Some community names show up to be jokes. Some have stuck roughly for centuries, despite changing connotations. Some transition with the winds that gentrification. Welcome come Blurred Lines, in i beg your pardon writer Keith Williams studies new York City"s an altering neighborhood boundaries.

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native an 1891 map. An alert how couple of roads have actually been built in Queens compared with Manhattan and also Brooklyn. (jajalger2018.orgPL)

Last year, we carried you a post on the advancement of queens County"s municipalities native 1664, as soon as the English take it over for the Dutch, v its annexation by brand-new York City as the Borough that Brooklyn in 1898. Throughout that exact same span, that neighbor come the north and east, Queens County, additionally underwent a number of changes—including the lose of virtually three-quarters of its area.

With a soil area of 109 square miles, queens is by far the largest of the 5 boroughs. (Its population of 2.3 million is second to Brooklyn by 300,000.) had Queens County kept its initial size, however, it would certainly be virtually four time bigger; what is now well-known as Nassau County damaged away in 1899, making the county of kings coterminous v the one-year-old Borough of Queens.

Before us begin, a little bit of lift is needed. First: just just like Brooklyn and Manhattan, there"s to be a most land-filling end the years, therefore the geographical extremities of this maps won"t it is in true to what they to be in the 19th century (hello, airports!). For handy purposes, transforming water borders have been left out. And also second: a couple of borders were based on now-covered creeks and now-obliterated roads. As such, a few of the limits on this maps (particularly the ones spanning the whole county) room rough approximations.


Like Kings, majesties County was created in 1683 as among the original 12 counties of the of brand-new York. That was named for Catherine the Braganza, the Portuguese queen consort of England"s King Charles II. In ~ the outset, it had five towns:

Hempstead (established by the English in 1644): called either because that the Dutch town Heemstede, close to Haarlem and Amsterdam, or because that the English city Hemel Hempstead, house of one of the co-founders.

Flushing (Dutch, 1645): originally Vlishing, native Vlissingen, a Dutch town on the north Sea. In 1657, 30 Vlishing occupants sent an appeal come Director-General Peter Stuyvesant urging him to lift a ban on Quakers. Countless view this document, recognized as the Flushing Remonstrance, together the bear of religious freedom in the new World.

Jamaica (Dutch, 1656): initially Rustdorp ("rest town"), later on renamed ~ Yameco, "beaver" in the Lenape language. It has a distinct derivation from the Caribbean nation: that comes from the Arawak native Xaymaca ("land that wood and also water").

Newtown (Dutch, 1652): initially Middenburgh; occupied by settlers from nearby Maspat (today"s Maspeth). Changed to Hastings in 1663 ~ above the English takeover, then new Towne in 1665.

Oyster Bay (English, 1667): after virtually thirty years of boundary disputes between English and also Dutch settlers in the area in between Hempstead and today"s Suffolk County, the English government of new York included the township.

Before the british took control of the greater an ar in 1664, Oyster Bay (the waterway, the is) marked the splitting line between western long Island (part of new Amsterdam) and eastern long Island (part that Connecticut). That line much more or less divides Nassau and also Suffolk Counties today, yet when Dutch power had started to slip, over there was part confusion over whether the towns in the future Queens County would be part of New York or Connecticut. (All of lengthy Island was turned over to new York in December 1664.)


In 1784, the northern part of Hempstead damaged away, giving itself the inventive name of North Hempstead. This stemmed from a Loyalist-Patriot divide in the Revolutionary War; the northern fifty percent declared "independence" in 1775, together Hempstead wished come remain component of the brother Empire.

The county seat was initially in Jamaica; after ~ the British burned the courthouse in the Revolution, the seat moved to the village of Mineola, in north Hempstead, close come the geographic facility of the county. (For context, Mineola is about 10 miles due eastern of today"s Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, and 16 mile due eastern of today"s lengthy Island City waterfront—as the crow flies. Imagine making that journey top top horseback—or foot—over winding, muddy paths.)

But as ferry service became much more reliable in the early on 19th century with the introduction of the steam engine, western monarchs became more popular. Lot of that growth came in ~ a place dubbed Hunter"s Point, which developer (and chairman of Union College) Eliphalet Nott split into lots starting in the 1830s. Ferry business came in 1858, allowing travelers because that the very first time a two-seat pilgrimage from Manhattan (by ferry) to Flushing (by train); by 1869, Hunter"s suggest had emerged a heaviness of that own. Inhabitants clamored because that incorporation together a town so the they might oversee their own development, fairly than hear to the bigwigs the Newtown.


Due to opposition through manufacturers, that feared increased taxes, this push was beat by the state Legislature. Undeterred, Hunter"s suggest formed one alliance with surrounding villages, specifically Astoria, and the following year flourished in forming a brand-new entity: Long Island City. The ar seat relocated to there in 1874, lot to the chagrin of the residents of countryside eastern emperors County.


