About 13 years ago, when I was looking around for a new place in Queens after 14 years on the Flushing-Auburndale border, I took a look at Parkway Village, which sits at the south end of Kew Gardens Hills and the west end of Hillcrest, on an uneven plot defined by Union Turnpike, Grand Central Parkway, Main Street and just west of Parsons Boulevard.
Parkway Village is one of the oldest garden apartment complexes in New York City; it certainly wouldn’t be the last. It was founded in 1946 to house employees of the United Nations, whose headquarters were first located at what is today’s Queens Museum in Flushing Meadows and then in Lake Success, just over the city line and easily accessible via the Grand Central Parkway. The UN had, at first, tried leasing apartments in Peter Cooper Village and Fresh Meadows; however, those complexes were still discriminating against applicants on the basis of race, which beside moral considerations would be frankly impractical for an organization like the UN.
Thus Parkway Village became one of the first truly racially integrated communities in New York City. The policy continued after Parkway Village ended its association with the UN after its move to its Turtle Bay, Manhattan, headquarters in 1952. Among Parkway Village’s early residents was Nobel Peace Prize winner Ralph Bunche; civil rights leader Roy Wilkins and feminist author Betty Friedan were also residents.
Architect Leonard Schultze’s two-story brick buildings in a Colonial or Georgian style set the tone for the many garden apartment complexes that followed. Earlier, Schultze had designed the former luxury hotel Waldorf-Astoria at Lexington Avenue and East 49th Street. Parkway Village has not been designated by the Landmarks Preservation Commission, but they are in the National Register of Historic Places.
I don’t drive and so Parkway Village would be far away from where I was working in Port Washington at the time, so I ultimately settled on Westmoreland Gardens in Little Neck where I remain today, satisfied for the most part.