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The people of Douglaston know their history. Even more so, they embrace it.
A law passed last week officially restored six streets in Douglaston to their original names, axing the numbered grid system the area had used since the 1920s.
City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) introduced the bill with overwhelming support from Douglaston residents and leaders, which was passed unanimously by the Council.
“Douglaston is one of the most unique neighborhoods in our city,” Halloran said in a statement. “Its history and heritage are well worth remembering. This bill pays homage to the neighborhood’s history by restoring street names to the way they were hundreds of years ago.”
Halloran said Mayor Michael Bloomberg should sign the legislation by the end of the month.
The restoration will cost the city $3,400 in taxpayer dollars to change signs and addresses for the various GPS systems and governmental departments, and Halloran said it was a “reasonable price tag” for the outcome.
A press conference at the corner of 44th Avenue and 243rd Street last Thursday marked the official restoration of the Douglaston street names. Several supporting community leaders in Douglaston, including Community Board 11 Chairman Jerry Iannece, joined the councilman.
“This shows how great northeast Queens is,” Iannece said. “It’s been a long time coming. This is a wonderful day for Douglaston.”
Elliot Socci, president of the Douglaston Civic Association, echoed Iannece’s pride in the change.
“It’s most appropriate,” Socci said. “This is a landmarked district, so these streets should be restored to their historic names.”
Originally settled in 1656, Douglaston has since been recognized for its two landmarked districts, and residents in the area have pushed for the change since 1972. The work of late Councilman Matthew Troy had restored most street names in Douglaston originally named after landmarks and prominent area families, leaving the six streets to the efforts of local residents ever since.
“To walk the streets of Douglaston is to step into our city’s history,” Halloran said. “Everything from the original cobblestone curbs to massive tree canopy reminds visitors of a much simpler time.”
Halloran said the city would erect new street signs in about three months, but residents may start using their new, or old, street names now.
Bill Sievers, of the Douglaston-Little Neck Historical Society, said he tested his new address by mailing a letter to himself, finding that the local post office did a “phenomenal job” transitioning.
The first three avenues to the east of Douglaston Parkway will be renamed Church, Pine and Poplar streets. The perpendicular 240th, 242nd and 243rd streets will be restored to Prospect, Hamilton and Orient avenues.
Halloran said the area post offices and emergency services were briefed on the changes and will recognize both the new and old names of the Douglaston streets.
“We’re good to go,” Halloran said. “Hard work does pay off — eventually.”
Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4573.
©2012 Community Newspaper Group
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