Middle Village Streets – Name Origins - JuniperCivic.com
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Middle Village Streets – Name Origins

Metropolitan Avenue in the 1930s

In the early twentieth century the Queens Topographical Bureau established an alphabetical series of street names for existing and proposed roadways in Maspeth and Middle Village. These roadways generally ran east-west (parallel with current Eliot Avenue) and intersected with Juniper Avenue (now 69th Street).

The following are key roadways in Middle Village and Maspeth culled from the large list and we present them here with the thought that this information will be interesting to read. So often we can think that our predecessors just threw a dart at a map and named a street. This article shows the amount of thought that went into all the namings. Also we are aware that many school children use the Juniper Berry for history, so legacy is a key word that we keep in mind, always. Let's not forget, we have the Juniper Juniors grooming themselves for future leadership!!

Eliot Avenue – This roadway extends from Metropolitan Avenue northeast to Queens Blvd. The oldest portions of the roadway are in Middle Village, from Fresh Pond Road to Mt. Olivet Crescent and in Maspeth between Metropolitan Avenue and Fresh Pond Road. The roadway is named for Walter G. Eliot, an engineer of the Queens Topographical Bureau, who in 1910 was temporarily placed in charge of the Bureau. Although planned for many years to extend to Woodhaven Blvd. and beyond to Queens Blvd., the roadway was not completed until the 1930's, in time for use as an important access road from Brooklyn to the 1939-40 New York World's Fair. Much of the roadway in north Middle Village is laid across the ancient Juniper Swamp. Causing much of the delay was the refusal of the cemeteries to permit a roadway to be cut through from Mt. Olivet Crescent east. After years of planning and negotiating, the City was permitted to open a narrow two-lane road through the burial grounds. This two lane section is still in use, while the portions of Eliot Avenue on either side of the cemeteries are much wider. In mid-1925 Eliot Avenue (sometimes seen spelled as Elliott) was renamed 61st Avenue, but the Eliot name was again adopted in the 1930's. The roadway is still designated as 61st Avenue for house numbering purposes only.

Juniper Blvd. South – was Marion Avenue and became 63rd Avenue

Penelope Avenue – was Penelope Street and became 63rd Drive

Juniper Valley Road – A portion of this roadway, from 69th Street east to 75th Place was part of the old Juniper Swamp Road, dating to the early 18th century. Current Furmanville Avenue was also part of the Swamp Road and today's 75th Place was originally a curve in the roadway. During the colonial period and into the late 19th century, a roadway existed west of 69th Street in what is now Lutheran Cemetery, extending to Mt. Olivet Crescent. This was part of the Juniper Swamp Road also but by the mid-nineteenth century, this segment was known as Wayland Avenue and then as Way Avenue (named for the Way family who lived along this road). Cemetery authorities closed Way Avenue, apparently without authorization, as Newtown residents for years stated that the cemetery had no authority to close a public road. As late as the 1920s the City of New York continued to map this road through the cemetery and in 1925 it was renamed to 63rd Avenue. Eventually it was dropped from the official maps.

The Juniper Swamp Road, including today's Mt. Olivet Crescent and the closed Way Avenue, was also known as the Road to Fresh Ponds and the Road to the Methodist Meeting House (erected 1785 at which is now 80th Street and Furmanville Avenue).

Until 1919 Juniper Valley Road did not exist from 75th Place east to 79th Street. Between 79th Street and 80th Street, a roadway had been laid out in 1852 on the Carhart & Pullis tract and it was named Cross Street (it was the only road in the subdivision cutting across from east to west). Cross Street became incorporated in the new Juniper Valley Road in 1919. Beginning in that year and extending into the early 1920's, several tracts of land were subdivided in this area of Middle village and a major east-west thoroughfare was needed. For purely cosmetic reasons, the name of Juniper Swamp Road was changed to Juniper Valley Road. The extension of Juniper Valley Road from 80th Street east to Woodhaven Blvd. was closed in the 1930's when St. John's Cemetery purchased the land between Juniper Valley Road and Furmanville Avenue.

The sole remaining colonial period building on Juniper Valley Road, the historic Morrell House at No. 71-09, was demolished several years ago to make way for multi-family housing.

