St. Albans, Queens
|Neighborhood of Queens|
Merrick Boulevard in St. Albans
|• Hispanic of any race||5.9%|
|Area code(s)||718, 347, 646|
St. Albans is a middle class community in the New York City borough of Queens centered around the intersection of Linden Boulevard and Farmers Boulevard, about two miles north of JFK Airport. It is southeast of Jamaica, west of Cambria Heights, north of Springfield Gardens, and northwest of Laurelton. The neighborhood is part of Queens Community Board 12, and is served by the St. Albans Post Office, ZIP Code 11412. The population within the ZIP code, according to the 2010 census, was 34,882 – a decline of 7% from the 37,452 of 2000.
The small western enclave of Addisleigh Park is a U.S. historic district where many notable African Americans have lived, including Jackie Robinson, W. E. B. Du Bois, and many jazz musicians and entertainers including Fats Waller, Ella Fitzgerald, Lena Horne, and Count Basie.
By the 1800s, the lands of four families—the Remsens, Everitts, Ludlums, and Hendricksons—formed the nucleus of this sprawling farm community in the eastern portion of the Town of Jamaica. In 1814, when the Village of Jamaica (the first village on Long Island) was incorporated, its (the village's) boundaries extended eastward to Freeman's Path (now Farmers Boulevard), and south to Lazy Lane (called Central Avenue in 1900, then Foch Boulevard in the 1920s, and now Linden Boulevard), thus including parts of present-day St. Albans. In 1852, the old mill pond that is now at the center of Baisley Pond Park was acquired by the Brooklyn waterworks for use as a reservoir.
In 1872, the Long Island Rail Road'a Cedarhurst Cut-off was built through the area, but no stop appears on the first timetables. In 1892, an area called Francis Farm was surveyed and developed for housing. There were numerous Francis families farming in the eastern portion of the Town of Jamaica in the 1880s. Francis Lewis Boulevard (named for a signer of the Declaration of Independence, from Queens), which does not yet appear on maps from 1909, nor in 1910, is now the eastern boundary of St. Albans.
Soon, the first street lights illuminated the crossroads that is now Linden Boulevard and Farmers Boulevard. New shops clustered around August Everitt's lone store. By July 1, 1898, the St. Albans Long Island Rail Road station opened where the tracks crossed Locust Avenue (now Baisley Boulevard). The station was razed and replaced with the current, grade separated station on October 15, 1935.
In 1899, a year after Queens became part of New York City (and with the Town of Jamaica and the Village of Jamaica thereby dissolved), the new post office for the 600 residents was named St. Albans, after St Albans in Hertfordshire, England, which itself was named after a Saint Alban, thought to be the first Christian martyred in England. The name had been in use for the area since at least 1894 for the name of the school district, and the LIRR station was named St. Albans when it opened in 1898. A 1909 map also shows a St Albans Avenue and a St Albans Place in the area.
The St. Albans Golf Course, built in 1915, brought rich and famous golfers, including baseball star Babe Ruth. The Depression forced the golf course owners to try to sell, but plans for private development fell through. The land was seized by the federal government in 1942, and construction soon began on the St. Albans Naval Hospital, which opened in 1943. After construction was completed in 1950, the hospital had 3000 beds and contained a network of 76 wards. The hospital was turned over to the Veterans Administration in 1974 and more recently evolved into the Veterans Administration St. Albans Primary and Extended Care Facility.
Addisleigh Park subsection
Within St. Albans is the small western enclave of Addisleigh Park, a U.S. historic district that consists of single-family homes built in a variety of styles between the 1910s and 1930s. Though originally intended as a segregated community for white people only, from the late 1930s many notable African Americans have lived there. Today, it remains a predominantly African American enclave that is more upscale than surrounding areas in southeast Queens.
Between 1900 and 1940, the village of Addisleigh Park was developed by a handful of eminent white entrepreneurs including Edwin H. Brown, Gerald C. English, and Alexander Rodman. Restrictive covenants were established to prohibit the sale of any of its properties to blacks. A 1926 New York Times article insists, “Addisleigh, together with the St. Albans Golf Club, was laid out under the personal direction of Edwin H. Brown, and carries a land and house restriction of the highest type.” Two lawsuits were filed successfully by white residents who accused their neighbors of breaking the contractual segregation imposed on the neighborhood by its developers. Simeon Bankoff, Executive Director of the New York Historic Districts Council, says about this backlash “It was unpleasant, as it was a case of a number of narrow-minded neighbors trying to fight what they saw as an invasion of unwanted people in their area.” Affluent white New York City-based public figures moved into Addisleigh Park to experience the privacy of suburban seclusion. Addisleigh Park boasted well-kept rows of Tudor and Colonial homes. The neighborhood's close proximity to Manhattan allowed for quick and frequent commuting. During the Swing Era, Manhattan's 52nd Street served as the epicenter of Swing Era live entertainment and musical innovation. For this reason, many successful African American jazz musicians began to recognize Addisleigh Park as the newest suburban haven for wealthy, influential artists.
