A History of Jackson Heights

A brief overview of some of the major events in the development of the neighborhood Jackson Heights in Queens.

1909-08-01 09:49:48

The Founders

The Queensboro Corporation, headed by President Edward MacDougall, buys farms in the area for a total of $3.8 million. They name the area Jackson Heights, after John Jackson, president of the Hunters Point and Flushing Turnpike Company.

1911-08-01 09:49:48

The First Buildings

The first buildings, about 24 two-story row houses along 82nd and 83rd Streets and north of Roosevelt Avenue, are built in Jackson Heights.

1914-08-01 09:49:48

Apartment Complexes Rise Up

Several apartment complexes are built, including Laurel Court, Plymouth Court, Willow Court, and the Colonials. These had four and five room apartments, which would cost $24 to $45 per month and were described as “Equal to the best in Manhattan.”

1917-08-01 09:49:48

Transportation Arrives

The elevated subway connecting Jackson Heights to Grand Central Station is completed. The Queensboro Corporation looked to take advantage by developing the community further.

1919-08-01 03:20:21

Continued Development

As part of an effort to make a more people-oriented community, the Jackson Heights Airdome, the first motion picture theater, is opened. MacDougall also donated land for churches, built tennis courts, built a golf course, and opened The Casino, a community center.

1920-08-01 03:20:21

Co-ops Introduced

Eight block-long garden co-ops are completed, including Hampton Gardens, The Chateau, The Towers, and others. The “Cooperative Ownership Plan” introduced by Queensboro was one of the first cooperative housing plans in the country. For a seven-room, three-bathroom apartment, the price was $18,000 to $25,000 with a $265 monthly charge.

1924-08-01 03:20:21

Private Homes Built

MacDougall constructs private homes along 87th Street. This was a more profitable proposal than the apartments. Over 15 streets were filled with English Garden Homes, which sold for $20,000 to $38,500.

1930-08-01 00:21:01

A Thriving Neighborhood

Jackson Heights is thriving, as the population hits 44,500. This is a 1,300% increase from the 1923 population of 3,800. Several more apartment complexes were being planned for construction.

1930-08-01 17:51:34

More Transportation

The available methods of transportation increase, with the development of the Municipal 8th Avenue/53rd Street subway (now known as the E line), the Triboro Bridge, the Midtown Tunnel, Grand Central Parkway, the Whitestone Bridge, the Brooklyn/Queens Expressway, and LaGuardia Airport.

1932-08-01 17:51:34

The Great Depression

As the Depression sets in, apartment construction is halted and no new buildings open. The Towers, Laburnum Court, and Cambridge Court all fail as their apartments have to revert to rentals. During this time, there was animosity between the owners and the Queensboro Corporation.

1935-08-01 17:51:34

Bouncing Back

As the economy bounces back, Buckingham Hall and Mount Vernon are the first apartment buildings built after a four-year lull in construction. And by the end of the decade, ground was broken on over a dozen new buildings.

1944-08-01 18:53:07

MacDougall passes away

Edward MacDougall, who pretty much created Jackson Heights, dies at the age of 70. His son takes over for him.

1947-08-01 08:53:33

Decline of Co-ops

Due to the war, construction was all but stopped in much of the 1940s. The Carlton House is opened as a cooperative, but Queensboro had to eventually offer the apartments as rentals, since residents were no longer interested in co-ops.

1954-08-01 08:53:33

Building Boom

During the late 1940s and early 1950s, there was a building boom. In 1950, thirty-eight apartment buildings were completed. Virtually every plot of ground is now used for residential construction. Many of the gardens along 35th and 34th Avenues were destroyed.

1960-08-01 11:23:39

An Influx of Immigrants

As the immigration laws loosen up, immigrants from all over the world settle in Jackson Heights.

1970-08-01 11:23:39

Economic Woes

New York City as a whole is in an economic crisis, making the future of Jackson Heights uncertain. Inflation and interest rates were on the rise, with the interest rate reaching a high of 20%.

1980-08-01 11:23:39

Resurgence of Co-ops

At least 60 buildings are converted from rentals to co-ops.

1988-08-01 11:23:39

The Jackson Heights Beautification Group

The Jackson Heights Beautification Group is formed. They aimed to recreate community spirit and improve the quality of life in Jackson Heights.

1993-08-01 11:23:39

Historic District

In an effort led by the JHBG, Jackson Heights is recognized as an historic district. The Landmarks Preservation Commission designates about 36 blocks as part of the historic district. It is bounded by Roosevelt Avenue on the south and Northern Boulevard on the north and goes from 76th Street to 88th Street, west to east.

A History of Jackson Heights

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