Howard Beach, Queens
|Neighborhoods of New York City|
Homes on Hawtree Creek
|Named for||William J. Howard|
|• Median income||$51,175|
|Area code(s)||718, 347, 917|
Howard Beach is a middle class / working class neighborhood in the southwestern portion of the New York City borough of Queens. It is bordered in the north by the Belt Parkway and South Conduit Avenue in Ozone Park, in the south by Jamaica Bay in Broad Channel, in the east by 102nd–104th Streets, and in the west by 78th Street. The area's houses are similar to Bayside and Hollis.
Howard Beach was established in the 1890s by William J. Howard, a Brooklyn glove manufacturer who operated a 150 acre (0.61 km²) goat farm on meadow land near Aqueduct Racetrack as a source of skin for kid gloves. In 1897, he bought more land and filled it in and the following year, built 18 cottages and opened a hotel near the water, which he operated until it was destroyed by fire in October 1907. He gradually bought more land and formed the Howard Estates Development Company in 1909. He dredged and filled the land until he was able to accumulate 500 acres (2 km²) by 1914. He laid out several streets, water mains and gas mains, and built 35 houses that were priced in the $2,500–$5,000 range.
The Long Island Rail Road established a station named Ramblersville in 1905 and a Post Office by the same name opened soon thereafter. A casino, beach, and fishing pier were added in 1915 and the name of the neighborhood was changed to Howard Beach on April 6, 1916. Development continued and ownership was expanded to a group of investors who sold lots for about $690 each starting in 1922. Development, however, was limited to the areas east of Cross Bay Boulevard near the LIRR station now known as Bernard Coleman Memorial Square (then Lilly Place). The rest of Howard Beach consisted of empty marsh land except for the area to the south of Coleman Square, centered around Russell St. and 102nd St., which consisted of many small fishing bungalows that dotted alongside Hawtree Creek and Jamaica Bay. This area of Howard Beach would retain the name "Ramblersville." Despite its close proximity to the Howard Beach station at Coleman Square, the LIRR would establish a station a quarter of a mile south down the line at Hamilton Beach in 1919.
After World War II, Queens and Long Island went through a major suburban building boom leading to the marsh land west of Cross Bay Boulevard to be filled in. This led to the development of many Cape-Cod and High-Ranch style houses on 50 and 60 x 100 lots. This area was developed as "Rockwood Park" to the north and "Spring Park" to the south, together comprising what would be known as "New Howard Beach", while the area east of the boulevard became known as "Old Howard Beach." In the early 1950s, farm land north of Rockwood Park was developed with the building of many red bricked two-story garden style cooperative apartments along with some six-story co-op and condo apartment buildings. A number of private two-family houses were also built in this neighborhood, which was named Lindenwood. The various neighborhoods continued to be developed through the 1960s and 1970s as Cross Bay Boulevard became the area's main shopping district. During the 1990s and 2000s, there was further high-scale development as many of the area's old houses were torn down and replaced with upscale million-dollar mini-mansions.
On October 29, 2012, Howard Beach was hit hard by Hurricane Sandy. A 10-foot storm surge from Jamaica Bay flooded much of the neighborhood, destroying some homes directly on the bay, and flooding nearly every basement in the neighborhood.
Like most Queens neighborhoods, Howard Beach is composed of several smaller neighborhoods – Howard Beach, Old Howard Beach, Hamilton Beach, Ramblersville, Spring Park, Rockwood Park, Lindenwood, and Howard Park. Howard Beach proper is a small peninsula bordered by the Belt Parkway and Conduit Avenue on the north, Jamaica Bay on the south, Hawtree Creek on the east separating it from Hamilton Beach and Shellbank Basin on the west that separates it from Cross Bay Boulevard.
Cross Bay Boulevard is the main commercial strip of Howard Beach and going northward it eventually turns into Woodhaven Boulevard after Ozone Park. Throughout the 1970s and 80s, the Boulevard was made up almost exclusively of locally-owned shops and restaurants. However, starting in the 1990s, chain stores and restaurants began moving in and now many well-known franchises are on the boulevard. Entertainment venues on Cross Bay Boulevard such as the Kiddie-Park and Cross-Bay Lanes were popular until their collapse in the 1970s and 1980s.
