When my family immigrated to the United States, our first home was in Rego Park, Queens. The neighborhood’s two main roads are Queens Boulevard and 63rd Drive. At its southern end, 63rd Drive intersects with Penelope Avenue and Woodhaven Boulevard, forming Fleetwood Triangle. In 2010, Queens Chronicle historian Ron Marzlock wrote that the triangle was on the site of a buried pond. Not exactly, but he was close. But was it an actual pond or a seasonal pool?
A look at old aerial surveys and property maps reveals the answer.
A good indicator on whether a pond existed are property surveys. Going back to the 1891 Chester Wolverton survey, we see a rural landscape parceled out to farmers, many of whom descend from colonial landowning families. Rego Park does not yet exist but Middle Village does. Highlighted are the present-day routes of 63rd Drive and Woodhaven Boulevard.
Duggan’s Pond makes its appearance on the properties of J J. Tompkins, M. Rosenberg, and L. Sites. Notice the Springsteen property. That’s a last name dating back to the Dutch days, but I can’t say for certain what relation this property owner had to The Boss. Dry Harbor Road makes its way through Middle Village, named after the cove-like valleys that resembled a harbor.
In the 1915 E. Belcher-Hyde atlas, the landscape is given a rectangular grid with an alphabetic name sequence that includes Alderton, Bourton, Carlton, Dartmouth, Everton and Fleet. Trotting Course Laen became Woodhaven Bouelvard; Remsen’s Lane was straightened as Penelope Avenue, later to be numbered as 63rd Drive. Nearly all of the streets above are paper streets, never to be built. Duggan’s Pond appears in a blue outline on never-built Bloomfield Place.
From 1924 to 1951
In 1924, the section of Rego Park east of 63rd Drive was instead developed in a crescent pattern and its alphabet is comprised of Asquith, Boelsen, Cromwell, Dieterle, Ellwell, and Fitchett. By 1931, the pond had become a filthy dumping ground and was covered by the city. Let’s look at the DoITT aerial surveys.
In 1924, land for the crescents had just been purchased and its streets were being laid out across the fields. By 1951, the former farmland is developed in crop-circle form with cookie-cutter single-family homes. The collision of the streets grids of Rego Park and Middle Village resulted in the creation of Fleetwood Triangle.
As Marzlock had it
So the actual pond was a block to the south of Fleetwood Triangle on Fleet Court. Nevertheless in a neighborhood named Rego Park, there really aren’t any large parks to be found, only playgrounds and school yards. The triangular park owes its existence to the street grids, a quirk in geography with a much-appreciated sitting area. Concerning its name, it is likely a Henry J. Stern product, likely a pun on the two nearest roads- Fleet Court and Woodhaven Boulevard.
In the News:
- Atlas Obscura‘s Sarah Laskow followed me on a walk along the Flushing Creek, from its headwaters to it mouth.
- India conservationist Rajendra Singh announced a campaign to clean up the Dahisar river in Mumbai.
- Condo developments are coming to the shores of Miami River in Miami, Florida.
- As it is March 8, American Rivers honors four women who care about conservation.