COSMOPOLITAN HOUSES, Woodside

by Kevin Walsh

While stumbling around Woodside and avoiding the ice patches on the sidewalks that Queens property owners refused to clean, I arrived at a cluster of familiar-looking apartment houses on either side of 37th Avenue between 64th and 65th Streets, bearing a “Cosmopolitan” logo just inside every doorway.

They’re not as famed as Sunnyside Gardens or even the Mathews flats, but the Cosmopolitan Houses have been a big part of the Sunnyside scene since they were built in 1922, comprising large parts of blocks between Queens Boulevard and 48th Avenue between 48th and 49th Street (this os one of those Queens areas where all the numbers are similar). Another large block can be found 48th and 50th avenues between 46th and 47th Streets. And, I discovered an outlier here. Perhaps there are other clusters.

The houses were originally built by Metropolitan Life Insurance for low-income families. It was renamed when MetLife sold the property. Part of the complexes continue to serve as federally subsidized housing, though most apartments have been converted to pricey condos.

 

One of the interesting aspects of the Cosmopolitan Houses to me is the presence of a Type B post, usually employed in parks, lighting every entranceway. The luminaires are of a relatively rare type not seen in the parks.

The presence of the 65th Street station on the Queens Broadway IND may owe its existence to the nearby Comsopolitan Houses. This station still retains a few “Rowan Street” directional signs; Rowan is 65th Street’s old name before Queens got its street numbers and addresses in the 1920s. In some cases, old names were retained to not confuse area oldtimers.

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

2/20/18

7 comments

Brian Wickham December 20, 2018 - 9:00 pm

There is one more group of Metropolitan Houses, what is now “The Acropolis” in Astoria from 33rd to 35th Street, between 21st Ave and Ditmars Blvd. In local parlance of the 1940s these were the Astoria Mets. The ones at 65th St and Broadway were the Woodside Mets and the largest group at 48th St and Queens Blvd were the Sunnyside Mets. When I was born my father was a super in the Woodside Mets and had previously lived in the Astoria Mets. My two sisters had apartments in the Sunnyside Mets when they were first married. The hiring/rental agent, Dan O’Riordan, for all three locations came over on the boat from Cork with my father in 1923.

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Brian Wickham December 20, 2018 - 9:05 pm

That type B post is not original to the buildings decor nor is the iron fencing in the picture. Originally there was no fence and it was all low hedges. In the 1940s they put in a low cyclone fence which was then replaced by a higher fence at about waist level. There was no lighting in front of the buildings other than street lighting.

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Nancy Cappiello January 25, 2019 - 2:38 am

My father came over on the boat from Ireland
in 1923?went to Canada came to the U.S in
1925. I gee up in the Astoria Mets on 35th St.
My parents started out on 33rd St and moved to a larger apartment on 35th street.
I well remember Mr. O’Riordan although I thought his name was Riordan nice man. I don’t believe these were low income houses they were rent controlled. I knew many people who lived there that were not low income. I enjoy seeing pictures of a wonderful place (Astoria) where I grew up with wonderful memories. Nancy Cappiello

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Teresa Ross natale July 24, 2019 - 5:38 pm

As a young mom I lived at 37 15 64th st and 37 ave when Apts were called The Mets. Ours was a 5th floor walk up for 64 dollars a month. The year was 1965

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David Pastirchak February 27, 2020 - 12:33 pm

I lived in apartment 5G at 37-15 in 1965-1976. My Mom and two brothers.

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Anonymous October 30, 2019 - 11:02 pm

Thank you for this info, Bryan! My dad lived in the Astoria Mets (now we know!) as a child and this filled in the pieces for us.

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Ginger November 20, 2019 - 8:32 pm

I read an article about the late Bobby Driscoll, and I ended up down a rabbit hole that lead me here. There was a young woman who lived here in 1970 with her family and after and argument with her mother she stormed out of the apartment. Unfortunately she is still missing to this day. Her name was Denise Sheehy.

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