The Joseph P. Addabbo Memorial Bridge (named for a deceased member of the United States House of Representatives who once represented the district that includes Howard Beach) connects mainland Queens to Broad Channel.
Bernard Coleman Memorial Square (colloquially Coleman Square) is the small plaza at Howard Beach-JFK on the IND Rockaway Line of the New York City Subway (served by the A train) and AirTrain JFK. There is a memorial to servicemen from Howard Beach who died in World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.
Joseph Addabbo, Jr., the son of former Congressman Joseph P. Addabbo, represents the area as member of the New York State Senate. Congressman Gregory W. Meeks (D-NY) represents that part of Howard Beach east of 104th Street and Congressman Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) represents the part west of 104th Street. Eric Ulrich (R-NY) is the New York City Councilman for Howard Beach. Phillip Goldfeder (D-NY) represents Howard Beach in the New York State Assembly.
Howard Beach – JFK Airport on the IND Rockaway Line was formerly a Long Island Rail Road station on the Rockaway Beach Branch. Frequent fires on the trestle to Broad Channel forced the LIRR to file Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the 1950s, which allowed New York City Transit to purchase the line in 1956.
The station provides a connection between the A train and AirTrain JFK (and was the terminus of the former JFK Express, known colloquially as the "Train to the Plane"). Prior to the AirTrain JFK, the Port Authority provided a free shuttle bus to the terminals at JFK Airport. The AirTrain now provides these connections.
Bus service in the neighborhood is provided on the Q11, Q21, and Q41, all of which terminate in one part of Howard Beach or another, and the Q52 and Q53 Limited, which operate through Howard Beach along Cross Bay Boulevard. All of these routes are operated by MTA Bus Company.
- PS 146 The Howard Beach School K-8
- PS 207 The Rockwood Park School K-8
- PS 232 The Walter Ward School K-8
- Our Lady of Grace Catholic School K-8
- Saint Helen Catholic School K-8
For grades 9–12, most residents attend John Adams High School or Robert H. Goddard High School in nearby Ozone Park, Specialty High Schools such as Beach Channel High School in Rockaway Park, or Catholic High Schools such as Christ the King, St. Francis Prep, or Archbishop Molloy and Forest Hills High School.
In 1986 and 2005, Howard Beach experienced two well-publicized hate crime incidents that left a lasting tragic legacy on the community. In 2012, Hurricane Sandy struck; it had a devastating effect on much of the neighborhood.
At approximately midnight on December 20, 1986, three African-American men – Michael Griffith, 24, Cedric Sandiford, 36, and Timothy Grimes, 20 – entered the New Park Pizzeria on Cross Bay Boulevard after their car had broken down in Broad Channel. By some eyewitness accounts, a group of blacks crossing the road were nearly struck by a passing car full of white teens. A verbal altercation ensued between the two groups. Later, after they dropped off their friend, three of these teens returned with seven to nine friends aged fifteen to eighteen. The three black men fled, pursued by the teens. Grimes escaped unscathed, while Sandiford was caught and assaulted with baseball bats, tree limbs, and fists. Griffith was killed when a separate unrelated car ran over him on the Belt Parkway where he had run while attempting escape. Early the next morning, then-Mayor Ed Koch condemned the crime in the media comparing the incident to a lynching. Then-Governor Mario Cuomo appointed a special prosecutor, Charles J. Hynes.
One of the accused youths, Robert D. Riley, the son of a New York City police officer, agreed to cooperate with authorities, in exchange for leniency. Riley fingered Jon L. Lester, Jason Ladone, Scott Kern and Michael Pirone as the ringleaders of the attack. The four teens were charged with manslaughter, second degree murder and first degree assault. After a lengthy trial, Ladone, Kern and Lester were convicted of second degree manslaughter and assault. Ladone was sentenced to up to 15 years in prison. Kern got up to 18 years. Lester received 10 to 20 years. As part of his plea bargain, Riley received six months in jail and 400 hours of community service.
A second wave of seven teens were accused of lesser charges; William Bollander, James Povinelli, and Thomas Farino were convicted of second degree riot charges after a lengthy appeals process. Salvatore DeSimone and Harry J. Buonocore plead guilty to the same charge. John Saggese was acquitted of the riot charge, and Thomas Gucciardo was acquitted of the charges of attempted murder, assault and riot.
