Some ar names appear to be jokes. Some have actually stuck about for centuries, despite changing connotations. Some shift with the winds the gentrification. Welcome come Blurred Lines, in i m sorry writer Keith Williams studies new York City"s an altering neighborhood boundaries.

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native an 1891 map. Notification how few roads have been built in Queens contrasted with Manhattan and also Brooklyn. (gaianation.netPL)

Last year, we carried you a short article on the advancement of majesties County"s municipalities from 1664, once the English take it over for the Dutch, with its addition by brand-new York City together the Borough that Brooklyn in 1898. Throughout that exact same span, that neighbor come the north and east, Queens County, likewise underwent a number of changes—including the ns of practically three-quarters that its area.

With a land area of 109 square miles, emperors is by far the largest of the 5 boroughs. (Its populace of 2.3 million is second to Brooklyn by 300,000.) had Queens County maintained its initial size, however, it would be virtually four times bigger; what is now well-known as Nassau County broke away in 1899, make the county of kings coterminous with the one-year-old Borough the Queens.

Before us begin, a bit of elevator is needed. First: just similar to Brooklyn and also Manhattan, there"s been a many land-filling end the years, for this reason the geographic extremities of this maps won"t be true to what they to be in the 19th century (hello, airports!). For helpful purposes, transforming water limits 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 boundaries on this maps (particularly the ones spanning the whole county) are rough approximations.


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

Hempstead (established through the English in 1644): called either for the Dutch city Heemstede, near Haarlem and Amsterdam, or for the English city Hemel Hempstead, residence of among the co-founders.

Flushing (Dutch, 1645): initially Vlishing, indigenous Vlissingen, a Dutch town on the north Sea. In 1657, 30 Vlishing citizens sent one appeal to Director-General Peter Stuyvesant urging him to lift a half on Quakers. watch this document, well-known as the Flushing Remonstrance, together the birth of religious freedom in the new World.

Jamaica (Dutch, 1656): originally Rustdorp ("rest town"), later on renamed after Yameco, "beaver" in the Lenape language. It has actually a distinctive derivation indigenous the Caribbean nation: that originates from the Arawak indigenous Xaymaca ("land the wood and water").

Newtown (Dutch, 1652): initially Middenburgh; lived in by inhabitants from surrounding Maspat (today"s Maspeth). Readjusted to Hastings in 1663 top top the English takeover, then new Towne in 1665.

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

Before the brother took control of the greater an ar in 1664, Oyster Bay (the waterway, the is) marked the splitting line between western lengthy Island (part of brand-new Amsterdam) and eastern long Island (part of Connecticut). The line an ext or less divides Nassau and Suffolk Counties today, yet when Dutch strength had started to slip, there was part confusion over whether the towns later on Queens County would be component 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 broke away, providing itself the inventive name of North Hempstead. This stemmed native a Loyalist-Patriot divide in the Revolutionary War; the northern half declared "independence" in 1775, together Hempstead wished to remain component of the brothers Empire.

The county seat was initially in Jamaica; ~ the British melted the courthouse in the Revolution, the seat moved to the village of Mineola, in phibìc Hempstead, close come the geographic center of the county. (For context, Mineola is around 10 mile due eastern of today"s Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, and also 16 mile due eastern of today"s long Island City waterfront—as the raven flies. Imagine making the journey top top horseback—or foot—over winding, muddy paths.)

But as ferry service became more reliable in the beforehand 19th century through the arrival of the vapor engine, western monarchs became much more popular. Much of that growth came at a place referred to as Hunter"s Point, i beg your pardon developer (and chairman of Union College) Eliphalet Nott divided into lots beginning in the 1830s. Ferry organization came in 1858, allowing travelers for the very first time a two-seat trip from Manhattan (by ferry) to Flushing (by train); by 1869, Hunter"s allude had developed a heaviness of that is own. Citizens clamored for incorporation as a town so the they could oversee their own development, quite than hear to the bigwigs that Newtown.


Due to opposition by manufacturers, who feared increased taxes, this push was beat by the state Legislature. Undeterred, Hunter"s suggest formed an alliance with neighboring villages, particularly Astoria, and the following year flourished in creating a new entity: Long Island City. The ar seat relocated to there in 1874, much to the chagrin that the occupants of countryside eastern monarchs County.


