BY LYNN EDMONDS
Bellerose is a middle class community that borders Nassau County to the east, Glen Oaks to the North and Floral Park to the south. In fact, there is a Bellerose village on both sides of the Queens-Nassau border. Little Neck Parkway divides the two counties. It is entirely possible to park one’s car in Queens and eat at a restaurant in Long Island or visa versa. There are subtle clues that differentiate the two sides like the different street lamps and the different style of parking meters.
In terms of housing stock, Bellerose is composed of one and two-family Capes and Tudors.
South Asians account for about 40 percent of the neighborhood’s population, a number that has increased in recent years, and another large portion, about 44 percent, of the residents are white.
The neighborhood was first developed by Helen Marsh in 1910. It became more developed after WWII when many veterans and their families moved to the area. The Cross Island Parkway runs north-south and bisects the neighborhood in the middle. The predominant shopping districts are Hillside Avenue and Jamaica Avenue.
Bellerose is home to two psychiatric hospitals, the Creedmoor Psychiatric Center and the Queens Children’s Psychiatric Center. While Creedmoor still operates, a large portion of the facility will be evacuated by 2017 after the state deemed it excess land. It is not yet known what will occupy the vacant land in the future.
Before that, the property was owned by the National Rifle Association. Residents didn’t like that because stray bullets would escape the shooting range and penetrate the residential neighborhood.
Creedmoor was opened up in the 1912, and in the next decades mental illness became more and more of an epidemic. By 1933, the hospital had over 50 buildings. The facility was responsible for introducing hydrotherapy, insulin therapy, electroshock and lobotomy as treatments for mental illness. These forms of treatment have mostly been modified or are rarely used today.
The psychiatric facility also owned the land that is now the Queens County Farm museum, and working the farm was meant to be curative for patients.
Every year, Bellerose has a great festival called the Gregorian Festival, which features eleven nights of live music, rides games, dancing and food. The festival draws 75,000 visitors and funds scholarships to St. Gregory the Great Church.