The incident re-energized the local civil rights community. Al Sharpton led several protests in the neighborhood while a coalition of local groups joined together to form the New York Civil Rights Coalition Special prosecutor Hynes has since gone on to become the District Attorney of Brooklyn and written a book about the incident.
On June 29, 2005, three African-Americans were attacked with baseball bats by white men. One of them was injured seriously enough to be hospitalized and two arrests were made in the case. The convicted assailant, Nicholas Minucci, claimed that the victims had attempted to rob him. On June 10, 2006, Minucci, 20, who uttered a racial epithet during the baseball bat attack, was found guilty of robbery and the racially motivated assault of Glenn Moore. On July 17, 2006, Minucci was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Howard Beach was one of the many seaside city neighborhoods inundated by Hurricane Sandy's record storm sturge. On October 28, 2012 city officials ordered a mandatory evacuation of all Zone A neighborhoods (low-lying neighborhoods susceptible to storm surge), in the city, this included the Howard Beach neighborhood of Hamilton Beach. However, most of the rest of Howard Beach lay in Zone B which was only ordered with a voluntary evacuation. Many neighborhood residents decided to stay and ride out the storm citing the relatively minor damage caused the previous year by Hurricane Irene. Nevertheless, when Sandy made landfall on October 29 a ten-foot-high storm surge from Jamaica Bay flooded all of Old and New Howard Beach as well as the neighborhoods of Broad Channel and the Rockaways in addition to some sections of Lindenwood and neighboring Ozone Park. Most, if not all, houses in the neighborhood suffered some flooding damage as well as all stores along Cross Bay Blvd. The Howard Beach A Train station along with the trestle carrying trains over Jamaica Bay into Broad Channel and the Rockaways were also heavily damaged. Power was out for over three weeks in the neighborhood. In the wake of Sandy, FEMA along with New York City Office of Emergency Management have provisionally re-classified Howard Beach along with the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Gerritsen Beach and Red Hook as Zone A neighborhoods.
As of early 2013, recovery in the neighborhood has been largely successful yet still ongoing. On April 5, 2013, the Howard Beach post office reopened after extensive repairs. Residents are still working to recover from Sandy's after effects.
As of the 2000 census, there were 28,121 people residing in Howard Beach. The racial makeup of the neighborhood was 85.9% Non-Hispanic White, 2.8% Asian, 0.0% Pacific Islander, 1.0% African American, 2.3% from other races, and 1.2% from two or more races. 9.8% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 13.1% of the population is foreign-born. The estimated median household income as of 2007 is $69,800. Many of the residents are Italian-American, often from immigrant families that relocated from Brooklyn in the 1940s and 1950s as they looked for a better life for their families.
Old Howard Beach
Old Howard Beach is a section of Howard Beach that lies between Shellbank Basin and Hawtree Creek to the east of Cross Bay Boulevard. Coleman Square and Frank M. Charles Park are located in Old Howard Beach. The area is locally referred to as Old Howard Beach since it was the original place in which founder William Howard built his famous hotel, and later the area's first houses in the 1920s. The current housing in Old Howard Beach consists of several different types of houses. Those located near the former Howard Park hospital are mainly 1950s and 1960s detached two-family homes, while the areas near Coleman Square, Frank M. Charles Park, and Shellbank Basin contain primarily single-family homes. The Q11 bus line serves the neighborhood.
Notable current and former residents of Howard Beach include:
- Vito Antuofermo, former boxer and actor
- DJ Skribble, DJ, producer, remixer, radio personality and TV star.
- Vitas Gerulaitis, professional tennis player
- Keith Gottfried , former General Counsel and Chief Legal Officer of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and senior member of the administration of President George W. Bush, spent much of his childhood as a resident of Howard Beach. In his confirmation hearing before the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, Gottfried commented on his upbringing in Howard Beach .
- John Gotti, Gambino crime family head was a resident of 85th Street in Howard Beach
- Ralph Misiti aka "The Boss" -Former Little League All-Star. Once bowled a 300 bowling score blindfolded
- Victoria Gotti, John's wife.
- Woody Guthrie, folk music legend (son Arlo Guthrie's music is frequently copyrighted to "Howard Beach Music, Inc.")
- Rick Hearst, soap-opera actor
- James Maritato, professional wrestler
- George Martin, played for the New York Giants football team
- Joey Ramone and his brother Mickey Leigh lived here as children.
