The name "Maspeth" is taken from the name given to the area by Henry Hudson in 1609. He called the region "Mespat" after the Mezpat Indian Tribe, which he found living there. The name has survived to the present day. Maspeth is situated in what once was old Newtown, which included almost all of what is today the Borough of Queens.
Newtown was originally settled by the Dutch and later by the English when they took over New Amsterdam. The land was dotted with farms and homesteads in those days, and served as a vacation resort for those who wanted to escape the hurried life of Manhattan for the summer months. Governor DeWitt Clinton had a home in Maspeth, as did Abraham Rycken, a prominent landowner whose son later changed his name to Ricker and bought Ricker's Island.
In 1852, Cord Meyer established a large carbon plant on Newtown Creek. In the same vicinity the Laurel Hill Chemical Works was built in 1866. This plant was later taken over by G.H. Nichols & Co. Sampson's oilcloth factory, supposedly the largest in the world, was Maspeth's principal business in 1882. In addition to these larger concerns, "the manufacture of twines and small cordage has been an important industry at Maspeth for several years."
The rope works, owned by James Cating and Gus Haflinger, mentioned in the history of Queens County, is still operating on 69th Street in Maspeth today. These businesses as well as the craft shops and stores in the area, were the beginnings of a bustling community. But the dominant feature in the late 1800's and the early 1900's, as reference to the 1903 map of Maspeth will show, was still the farms and abundance of open land.