The Great Depression – 90 Years Ago by College Point Historian: Jim Haas

  • Ninety years ago, this week, the decade called the Roaring 20s came to an inglorious end, andthe worst stock market crash in U. S. history began. Here’s what was happening in College Point then,and in the years to come. It’s a little long.One week after “Black Tuesday”, a newly organized College Point Chamber of Commerce metto promote local business and industry. The organization had 80 members representing more than 45businesses large and small. AHRCO, Kleinerts, Lily-Tulip, and Edo stood together with smallbusiness owners and merchants Emil Mayer, the Scholz Brothers, Travel agent Eugene Weber, RealtorEdwin Suydam, Peter Macris’ delicatessen, and many others. As 1930 dawned, some good thing happened. The firehouse was built, the Chisholm Parkplayground opened and in mid-October, 80 merchants joined forces to launch a business drive to lastuntil Christmas. Certificates valued at $1,000 would be distributed. A fire at Johann’s Funeral Parloron 20th Avenue was quickly extinguished, but at the end of the year, Aero Supply moved to Dayton,Ohio resulting in jobs lost. Unemployment became more of an issue in 1931. To combat the problem, a relief committeewas formed by Harry Kleinert. Community churches and community leaders developed ways andmeans to support those who had lost their jobs. 4th of July brought many picnickers to Talmann’sIsland once the site of Witzel’s Grove, and Labor Day saw a dramatic increase in traffic to the village.New traffic lights were installed in September, the Poppenhusen Monument was fenced in, and seizingon an opportunity, Mr. Kessler opened his hardware store on 122nd Street as the year ended.Early 1932 began with the closing of the Whitestone branch of the LIRR. While a bus servicewas proposed shortly thereafter, the move to eliminate rapid transit through College Point wasunderway. The American Hard Rubber Company left for New Jersey in mid-June followed shortly byNYC’s announcement of plans to build a sewage disposal at Tallman’s Island still referred to as PointView. On a happier note, P.S. 129 opened at the end of the year.Bus service between Flushing and College Point began in mid-1933. Formed in 1913, theParents’ Association of College Point made certain that needy children were provided eyeglasses,shoes and clothing, and that food and milk were delivered to homes of undernourished children. Rentwas paid for destitute families, and every possible effort was made to see to the welfare of thecommunity’s Public School children. In August 1934, 13,000 cars exited at College Point, a sure sign the ferry service was doingwell, but as the Depression wore on, property assessments increased and new home constructiondecreased, In that same month, the Railroad Station on 127th Street was demolished, and in Novemberit was proposed that a playground be built on the site. Consumed with the Christmas and New Yearholidays, the village forgot to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Poppenhusen Monumenterected to honor the man who had founded the town, and established it as a recognized community. In1935, Boy Scout Troop 18 was formed, the College Point Waterfront Park was officially changed toChisholm Park, and as the year ended, it was designated one of four areas for winter sleigh ridingdown the hill from the old Chisholm mansion to the baseball field. Big news in 1937 was the arrival of Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia at his summer City Hall in themansion. A lengthy article appeared touting the “Advantages of College Point”. Not long thereafter,another headline read “Naughty Neptune Nudes Parade Chisholm Park” with a short piece on batherswho disrobed on the beach. Two years later the Chisholm Mansion was razed and old P.S. 28 on 115thStreet was demolished. A small playground took its place. The Whitestone Bridge spelled the end offerry service and war came to Europe, eventually involving the nations of the world. The GreatDepression passed into history.
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