Flushing Bay, Queens

Among the waterways of New York City that has experienced dramatic change in the past century is Flushing Bay, an arm of the East River that borders on College Point and LaGuardia Airport, where Flushing Creek widens into this bay. On this aerial survey photo from 1947, found at the NYS Archives, I identified some of the locations that I’ve previously documented on this blog and a few other interesting items.

The landscape here is urban but not yet as dense as it would become with the post-1965 influx of immigrants and revival of the city in the last quarter of the 20th century. The airport hasn’t yet reached its present size, as many people still used railroads and ships to reach distant places. Finally, the jail at Rikers Island also hasn’t reached its present size and it was only accessible by boat this this time.

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Jackson’s Mill Pond, Queens

Throughout the past four centuries in New York, when there wasn’t enough land available for development, land reclamation extended the city’s shoreline often for ports that connected the city with the world. The same can be said for the city’s airports, which were also built on reclaimed land. In the process not only were marshlands covered, but in East Elmhurst a millpond dating to colonial times was filled following the construction of LaGuardia Airport.

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In this 1929 photo from the NYPL collection, the shot looks east where Jackson’s Mill Pond empties into Flushing Bay. The bluff on the right is in the neighborhood of East Elmhurst while the mudflat on the left is a forgotten place known as North Beach. Continue reading

Backus’ Pond, Queens

This 500 foot by 350 foot kettle pond is mentioned in Vincent Seyfried’s The Story of Corona, an extensively researched book about the neighborhood. It was located in a natural depression near the present-day corner of 98th Street and 31st Avenue, just north of Northern Boulevard.

Above, from the DoITT NYCityMap, a 1924 and a 1996 aerial of the pond’s site.

The pond’s likely namesake was the Backus family, prominent landowners with roots going back to the Dutch colonial period. Their most prized possession was Whitepot, a sizable parcel that was developed into Forest Hills after 1910.

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