For the charm of residential neighborhoods coupled with a taste of big city life, Maspeth and Middle Village offer the best of both worlds. Though the Manhattan skyline provides the backdrop to these Western Queens neighborhoods, the major streets are lined with mom-and-pop stores and family eateries.
Maspeth lies just east of Brooklyn’s Greenpoint and Williamsburg neighborhoods and west of Elmhurst and Middle Village. To the north is Woodside, and just south is Ridgewood. The heart of Maspeth is Grand Avenue, right off the Long Island Expressway, which bisects the neighborhood and is home to many businesses and shops.
Middle Village, Maspeth’s eastern neighbor, is just west of Forest Hills with Woodhaven Boulevard as the border. Rego Park is to the north, separated from Middle Village by Eliot Avenue, and Ridgewood and Glendale are to the south, with Cooper Avenue marking the division. Metropolitan Avenue is perhaps the best-known part of town, with a mix of bustling activity in the shopping areas and quiet reverence near All Faiths Cemetery and St. John’s Cemetery.
Under an hour from midtown Manhattan by subway, Maspeth and Middle Village offer easy access to the city via the M train, which stops at Metropolitan Avenue in Middle Village. Though Maspeth does not have a subway line of its own, the QM 24 and 24W Express buses stop on Eliot Avenue.
Coming from central Long Island, these communities are a mere 30 to 40 minutes by car via the Long Island Expressway, which runs through Maspeth, or the Jackie Robinson Parkway. Both LaGuardia and JFK airports are only 20 minutes away.
SHOPPING AND DINING
Small stores line Grand Avenue in Maspeth and Metropolitan Avenue in Middle Village, but both areas boast malls with chain stores aplenty. The Maspeth Center mall at 74-17 Grand Avenue, though small, is home to a Super Stop & Shop, and Middle Village’s shopping hub, Metro Mall at 66-25 Metropolitan Avenue, offers everything from BJ’s and Big K to Toys ‘R Us and Levitz.
Maspeth is known for its diners, including the Fame Diner at 69-67 Grand Avenue, which serves popular breakfasts at low prices. Also well known in Western Maspeth is the Clinton Diner at 56-26 Maspeth Avenue. In Middle Village, among the many eateries along Metropolitan Avenue, residents flock to Rosa’s at 75-59 Metropolitan Avenue and Carlo’s at 74-02 Metropolitan Avenue, a popular pizzeria.
Maspeth and Middle Village fall under the jurisdiction of the 104th Precinct, headed by Deputy Inspector Keith E. Green. According to CompStat, as of the week of Sept. 21, the precinct reported a nearly 78 percent decrease in crime over the past 15 years. This year to date, the 104th precinct reported a total of 1,229 crimes, including four murders, twelve rapes, 214 robberies, 106 felony assaults, 275 burglaries, 365 grand larcenies and 253 grand larceny autos.
Recent town meetings addressed the issue of graffiti as a major point of contention facing the 104th Precinct. “Graffiti is a problem throughout Queens, not just limited to the Glendale area,” says Senator Serphin Maltese, who has been working closely with the police precincts in the communities he represents. “[We have] been sponsoring “Graffiti Clean Up” days to help clean areas throughout our neighborhoods using volunteers and donated supplies.”
Two-family and three-family homes and row houses are most common in Maspeth and Middle Village. There are small apartment buildings, condos, and single-family homes in Maspeth as well, and in Middle Village, apartment buildings and occasional condos can be found along Metropolitan Avenue near 69th Street.
According to Joe Cimino, president of the Middle Village/Maspeth Civic Association (MVMCA), flooding is an issue that affects housing in both communities, which must be addressed in order to maintain quality of life. The MVMCA along with the Glendale Civic Association organized the first community organization-based meeting to address the flooding problems. “As a result of this effort, we got the attention of the mayor’s office and the DEP,” Cimino says. “After these initial efforts, CB5 then got involved and rightfully became the point of contact for this problem that was and still is threatening our communities.”
The older of the two communities, Maspeth, was first settled by Native Americans, who occupied the area for centuries until the middle of the 1600s. Following that period, the Dutch and English settled in the area and it was absorbed by a newer settlement to the east named Newtown (present-day Elmhurst). Maspeth became a part of the borough of Queens and was made a part of New York City in 1898. Maspeth was originally a rural community, hence the abundance of old barns that still remain in the area and are now used for various purposes.
By 1820, another part of Newtown - the part best known for its 100-acre swamp - was being called Middle Village because it lay at the midpoint on the Williamsburgh – Jamaica Turnpike. The turnpike operated as a toll road between the trading hubs of Williamsburgh in Brooklyn and Jamaica in Queens.
The Juniper Swamp in Middle Village proved to be a hindrance to its growth until it was filled in 1915 to become Juniper Park, so the area therefore found itself known mainly for two purposes: a stagecoach stop and a place to bury the dead. Lutheran Cemetery was founded in Middle Village in 1852 and today, though it has been renamed All Faiths Cemetery, the burial ground occupies a prominent stretch of town along Metropolitan Avenue. Metropolitan Avenue, a free road, had taken the place of the turnpike by 1873.
More recently, Maspeth and Middle Village have gained infamy for their mafia ties. John Gotti’s wake was held at the Papavero Funeral home in Maspeth and he is buried, along with Lucky Luciano, in St. John’s Cemetery in Middle Village.
SIGHTS TO SEE
On 60th Street, north of 60th Avenue, overlooking lower Manhattan in Maspeth, is one of New York City’s overlooked treasures, the Metropolitan Oval. The Met Oval has been used for soccer since 1925, and was recently restored by a half-million dollar grant from the US Soccer Foundation and Nike after it fell into disrepair for a time. Soccer legends Tony Meola, Werner Roth and Tab Ramos have all played at the Met Oval.
Upon arriving in Middle Village by train, perhaps the most notable sight is the All Faiths Cemetery, bisected by Metropolitan Avenue. The cemetery saw massive growth after a law banning future cemeteries from being opened in Manhattan was passed in 1847. A testament to its importance in the City of New York, All Faiths Cemetery was dubbed “exceptionally well operated and maintained” by the New York State Division of Cemeteries.
Also in Middle Village, the Veterans Triangle park at Gray and 77th Streets honors the veterans of Middle Village who fought in World War I, World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. Originally built in honor of the men of Middle Village Post 784 who fought in World War I, the large granite monument in the Triangle now honors all wartime service men and women. The citizens of Middle Village and the Property Owners’ Association of Middle Village Inc. erected the monument.
Among services available to the citizens of Maspeth and Middle Village is the Queens Multi Service Center, which helps the elderly and disabled access essential resources and knowledgably apply for assistance. “Programs like Queens Multi Service Center are critical for our communities because they ensure that people do not fall through the cracks,” says Senator Maltese, who recently obtained a $65,000 grant to allow the center to continue its work. “They help people obtain the programs and assistance that they need in order to remain in their own homes.”
The Senator is involved with many other similar programs, including Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council, Richmond Hill One Stop Community Center, the Federazione Italo-Americana di Brooklyn & Queens, which provides assistance with Medicaid and Medicare, SCRIE, nursing home placements, Social Security issues, and youth services.