Queensline: Rockefeller charms in Queens and more in December 1965

In conjunction with the Greater Astoria Historical Society, TimesLedger Newspapers presents noteworthy events in the borough’s history.

Welcome to December 1965!

The Star Journal reported that St. John University’s chapter of the United Federation of College Teachers planned a demonstration on its Hillcrest campus as university officials were to bestow an honorary degree to the UN’s General Assembly President Amintore Fanfani. At issue was St. John’s decision to fire those teachers who previously sought to organize.

Governor Nelson Rockefeller ended a month long “people to people” state tour with his arrival to Queens, where he engaged in “a flawless political performance.” In a whirlwind four-hour visit, Rockefeller toured the Children’s unit at Creedmoor State hospital and partook in a Christmas tree lighting ceremony. The Star Journal noted that it was clear that Rocky was laying the groundwork to run for a third term. 

The Star Journal noted in the latter part of December that the Site Selection Board chose the site for the proposed $467,500 East River branch library in Long Island City.  Located on the west side of 21st street, 123 feet north of 40th avenue, the site would cover 7,125 feet and was assessed at $21,000.

The Star Journal reported on the first passenger helicopter lifting off of the roof of the Pan Am Building on Park Avenue and heading out to Queens.

“A little wiggle, a little backwards jerk and the copter was aloft… turning west towards Broadway and Times Square, then spinning…east over Central park to the Queensborough Bridge, rotors slapping, engines thudding” was the Star Journal’s depiction of this unique maiden voyage.

After the spectacle of these aircraft coming into the heart of the city, the Star Journal wistfully noted that they came in to land “almost anti-climactically.”  Regularly scheduled flights between Midtown and Kennedy Airport were to take place for a fare of seven dollars! A round trip took you back ten dollars. In a trip that lasted only seven minutes, passengers experienced vistas that took their breaths away, including a close up view of the Chrysler building, looking down into Con Edison’s riverside smokestacks, and sitting motionless above the entrance of the Lincoln tunnel “watching cars like an all-seeing traffic cop.”

With the regularity of the subway (the Star Journal reported a quip that it all was like the IRT with flight insurance) passengers were treated to the glimmering sun over New York Harbor and ocean mists in the distance. All this was a novel attempt to solve a persistent problem in commercial aviation: getting people from the city to the airport “in a time reasonably proportionate to the length of [the] total trip.” (Their novelty notwithstanding, these flights proved to be unprofitable and were cancelled about three years later in 1968.)

That’s the way it was in December 1965!

For further information, contact the Greater Astoria Historical Society at 718-278-0700.

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