BY TRONE DOWD
Briarwood is a mostly quiet and tiny neighborhood surrounded completely by some of Queens busiest roadways (Union Turnpike, Parsons Boulevard, Hillside Avenue and the Van Wyck Expressway). It is bordered by Kew Gardens, Kew Gardens Hills, Jamaica Hills and just north of Jamaica, all areas known for their sense of commerce while still maintaining residencies within it’s borders. Briarwood on the other hand breaks that mold.
A mostly middle class area, Briarwood is fairly new. It wasn’t referred to as Briarwood until the 1970’s. It was previously known as northern Jamaica. But as the area became more populated and began to grow, the small area developed into its own. In 1975, the neighborhood received its own library, somewhat legitimizing the succession from Jamaica.
The neighborhood gets its name from the Briarwood Land Company which went bankrupt in 1907. The company sold off a lot of its land in the area during the 30’s, bringing a ton of purchasers ready to develop. Residential homes were built throughout to accommodate the new attention. Patrons and visitors of the then Queens based United Nations had complexes built to accommodate them. Many of the complexes went on to be occupied but a number of varied ethnicities and races including Asians, African-Americans and Hispanics. As time went on, more traditional single family homes began to pop up, filling out the neighborhood and giving it the identity it has today.
Some of the developments have their fair share of problem. The foundation of Briarwood has had a history issues including in 2001 when several homes and buildings needed to be evacuated as the ground below them began to crack. Many speculated that the cracking was a result of construction taking place on loose soil during Briarwood’s developmental boom decades before.
For fun in the sun, many residents go to Hoover Park, which sports a number of facilities including basketball courts, handball courts and a playground for young ones.
One of the several catholic high schools in Queens, Catholic Archbishop Molloy High, is in Briarwood. Amongst its alumni is non-other than current Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo.