A History of Jackson Heights

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

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.

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.

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.”

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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