Queens is New York City's easternmost borough with a history going back before its discovery by Europeans.
Before the Europeans landed, the area that would come to be known as Queens was home to various native tribes. Among those tribes were the Jameco, Reckowacky and Mespat tribes. The area provided the Native Americans with sustenance in the form of game and fish along with fruit and nuts. The tribes also cultivated corn and squash.
Colonization would be the next stage in the history of Queens. Adrien Block would become the first European to see the area. Block passed through the East River's Hell Gate in 1614 and built a fort on the Hudson. He would also build the New Amsterdam settlement on Manhattan that later became the seat of the colony. Governor Peter Stuyvesant started granting land to Dutchmen in 1637. Lands were also granted to English settlers from New England who swore allegiance to the Dutch government.
Tensions between the Dutch and the English arose, with the Quakers opposing the Dutch governor's laws banning their worship. The result of this uprising was the Flushing Remonstrance in 1657. This petition to the governor is viewed as a precursor to the Bill of Rights’ provision for freedom of religion.
The area would be captured by the English in 1664 and would renamed to Yorkshire. In 1683, Queens would become a county and get its name in honor of Queen Catherine, wife of King Charles II. At this time, Queens consisted of what are now Queens and Nassau counties.
During the Revolutionary War, Queens would remain under British occupation and played a minor role in the Battle of long Island. The area would remain agricultural throughout the 1800s. The New York City borough of Queens was formed in 1898. However, towns like North Hempstead and Oyster Bay were not included as a part of the borough but remained as a part of Queens County. Those towns would break off to become Nassau County in 1899.
New transportation routes and the widespread use of automobiles would result in the population of Queens rising to one million by 1930.
Queens was the site of the New York World's Fair in 1939 and in 1964-65. In 1971, the borough became famous across the country and the world as the home of TV’s Archie Bunker. In the 1980s, it would be associated with early hip-hop icons like Run DMC.
Important Places in the History of Queens
- The Queensborough Bridge
Also known as the 59th Street Bridge, the Queensborough Bridge was opened in 1909 and connects Long Island City with Manhattan.
- The Unisphere"
Built for the 1964-65 World's Fair, this steel globe was intended as a symbol of world peace.
- Flushing Meadows Corona Park
As the largest park in Queens, this park is larger than Manhattan's Central Park and holds both Citi Field and Flushing Meadows. Both of New York World's Fairs were held in the park, which includes a zoo along with museums and two lakes.
What Queens is Like Today
Modern Queens is one of the more affordable areas to live in New York City. It lacks the hipster scene of Brooklyn but makes up for it with a thriving art scene and an array of inexpensive, ethnically diverse places to eat. The food culture is representative of the borough as Queens is very ethnically diverse. Its many cultures include Jamaicans, Armenians, Asians along with native New Yorkers. Along with cosmopolitan culture, you will also get easy access to Midtown Manhattan via a 20-minute train ride.
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