Thursday, August 18, 2016

A New Hampshire Yankee in New York City - searching for family landmarks

In which we explore three boroughs of New York City (Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan) searching for landmarks like home addresses, schools, churches and places of employment...


Last weekend we did a whirlwind weekend trip to New York City to see where my husband grew up.  We brought my mother-in-law from Spain, so she could see all the places we only knew from stories and photographs.  It was a fun trip, and we covered a lot of miles in two days.  If you take a similar trip to New York City, a GPS and Google maps with street view is very important!

214 Montrose Ave, Brooklyn, NY
My husband was born in Manhattan while his father was working at the United Nations headquarters in New York City.  This is a prestigious address for employment, but their places of residence were much more modest.  At the time he was born, my husband lived at 214 Montrose Avenue in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn.  This was a two story apartment building where he grew up in the 1960s.

Montrose Avenue Subway Station

The two story original building was gone, and was replaced by this four story apartment building.  Most of the neighborhood was the same, including a laundromat across the street and the subway station on the corner.  One block down the street at 138 Montrose Avenue is the Most Holy Trinity church, flanked by the parochial elementary school and convent.  Vincent attended this school until fifth grade.  Vincent's Mom is still friendly with neighbors she met in this neighborhood over 50 years ago.

Most Holy Trinity, Brooklyn, NY



Vincent had his baptism and made his first communion in the Most Holy Trinity church.  Unfortunately it was closed when we dropped by, but we were able to get a photo through the window.  It is a lovely old church built by German immigrants in 1841.  It was almost burned to the ground by Bill "The Butcher" Poole's gang of "Know Nothings" (anti immigrant gang) in the 1850s during a period of anti-Catholic sentiment.  Holy Trinity is still a thriving community today, although the school has been closed.

PS 175, Forest Hills, Queens, NY

Around 1970 Vincent's family moved from Brooklyn to the Forest Hills area of Queens.  He attended 5th grade at PS 175 on 64th Street near Yellowstone Boulevard, where their apartment was located.  This school is now called the Lynn Gross Discovery School.  On that August Saturday the playground was full of kids and parents - kids speaking dozens of languages. It was a great sight!

A typical apartment building on Yellowstone Blvd.

We couldn't find the exact address where they lived on Yellowstone Boulevard.  The entire street was lined with brick apartment buildings that all looked alike.  This is the one that Vincent and his mother think was their home (or one similar to it!).

Nearby Yellowstone Boulevard was the site of the 1964 World's Fair in Flushing Meadows.  This spot held a lot of memories for Vincent and his mother.  She still has a souvenir plate and photographs of the World's Fair.  We stopped first at the Queen's museum, which by the way, was the United Nations headquarters in the 1940s before the Manhattan headquarters compound was completed in 1952.  Serendipity!  Inside the museum is an exhibit of 1964 World's Fair memorabilia and the "Panorama of New York" which was one of the rides back in the day.  It is no longer a ride, but it is still a huge scale model of the entire five borough area.

1964 World's Fair, Spanish Pavilion
That's Vincent and his mother in the middle!



Unisphere, 1964 World's Fair, NYC

The Queen's Museum building

Right behind the Queen's Museum is the iconic Unisphere which is often featured in movies and on TV.   This was a great time for a photo of Vincent and his mother.  The observation towers, which used to house a restaurant on top, are still standing nearby.  Maria told me that they ate in that restaurant at least once.

1964 World's Fair streetlights at Canobie Lake Park, Salem, NH



[Serendipity!  Canobie Lake Park in Salem, New Hampshire has many of the World's Fair features near the park entrance including some futuristic looking street lights and trash cans.  Check them out the next time you are there.  We lived nearby in Londonderry for 33 years and didn't know about this bit of trivia!  Apparently many World's Fair features were auctioned off after the fair ended, and this is where some of those items ended up.]

United Nations Headquarters
Manhattan, New York
From Queens we traveled over the Hudson River to Manhattan to see the United Nations headquarters.  Unfortunately there are no guided tours of the General Assembly building on weekends, but we had a lot of fun walking around, eating lunch in the cafeteria, peeking in the bookstore and gift shop, and reminiscing.  Vincent's father was employed there during turbulent times in the 1960s and he witnessed Krushchev banging his shoe on the UN podium (a month before Vincent was born),  the Bay of Pigs incident, the Vietnam War, Civil Rights and other exciting history.

The new Freedom Tower in Lower Manhattan
see through the car roof window

After our walk around the UN, we drove the length of Manhattan down Fifth Avenue to see the new Freedom Tower and Battery Park.  We also drove up to Hastings on Hudson, where my mother-in-law used to work for a publisher named Morgan and Morgan in the 1960s.   This is a cute little village in Westchester County.  Maria used to take the train from Brooklyn, to Grand Central Station, and then all the way to Hastings on Hudson every day (19 miles north).  The little storefront that used to be the publishing office is now a driving school.  Morgan and Morgan published photography books, including books by Ansel Adams.  Maria remembers meeting Ansel Adams in the office in Hastings on Hudson!

The former offices of Morgan and Morgan Publishers


Maria at work at Morgan and Morgan
in the late 1960s

Although this is all recent family history, my husband and his mother had not been back to see all these locations since the 1970s.  It was fun to listen to them reminisce as we toured New York.  I hope you will take the time to bring your family back to see where you and your loved ones lived, worked, worshipped and went to school, too.

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For the truly curious:

PS 175 Lynn Gross Discovery School  http://schools.nyc.gov/SchoolPortals/28/Q175/default.htm

1964 World's Fair at Wikipedia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1964_New_York_World%27s_Fair

The Queen's Museum
http://www.queensmuseum.org/  

A YouTube video of Most Holy Trinity Church at Christmas Time
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A6b6Ks8Cbbo

Most Holy Trinity Church, Brooklyn, Facebook Page
https://www.facebook.com/Roman-Catholic-Parish-of-Most-Holy-Trinity-St-Mary-28302113051/  

United Nations Visitor's Center
http://visit.un.org/


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Published under a Creative Commons License

Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "A New Hampshire Yankee in New York City - searching for family landmarks", Nutfield Genealogy, posted August 18, 2016, (http://nutfieldgenealogy.blogspot.com/2016/08/a-new-hampshire-yankee-in-new-york-city.html: accessed [access date]).

5 comments:

  1. Thank you! Lovely tour. I went to the world's Fair and to see the Beatles in Shea Stadium, but no pics!

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  2. What a wonderful nostalgic tour! I especially enjoyed the mix of old and new pics. Truly a trip down memory lane.

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  3. I'll have to remember to do this personally. I did it for my Ancestral Roots! in Alabama.

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  4. What a great post - I enjoyed the read. I've taken pics around my old hometown but need to include in a post with memories.

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  5. Very interesting post. I'm looking forward to a trip or two into NYC this fall to visit a few family history "landmarks", but luckily I don't have far to travel, just 40 mins on the train.

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