Sunday, November 22, 2015

What happened to Forest Park's lake?

I came across this photo labelled "Forest Park Lake, Queens, 1936" and figured this must have been a mistake, because there's no place in Forest Park that looks like this. A sailboat pond with a walkway around it? No way.
So I started sleuthing via old maps. This 1951 aerial shot of the park does seem to show a body of water with a sidewalk around it just east of Woodhaven Blvd. So what happened to it?
Buildings. Lots of buildings.

17 comments:

Ed Wendell - Woodhaven Historical Society said...

That's Jackson Pond, in Richmond Hill. From Richmond Hill Historical Society --

http://www.richmondhillhistory.org/JacksonPond_photos.html

As for the body of water in the map, that is the former Woodhaven Reservoir - now the site of the Forest Park Co-Ops.



Queens Crapper said...

Ed, this was the source. Are you saying it's incorrect?

Ed Wendell - Woodhaven Historical Society said...

No, it's correct - it says Myrtle Avenue - that's where Jackson Pond was (it's still called that). It's the same pond as in the pics on the Richmond Hill Historical Society page, same wall in the background, etc.

Queens Crapper said...

Is this the pond in 1924?

Ed Wendell - Woodhaven Historical Society said...

Yup - that's it - that's a neat view of it, you can really see how big it was.

Middle Villager said...

The sailboat pond was on north side of Myrtle Ave and 108 St in Richmond Hill. Still there but now drained and has basketball courts.

Sergey Kadinsky said...

Jackson Pond was located near Myrtle Avenue and Park Lane South. It was drained in 1966. Jackson Pond Playgroubd occupies the site. Another pond in Forest Park is Strack Pond, which was drained in the 1960s and restored a decade ago. The pond in your historic aerials is now the site of Victory Field. The apartments to its immediate south were never part of Forest Park. That was a utility property used as a water pumping station.

JQ LLC said...

That's amazing. Riding by there for years and with all those co-ops it's hard to tell. From the photo it looks like that big parking lot by the bandshell.

This makes me even more curious about that massive apartment building that's between the rails going east and union turnpike and what used to be there.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure but I think it was filled in the 60's after a kid drowned there.Same with Strack Pond near the band shell, kids drowned there too.Park's Dept. filled it in to make ball fields but it always flooded so it was returned to a pond.I'd like to see Jackson Pond play ground returned to a pond but doubt they will,it doesn't flood there.

fiscus1 said...

Now that we know what happened to the pond, does anyone know why or how the park land was sold off to developers?

Anonymous said...

Strack Pond was manmade. It doesn't appear in the 1924 aerial.

Anonymous said...

Sergey Kadinsky said...

The pond in your historic aerials is now the site of Victory Field. The apartments to its immediate south were never part of Forest Park. That was a utility property used as a water pumping station.


Actually Sergey, the pond - or feeding reservoir known as the Woodhaven Reservoir as Ed Wendell mentioned - was not located at Victory Field; it was located where those apartment buildings, known as the Forest Park Coops, are presently extant just to the south. The Forest Park Coops were built in the early to mid-1950s. The land, as mentioned, was never parkland; rather, it was owned by the Jamaica Water Company. Once it was no longer needed for water distribution, it was sold off to developers, with the last piece being built on in the late 1970s.

Anonymous @ comment #11 - Strack Pond is most definitely NOT manmade. It's a kettle pond created by the last glacial retreat over 12,000 years ago. However, it was seasonal and has heavy forest cover, so it doesn't show up very well in the 1924 aerial, but it's there. It was filled in for a ballfield in the 1960s and restored about a decade ago.

Victory Field was actually created after the end of World War I to celebrate the victorious American forces which returned.


JQ LLC @ comment #8 - The Forest View Crescent Cooperative Apartments were built under the Mitchell-Lama program over a half century ago. Originally, what is now known as Trotting Course Lane was the northward extension of Woodhaven Boulevard, which started to be "straightened" out in the 1930s under the WPA and Robert Moses and completed a decade later into the super-highway that we know (and don't love!) today.

Hope this helps to clarify all of your questions.

Paul Graziano

Sergey Kadinsky said...

Thanks, Paul. I stand corrected. The reservoir appears park-like but it was never part of Forest Park.

JQ LLC said...

Thanks Paul

You should be legislating


godspeed

Anonymous said...

Great stuff. I'm in my forties and lived in the Woodhaven / Richmond Hill area more than 30 years and never knew how Victory Field got its name. Also the ballfields at Strack Pond we called Twins Fields and we're almost always too flooded to play little league games there.

Anonymous said...

Robert Moses mangled the entire Flushing River to truck in the second World Fair, after he had expanded the Flushing River for the First Fair.

Anonymous said...

As a boy, I sailed boats in Jackson pond and fished for sunnies and reds in what is now known as Strack pond. At the time it was two unnamed ponds which you can see in the third (?) picture of the original post. The ponds are on the west side of Woodhaven Blvd. south of Forest park drive. I assume one pond resulted from flattening and regrading the terrain for the ball fields. My guess is, the round structure on the north side of Forest Park Dr is the Carousel.