Glendale, NY History

History of Glendale

Glendale was part of the 74,000 acres of land, called Newtown, chartered to the Reverend Francis Doughty by the Dutch West India Company in 1642. A remote, swampy area with fresh water pools, it was originally called Fresh Ponds. By the mid-1800’s, it became a community of mostly German farmers. The Zeh Farm, extending along Myrtle Avenue from 73rd Street to Cooper Avenue was known for its grape vineyards; the nearby Evans Farms was famous for its dairy products and peacocks.

An 1852 law that banned cemeteries in Manhattan caused cemetery owners to cast their eyes toward Queens. Many cemeteries encircle Glendale in what was known as the “Cemetery Belt.”

In 1860, a large piece of Fresh Ponds was given to George C. Schott to pay off a debt. He renamed it “Glendale” after his hometown in Ohio. Less than a decade later, John C. Schooley purchased farmland around Wycoff Avenue (now 73rd Street) and adopted this name for his new development.

In 1869, Glendale and Richmond Hill were officially named as villages within Queens after Real Estate developer John C. Schooley, bought a substantial amount of property and laid out streets and divided the property into 469 lots. Also in 1869, a train station, now part of the Long Island Rail Road Montauk Branch was opened on 73rd place. The trains still run through Glendale however today no trains service the station.
With the arrival of the South Side Railroad in 1867 and steam-powered transportation in 1893, row houses and single-family residences gradually displaced local farms. Nonetheless, nearby cemeteries, such as Cypress Hills (opened in 1848) and All Saints (1852) retain some of Glendale’s rural landscape.

From the 1880’s to World War 1, Glendale was known as a playground. A bowling alley at Myrtle Avenue and 73rd Street provided the major entertainment for the locals and farmers staying at nearby Halfway Hotel. On the south side of Fresh Pond Road was Cooney Herman’s Saloon, and Liberty Park, and on Cooper Avenue and 73rd Street was Louis Hellen’s Saloon and picnic grove. Along Union Turnpike a trolley led to a huge picnic ground called Schutzen Park.

On August 9, 1895, the first parcel of land in what would later become Forest Park was purchased. Because of the numerous landowners involved, the park had to be procured in 124 parcels. When the last of the 538 acres of land was obtained in 1898, Brooklyn and Queens were part of New York City, and thus the original name of the planned park, Brooklyn Forest Park, was shortened to its present title.

In 1898, George Seuffert Sr. organized his first concert in Forest Park at a Bandstand, which was replaced in 1920 with a Bandshell. The Bandshell is named for George Seuffert Sr., whose Seuffert Band played free Sunday afternoon concerts, a tradition continued by his son, Dr. George F. Seuffert until his death in 1995.
In 1921, the Glendale War Memorial (Cooper & Myrtle Aves) was dedicated to the 21 Glendale residents who gave their life in WWI.

From 1933 – 1936, The Interborough Parkway was built under the direction of Robert Moses, chairman of the New York State Emergency Public Works Commission. Controversies surrounded the development of the road due to the need to disinterment and bury hundreds of bodies laid to rest in Cypress Hills cemetery. Forest Hills and Kew Gardens residents strongly opposed the parkway as well. Riebling’s Greater New York Park and Casino (88th Place & Myrtle Ave) fell victim to the plans for the Interborough Parkway. The Forest Park Golf Course had to be redesigned to make way for the parkway that made its way through some of the courses holes. In May, 1997 the parkway, was renamed the Jackie Robinson Parkway in honor of the 50th anniversary of his breaking baseball’s color barrier.

Dry Harbor Playground (Myrtle Ave & 80th St) was constructed in 1934 with swings, see-saws, a wavy slide, a flagpole, and a schoolyard gymnasium. The playhouse was the original home of Edward Bourcier who owned 17 acres acquired to become part of Forest Park. The house was originally three stories tall but the Parks Department lowered the structure to its present height of one story and coated it with safety surfacing for use as a playground house.

The last farm, on 88th Street and 77th Avenue, known as the Kessel Homestead, was developed for housing in 1937.

In 1940-41 the Parks Department acquired the school property of PS 67 and an adjacent parcel for a Glendale Playground (Central Ave & 70th St), which opened in 1942.

In 1949, Robert Moses broke ground on a parcel of land acuired at 64th Place commonly known as Farmers’ Oval in tribute to the Glendale Farmers Base Ball Club, a semi-professional team that played there from the early 1900’s through the 1950’s. In 1967, the park was officially named Joseph F. Mafera park after the death of the former Queens Borough President.

In 1971, All in the Family debuted making 89-70 Cooper Ave the popular home of Archie Bunker. Today, this house remains the most sought out landmark to vistors of Glendale even though renovations make it tough to pick out without the address.

Glendale and Ridgewood were served by the Brooklyn post office in Bushwick until the late 1970’s. After the 1977 blackout was followed by riots and looting, marring Bushwick, Ridgewood and Glendale disassociated themselves from Bushwick. In 1979, the two areas were granted a Queens zip code, 11385.
Today the people of Glendale and its visitors enjoy a day at Forest Park where you can find numerous athletic activities including the golf course and many attractions such as the historical carousel. The band shell is host to various summer concerts and its parking lot is the site of an annual circus and carnival.

About Glendale

Glendale has a population of about 80,000. It’s borders extend from just past Woodhaven Blvd on the east, Fresh Pond Rd on the west, Cooper Ave and the LIRR tracks on the north and 7 cemeteries and Forest Park on the south.

Glendale is six miles from Manhattan, and it has one subway line – the M train. For the most part commuters rely on buses to take them to subways. Glendale is about a half hour drive from Manhattan and an approximate 40 minute subway ride.

Historical photographs by Vincent F. Seyfried