LINNAEUS PLACE, Flushing

This is likely the only street in New York City named for a Swedish botanist (Carl von Linné). Carolus Linnaeus (1707-1778) developed the modern taxonomic naming system used by scientists for living species (i.e. Homo sapiens, “wise man” for our human species). The C-shaped alley in Flushing, off Prince Street north of 35th Avenue, also takes its name from the Linnaean Gardens, the nation’s first commercial plant nursery run by Robert Prince and his son William beginning in 1735. Though it had gone out of business by the 1860s, other nurseries including James Bloodgood’s and Robert Parsons thrived until the 20th Century. Adams, Washington and Jefferson all visited the Prince plant nursery, with Jefferson being the most enthusiastic customer.

There aren’t many remnants of these plant businesses left in Flushing except for the street naming system, which runs from Ash to Rose, and a stand of trees in Kissena Park opposite Parsons Boulevard. This little alley reminds us that Prince Street, named for the businessman, was originally named Linnaeus Street, for the scientist.

1/27/14


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14 Responses to LINNAEUS PLACE, Flushing

  1. Alan Gregg Cohen says:

    According to a G.W. Bromley Property Atlas of 1909, these rowhouses were exant in 1909. They appear to be Italianate in design, however almost all of their identifying architectural details (save a few roof corbels), have been stripped off of the houses. It is surprising though to see that they appear relatively well maintained, in a small residential enclave surrounded by industrial buildings just north of downtown Flushing. It is also surprising to note that when these houses were built, Flushing was a relatively countrified outlying suburban village, however there were many semi-attached if not attached dwellings with rather narrow street frontage, in the blocks surrounding (and what) is current day downtown Flushing. Often the larger houses and country estates were built in very close proximity to these relatively high density homes, or on the outskirts of the rapidly growing village, so often the homes of the working and middle class were very close to those of the more well to do.

  2. Mitch says:

    Linnaeus, not Linneaus.

    • Anonymous says:

      The signs until 10 years ago all read Linneaus Place. When the city took the street back the spelling was changed

    • Bill Rennie says:

      It was Linneaus Pl when I lived there in the 60’s and 70’s. Did they change the spelling?

      • Michele says:

        It’s always been Linneaus place I lived there from 1961 till I got married. My mother still lives there

      • JF Forests says:

        I lived there too during that time and we always spelled it Linneaus. Later when I learned about Linnaeus in school, I wondered about the strange way we spelled it, but that was just the way. We were unique!

  3. Dave says:

    I lived on Farrington Street, (the next block over from Prince Street) and remember Linnaeus Street well. At that time the houses were old and in disrepair and mostly rented to lower income families. I vaquely recall that there was something unusual about the utilities in that area (something to due with those houses not having sewers, but not sure)

    In the midst of a busy area, Linnaeus was tucked away in it own little world.

    • Anonymous says:

      I don’t know what year your talking about but until about the last 10 years they were owner occupied in at least 1 apartment. They are two family row houses. As for the sewers they were city sewers but the street was privately owned and the owners of the homes banned together to pay for repairs until the street was taken by the city for non payment of taxes

      • Michele says:

        The sewers were put in recently. Before the sewers the water drained into a lot to the right when you were entering, there was a garage area that had sewers

  4. Lynn Albanese says:

    My grandparents immigrated from Italy and lived on Prince Street in the 1930’s. My Dad lived there with them till he married my mom, they lived in one of the semi-attached homes on Linnaeus, on the corner. I lived there with them till I was four, then we moved to 188th St. My grandparents moved around the block to Farrington St. Their address on Prince was 33-38 Prince St. There were a lot of Italians on those two blocks and we all knew each other back then. I don’t have my grandparents address on Farrington but I remember a factory being built next to their house after the house was bought and demolished. They managed to have a self sustaining farm on the land. They grew white and red grapes, vegetables and fruit, and had rabbit pens. Their house was bought for cash from an Asian businessman in the 60’s.

  5. Lawrence. Norftil says:

    I live on Linneaus when the whole block was like family we had blick partys and help everyone out. Now when i go visit the block it is degusting. When the chinise and korean took over its a shame how something that was so beautiful turn to garbage….. Lawrence

  6. Lawrence. Norftil says:

    I lived on the block for 36 years. When i was a kid the whole block was family we always help each others out block partys it was the best. Untill all the families started to move and the chinse and korean bought the house . when i go visit time to time its heart broken to see that how something that was so beautiful turn in to a desgusting. Place. I will always love that block

  7. JF Forests says:

    I don’t remember any block parties during the 60s/70s when I was there. I do remember amazing ethnic diversity. My grandparents were Polish/Ukainian. On the end near the tree, northwest side I guess it would be, was a family named the McGowans who had a bulldog or something like that named Rocky and he was a big deal since most people didn’t have dogs. Next to them was an Italian family, the Carbones and my grandparents’ house was so close to theirs we could look into each other’s windows. The father would play Italian opera and had a great yard with tomatoes and grapes. We had a grape arbor too that surrounded a bench but eventually for safety’s sake, my mother had to dismantle it. The Carbones had two beautiful daughters, the younger one Linda. On the other side of us was a Puerto Rican man with the last name of Pagano I think. He used to do painting and electrical repairs for us. We thought it was a great thing when we advanced to switches over the lights with the string cords. In the bathroom there was evidence of a gas light which had been disconnected years ago and we used to hang a towel, being too afraid to tinker with it or have it removed. Big, deep tub but never enough hot water, so would have to boil pots of water to make it hot enough. Ground floor still had coal stove and the coal man would deliver through the cellar door. I loved that basement since it went the length of the house and led to the yard. Geez, could go on and on with memories of that place. Nice to find a site to share….

  8. JF Forests says:

    The neighborhood stores were Tom’s across the street on Prince, and Josie’s on the same side of Prince and on the way to Northern Blvd. Somewhere in between was a Shell station that gave out presidential coins that my grandfather would collect for me–even though he didn’t have a car, they still gave them to him–so nice. Remember the stores would do the math on the paper bags and I think they floated bill payment until paychecks arrived. The 109th Precinct Police Dept. was also on Prince, other side of street from the stores–there was much worry about the effect their leaving the neighborhood would have; we always felt safe with them so near. There was a large house in the center of the Linneaus Place “U”–maybe two? Must have once been grand but when I was there
    it was deteriorating and there seemed to be lots of people living in them, so can understand why another factory type building was put in. The factory one nearest our home was Pabst Blue Ribbon I think. The windowless wall was good for playing a form of handball but balls would inevitably wind up on the roof and someone had to climb up to retrieve them. Other things found their way on the roof too, mostly cans and bottles we could see from our second floor window. At night I’d sometimes stand up on the side of our front stoop and hold on to the overhang for balance and look beyond that one lone tree between the last house and the factory to see a bridge glittering. Probably the Whitestone? I figured it led out of the city and I longed to cross it.

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