A few years ago, while going through hundreds of photos of Queens in the 1930s and 1940s for Forgotten Queens, written by me with the Greater Astoria Historical Society and published in 2013, I came upon this scene at 70-12 Roosevelt Avenue which then was just west of the Connecting Railroad tracks, but is now in the roadbed of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway.
The scene, photographed in 1938, depicts Roosevelt Roofing which was then located at that address, complete with an illuminated neon sidewalk sign depicting a “tin woodsman” similar to the one who would be appearing in The Wizard of Oz the following year, and may have been inspired by the character in the L. Frank Baum book. The neon sign says “The Iron Man Knows All.”
On the sidewalk we see a human size “iron man” by the doorway, leaning on a cane and waving to passersby.
I thought I had seen that metal man before (whether he is tin or iron). In 2008, I had photographed him at Roosevelt Roofing’s then-location at Woodside Avenue and 71st Street when he was positioned on the roof.
Roosevelt Roofing has moved again since, to 53-69 69th Street further south in Woodside, and the metal man’s likeness appears on the billboard sign, but the man himself is nowhere to be found. Sick transit, Gloria!