The original deed issued by the colony of New Netherlands for the Maspeth area was in 1642, making it the oldest deed on Long Island. But the new residents didn't stay long, reports The New York Times. The area was named for the Mespat tribe, who settled on the land that is now Mount Zion Cemetery, says the Times and these Native Americans made life untenable for the new Dutch settlers of Mespath, who moved with relative haste further east to what is now Elmhurst. Today Maspeth's many neighborhood organizations proudly welcome visitors to their historic neighborhood with this sign in Memorial Plaza, at Grand Avenue and the Long Island Expressway.
Glendale Bake Shop
Its residents say Mespath has a small-town feel even though it is just 5 miles from Manhattan and has great views to show for it. There's no subway and no Long Island Rail Road station. To get to Manhattan you have to take a bus and then the subway or one of two express buses, which stop on Eliot Avenue. So this lack of access keeps Mespath relatively isolated, and its residents say they like that just fine, the Times reports. This small-town vibe is a result in part of the many local businesses that serve the neighborhood, many of which are operated by descendants of the original owners. One such is the Glendale Bake Shop on Grand Avenue in Maspeth. Another aspect of its small-town feel is the 19th-century architecture that is still very much in use, like this bakery building.
The Heart of Maspeth
The intersection of Grand Avenue and 69th Street is the heart of Maspeth's commercial strip. Just out of view across the street is Maspeth Federal Savings, a local bank that's a cornerstone of the neighborhood. Small shops and diners are the heart and soul of Mespath, and you'll find them mostly on this commercial stretch. The Clinton Diner on Maspeth Avenue made an appearance in Martin Scorsese's "Goodfellas" (1990).
Residents are mostly of Polish and Irish heritage; their ancestors have been settling down in Maspeth for many decades. Germans, Italians, Lithuanians, and Asians also now call Maspeth home. Maspeth is a neighborhood of older, smallish single-family houses and attached mostly two-family structures, plus townhouses. There are a few apartment buildings and even fewer condos. The mix of housing styles on this street is fairly typical for residential Maspeth, although there are plenty of blocks where the housing is all cookie-cutter.
The View From Mount Olivet Cemetery
Mount Olivet Cemetery, like most of the cemeteries in western Queens, was built on the high ground in the 1800s. As a result, Mount Olivet has the best views in the area. Look closely at the photo to see Midtown Manhattan. Writer Nathanael West ("Day of the Locust," "Miss Lonelyhearts"), 16 unidentified victims of the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire and Helena Rubinstein Courielli of cosmetics fame are buried at Mount Olivet.