The boundary in between Long Island City and also Newtown was an old path called the Bowery just Road, i m sorry ran native the now-destroyed bridge over Newtown Creek to Bowery only in long Island Sound. While most of the winding path was obliterated by the network that at some point came into place, a few vestiges remain, among them Celtic avenue in Woodside, the hypotenuse of john Downing Park in Woodside, Hobart Street in lengthy Island City, and 19th roadway in eastern Elmhurst. (Fun fact: "Bowery" originates from the netherlands word bouwerij, "farm.")

"City" was a bit of a misnomer for the area. Uneven the City the Brooklyn, which was swiftly approaching a populace of one million, long Island City had just 17,000 citizens by 1880. It was really just a confederation the villages through plenty that empty room between them.

indigenous an 1891 map. Notice how couple of roads have been developed in Queens compared with Manhattan and also Brooklyn. (jajalger2018.orgPL)

The city"s federal government was usually neutered, together there was a very short cap on just how much money it could raise. Fairly than use typical budgetary means, officials could create rose to address the growing area"s problems, such as absence of fresh water and the flattening of hilly terrain. This listed plenty of avenues for graft. A couple of parcels the land to be wrested away from kings County in the 1880s: new York ar (Manhattan) take it North brothers Island (1881) and also Rikers Island (1884), when in 1885, Lloyd Neck joined Suffolk County. Southern Brother Island would certainly be moved to the Bronx in 1964.


In 1896, consolidation to be looming. Newtown changed its name to Elmhurst in bespeak to street itself indigenous the wasteland recognized as Newtown Creek, which had been one industrial dumping ground due to the fact that the civil War. Among the first polluters had actually been Peter Cooper, who was notified to move his glue factories there from Manhattan in the 1850s.

The vote to create a consolidated City of new York had actually taken location two year prior, in 1894. Overall, 62 percent that voters later borough of kings were in favor of the consolidation plan, but the outcomes differed widely among the assorted jurisdictions.

Long Island City, population 35,000, poll overwhelmingly for consolidation, through 82 percent in favor. The Democratic maker had been very corrupt, serving bloated contracts to contributors and doing a terrible job improving infrastructure. The water supply to be so poorly controlled that fire insurance was much higher than in various other municipalities follow me the east River. Of keep in mind in this part of background was three-time market Patrick "Battle-Axe" "Paddy" Gleason, who developed a private water agency in an effort to gouge his own citizens, among various other exploits.

Flushing, on the various other hand, had actually 55 percent the voters versus the proposal. Occupants feared an incursion from Hall; the town had likewise built an progressed infrastructure, including a steady water supply and also systems for sewage and also gas. Unfortunately for them, the referendum was merely advisory.


On January 1, 1898, the western component of majesties County—Long Island City, Newtown, Flushing, Jamaica, and the Rockaways portion of Hempstead—became the Borough of Queens. This created a strange case for the continuing to be parts: they to be technically still component of queens County, yet the bulk of the county was now managed by brand-new York City.

On April 28, 1898, the state Legislature authorized the creation of a new county, which some in the eastern fifty percent of the former Queens County had actually wanted for practically 60 years.


It was called Nassau, acquisition the initial name for lengthy Island, which honored william III of the home of Orange-Nassau. It came to be the 61st county in new York State, and also the very first created in 45 years; just Bronx County, which damaged away from brand-new York ar in 1914, is younger.* in emperors did not choose the new partition, together county officials want to sell off land in Nassau come pay off debts incurred before the split. In fact, in October 1898, the ar clerk refuse to provide certificates come the nominees for chosen offices in Nassau County. In act so, he quote his belief that the legislation producing the new county was unconstitutional. He to be promptly overruled in court, and also there is no proof that he gone after the matter kind of further (or consequently went come jail for contempt).


There were a few changes come both counties in the early 20th century. In 1917, glenn Cove, on long Island Sound, damaged away indigenous Oyster Bay and became an independent city. Hempstead lost long Beach in 1922. And in 1925, Brooklyn and Queens redefined your border come align through the street grid.


Even today, there space reminders of the original borders of Queens. ZIP codes are greatly aligned v those borders: what to be once lengthy Island City is 111xx, Newtown and Flushing share 113xx, Jamaica is 114xx, and also Far Rockaway (what offered to be part of Hempstead) is 116xx.

Fun reality along those lines: Ridgewood and also Glendale used to re-superstructure ZIP password 11227 through Bushwick, Brooklyn. But after the riots in the wake of the blackout that 1977, residents found their insurance rates rising, and they properly petitioned Representative Geraldine Ferraro to grant them a 113xx ZIP code.

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*Correction: this post originally stated Bronx County was separated native Westchester county in 1914. What is now Bronx County to be originally part of Westchester County, but the land was linked by brand-new York county (now coterminous through the Borough the Manhattan) in 1874 and also 1895.