Explore the history of our neighbor, Richmond Hill
by Ed Wendell
Jun 25, 2014 | 518 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Richmond Hill, our neighbor to the east, has a rich and interesting history. Named after an English town outside London (or possibly after the landscape architect, Edward Richmond, who designed much of it), Richmond Hill is well known for its many Queen Anne Victorian homes.

Richmond Hill contains many notable historic buildings. The Triangle Hoffbrau opened in 1893 and sat on the triangular intersection of Hillside Avenue, Jamaica Avenue and Myrtle Avenue, and was favored by luminaries such as Mae West and Babe Ruth.

Around the corner was Jahn’s Ice Cream Parlor, famous for its old-time décor and one-man band which sat on the same block as the RKO Keith's Richmond Hill Theater, which once hosted the Rolling Stones, and the restaurant Salerno’s, which appeared in the film Goodfellas. Also nearby is the 102nd Precinct building, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year.

You can learn about all of this, and more, on a walking tour of Richmond Hill that takes place this Saturday, June 28, starting at noon. The tour is led by Kevin Walsh, webmaster for the site Forgotten New York and author of a book of the same name, as well as the recently released Forgotten Queens.

The walking tour starts at 119th Street and Jamaica Avenue (Triangle Drug Store) and ends about three hours later in Woodhaven at Park Lane South and Woodhaven Boulevard. The cost for the tour is $20 per person. Walsh has led many of these tours over the years, and this one marks the 80th tour of a New York neighborhood he has given.

One of the real treats of the tour will be the historic Church of the Resurrection on 118th Street near Hillside Avenue, which Walsh has secured permission for the group to tour the inside of.

“We’re also going to see things you don’t see in the guide books,” Walsh says, noting we’ll see “some very, very old store signage and painted signs on buildings for businesses that left decades ago. And we’re going to see remnants of the Long Island Railroad’s connection to the Pennsylvania Railroad.”

The highlight of the tour will be the beautiful homes that highlight the streets of Richmond Hill, which you should take the time to admire while they stand.

“Unfortunately, Richmond Hill is not a landmarked neighborhood,” Walsh says. “The way to tell a landmarked neighborhood is the street signs are in maroon and white, but in Richmond Hill you’ll see plain old green and white signs, which means that developers can come in and do whatever they want with them.”

Although that’s happened in a few cases, Walsh is happy to report that this is the exception rather than the rule and that there are still many beautiful Victorian homes to see along the route of Saturday’s tour. You can find out much more about the neighborhoods of New York at forgotten-ny.com.

And you can learn much more about our neighbors through our friends at the Richmond Hill Historical Society (richmondhillhistory.org). They hold regular meetings and fun events, such as the upcoming Victorian Strawberry Social at the Forest Park Carousel on Sunday, July 20, from 2 to 4 p.m.

Attendees will be treated to strawberry desserts, carousel rides, and a barbershop quartet. Ladies are invited to wear their prettiest Victorian hats. The cost is $10 for non-members, and payment must be made by July 12. Call the Richmond Hill Historical Society at (718) 704-9317 for more information.

One final historical note: the Woodhaven Cultural & Historical Society and the St. Thomas the Apostle Woodhaven History Club are hosting a cleanup of the historic colonial-era Wyckoff-Snedicker Family Cemetery behind All Saint’s Church on Saturday, July 12, starting at 9 a.m.

The Parks Department had kindly offered to loan us tools for the day, we just ask all volunteers to bring their own work gloves. Everyone who participates in this fun cleanup event will be provided with lunch.

If you’ve never had the privilege of walking amongst the centuries-old gravestones inside this historic Woodhaven cemetery, this is a great opportunity to do so, as well as meet some of your friends and neighbors.

We hope to see you at one, or all three, of these upcoming historical events.

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