NYC Now and Then – Ridgewood Queens

Today I am sharing a video that I took along Metropolitan Ave in Ridgewood, Queens. The purpose of the video is to show you how Metropolitan Ave looks today, compared to what it looked like in 1940. Fortunately I was able to find images of every story along Metropolitan from 1940 in a two block radius.

Be sure to check out my YOUTUBE CHANNEL for all of my hundreds of uploads.

The Origins Of Scrabble

Back with a story today about the history of Scrabble in Jackson Heights, Queens, New York. Join me as I lead you through the origins of the board game Scrabble, how it was developed and where it was originally played. We are at the Community United Methodist Church which is where the inventor of the game, Alfred Mosher Butts, first tested out his invention and where through trial and error the game was developed. The church is located in the neighborhood of Jackson Heights, Queens, New York.

Little India in Jackson Heights

Today I am in Little India New York in Jackson Heights, Queens. This was an area that I used to visit weekly back in the 1990s but I haven’t been back there in over 20 years now. In little India you can get an array of beautiful foods, all cooked authentically which differs from Little India in Manhattan, where they cook the food for a Western audience.

ECW Elks Lodge – The Madhouse of Extreme

The NYC History video today is at the Elks Lodge in Queens where ECW held their wrestling shows at the Madhouse of Extreme. This is more of a personal story rather than an out and out NYC history video, when I used to come to the Elks Lodge in the 1990s to watch ECW Wrestling. There are a couple of other items in the video, the Boca Juniors football themed restaurant and the First Presbyterian Church.

The Betts Family Cemetery

The Betts Family cemetery located in Maspeth, Queens, dates all the way back to 1713, when the patriarch of the family, Capt. Richard Betts

The Betts Family cemetery located in Maspeth, Queens, dates all the way back to 1713, when the patriarch of the family, Capt. Richard Betts dug his own grave just a few days before he died at the age of 100. Yes, he dug his own grave when he was 100 years old 🙂 The Betts homestead occupied this part of Long Island starting in 1656, originated by Capt. Richard Betts and his family. The last burial to take place at the Betts family cemetery was 1877. The Betts cemetery now lies within the confines of Mt. Zion Jewish cemetery, and Mt. Zion maintains the upkeep of the old Quaker cemetery on its grounds.

Triangle Shirtwaist Fire Memorial

The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City, on March 25, 1911

The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City, on March 25, 1911, was the deadliest industrial disaster in the history of the city, and one of the deadliest in U.S. history. The fire caused the deaths of 146 garment workers – 123 women and girls and 23 men – who died from the fire, smoke inhalation, or falling or jumping to their deaths. Most of the victims were recent Italian or Jewish immigrant women and girls aged 14 to 23.

The factory was located on the 8th, 9th, and 10th floors of the Asch Building, at 23–29 Washington Place, near Washington Square Park. The 1901 building still stands and is now known as the Brown Building, which is part of and owned by New York University (NYU). The building has been designated a National Historic Landmark and a New York City landmark.

The Goodfellas Diner in Maspeth, Queens

Today we visit the GoodFellas diner film location in Maspeth, Queens for our NYC Stories video

Today we visit the GoodFellas diner film location in Maspeth, Queens for our NYC Stories video. This is where the stars, Robert De Niro and Ray Liotta awaited word of Joe Pesci’s character being named a made man. The diner was originally called the Clinton diner and it is located in Maspeth, Queens.

The Long Island Baseball Grounds

Today I pay a visit to the site of the old Long Island Baseball Grounds in Maspeth, Queens. Back in the 1800s, up until 1893, the baseball grounds here were home for several years to the New York Cuban Giants. Aside from the Giants a whole host of future hall of famers also played at this ballpark.

Old Brooklyn Dodgers Ballparks: https://youtu.be/gojm8ii-pRE

Feldman’s Park: https://youtu.be/Sk0YM6gEFuA

Baseball stopped being played here in 1893, but that doesn’t mean that the area doesn’t have a story to tell, and I am here to tell you that story. The Cuban Giants were the first fully salaried African-American professional baseball club. The team was originally formed in 1885 at the Argyle Hotel, a summer resort in Babylon, New York. Initially an independent barnstorming team, they played games against opponents of all types: major and minor league clubs, semiprofessional teams, even college and amateur squads. They would go on to join various short-lived East Coast leagues, and in 1888 became the “World Colored Champions”. Despite their name, no Cubans played on the team. The “Cubes” remained one of the premier Negro league teams for nearly twenty years, and served as a model that future black teams would emulate.

Brooklyn Dodgers In Ridgewood Queens

The second and third homes of the Brooklyn Dodgers were in Ridgewood in Queens between 1886 to 1889.

The second and third homes of the Brooklyn Dodgers were in Ridgewood in Queens between 1886 to 1889.

The Brooklyn Dodgers were founded in 1883 by Charles Byrne. Known simply as The Brooklyn’s, the team set up its stadium in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn and called it Washington Park. It was the local reporters that nicknamed the team The Grays, a nickname that was used through 1887 save for the year of 1884, when they were known as The Atlantics.

During the summer of 1886, in order to avoid the blue laws of the city of Brooklyn on the Sabbath, the Brooklyn Grays played 14 Sunday games at Grauer’s Ridgewood Park along with one exhibition game.

As you can see from this map, Grauer’s Ridgewood Park, which is the top arrow, was located just north of where Wallace’s Ridgewood Park was located. This was the second home of the Brooklyn Dodgers, and as I had to pass it in order to get to Wallace’s Ridgewood Park, I also filmed the location of the second home of The Brooklyn Dodgers which was located between Cypress and Seneca Avenues, and George and Weirfield streets.

The cost to play their Sunday games at Grauer’s Ridgewood Park was very high, which cut into any profits that could be made by charging for Sunday admission. The other Ridgewood Park in the area, Wallace’s, had already been playing host to amateur baseball clubs, and had even scheduled a world heavyweight boxing fight featuring John L. Sullivan. While the fight was called off as the pugilists prepared to duke it out, the attendance was still 5,000 men, certainly something to catch the attention of club owners.

Beginning in 1887, The Brooklyn Grays began to play their Sunday games at Wallace’s Ridgewood Park and it would be the site of their third home for the next three seasons. In fact the team was playing there when, in the summer of 1888, six of the Brooklyn players got married. For the remainder of their time at Ridgewood Park they were nicknamed the Brooklyn Bridegrooms, a name that stuck for the next ten years either as the Bridegrooms or simply the Brooklyn Grooms.

In the baseball history books, Wallace’s Ridgewood Park is commonly known as Ridgewood Park 2, with Grauer’s Ridgewood Park being known as Ridgewood Park 1. The area that I am walking in today is now located in Bushwick in Brooklyn, between Wyckoff and Irving Ave’s, and between Halsey and Covert Streets. At the time that the ballpark was located here though, the area was then located in Ridgewood, Queens before the boundaries changed, except for a corner of the stadium right where Halsey and Irving meet, which was located in Brooklyn.

In my John L. Sullivan story, I tell the tale of how the fighters came to box in Queens but were prevented from doing so by the police. A patron then told the fighters that a corner of the stadium was actually located in Brooklyn, and the fighters then agreed to fight in that corner of the stadium. Unfortunately a rat threatened to snitch on them and they were prevented from fighting in Brooklyn as well.