by Kevin Walsh

College Point has always been a  rubber town. The village in northwest Queens, still very much isolated by the Whitestone Expressway and the old Flushing Airport grounds, was founded by German immigrant Conrad Poppenhusen, who received a patent from Charles Goodyear to produce rubber products and settled into the area in the Civil War era to build a factory, very much like his contemporary, piano manufacturer Henry Steinway. Like Steinway, Poppenhusen formed a company town surrounding his works, combining two forgotten smaller villages, Flammersburg and Strattonport. He founded a railroad to bering workers from the East River ferries to College Point (parts of it are now included in the Long Island Rail Road) as well as the town’s cultural center, the Poppenhusen Institute, which continues its work today.

Poppenhusen’s success attracted other similar manufacturers to the area. The town also contained may ornamental metal works and ribbon factories employing hundreds from the area. The Isaak B. Kleinert Rubber Works building, 20th Avenue and 127th Street, was among many rubber factories in College Point.  In 1869, Kleinert invented “dress shields” which, in the era before roll-on deodorant, were worn under the arms to prevent embarrassing stains on hot summer days. The company also introduced the shower cap and the shower curtain.

Kleinert is still around, and still making dress shields, antiperspirants and sweatproof products, though the company is presently based in Elba, Alabama.



Rick Schwartz July 6, 2013 - 6:02 am

For 8 years from 1969 to 1977 we rented warehouse space from Kleinert’s on 22nd Avenue and 128th Street. The basement part was very damp and the floors were wooden. They had a huge complex of buildings.

The Poppenhusen Institute was a Community Center in College Point | Untapped Cities September 9, 2013 - 2:00 pm

[…] Poppenhusen made his fortune in America manufacturing combs made from hard rubber after he arrived from Hamburg, Germany in 1843. In 1854 he relocated his family and business to […]

Mary August 20, 2017 - 9:38 am

I live nearby from 2016, their warehouse is self -storage now, still having mark on the corner of building
“Rubber company from 1931”


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