- Pia Toscano, top 10 contestant on American Idol Season 10.
Notable media events
- A 1989 TV movie was made based on the 1986 racial incident entitled Howard Beach: Making a Case for Murder.
- On The Chris Rock Show, comedian Chris Rock proposed renaming Cross Bay Boulevard after Tupac Shakur, asking the predominantly white residents of the neighborhood to sign a petition.
- In the 1989 Spike Lee Movie Do the Right Thing, in a riot scene near the end of the film, a chant rises up: "Howard Beach! Howard Beach! Howard Beach!" This immediately follows a scene wherein a young black man is killed by police using excessive force to break up a fight.
- Queens Community Boards, New York City. Retrieved September 3, 2007.
- Lemire, Jonathan (2002-09-22). "'Small town' has big pride – & image woes: The Howard Beach story". New York Daily News. Retrieved 2010-01-17.
- "Coleman Square, Howard Beach". Bridge and Tunnel Club.
- "Rockaway Branch". Forgotten New York. Retrieved 2006-06-08.
- Fried, Joseph P. (1987-10-15). "2 Girls Do Not Support State On Howard Beach Incident". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-01-17.
- "The Racial Politics of Murder". American Renaissance. 1990-12-01.
- "Howard Beach Incident (1986) | The Black Past: Remembered and Reclaimed". The Black Past. Retrieved 2013-08-19.
- Schmalz, Jeffrey (1987-01-19). "Cuomo and Howard Beach: Recalling Political Roots". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-01-17.
- Donohue, Pete (1999-02-08). "No Parole in Slay at Howard Beach". New York Daily News. Retrieved 2010-01-17.
- "Topics of The Times; Beyond Howard Beach". New York Times. 1988-10-14. Retrieved 2010-01-17.
- Fried, Joseph P. (1990-11-29). "Howard Beach Prosecution Ends in Negotiated Sentence". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-01-17.
- Fried, Joseph P. (1988-05-25). "2d Defendant In Racial Case Pleads Guilty". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-01-17.
- Fried, Joseph P. (1988-07-15). "Howard Beach Man, 19, Cleared". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-01-17.
- Ravo, Nick (1987-02-11). "12 Defendants in Attack Case; A Diverse Group". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-01-17.
- Fried, Joseph P. (1988-06-22). "5 in Racial Case Refuse to Testify In Second Trial". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-01-17.
- "The Restless City: A Short History of New York from Colonial Times to the ... - Joanne Reitano - Google Books". Books.google.com. Retrieved 2013-08-19.
- Burke, Kerry; El-Ghobashy, Tamer; Gendar, Alison (2005-06-30). "Howard Beach 'Bias' Attack. Bat-Wielding Thug Clubs Black Man". New York Daily News. Retrieved 2010-01-17.
- Kilgannon, Corey (2006-06-10). "Batsman Convicted of Howard Beach Hate Crimes". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-01-17.
- Fenner, Austin; Shifrel, Scott (2006-07-18). "Fat Nick Gets 15 Years". New York Daily News. Retrieved 2010-01-17.
- "Howard Beach Post Office Reopens After Undergoing Sandy Repairs". NY1. Retrieved 6 April 2013.
- Araton, Harvey (1994-09-20). "Sports of The Times; 'We've Lost Another of Our Kids'". New York Times. Retrieved 2007-11-03. "It was the finals of the United States Open, and it was Gerulaitis, out of Howard Beach, Queens, against McEnroe, out of Douglaston, Queens."
- "Personnel Announcement". Georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov. Retrieved 2013-08-19.
- [dead link]
- "Hud Archives: Keith E. Gottfried Becomes Hud'S General Counsel". Archives.hud.gov. Retrieved 2013-08-19.
- "HUD Archives: Prepared Statement of Keith E. Gottfried, General Counsel Nominee before the Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, U.S. Senate (9/15/05)". Archives.hud.gov. Retrieved 2013-08-19.
- [dead link]
- "HUD officer anchored by home life". The Denver Post. 2006-07-18. Retrieved 2013-08-19.
- "results.gov : Resources For The President's Team". Georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov. 2005-10-07. Retrieved 2013-08-19.
- "Queens Tribune Feature Story". Queenstribune.com. 1940-10-27. Retrieved 2013-08-19.
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