In October 1965 a liberalized immigration law known as the Hart-Celler Act was passed allowing immigrants to come to America and bring family along later without quota restrictions. Opponents of the bill said immigration would get out of hand and engulf and change communities overnight. Flushing was one such neighborhood whose identity was changed and lost overnight as predicted.
In the early 20th century, 40th Road was a block of handyman shops. Rent was cheaper here than on Main Street. It you needed a locksmith, plumber, printer or even a quick haircut, 40th Street was where you would go for a good deal and fair prices.
Other shops were there too. In the 1930s came Shifman’s kosher butcher shop, which later became Dan Schreiber’s kosher butcher shop, a staple for many years at 135-38 40 Road. Schreiber’s speciality was corned beef and pickled tongue.
Next door, right on the corner with Main Street, was the Hy-Heat Coal Co. When coal went out of favor as a fuel, the site became became the home of the M.C. Avery liquor store. That was another neighborhood staple. In 1962 it became Gem Liquor, which continued to operate there until 1987.
Today 40th Road is of course filled with Asian-American shops, with most signs not even written in English.
Many people who come to America have already studied our history. Perhaps the Bowne House, a symbol of freedom of religion located a short distance away, is one reason this neighborhood was chosen as the favorite place to be for one wave of immigrants who came here.
I sincerely doubt that was the reason. Actually I know it wasn't a reason at all. Think tweeding.