. The street layout of the development remains largely intact — with the north-south streets, Westmoreland, Morgan, and Glenwood, still on the map, and little east-west streets that are now numbered.

On this 1909 atlas, Westmoreland is at the top and a neighboring development, Marathon Park, is at the bottom. The street layout is largely the same as it was in 1909, with most of the names changed. Old House Landing Road is the present Little Neck Parkway, Prospect Road is now Depew Avenue (south) and Little Neck Parkway (north). Clinton Avenue is now Marathon Parkway. The small yellow squares are houses, so the region was, as yet, sparsely populated.

The Cutter Avenue and B.H. Cutter on the map refer to Bloodgood H. Cutter, potato farmer, poet and acquaintance of Mark Twain, who immortalized him as the “Poet Lariat” in his travelogue, Innocents Abroad. Twain poked fun at Cutter as a master of doggerel who annoyed fellow passengers on an excursion to the Holy Land in the book. The John Waters on the map was a Matinecock Indian who owned the parcel between Broadway (Northern Boulevard), Marathon and Little Neck Parkways. Waters lived for over a century.

As Yogi said, when you come to a fork in the road, take it. I live just up the road from a classic Y-shaped fork road, with Little Neck Parkway on the left and Marathon Parkway on the right.

The very first address on Marathon Parkway after it branches from Little Neck Parkway looks for all the world like an abandoned farmhouse. Several windows are cracked, the window sashes are collapsing, trash is strewn in the front yard, the corral-like fence is broken in several areas, the windows are mostly covered with either Hefty bags or canvas, and if you pass by at night, you can see that a room on the interior is illuminated by a single light bulb. It’s as if Your Webmaster is glimpsing his retirement.

My favorite building on Little Neck Parkway is PS 94 (the David D. Porter School). It may be the northeasternmost public school in Queens. I’ve always found information on public schools sketchy and hard to come by — their websites are, after all, concerned with education and not building histories. As thisDouglaston/Little Neck Historical Society page shows, the school was built in 1913; it’s unique in design compared to other public schools in NYC, and is painted pale yellow.

That webpage, by the way, contains plenty of photos of old Westmoreland and Little Neck.

This house on the west side of Little Neck Parkway just south of the Staples parking lot may have been on the parcel when John Waters owned it. The tree is so huge, it has to have been here for a century. What kind of tree is it?

Paul Graziano of Historic Districts Council: The house behind Staples – which is from around 1905 – is owned by LaRock Waters, as is the small house behind that, which they recently got back from NYC. He is the direct descendant of the Waters family which has inhabited that intersection for *at least* 700 years…I have documentation. They are Matinecock Indians – I actually live next door to his niece in north Flushing – and where the Scobee Diner is was the original farmhouse, which was from 1806. They actually owned all the land up to Cornell Lane which was ex-appropriated from them when Northern Blvd. was widened in the 1920s. Their family cemetery was partially exhumed and there is a grave dedicated to the Matinecocks at Zion Church. The tree is over 200 years old, by the way.

The other house that looks abandoned is, in fact, inhabited by LaRock’s cousins. They are very strange, but that house was built by their family in the mid-19th century and they’ve been there ever since.

The Moderne bank at Little Neck Parkway and Northern Blvd., with its formidable eagle, was designed in 1927 by Paul LaVelle, who had previously worked with Stanford White. Originally the Little Neck National Bank, it was initiated by local realtor Bryce Rea, William Hutton and William Van Nostrand. It has been a Chase branch for over 30 years.

The Scobee Diner, along with the Bayside, Landmark and Seven Seas, is one of many diners lined up along Northern Blvd. from Bayside to Port Washington. It was constructed by the Kullman Diner Co. in 1965 and underwent a renovation by DeRaffele as recently as 2006. Former CIA Director George Tenet was an employee in the 1960s.

[The Scobee Diner, despite a busy clientele, closed November 30, 2010 and has remained abandoned up to this update, 1/28/12. In the weird world of real estate, the owners of the property consider it more valuable closed than open.]

