HAGSTROM 1922 — LONG ISLAND CITY

I was recently tipped off to the downloadable presence of some 1922 Hagstrom maps of NYC, at least 4 boroughs minus Staten Island, on the New York Public Library website Digital Collections

Allow me to reminisce. I may have mentioned this previously, but I have been fascinated with street maps almost since birth, especially my hometown NYC. My first Brooklyn map was a Hagstrom purchased at the Gertz Department Store on Jamaica Avenue in the late summer of 1968. The old man was there to purchase a wood wall unit for his stereo equipment. Mission accomplished: he stuck with what we got to his dying day in June 2003. We went to a restaurant and he sent the steak back twice because it was pink in the center (on that, at least, he and Donald Trump could talk about something). And we got that Brooklyn map. It wasn’t my first map: prior to that, I’d been collecting Geographia’s “Little Red Book” street guides I purchased from newsstands; I already had Brooklyn and the 5-Boro editions, both of which came with a folded-up black and white map glued within.

It only got worse from there. I saved money and in the fall of 1971 purchased just about every city street map all over the country that Geographia offered in a mail order. I watched for when the mailman was coming like a hawk if I was home. That same fall, my mother and I journeyed to what was then Hagstrom headquarters in the same building on West 33rd near 10th Avenue that the NY Daily News has offices in today. I came away with the Philadelphia-Camden folding map (Hagstrom also made a Philly atlas, but I never acquired one until approximately 15 years ago.) Hagstrom later moved to Maspeth, Queens; in 1982 I interviewed for a job with them on West 33rd, tried again in 1992 in Maspeth, and came up empty both times.

In the 1980s, I worked nights. Often, I would get a train into midtown in the afternoons, head for the NY Public Library at 5th Avenue and West 42nd, head for the Map Room and look over their NYC editions, especially the early edition Hagstroms. The library folks would tell me they couldn’t scan them for me, since the drum scanners would damage the maps. When digital cameras came along in the 2000s, I had to be content with photographing sections laid flat on the tables, with middling results.

Apparently that scanning problem has been resolved, since here the 1922 Hagstroms are on the NYPL site!

I can see I’m going to have fun writing about the results. Today, I’ve cropped the LIC and Sunnyside sections of the 1922 map. 

This was a fascinating time in Queens history. In the 1910s, a new numbering system was adopted to unify the borough numbering under one system; previously, different Queens towns had different numbering. In 1922, though, the system was only partially implemented. Thus, some neighborhoods had new numbers, while some neighborhoods kept the old names and old numbers. Apparently, Long Island City was a late adopter!

There are names on the map that will be familiar to Astoria Line riders, like Washington Avenue (36th Avenue). I knew that 39th Avenue had been Beebe Avenue, since it’s on the station signs. But I didn’t know that it had a name in  between Beebe and 39th: Deere Avenue. Note that 31st Street, over which the Astoria Line runs, is still 2nd Avenue at this point, so in 1922, NYC had a 2nd Avenue El in Manhattan and another in Queens! Ely Avenue is also recognizable, since it’s still tiled on the walls of the 23rd/Ely IND station serving E and M trains. 

Sunnyside, at the bottom of the map, still had its older names in 1922. Van Dam Street has been retained, and Honeywell Street has been kept where it is bridged over Sunnyside Yards, but other names have vanished; Rawson, Lowery and Bliss are still kept, for old times’ sake, on the #7 trains stations on the Queens Boulevard viaduct, which was completed in 1917. 

You’ll see more from these old Hagstroms in the upcoming days, since I’m endlessly fascinated with them.

“Comment as you see fit”: kevinjudewalsh@gmail.com

1/17/17


Categorized in: MAP ROOM One Shots

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