In 1948, the United States Supreme Court ruled that racially restrictive covenants violated the equal-protection clause of the 14th Amendment, though by that year, Addisleigh Park had already become a haven for world-famous African Americans in jazz and sports. The neighborhood was declared a historic district by the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission in 2011.
Public schools are operated by the New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE):
- I.S. 59 Springfield Gardens Junior High School
- P.S. 36 St. Albans School
- P.S. 15 Jackie Robinson School
- P.S. 136 Roy Wilkins School
- P.S. 233 Langston Hughes School
- Pathways College Preparatory School
There is one charter school:
- Riverton Street Charter School St. Albans
Private schools include:
- St. Albans Christian Academy
- True Deliverance Christian School
- St. Catherine of Sienna Catholic School (opened 1929, closed 2009, now site of Riverton Street Charter School)
As a neighborhood adjacent to Hollis, St. Albans was home to many artists of the Hip Hop and Rap music genres in the 1970s and 1980s.
St. Albans housing consists mostly of detached, one and two-family homes. Linden Boulevard is the major shopping street.
The neighborhood and the surrounding areas are considered the heart of Queens' working class Black community, with 34% claiming Caribbean ancestry. As of the 2010 United States Census, the vast majority of residents of black, with black residents comprising 92% of the 34,882 people living in St. Albans. Of the remaining 8% of residents, 1.4% are white, 1% are Asian, 2.4% are of another race, and 2.7% are multiracial Americans.
In 2011 The New York Times reported that many foreclosures were occurring and there was a high level of unemployment. At that time, many black people were moving from St. Albans to the Southern United States.
Many famous jazz musicians used to live in St. Albans, particularly in some of the large houses in Addisleigh Park.
The following notable people are known to have lived in the area:
Famous stride pianist Fats Waller was the first well-known musician to move into Addisleigh Park at the peak of his career in the late 1930s. Waller had grown up in the Church (his father was a pastor). He subsequently had his home in Addisleigh Park fashioned with a built-in Hammond organ. He died in 1943 from bronchial pneumonia.
In 1937, jazz pianist and bandleader Count Basie moved his orchestra from Kansas City to New York. Basie made the Woodside Hotel (a Queens staple) his band headquarters. Count Basie’s orchestra performed at world-famous Manhattan venues including the Roseland Ballroom and the Savoy Ballroom. In 1946, Basie and his wife, Katy, bought a home in Addisleigh Park, where the couple lived until 1973 when it was sold to bandleader/singer/pianist, Robert (Bubber) Johnson.
Singer, film actress, and Civil Rights Activist Lena Horne also moved into the Addisleigh Park neighborhood in the year 1946. Soon after Horne, jazz trumpeter and bandleader Mercer Ellington, son of jazz great Duke Ellington, moved into Addisleigh Park in 1948. Eight years earlier, he had worked for renowned jazz trumpeter Cootie Williams as his road manager. Cootie Williams bought a home in Addisleigh Park in 1947. While residing in Addisleigh Park, Mercer Ellington employed Dizzy Gillespie, Kenny Dorham, and Charles Mingus. Throughout the 1940s, Mercer and his father, Duke Ellington, frequently borrowed musicians from one another’s ensembles.
Saxophonist Earl Bostic moved to Addisleigh Park in 1948, the same year Bostic’s sextet hit success with their first single “Temptation”. Bostic was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In the early 1930s, he played with Midwestern territory bands before moving to New York City in 1938 to play with Don Redman. Bostic’s second hit, “Flamingo,” was produced in 1951, while he was still living in Addisleigh Park. In 1956, Bostic and his wife left Addisleigh Park to settle in Los Angeles. Earl Bostic died onstage from a heart attack in Rochester, New York, in 1965.
Bostic’s neighbors on Murdock Avenue were Ella Fitzgerald and her then-husband, famous bassist and cellist Ray Brown. Fitzgerald owned her Addisleigh Park home from 1949 until 1956. During the late 1930s and early 1940s, Fitzgerald had become one of the most recognizable names of wide-release swing music in the United States. She met Brown in 1946 while on tour with Dizzy Gillespie’s band. The couple divorced in 1952. Between the years 1949 and 1956, Fitzgerald sang scat with various bebop bands. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George H. W. Bush in 1992.