The Doyle B. Shaffer Funeral Home, across from Chase. My original intention had been to continue south on Little Neck Parkway to the LIE and get lunch at Five Guys, but if I don’t get out of this, I’ll be making a premature visit to Shaffer.

So, it’s back to the Westy, ah, Westmoreland Gardens, my apartment complex. It was constructed in 1941 on Little Neck Parkway south of 40th Avenue.

Photographed February 10, 2010; page completed February 15

 





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12 Responses to LITTLE NECK PARKWAY

  1. Laura says:

    I grew up in the 60s and 70s in a house on Little Neck Pkwy between 40th and 41st Avenues. My best friend at the time lived in a huge old white house at 39-30 Little Neck Parkway. My understanding is that it was the farmhouse when all surrounding was farmland. It was rambling, had various add-ons that my friend’s family rented out. There were several fireplaces, and best of all, a large well in the side yard. A formidable gate led to the front door, but we always entered via the long, trailing dirt driveway (and held our ears and screamed like kids scream when the LIRR roared and rattled past). In the early 70′s they sold to developers (sadly for us, since the building was destined for landmark status) and the house was knocked down and replaced by those awful brick multi-family units. One by one the grand old homes between there and PS 94 were razed and replaced with those appalling units.

    • KevinJWalsh says:

      I know the houses you mean; I live in Westmoreland Gardens so I’m sorry I missed out on seeing that house.

      • Laura says:

        If you’ve seen a copy of “The History of Little Neck,” that was put out by a committee appointed by The Little Neck Community Association, it’s the lower house on Page 47, with description on page 44. If you haven’t seen that book (though I strongly suspect you have) the library has it. I foolishly cut out the picture of the house and gave it to my friend when we were children, and I went to the Little Neck/Douglaston branch years later and photocopied the missing page.

        That hill in Westmoreland Gardens was great for rolling down when I was a kid. There was the playground on the south end, and beyond that a little parcel of woods we used to lose ourselves in. The apartments themselves were nice as I recall. When my dad bought the house across the street in 1950/51 my mother thought he had taken her to the ends of the earth.

        When I was growing up there were two boat yards and swamp land north of the tracks, the houses only extended a few blocks. The “store by the train” changed hands many times – the owners I remember were Sam and Frank, and later Gene who used to tally up the purchases with a grease pencil on the side of the paper bag. We used to buy punks there for a penny or a nickel and “smoke” them.

        My dad told me that where Scobee was, there used to be an actual dining car. Scobee itself had a couple of fires over the years (origin who knows), and built back up bigger and better.

        Where the McDonalds was there was a firehouse (oops, that’s Marathon Pkwy). Where the OTB is (was?) was a disco first called “Jug End” and then “The Rubber Duck.”

        Okay enough Memory Lane from me. Thanks for posting that nice visual tour through my hometown.

        • KevinJWalsh says:

          According to some photos from the 1940s I have seen, the candy store used to be located on the SE side of the tracks, on the driveway of the corner house.

          Both the Scobee and OTB have sat empty for months.

        • Alan Hall says:

          In the early 1950′s the railroad car style diner before The Scobee was named “20th Century Diner” and faced south towards the old Manhattan Savings Bank which became The Chase Manhattan Bank. There was a private double garage on the West side of Marathon Parkway across from the Bohack that had 2 Stanley Steamers automobiles just sitting inside gathering dust.

          • Tom Reilly says:

            I remember the garage and the two Stanley Steamers inside before the Post office was expanded. We’d look in the windows occasionally walking home from St Anastasia School.

  2. Donna B. Waters says:

    Hello, thanks for the visual tour of my family’s home! Nice to see. LaRocque Waters my cousin, still resides there today, in John Waters’ (His Grandfather’s house) my Dad and Aunt live next door.
    My ancestor’s ten acre homestead property took in a good part of the triangle bounded property by Little Neck Pkwy., Northern Blvd., and Marathon Pkwy. This included the Indian Cemetery.The original Waters home was built in the early 1700s where the old Scobee diner stands empty today. My Great Aunts Oney & Sue Waters resided there with there brother Chief James Wild Pigeon Waters until their deaths. James in the 1920s and Oney & Sue in the 1940s.

