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Old Douglaston names of streets might return

In Douglaston, numbered and named roadways co-exist. Photo by Nykeema Williams
TimesLedger Newspapers

Douglaston’s street names may soon be more apropos to the neighborhood’s historic character.

A little over a year ago, City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) introduced a bill that would restore the historical names of six Douglaston roadways, and he recently announced that the Council’s Parks Committee would probably vote on the measure this week.

“Douglaston is one of the most unique neighborhoods in our city,” Halloran said. “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.”

If passed thorough the Parks Committee, the bill would go to the Council speaker’s office for a full vote, which could happen in the next two months, Halloran said.

Among names such as Shore Road and East Drive, Douglaston has numbered roadways like 243rd Street and 44th Avenue, but this was not always the case.

The neighborhood’s original settlers of 1656 named its streets after landmarks and prominent land-owning families, but the roads were later numbered in order to bring the neighborhood in line with the city’s street grid.

Douglaston-Little Neck Historical Society Trustee Stuart Hersh said the majority of the names were restored when the city Landmarks Preservation Commission designated the Doug-Manor and the Douglaston Hills historic districts.

Upon entering the neighborhood on Douglaston Parkway, the first three avenues to the east would be renamed Church, Pine and Poplar streets. Running perpendicular to these, 240th, 242nd and 243rd streets would be renamed Prospect, Hamilton and Orient avenues.

Hersh said Orient may have originally been named so because it is the easternmost road in the neighborhood.

Halloran said his office has reviewed maps and other historical documents from as early as 1853 and as late as 1934 showing these historic names.

He said it was through the efforts of the late Councilman Matthew Troy in the early 1970s that many of the streets were restored to their historical names, and over the past four decades Council and community members have attempted to finish restoring the remainder of the names, with limited success.

Hersh said state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) championed the effort when he was a Council member.

Halloran said he has received letters of support from Douglaston residents U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Bayside) and state Assemblyman Ed Braunstein (D-Bayside).

“To walk the streets of Douglaston is to step back into our city’s rich history,” Halloran said. “Everything from the original cobblestone curbs to massive tree canopies reminds visitors of a much simpler time.”

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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