Sunnyside, a fairly large wedge of western Queens defined by the Sunnyside Yards on the north, 48th Street on the east, and the Queens Midtown Expressway on the south, isn’t named because it’s particularly sunny; it gets the same amount of sun as the rest of NYC at any given time Instead, colonial-era French Huguenot settlers in the 18th Century called the area “Sunnyside Hill” and a hostelry on what is now Northern Boulevard and 37th Street was called the Sunnyside Hotel, serving patrons of local race tracks and visiting mourners at Calvary Cemetery, which was established in 1848. Christina has the full story at FNY’s Sunnyside page.
I have rambled around Sunnyside on a number of occasions since the great infection began in March of 2020, and on my most recent visit I found a near-perfect porcelain sign on 47th Street south of Greenpoint Avenue for the Henri Billharz Plumbers. It’s in royal blue and white in a pair of terrific fonts that bear no resemblance to anything I’ve seen in print. You might think that the ST in the telephone exchange would stand for STeinway but no such exchange existed; in Sunnyside, ST stood for STillwell, a name more closely oriented with the Coney Island area; I wonder how it was established here.
Billharz was established in 1927 in Queens by Henri X. Billharz. As the company website states:
In 1927, Henri X. Billharz started Billharz Plumbing after he received his Master Plumbers Lic # 9914. In 1947, he was founder and first president of the Sunnyside Kiwanis Club. Henri led the club and the division with dedication and concern for those less fortunate. He led with gentle conviction that each member and each project was of singular importance.
I’d love to know what the X stands for, but as a rule it’s usually Xavier.
In addition there’s another unusual name next door, the Anoroc Democratic Club. At first I guessed it’s an old Native American name (like the old Tamarind/Tammany clubs) but it’s really rather more prosaic, CORONA spelled backward. The club may have originated in Corona, a few neighborhoods to the east.