BY MATT SHORTALL
Queens Historical Society
In 1968, local residents banded together to save the Kingsland Homstead in Flushing from being demolished to make room for the Murray Hill Shopping Center. Changing its name and focus during the 1970s, the Queens Historical Society is today the largest and most active historical society in the borough, and the only one with a borough-wide scope and impact.
They’re the group responsible for winning City recognition of such iconic landmarks as the Queensboro Bridge, the Pepsi-Cola sign in Long Island City and the Unisphere in Flushing-Meadows Park.
Today, QHS offers a wide range of educational programs geared toward people of all ages and backgrounds, focusing on the historic, cultural and artistic aspects of Queens.
In a constantly changing borough that continues to undergo widespread development, the QHS devotes many of its resources to researching, recording and showcasing issues that have a profound impact on the many diverse communities.
Bayside Historical Society
BHS was founded in 1963 with a mission to collect, preserve and disseminate information concerning the history of northeast Queens. Headquartered at the more than 200-year-old castle in Fort Totten, the BHS as a Queens Cultural Institute has become an education destination, offering resources for researchers, as well as serving as a venue for the visual and performing arts.
BHS was also responsible for getting the City to designate Lawrence Cemetery as a historical landmark. Located on 16th Street and 42nd Avenue in Bayside. Before the Rockefellers or the Carnegies, the Lawrence family dominated New York City high society from the mid and late 19th century. More than 40 family members and descents are buried in the cemetery that now bears their name.
Woodhaven Cultural And Historical Society
Focusing on the history of the neighborhood of Woodhaven and adjacent communities, the cultural and historical society holds meeting, historical talks and community events, including most recently a cleanup of the historic Wyckoff-Snediker Cemetery, where the neighborhood’s first citizens are buried, and lead the, push for the landmarking of historic Neir’s Tavern.
The society created the Woodhaven History Research Group a few years ago, which searches archives of the neighborhood to record names, addresses and any interesting pieces of information it finds about the town into a database.
Greater Astoria Historical Society
Based out of Long Island City, GAHS prides itself in maintaining the legacy of one of Queen’s oldest neighborhoods. They regularly host “Forgotten NY” walking tours, opening visitor’s eyes to the signs of old New York City that still remain but are often over looked. Their next tour on Aug. 7 will meet in Ravenswood, starting at the Noguchi Museum and Socrates Park and ending at Dutch Kills and Queens Plaza. The history of Ravenswood parallels the story of neighborhoods across the East River. Participants will experience the haunting legacy of the Native-Americans who once called the area their own, the old colonial county seat from which British authorities governed and the blue-collar waterfront community now being targeted for luxury condo development.
The Poppenhusen Institute in College Point was the setting for many “firsts”– the first kindergarten in the country, home of the First Reformed Church, location of the first Anchor Astoria Masons Lodge and the College Point Knights of Columbus. The building became a New York City Landmark in 1970 and was first listed on the National Register of historic Places in 1977. Named after Conrad Poppenhusen, A German-American manufacturer and philanthropist, the Poppenhusen Institute continues to enrich the communities through a wide variety of events and educational programs.