A previous attempt to get the neighborhood recognized by the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) only resulted in an offer to designate a few homes with landmark status, a compromise which was not accepted by residents. The community is renewing its efforts due to a change in leadership at the LPC last year.
Although the area is listed on State and National Registers of Historic Places, residents are seeking landmark status because this would give the structures within its boundary protection against overdevelopment under New York City Landmarks Law.
“This community has, through the civic association, fought to maintain the quality of life, going to court, spending their own money, for probably two decades at this point,” Avella said. “They shouldn’t have to do that. That should be the city’s job, protecting their neighborhood.”
According to Richard Hourahan of the Queens Historical Society, the development of the Broadway-Flushing area came at a time when the local character was changing from rural to suburban with the introduction of the Long Island Rail Road. Most of the homes in the area were built in the same time period in the first two decades of the 20th century.
“It’s a historical epoch that has been identified as being a progressive era [in the] United States,” Hourahan said. “It was the beginning of suburbanization of Queens.”
Maria Becce, a member of the Broadway-Flushing Homeowners’ Association, said that suburban life in a big city offers the best of both worlds and this an important aspect of the area.
“Instead of having to move to New Jersey or Long Island, or upstate New York, Westchester, here we are, 21 minutes by Long Island Rail Road to Penn Station, and I get exactly what I’m looking for — a one-family neighborhood, with a front garden, backyard, and where there are trees on the street and neighbors know each other,” Becce explained.
Sandi Viviani, a former president of the Broadway-Flushing Homeowners’ Association said achieving landmark status would preserve Broadway-Flushing’s history even after the current residents are gone.
“This is one of the most important things we are trying to do is to preserve this community for generations to come,” she said.