BY JON CRONIN
Tucked away on the north shore of Queens with priceless views of Little Neck Bay, Douglaston is a haven for suburbanites that toil away in Manhattan and are able to lavish in the affluent area that is surrounded by crisp air provided by Alley Pond Park.
Douglaston is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Queens. It was settled by Thomas Hicks who led a tiny army against the Native-American Matinecoc fishing village. The location is today Marathon Parkway and Northern Boulevard in the spot where local library stands.
Hicks built a homestead on a peninsula called Little Madnan’s and named their home the Alley, then Alley Pond. In 1683 when Queens became a county, Hicks’ property reached from Alley Creek west to today’s Bell Boulevard in Bayside, and became part of what they called Flushing.
In the 1930s, the Cross Island Parkway and Long Island Expressway were built and the rest of Hick’s homestead was demolished to make way.
During the Revolutionary War, the farmers living in the area remained loyal to England, but kept quiet about it.
Douglaston Hill was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2000 and named a New York City landmark in 2004. It became a highly sought after suburb after the steam railroad was introduced in the early 1800s.
Douglaston Hill was developed in 1854 and always provided a homestead for city professional looking for greener neighborhoods. Its architecture features Colonial Revival, Queen Anne, and Tudor Revival styles are properties that are larger than most city suburbs.
The area has been known as a mostly white upper class neighborhood, but it was once also home to the first African-American oystermen who lived on Orient Avenue, now 243rd Street, but they were forced to leave once the bay became too polluted to harvest oysters at the turn of the 20th century.
A wealthy businessman named Wyant Van Zandt built the Zion Episcopal Church in 1830 at 243-01 Northern Boulevard. Its cemetery contains the remains of Matinecoc Native-Americans and Van Zandt himself. After passing, Van Zandt’s property was bought by George Douglas who also bought another 240 acres nearby. He also bought the property at 233 Arleigh Road which is home to the oldest tree on Long Island and New York City, a 600 year old white oak.