Vicksburg, Mississippi native and famous jazz bassist Milt Hinton moved into Addisleigh Park in 1950. In his younger years, he had lived and worked in Chicago alongside celebrated jazz musicians Art Tatum and Eddie South. He moved to New York City for a job in Cab Calloway’s orchestra in 1936. Hinton bought a home on 113th Avenue in Addisleigh Park in 1950. He lived in the neighborhood until his death in 2000.
Saxophonist John Coltrane bought a home on Mexico Street in Addisleigh Park in the year 1959. Coltrane had just met tremendous critical success after his collaborations with Thelonious Monk and Miles Davis. In January 1960, Coltrane released Giant Steps, his first album with Atlantic Records. Giant Steps is considered to be the album that catapulted Coltrane into jazz legend.
- "2010 Census Data for Zip Code 11412". Retrieved 2013-06-19.
- "Map of Queens neighborhoods". Archived from the original on 2008-08-22.
- "Street boundaries of Queens Community Boards" (PDF). Retrieved 2009-12-19.
- "PDF color map of NYC Community Boards" (PDF). Retrieved 2009-12-19.
- "Addisleigh Park Historic District Designation Report" (PDF). NYC.gov. Retrieved 23 January 2013.
- "1929... News".
LOWERRE Secured Light Charles LOWERRE, treasurer of the St. Albans Lions Club, has succeeded in having the Police Department promise to put a traffic control light at the Foch and Farmers boulevard intersection at St. Albans.The 1930 census has marginal notations for Foch Blvd from 189th St to 196th St - and no notations for Linden Blvd.
- "Street Name Changes in Queens, NY (E to F)". Presumably the name Foch was chosen to honor Marshal Ferdinand Foch, following World War I.
- "Queens, NY Street Name Changes (1914-May 1951)".
- Gottlieb, Jeff (January 2006). "History of Jamaica" (PDF). Central Queens Historical Association. Retrieved 2009-10-17.[dead link]
- "Baisley Pond Park". New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. Retrieved 8 November 2013.
- "1880 Census: sample Francis family in Queens". Retrieved 2013-01-29. Other records indicate at least some of these lived in an area then called Jamaica South and/or Springfield. Francis households in Jamaica, Queens, in 1880 census
- 1890 Marriages and Deaths from the South Side Observer
- 1884 Jamaica Deaths
- Springfield Cemetery - pg 1
- Springfield Cemetery - pg 2
- Jamaica baptisms
- 1873 map of Town of Jamaica with a W. Francis living west of railroad tracks
- 1891 map of Town of Jamaica with a W. Francis living west of railroad tracks
- 1909 map showing a subdivision of Francis farm in the Addisleigh Park area - earlier subdivision east of the LIRR was called "The Terrace"
- "1909 map". St Albans Avenue was name of 118th Ave east of 196th Street. (Francis Lewis Boulevard is not on the map.) Also, St. Albans Place was the name of 121st Road. (See Queens, NY, Street Name Changes 1914-May 1951.)
- "1910 map". Retrieved 2009-12-17.
- "1898 map showing Locust Ave station in St. Albans on the Rockaway Branch of the LIRR" (JPG).
- "St.Albans Station photos". (This indicates trains stopped in 1897)
- Copquin, Claudia Gryvatz (2007). The neighborhoods of Queens. p. 193.
- "St. Albans' New School House Dedicated Last Night". Brooklyn Eagle. 1895-12-12.. Mentions 1894 split from Hollis. See also full article and sketch of school: "Brooklyn Eagle" (PDF). 1895-12-12.
- "Street Name Changes in Queens, NY : Old to New : R to S". Retrieved 2013-07-05.
- "Queens Site Seized For Naval Hospital: Work Begun on St. Albans Golf Course as U.S. Files Notice". NY Times. May 19, 1942. p. 40. Retrieved 2009-03-17.
- "Hospital to Hold Fete; Naval Facility in St. Albans to Celebrate Its 17th Year". NY Times. February 14, 1960. p. 71. Retrieved 2009-03-17.
- Hirshon, Nicholas (April 8, 2008). "Queens building boom knocking out link to players like Babe Ruth". NY Daily News. Retrieved 2009-03-17.
To build the U.S. Naval Hospital at Linden Blvd. and 179th St. in 1950, crews destroyed the historic St. Albans Golf Club, where Yankees icon Babe Ruth played regularly from the late 1920s through the 1940s.See also:
- Speri, Alice (February 1, 2011). "Addisleigh Park, Historic Black Neighborhood in Queens, Gains Landmark Status". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
- Cowan, Jane. "Addisleigh Park: Enclave of Greats in African-American History, Wholly Intact 20th Century Garden City Suburb and Site of Important American Housing History" (PDF).