Metropolitan Avenue – This main thoroughfare was constructed as a new turnpike road in the early 1800's, known as the Williamsburgh & Jamaica Turnpike, a toll road. The original owners were the Williamsburgh Turnpike Road & Bridge Company. By an Act of the Legislature on March 11, 1814, the company was authorized to construct a new toll road from the Village of Williamsburgh in the Town of Bushwick, through Newtown in Queens County, to the Jamaica Turnpike (now Jamaica Avenue) in the Town of Jamaica. The route finally selected for the 66 foot wide road was almost a straight line from Bushwick Crossroads opposite North Second Street (now Metropolitan Avenue) to the Jamaica Turnpike immediately west of the corporation limits of the Village of Jamaica at current Van Wyck Expressway.

Within Queens County, the turnpike owners had been unable or were unwilling to spend money to maintain the road. Development along the turnpike and the opening of numerous roadways resulted in large numbers of travelers avoiding tolls. In October 1871 the Town of Newtown published a notice that the turnpike company was ousted from possession and that the road was now considered a public highway. It wasn't until June 2, 1873 that legal matters were completed, with Newtown issuing $15,000 in bonds to the heirs of the owner (James A. Herriman) and receiving a deed for the road. This resulted in an odd situation, with the Town of Newtown then owning the entire roadway, including that portion running through that Town of Jamaica. The town renamed the turnpike to Metropolitan Avenue after gaining possession of it. There was, however, some unofficial use of that name during the 1860's within Queens County.

The existence of this turnpike road led to the establishment of a very small settlement in the vicinity of the Juniper Swamp and Dry Harbor Road (80 Street). By the 1820's this was known as Middle Village, as it was approximate midway between Williamsburgh and Jamaica.

Pleasantview Street – This roadway extends from 74th Street near Juniper Blvd. South to Metropolitan Avenue, east of 71st Street. The segment from Juniper Valley Road north to 74th Street was laid out in 1909 as part of the Ridgewood North subdivision and was named Stone Avenue. The Stone Avenue name is believed to have been selected because of the stoneyards and monument works in the vicinity catering to Lutheran, St. John's and Mt. Olivet cemeteries.

Within a very short time, the Queens Topographical Bureau proposed that this roadway and other nearby roads be discontinued as they failed to conform with the proposed and approved road network for Middle Village. Prior to the first World War the residents began to agitate for retention of these roadways as they actually existed. After a series of public hearings they were restored to the City map. In 1919, Stone Avenue renamed Pleasant View Avenue was extended south from Juniper Valley Road to Metropolitan Avenue. This was accomplished when the Monteverde Gardens subdivision was laid out south of Juniper Valley Road.

When the Philadelphia street numbering system was implemented in Greater Ridgewood in 1925, the name of Pleasant View Avenue was changed to Plesantview Street. Because of the layout of this roadway in relation to other roadways in the area, it could be assigned a number.

Furmanville Avenue – This roadway forms part of the old Juniper Swamp Road and is an old colonial road. At one time it extended from Fresh Pond by way of today's Mt. Olivet Crescent, through Lutheran Cemetery, along current Juniper Valley Road to 75 Place, north on 75th Place to current Furmanville Avenue and east along Furmanville Avenue to Trotting Course Lane (Woodhaven Blvd.). The road was also known as the Road to Hempstead Swamp (Rego Park/Forest Hills), the Road from Fresh Ponds to the Methodist Meeting House. Although the 1852 Carhart & Pullis map used the name of Furman-Ville Road, that name did not come into common usage until about the turn of the century. In 1925, the name of Furmanville Road was changed to Furmanville Avenue. The name honors the Furman family. In 1759 Jonathan Furman settled along Dry Harbor Road, just north of Furmanville Avenue.

Fresh Pond Road – is an early colonial roadway dating back to 1680, when the settlers improved an Indian footpath. The "old" Fresh Pond Road extended through Maspeth, along current 61 Street, through Ridgewood, and through Glendale along current Cypress Hills Street. It was named for the large fresh water ponds in the vicinity of Mt. Olivet Crescent and Mt. Olivet Cemetery, east of Fresh Pond Road. The 1680 improvement to the ancient footpath coincided with the assignment of large lots of the hills (near Evergreen Cemetery, Highland Park, Cypress Hills Cemetery, etc.) to citizens of the English Newtown settlement in current Queens County.

Over the centuries Fresh Pond Road has been known by several names. In addition to Fresh Pond Road, Fresh Pond Lane and the Highway to Fresh Ponds, it has been called the Newtown Road, the Kills Path, the Highway to the Hills, the Road from the Friends Meeting House (at Maspeth Avenue) to the Hills, and the Road to Maspeth.