Past returns to Douglaston

Past returns to Douglaston
Photo by Rebecca Henely
By Rebecca Henely

City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone), state Assemblyman Edward Braunstein (D-Bayside) and members of the Douglaston-Little Neck Historical Society popped open bottles of champagne Sunday for the long-awaited return of the neighborhood’s original street names to the historic district.

“Douglaston is a very unique place and it’s only fitting that we should go back and rename the streets to the historic names,” Braunstein said.

After years of stalled legislation and advocacy on the part of the society, the streets in Douglaston’s historic district now bear the names that they once had back in the 1850s. Society members celebrated the new signs with a ceremony that included champagne at Katherine Turner Richardson Park Sunday.

Within the district, 242nd Street is now Hamilton Place, 243rd Street is now Orient Avenue, 43rd Avenue is now Pine Street, 44th Avenue is now Church Street, Prospect Avenue is now 240th Street and 42nd Avenue is now Poplar Street. The new tan and white signs also say the street is part of the Douglaston Hill Historic District.

The names were changed to numbers in the 1920s when the city implemented the grid system. Members of the community had wanted the original street renames restored to reflect the historic character of many of the Colonial- and Tudor-style homes in the neighborhood.

“On behalf of a grateful community, I say thank you, thank you, thank you,” said Stuart Hersh, one of the society’s board members.

Halloran said the plan to reinstate the streets’ old names began with his Council predecessor, now-state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside). When the bill failed to get out of committee, Halloran reintroduced the bill upon taking office at the request of society members and corrected one of the street names.

The Council held numerous hearings on the issue attended by members of the community. After getting Council approval, Mayor Michael Bloomberg finally signed the bill March 25.

Hersh said not only were Halloran and Braunstein instrumental in making the change, but so were Avella and former Sen. Frank Padavan.

The signs went up within three months and cost about $2,500.

“It’s amazing to see it,” Halloran said, “to step back in time in a way.”

The councilman said the new names will not cause problems for the NYPD, FDNY, U.S. Post Office or EMS. He said in many instances their databases always had the original street names and that the databases will eventually be updated to reflect the restored names.

“There’s never going to be any confusion for the postman. There’s never going to be confusion for the cop,” Halloran said.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4564.