Venture into the past learning about Queens’ architectural houses in a new book entitled, Historic Houses of Queens, that looks at interior design, surrounding neighborhoods, real estate trends, peculiarities and personalities.
The book, written by Rob MacKay — the director of public relations, marketing and tourism for the Queens Economic Development Corporation — is now available for purchase on Arcadia Publishing’s website for $21.99.
MacKay, who is also a former newspaper editor and authored the “Queens in Your Pocket” guidebook, said his interest in writing the book grew organically, and intensely, after he became a trustee of the Queens Historical Society in 2018.
“This is a true labor of love. I spent countless weekends on research and writing,” said MacKay, who lives in Sunnyside. “But it was worth it. Queens is such a special place, and its history is absolutely fascinating. It’s an honor and a pleasure to share this information with readers.”
With 200 images and informative captions, the paperback explores several landmarked districts and more than 50 significant houses with the oldest dating back to the mid-1660s. Their owners were America’s forefathers, religious dignitaries, nouveau riche industrialists, Wall Street tycoons, world leaders and prominent African American entertainers from the Jazz Age.
For example, Rufus King, a senator and the youngest signer of the U.S. Constitution, operated a large family farm in Jamaica, while piano manufacturer William Steinway lived in a 27-room, granite-and-bluestone Italianate villa in Astoria. Local musicians include Louis Armstrong, James Brown and Ella Fitzgerald.
MacKay has been working for the Queens Economic Development Corporation since 2011. As part of his day job, he runs various social media channels that promote the borough’s restaurants, shops, hotels and tourism attractions.
Established in 1993, Arcadia Publishing specializes in books and other products that offer inside views of regional history and forgotten aspects of American life. The company’s ever-increasing catalog has more than 12,000 titles, including several other paperbacks on Queens neighborhoods, landmarks and ethnic communities.