Within the confines of New York City lies a small town that many a visitor has mistaken for a quaint Long Island township. This assumption is forgivable, because Douglaston provides a hushed and natural atmosphere that is a deviation from the dense and fast-paced cacophony to which many New Yorkers are accustomed.
The area was settled by early Dutch colonists in the 1600s but the town did not really come into its own until the turn of the 20th century. That was when the Rickert-Finlay Realty Company of New York purchased the 175-acre estate of George Douglas and started parceling out land in 1906.
“The community was designed for middle- and upper-class families who were disturbed by the erosion of once-stable neighborhoods in the city that were increasingly industrialized,” wrote the Douglaston Manor Association, a community organization based in the affluent section of Douglaston often referred to as “The Manor.”
“I wanted a small-town feel that was still close to Manhattan,” said Josefa Ruddy, who has lived in Douglaston for close to 20 years. Thanks to the LIRR, Douglaston residents are able to commute to Manhattan for business or pleasure in under 30 minutes. Douglaston is also bisected by Northern Boulevard and the Long Island Expressway and bordered by the Grand Central Parkway to its south, allowing a quick car commute.
“Education was also a big reason why I moved here,” said Ruddy, a mother to two sons, both of whom were educated in Douglaston and now attend Xavier High School, one of New York’s most prestigious Jesuit schools.
Douglaston enjoys some of the best elementary and junior high schools in all of Queens. Douglaston local public school, P.S. 98, has gotten a perfect rating according to Greatschools and comparatively outranks other public elementary schools in the city.
Most children in the area go to M.S. 67 for junior high school, the proficiency levels of which are noticeably higher than the citywide average. Douglaston’s zoned high school, Benjamin N. Cardozo High School, is in neighboring Bayside. It has around 4,000 students enrolled and was ranked as one of the top 100 schools in the nation by Newsweek. There is also Divine Wisdom Catholic Academy, which educates pre-K to eighth-grade students.
Along with a superb education, Douglaston prides itself in quite a number of amenities. The neighborhood is home to many great restaurants and pizzerias. Grimaldi’s Pizzeria is heralded as having the best brick-oven pizza around. In addition to three pizzerias in town — Grimaldi’s, Il Sapore and Aegea — residents enjoy dining at Italian restaurants such as Il Toscano and Giardino.
Douglaston is home to Movieworld, a local favorite among the youth because of its more affordable prices compared to other big-name theaters. It is located at the Douglaston Plaza, which is right on Douglaston Parkway and conveniently houses also a Fairway, Macy’s Department Store and Toys R Us, as well as the aforementioned Grimaldi’s Pizzeria.
“There is also a scenic component to Douglaston that I simply love,” said Thomas Mcgreal, a lifelong resident of Douglaston. “My most ideal summer day would either be relaxing in The Manor and laying down by the Little Neck Bay and just bantering the day away with my friends or maybe just spending the night playing Pokemon Go.”
In Douglaston, like many other towns, Pokemon Go has become a staple of youth culture, with almost every millennial in Douglaston playing at least a few times a week. In just a few short weeks it has become such a big part of the culture that one can witness droves of young people with their phones, ready to “Catch ’em all!” which is a famous Pokemon lyric that Tom Mcgreal yells at a group of unsuspecting Pokemon Go players in the middle of the night.
“Damn straight,” they retort in unison. Since Pokemon Go gained popularity, as many as 30 to 40 teens and 20-somethings scour the Divine Wisdom Catholic Academy parking lot every night for Pokemon.
“It is because there are a lot of Pokestops and lures there,” Liam Ruddy said. “That’s why people come here at night as well as the Pokemon Gym at the train station.”
Home prices in Douglaston have been on the rise and vary depending on where one plans to move in Douglaston. Larger homes located in The Manor will typically go for about a few million. However, more affordable options that go for around a few hundred thousand are available as well. Fortunately for Douglaston residents, they get to experience the laid-back country lifestyle while not having to pay the rather exorbitant property taxes of Nassau County.