POMONOK-ELECTCHESTER, Flushing

When I first moved to Flushing in 1993 I marveled at a pair of very high towers visible looking toward the southern horizon from 43rd Avenue and 162nd Street. They are part of the Electchester complex, a housing project originally built for electrical union workers in the 1940s.

Some call the region east of Queens College from Kissena Park south to 73rd Avenue “southern Flushing,’ but I think that grants Flushing too much territory — so I’ll go along with what some lexicographers say it is, Pomonok, a name derived from the Algonquin Indian name for Long Island. Streets and houses were laid out on the former Pomonok Country Club. Its golf course was built by members of the Flushing Athletic Club, which began in 1886 as one of the first golf clubs on Long Island. They leased 83 acres of land along Northern Boulevard in Flushing. When their lease was set to expire in 1919, some members favored finding a new, larger site that had room for an 18-hole course. Others favored renewing the lease at the original site and gradually expanding their 9-hole course. The membership ended up splitting, with the bolting members forming the Pomonok Country Club along Kissena Boulevard in 1921. [The Flushing Athletic Club did eventually expand their course to 18 holes, but the club didn’t make it past the 1920’s.] The country club was famous for having female caddies and for hosting the 1939 PGA Tournament during the World’s Fair.

The club was in existence until 1949. Thereafter, part of it became the Electchester Homes, middle-income housing built by Harry Van Arsdale, Jr. president of Local 3 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. Another part was managed by the City Housing Authority who built the Pomonok Houses, among other developments. Electchester was the latest in a series of hosuing projects built for specific categories of unionized workers, joining the Amalgamated Houses, Bronx, and Seward Park Houses, Manhattan (garment workers); Concourse Village, Bronx (meat cutters); Big Six towers, Woodside (printers and lithographers).

Electchester was constructed in stages from the late 1940s to late 1960s, and the buildings in the project were named prosaically beginning with the First Houses and going up to the Fifth Houses, which are the two towers on 160th and 162nd Streets. Electchester has an unusual street layout with 160th, 161st and 162nd forming a rounded Y-shaped pattern between 65th Avenue and Jewel Avenue/Harry Van Arsdale, Jr. Avenue. The latter street is marked by signs that cram the two names onto the same sign, making it rather hard to read. Jewel Avenue is the only survivor of Forest Hills’ former alphabetically named street pattern; it was extended across Flushing Meadows in the early 20th Century and the name Jewel Avenue was slapped onto a previously existing farm road. Oddly enough, Harry Van Arsdale Jr. changes his affiliation from Jewel Avenue to 69th Road in Forest Hills. 

Check out the ForgottenBook, take a look at the gift shop, and as always, “comment…as you see fit.”

4/13/18


4 Responses to POMONOK-ELECTCHESTER, Flushing

  1. George Cassidy says:

    As far as the extent of Flushing, if one goes by the PO definition, the southern border is on Union Turnpike. Cross Union Turnpike and you’re kin Jamaica.

    • Mitch45 says:

      I grew up in Kew Gardens Hills and lived there from 1970-2000. When I was a kid, I learned to write my address as “Flushing, New York 11367” and that is how it remained until 2003, after I had already moved to Nassau County. In 2003, the post office in Kew Gardens Hills, until then obliquely known only as “Station C – Flushing, New York 11367” was officially changed by the USPS to “Kew Gardens Hills, New York 11367”. Thus, since 2003 the “Flushing” boundaries vis a vis the post office no longer goes as far south as Union Turnpike but instead ends at or about the south side of the Horace Harding Expressway.

      • Andy says:

        All true, yes. However, the post office designation “Flushing, New York” includes all post offices with the 113xx designations, which means virtually everything in the northern half of Queens from Woodside east to the Nassau County boundary. Thus, a letter sent today to “Flushing, New York 11367” would still be delivered to any address in the Kew Gardens Hills zip code. The reason for this goes back to at least the 19th century when Flushing was a separate town under NY State law, and the US Post Office recognized those boundaries. Similarly, most post offices in South Queens have the “114xx” designation and are part of the Jamaica post office, also a vestige of the 19th century when Jamaica was a separate town. Queens residents’ habits of using their neighborhood designations to describe where they live is partly due to the historic post office designations, despite the 1898 consolidation with New York City.

  2. Nirmal Singh says:

    From a Kew Gardens hills persorctive, when we want packages or mail returned to us, we have to put flushing or god only knows if u will get your mail. I’ve managed to not get several packages due to being politically correct and winding up with lost mail. Just putting flushing seems to fix that for the most part.

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