Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Driveways then and now

When the Central Gardens Apartments were built in 1950s, they maximized the amount of grass on the properties with carefully designed driveways. By 1964, most of the block was sold to Fairview, which built a sizable apartment tower that now overshadows these homes. As for the homes, they were no longer apartments, but private dwellings.
This allowed their owners to do as they please, with concrete lawns, brick fences, and separate basement entrances replacing the grassy lands.

These homes are located on 62nd Drive in Forest Hills, near the Grand Central Parkway.



Anonymous said...

Interesting. One side note. It should be mentioned that at one point in time, I believe it was sometime during the 1970's some of these homes (they are actually gardens style apartments)were actually abandoned properties. If I recall correctly, they had serious problems with their foundations. The property owners didnt have the funds to fix them and subsequently many of the renters at that time just left. Many of the buildings sat abandoned for a very long time. I believe it was sometime in the early 1980's that they got them fixed and were able to sell them. Does anyone remember this?

mazeartist said...

I wouldn't be surprised. Prior to the 1950s, this area was swampland, part of the Horse Brook wetlands.

matches malone said...

anonymous, you are correct.

Anonymous said...

What is the problem with lawns that so many now have in Queens? At one time it was a status symbol, a bit of ones envirnment carefully proudly maintained.

Is it a cultural thing?

Do many of these people come from places where lawns are of little value, for what ever reason?

dave in milwaukee said...

I have some personal history and recollections about this. My family was one of the original tenants in the Fairview. We moved there in May 1965, when the building was brand-new (I was in first grade at P.S. 220!).

At that time, the garden apartments just had grass lawns and entry walks in front. Also, the buildings had simple red-brick exteriors and casement windows. I always thought they were quite nice-looking. They weren't "crapped up" with driveways and those faux-tudor paint jobs until sometime in the 1970s, after my family had moved away. So that must've been when they first went condo.

I also remember how it was rumored among all the kids that the Fairview and the garden apts. were sinking at the rate of a couple of inches a year because of an "underground swamp." Most parents, like mine, told their kids that it was nonsense and was simply a kids' rumor. Well, it's been almost 43 years and the basement and first floor hasn't been swallowed up yet, so maybe our parents were right.

(P.S.--I also heard somewhere that the Fairview recently closed its pool. Can anyone tell me if this is true, and if so, what the reason was? Thanks.)

Anonymous said...

Most of these garden apartment places in Queens were absolute disasters
toward the end of the 1970's. Campus Hall, Park Drive East Apartments, Arrowbrook Gardens and especially this place. Most of them were seriously falling apart.
The looked like slums as the landlords didnt put a penny into maintaining them. The garden apartments in question did in fact have structural issues during that time and some of them were in fact vacated. I remember seeing boarded windows for a while. The gardens along little neck parkway across from Glenn Oaks Village were also abandoned for some time.An entire development abandoned. They along with all of the places mentioned got new names and full cosmetic changes when the coop-condo boom of the early 1980's came, Suddenly,
they went from being slums to paradise.

Anonymous said...

They're in Alley Katz's district, so no wonder why their alterations & alterations in the surrounds will never be reversed or ceased. She thinks she's sly, but we know what she's up to based upon her Campaign Contributions on the Campaign Finance Board's website.

mazeartist said...

Dave, can you tell us what was on the site of the Forest Hills Houses before the projects?

As for the Fairview swimming pool, it is open only during the summer. They play loud music and nonresidents pay $20 for a swim. This includes the residents of the projects and houses overlooking the Fairview pool.

dave in milwaukee said...

Mazeartist: Thanks for the update on the FV pool.

Re: the FHH site, there was a driving range there until about 1963 or 1964. The entrance was on 108th street, across from P.S. 220. There was a shack with a huge plastic golf ball on top and a sign that said "GOLF" (duh!).

Then they tore down the driving range because of apartments that were going to be built. But of course the lot sat empty for years while the "controversial" project was kicked around. The lot became overgrown with huge weeds (including creepy, gigantic mutant sunflowers that looked like something out of a sci-fi movie) and junked cars.

The comments from anon. are interesting--I don't remember the garden apartments turning to shit; it must've been after we moved away from FH. I didn't go back to visit FH until the 80s, when they were already renovated.

Anonymous said...

Actually, this section of Forest Hills is within Jim Gennaro's district.

Anonymous said...

Too lazy to maintain the lawn, immigrants’ do not appreciate trees or grass.

They just want to work and have some place to live.

Anonymous said...

Yes, for a period between 1977 and 1982 or so, these developments looked like piles of shit. These buildings all over Queens just looked very old with decaying windows, rotten doors, broken outdoor lighting and very torn up landcaping. The development where my relatives live was called Park Drive East Apartments. In 1983 it was purchased and renovated from top to bottom. This was probably the only good thing to come out of the coop-condo conversion boom. These places started to look human