The boundary in between Long Island City and also Newtown was an old path dubbed the Bowery just Road, i beg your pardon ran indigenous the now-destroyed leg over Newtown Creek to Bowery only in long Island Sound. While most of the winding path was obliterated by the grid that eventually came right into place, a couple of vestiges remain, amongst them Celtic way in Woodside, the hypotenuse of man Downing Park in Woodside, Hobart Street in long Island City, and also 19th road in eastern Elmhurst. (Fun fact: "Bowery" comes from the netherlands word bouwerij, "farm.")

"City" was a bit of a misnomer because that the area. Uneven the City the Brooklyn, i beg your pardon was swiftly approaching a population of one million, long Island City had just 17,000 citizens by 1880. It to be really just a confederation the villages with plenty of empty an are between them.

from an 1891 map. Notification how couple of roads have been constructed in Queens contrasted with Manhattan and also Brooklyn. (gaianation.netPL)

The city"s government was basically neutered, together there was a very low cap on exactly how much money it might raise. Rather than use common budgetary means, officials could create rose to deal with the cultivation area"s many problems, together as lack of fresh water and also the flattening of hilly terrain. This provided plenty of avenues for graft. A few parcels that land to be wrested away from majesties County in the 1880s: brand-new York county (Manhattan) took North brother Island (1881) and Rikers Island (1884), when in 1885, Lloyd Neck joined Suffolk County. Southern Brother Island would certainly be transferred to the Bronx in 1964.


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

The poll to produce a consolidated City of brand-new York had actually taken location two year prior, in 1894. Overall, 62 percent the voters later borough of majesties were in donate of the consolidation plan, however the outcomes differed widely among the assorted jurisdictions.

Long Island City, population 35,000, poll overwhelmingly because that consolidation, v 82 percent in favor. The Democratic machine had been incredibly corrupt, serving bloated contract to contributors and also doing a destructive job enhancing infrastructure. The water supply was so poorly managed that fire insurance was much greater than in other municipalities follow me the east River. Of note in this part of history was three-time mayor Patrick "Battle-Axe" "Paddy" Gleason, who formed a exclusive water in an attempt to gouge his own citizens, amongst various other exploits.

Flushing, on the various other hand, had 55 percent that voters against the proposal. Residents feared an attack from Hall; the city had also built an progressed infrastructure, including a steady water supply and systems for sewage and gas. Unfortunately for them, the referendum was just advisory.


On January 1, 1898, the western part of emperors County—Long Island City, Newtown, Flushing, Jamaica, and the Rockaways portion of Hempstead—became the Borough the Queens. This developed a strange case for the continuing to be parts: they were technically still component of emperors County, but the mass of the county to be now controlled by new York City.

On April 28, 1898, the state Legislature authorized the production of a brand-new county, which part in the eastern fifty percent of the previous Queens County had actually wanted for almost 60 years.


It was referred to as Nassau, acquisition the original name for lengthy Island, which honored wilhelm III that 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 broke away from brand-new York county in 1914, is younger.* in monarchs did not favor the brand-new partition, as county officials wanted to sell off land in Nassau to pay off debts incurred prior to the split. In fact, in October 1898, the ar clerk refuse to grant certificates come the nominees for chosen offices in Nassau County. In doing so, he quote his belief that the legislation producing the brand-new county to be unconstitutional. He to be promptly overruled in court, and there is no proof that he sought the matter further (or consequently went come jail because that contempt).


There were a few changes to both counties in the beforehand 20th century. In 1917, glenn Cove, on lengthy Island Sound, broke away native Oyster Bay and also became an elevation city. Hempstead lost lengthy Beach in 1922. And also in 1925, Brooklyn and also Queens redefined your border to align v the street grid.


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

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

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*Correction: this write-up originally claimed Bronx County to be separated native Westchester ar in 1914. What is currently Bronx County to be originally part of Westchester County, yet the floor was linked by new York ar (now coterminous v the Borough that Manhattan) in 1874 and 1895.