The opening of the Queensborough Bridge in 1909 and the Roosevelt Avenue elevated subway line in 1917 encouraged development of residential areas in Queens. About that time, Edward A. McDougall, president of the Queensboro Corporation real estate development firm, initiated the construction of a planned community in Jackson Heights for the managerial and professional class, inspired by the Garden City movement.
Eschewing the one-building-per-lot configuration, the planners used the full block as the unit of design for apartment houses surrounding spacious central gardens. These allowed for more effective use of space within the units, as well as ample light and ventilation. The buildings are typically about six stories high, with simple facades and details in English, Spanish, and Italian modes. Later, designers created attached and semi-detached “garden houses,” set back from the street and typically finished in Georgian or Tudor Revival styles.
The buildings in the district, most of which were built between 1911 to 1950, demonstrate the integration of new types of housing with commercial, institutional, recreational, and transportation facilities. The area showcases many of the earliest examples of what became standard middle-class living. Today, it is one of the most ethnically diverse areas in New York City, and remains a vibrant urban community. ©2014