Pomonok is a working class neighborhood in the New York City borough of Queens. This large public housing development in South Flushing was built in 1949 on the former site of Pomonok Country Club. The name comes from a Native American word for eastern Long Island, and means either "land of tribute" or "land where there is travelling by water".
The Pomonok Country Club was a golf course in Pomonok between 1886 and 1949. The golf course was located between Kissena Boulevard and 164th Street, just to the south of Horace Harding Boulevard (now the Long Island Expressway) and to the east of Queens College. The club was established in 1886 by members of the Flushing Athletic Club in Flushing and moved to the Kissena Boulevard location in 1921. Devereux Emmet designed the golf course. The golf course hosted the PGA Championship in 1939, which Henry Picard won. The members disbanded and sold the course in 1949. Part of the site today contains the Electchester cooperative housing development, Pomonok public housing and an extension of Parsons Boulevard.
In 1992, New York City settled a lawsuit brought on behalf of 100,000 families who claimed that the city had steered all white families applying for public housing into Pomonok and had provided that project with higher standards of care and maintenance than projects inhabited by majority Black and Hispanic families. Citing a NY Times article:
"[T]he Legal Aid Society of New York, which brought the lawsuit, maintains that the city's steering policies helped to create disparities in ostensibly equal projects, and then perpetuated the situation. Most of the tenants at Pomonok [which had majority White tenants] and Astoria [another public-housing project in Queens that had majority Black tenants and much more impoverished conditions] say they never knew about the city's steering policies or the lawsuit that challenged them, but they had come to realize over the years that they lived in two worlds -- separate and unequal."
Electchester housing complex
In Pomonok, there is also Electchester, a cooperative housing complex at Jewel Avenue and Parsons Boulevard in Pomonok, which was established by Harry Van Arsdale, Jr. and Local 3 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers in 1949, when Van Arsdale worked with the Joint Industry Board of the Electrical Industry to purchase 103 acres (0.42 km2) of the former Pomonok Country Club and build apartment buildings. 5,550 people live in about 2,500 units in 38 buildings, many of which are six-story brick structures. It is served by Public School 200, which is on land donated by Electchester. The union provided the majority of the mortgage. New York state offered tax abatements. Electchester was classified as a "limited dividend nonprofit", subject to state regulations. The first families paid $475 per room for equity shares, and carrying charges of $26 per month per room, on apartments ranging from three and a half to five and a half rooms.
Both housing complexes are patrolled by the NYPD's 107th Precinct. There is also an NYPD PSA-9 Housing Police Unit station located in the Pomonok Houses.
Nearby are major facilities such as Queens College, St. John's University, Touro College, Rabbinical Seminary of America, and many public and private schools. CUNY Law School, formerly in this area, moved to the Long Island City neighborhood of Queens in May 2012.
MTA Bus Company routes Q25, Q34, Q64 and Q65 serve Pomonok. The QM4 and QM44 run express from Pomonok to Midtown. The Whitestone Expressway connects Flushing north to the Bronx, south to the Van Wyck Expressway to John F. Kennedy International Airport, and to the Grand Central Parkway and LaGuardia Airport. Main Street is a major commercial street, as is Kissena Boulevard.
People who were born in, residents of, or otherwise closely associated with Pomonok (including the Pomonok and Electchester houses) include:
- Gary Ackerman (born 1942), former U.S. Representative from New York, serving from 1983 to 2013.
- Barry Grodenchik (born 1960), council member representing the 23rd District of the New York City Council.
- Michael Simanowitz (1971–2017), member of the New York State Assembly.
- Harry Van Arsdale Jr. (1905-1986), labor, civil rights and community leader in New York City, who was behind the development of Electchester.
- Bob Weinstein (born 1954), film producer.
- Harvey Weinstein (born 1952), film producer and film studio executive accused of sex crimes.
- Action Bronson (born 1983), rapper and hip-hop artist
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Pomonok, Queens.|
- NYCHA Archived 2009-08-23 at the Wayback Machine Pomonok Houses
- Queens Community Board 8
- "Pomonok". Forgotten NY. Retrieved 2014-10-12.
- Quirin, William L. (2002). America's Linksland: A Century of Long Island Golf. Chelsea, MI: Sleeping Bear Press. p. 199. ISBN 1-58536-087-2.
- Harry Van Arsdale Jr.: Labor's Champion (M.E. Sharpe, 2002)
- "Queens Bus Map" (PDF). Metropolitan Transportation Authority. December 2017. Retrieved April 24, 2018.
- Colangelo, Lisa L. "New documentary on Queens' Pomonok Houses recalls fond memories and 'what worked' in public housing", New York Daily News, June 27, 2015. Accessed September 5, 2017. "Terry Katz and Al Stark spent almost four years interviewing more than 140 current and former residents of the Pomonok Houses, including television weatherman Irv Gikofsky — known as Mr. G — and former U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Queens)."
- Barry Grodenchik, New York City Council. Accessed September 5, 2017. "A lifelong Queens resident, Barry grew up in NYCHA’s Pomonok Houses in Flushing, where he developed a deep understanding of the concerns that working and middle class families face in New York."
- Taylor, Kate. "Friends Recall Selflessness That Embodied Queens Assemblyman", The New York Times, September 3, 2017. Accessed September 5, 2017. "Mr. Simanowitz grew up in Forest Hills, Queens, and lived in Electchester, a cooperative in Flushing of 38 buildings and roughly 2,500 units built in the mid-20th century by Local 3 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers."
- Chen, David W. "Electchester Getting Less Electrical; Queens Co-op for Trade Workers Slowly Departs From Its Roots", The New York Times, March 15, 2004. Accessed September 14, 2017. "As recently as perhaps two decades ago, about 90 percent of Electchester's units were occupied by Local 3 members. This percentage far exceeded the one-quarter or one-third that was typical of other union cooperatives, and was due largely to the power of Mr. Van Arsdale, who lived there himself, and the fact that Electchester, privately funded, could choose its residents."
- Weinstein, Bob. "All Thanks to Max", Vanity Fair, February 7, 2011. Accessed September 14, 2017. "They moved to Queens, and my brother was born in 1952; I came along in 1954. We grew up in a small two-bedroom apartment in a lower-middle-class housing development called Elechester [sic]."