  3. I grew up in Little Neck during the 50s and 60s and Little Neck Parkway back then was just a small country road full of potholes bumps and patches until they turned it into a major thoroughfare in the mid-seventies I think. My mother still lives on Little Neck Parkway. The area has really changed a lot. When I grew up there it’s was community of Irish, Italian and Jewish people. Now, it’s becoming more Asian. I used to live on 255 Street which had small cape cods which have since been torn down and made into ugly mega-mansions. Such a shame. I went to church at St. Anastasia and to the parochial elementary school there. I get back to LN to see my mother 3 times or more a year. I love your pictures.

  4. ann marie says:

    1950s Little Neck; many treasures for kids; Bohacks for bottle returns, then briny sour pickles from wooden barrel; play Westmoreland Park stone walls; go swamps for punks/catty9tails behind Jake’s store RR; PS 94 dog tags/air raid drills, Miss Carroll principal;spaldings; Good Humor truck rides & ring bells thrills; 41st Ave/249th-Marathon snow sled zooming; Kiddie City; Alley Pond; 5 & 10 store; Bankers Trust; Scobbee; Starlight silver Diner; Candy/soda stores egg cremes; carvel (i worked at as teen); movie theatre Buster Crabbe/Cowboys; bike ride Zion ch. Douglaston;Strawberry Shortcake Festival Lutheran Ch. Glenwood, with carousel;Bess Meyerson relatives; Billy & Sheila Wilson playmates; TV(new!) Luft’s hardware, Howdie Doody; open green spaces wooded lots still;many fond memories, joys of childhood. Thanks! Little Neck.

    • Bob Monaco says:

      Ann Marie, your recollections are virtually identical to mine–I was born in 1945 and lived in Little Neck until I went off to college. Went to PS94, PS67 and Bayside HS.
      Additional memories: horse chestnuts near the apartments, loved the Saturday matinees at the theater. I always loved the deep ravine across Northern Blvd. from St. Anastasia’s (until someone filled it in the 60′s). My favorite place in all of Little Neck in my early years was the old Library building on Northern Blvd. at 248th St. It was the coziest, cutest building. Then there was the multi-level old wood floor in Luft’s and the plumbing shop hidden down an alley off of Northern Blvd across from Browvale Lane.
      I wish I could recall all my PS94 teachers–only Mrs Frome (K), Miss Best (1st) and Mrs. Normoyle(6th)???
      I miss Little Neck of old.

  5. Mary says:

    Thank you for publishing these photos. They bring back memories. I grew up in Little Neck in the 40s and 50s. Same type experiences as reported by Ann Marie. George Tenet Sr. owned and operated the diner at Little Neck Pkwy in the 40s until Scobee. I imagine both George and his twin William worked there for their father. My grandfather who was a plumber in NYC did a job for Dinty Moore and was paid in 1932 with the estate between 249 St and 248 St at Depew Ave. It was a large house with a few acres of grass and lovely trees. The house was sold after his death to the Coffee family and later converted into apartments. Several houses were built on the property.My mother who was born in LN went to school with Rock Waters and his sister. I remember him in the Memorial Day parade in his Indian clothing. . The corner of NB at Marathon was at one time a fire house, then a bank and finally MD burgers. The Bohack store was at the corner of 249 st and NB (north side of NB) until the new store opened in 1960 or so. I think the library moved into that space. When I was a teenager LN had several very good bakeries and the deli where we bought crumb cake after Mass on Sunday mornings. I miss that crumb cake – soo good.

  6. Mary says:

    I went to PS 94 for kindergarten in 1945 and Mrs Frome was my teacher. My nephew went there for kindergarten in 1967 and Mrs. Frome was his teacher. I hated kindergarten and was very glad to go to 1st grade at St. Anastasia.

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