- "The Legacy of Addisleigh Park". The Root. Retrieved 23 January 2013.
- "Queens Lots Lead in Suburban Sales". The New York Times. February 6, 1926.
- McNamara, Elizabeth. "New York's Finest Black Suburb". National Trust for Historic Preservation.
- "Historic Black Enclave in Queens Gains Landmark Status". New York Times. February 1, 2011. Retrieved 22 January 2013.
- "List of Queens RC Parishes & Schools" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-06-19.
- Bilefsky, Dan. "For New Life, Blacks in City Head to South." The New York Times. June 21, 2011. Retrieved on April 16, 2014. 1. Retrieved on April 16, 2014.
- Johnson, Kirk (February 2, 1997). "Black Workers Bear Big Burden As Jobs in Government Dwindle". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-11-20.
Its roots and its reputation as New York's premier black middle class enclave go back further than that, to the 1940's, when Count Basie and Lena Horne and Jackie Robinson and Hal Jackson made their homes in St. Albans.
- Cowan, Jane (2008). "Addisleigh Park: Enclave of Greats in African-American History, Wholly Intact 20th Century Garden City Suburb and Site of Important American Housing History" (PDF). Historic Districts Council. Retrieved 2009-03-09.
- Polland, Jennifer. "They May Have Played Harlem But They Lived Here". Queens Tribune. Retrieved 2009-03-09.
- Tarek, Shams (January 31, 2003). "Celebrating Black History Month: History Makers That Have Made A Mark On Southeast Queens". Southeast Queens Press. Retrieved July 5, 2015.
- "The Jazzmen of Queens". Retrieved 2009-03-09.
- Tarek, Shams. "The Rebirth of Cool: A Jazz Renaissance In Southeast Queens". Southeast Queens Press.
- "Queenswalk: A Look at St. Albans". Brownstoner Queens. Retrieved 2013-10-23.
- Plambeck, Joseph (December 5, 2008). "Living In St. Albans, Queens; Bluesy Home Market With a Jazzy Past". NY Times. Retrieved 2009-03-08.
- "L.L. Cool J Biography".
- "biography at African American Registry". Retrieved 2013-06-19.
- "Famous residents of St. Albans, New York". P.S.36Q, The St. Albans School. Retrieved 2013-10-23.
- "1955 TIME article on Campanella". Time. August 8, 1955. Retrieved 2010-05-24.
- "Bob Cousy Timeline" (PDF). College of the Holy Cross. Retrieved 2012-04-07.
- "Bomber Optimistic".
- "Mike Merriweather". databaseFootball.com. Retrieved 2013-10-23.
- Heinz, W.C. (November 1960). "The Floyd Patterson His Friends Know". SPORT magazine. Retrieved 2008-12-20.
- Phillips, Harry (March 18, 1957). "Memo From The Publisher". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 2008-12-20.
- "African American Greats in Queens" (PDF).
- "Encarta article on Fisher". Archived from the original on 2009-08-29. Retrieved 2013-07-05.
- DeVeaux, Scott (2009). Jazz. W. W. Norton. p. 170.
- "Addisleigh Park". Forgotten New York. 2014. Retrieved June 20, 2014.
- Adams, Michael Henry (May 17, 2010). "Protecting the House Where Lena Lived!". The Huffington Post. Retrieved June 20, 2014.
- Meeks, Gregory W. (March 1, 2007). "Black History Month". Congressional Record 153 (4): 5234.
- "178-16 Murdock Avenue, Home of Earl Bostic". Historic Districts Council. 2014. Retrieved June 20, 2014.
- "179-07 Murdock Avenue, Home of Ella Fitzgerald and Ray Brown". Historic Districts Council. 2014. Retrieved June 20, 2014.
- "The Official Web Site of Ella Fitzgerald: Biography". ellafitzgerald.com. 2013. Retrieved June 20, 2014.
- "Change-maker in black history: Ella Fitzgerald". Do Something. 2014. Retrieved June 20, 2014.
- Porter, Lewis (1999). John Coltrane: His Life and Music. University of Michigan Press. p. 139. ISBN 0-472-10161-7.
- Queens Jazz Trail
- Jazz Tour of Queens
- "St. Albans Lot Sale", Brooklyn Eagle, June 30, 1902
- 1990 Population Demographics
- 1898 map of area shows Baisley Blvd, Farmers Blvd, Linden Blvd, and LIRR line which runs through St. Albans
- More on famous residents, including former addresses
- Queens Library article on St. Albans
- Excerpts from To Stand and Fight: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Postwar New York City by Martha Biondi
- Some History of Addisleigh Park
- Media related to Saint Albans, Queens at Wikimedia Commons