2016-03-16 / Star Journal

Queens Begins To Show Signs Of Growth In 1887

The Greater Astoria Historical Society presents pages from the Long Island Star Journal.

Welcome to March 1887!

Down in Tuscumbia, Alabama, a six-year-old deaf and blind girl named Helen Keller first met her teacher and lifelong companion, Anne Sullivan. Ms. Sullivan opened up many brave new worlds for her student, and both of them later resided in Forest Hills.

Meanwhile, down in Washington, DC, the first Jewish US Ambassador was appointed, when Oscar Straus became United States Minister to the Ottoman Empire. Ambassador Straus, who was also President of the American Jewish Historical Society, is buried in Beth El Cemetery in Ridgewood. His brother, Isidor, was the co-owner of Macy’s and perished on the RMS Titanic in 1912.

For those with a love of fishing, March 1887 was a momentous month as Everett Horton of Bristol, Connecticut received a patent for a telescoping steel fishing rod. History does not note Mr. Horton as having any connection to Queens.


A six-year-old deaf and blind girl named Helen Keller first met her teacher and lifelong companion, Anne Sullivan. Ms. Sullivan opened up many brave new worlds for her student, and both of them later resided in Forest Hills. A six-year-old deaf and blind girl named Helen Keller first met her teacher and lifelong companion, Anne Sullivan. Ms. Sullivan opened up many brave new worlds for her student, and both of them later resided in Forest Hills. For those of us who do not enter the water to catch our dinner but merely wish to cross over, that month also brought great news of sorts. The Long Island Weekly Star breathlessly reported that the House of Representatives passed a Senate bill authorizing construction of a bridge crossing Blackwell’s Island to link New York to Queens. The structure, to be constructed by the New York and Long Island Bridge Company under the direction of the Secretary of War, was to stand 150 feet above the East River at its highest point. It would be another 16 years, however, until plans for the span finally came about under the city’s Department of Bridges, and it was not until 1909 that the people of Queens could cross the East

River at Blackwell’s Island without getting their feet wet.

While many years would pass until a towering new bridge would whisk locals into the hustle and bustle of Manhattan, warmer weather was just around the corner. With Superintendent Burroughs of the New York, Woodhaven and Rockaway Railroad posting the new spring timetable, five trains a day would set out from Long Island City to the beaches and windswept wilderness of Jamaica Bay and the Rockaways. It would soon be time for beachgoers to break out their swimming trunks and perhaps for sports fishermen to pick up a new Horton telescoping pole.

For others fond of milder weather, a College Point entrepreneur announced plans to build a new outdoor resort on Point View Island, an old Long Island Sound haunt of Boss Tweed and his political circle. The getaway, formerly known as Garvey’s Island, would boast new pavilions, bathing houses and other attractions for the people of Queens, who could access the new outdoor playground by the steamboat Emeline departing from College Point.

Local trains and excursion steamers, however, can only carry people so far, and that month some in Queens may have felt the great American wanderlust and a yearning for the vast open spaces of our nation’s unsettled interior.

Trumpeting “KANSAS LAND!,” in March, 1887 the Weekly Star called upon Long Islanders to go west, advertising 120,000 acres of land and the “best soil for the growing of fruit and all kinds of grain and the finest grazing land and stock country in the world.” It is not known how many New Yorkers answered the ad and left for the wide open prairies of the Sunflower State.

That’s the way it was in March 1887!

For further information, contact the Greater Astoria Historical Society at 718-278-0700 or visit our website at www.astorialic.org.

Return to top

Copyright 1999-2018 The Service Advertising Group, Inc. All rights reserved.