STEPHEN McGUIRE and
you live in
can’t help seeing and saying names like Van Wyck, Guy Brewer and Francis
Lewis nearly every day.
who were these people anyway?
many are the names of people who helped shape our borough, city and nation
week, the PRESS takes a look at some of the historic names
signs and places. Here are a few names you may have heard before:
Rights Leader Roy Wilkins brought great gains for blacks and other
minority groups in the United States and spent the last 30 years of his
life in Queens.
served as executive secretary of the NAACP for 22 years and was
instrumental in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of
1965 and the Fair Housing Act of 1968.
death in 1981 marked the end of an era for leaders like Dr. Martin Luther
King, Jr., Malcom X, Phillip Randolph and Whitney Young, who played a
major role in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s.
his life, Newsweek magazine wrote “He was among the last
generation civil rights leaders who pulled and tugged and cajoled the
nation through decades of change so profound that many Americans cannot
imagine, still less remember, what segregation was like.”
147-15 Village Rd., Parkway
with a high school and one of the borough’s major thoroughfare’s named
for him, few people know who Francis Lewis was.
in 1713, Lewis arrived in
at age 21, an active and sharp businessman. He became an agent for
supplying British troops in
with uniforms during the French and Indian War.
was a delegate when the Stamp Act Congress met in
supported its measures. But when
with the Declatory Act, which denied colonists the right to oppose British
legislation in the colonies, he withdrew from business and retired to his
country home in Whitestone.
was one of the first to join the Sons of Liberty, formed to resist the
power of the colonial governors. At the Second Continental Congress in May
of 1776, Lewis – a delegate from
– was responsible for determining the needs of an army preparing for
was in attendance when the congressional resolution that called for
independence was proposed by Richard Henry Lee of
and seconded by John Adams.
was also present on July 4 when the Declaration of Independence was
adopted by all of the congressional delegates and was one of the signers
of the document after
the fall of 1776 the British, who learned that Lewis and his family lived
in Whitestone, arrested Lewis’ wife and a calvary unit was sent to his
home to destroy it.
General George Washington obtained Mrs. Lewis’ release the following
year in exchange for the captured wives of two high ranking British army
the events of 1776, Lewis went on to be instrumental in the process of
forming a government for the State of
and following the war, was known as a man of God who was a vestryman of
Episcopal Church in
few blocks from the 21st century hustle and bustle of
shopping and entertainment center near
is a quiet
and hidden old farmhouse nestled in an 11-acre patch of historic green.
King Park in Jamaica,
which holds King Manor is named after its original tenant, one of
the central authors of the
Photo By Ira Cohen
home, King Manor, belonged to statesman, diplomat and Constitutional
penman Rufus King.
National Historic Register house and center of a whole lot of interesting
things to see and do for
rubbed the nation’s conscience raw,” said Roy Fox, King Manor’s
caretaker who gets a lot of joy out of introducing kids to the local
founding father and abolitionist. “It’s a wonderful opportunity we
have here—that’s why we work so diligently.”
one of the 55 delegates who attended the Constitutional Convention of 1787
and one of the five delegates in its “Committee on Style” (a.k.a. the
inner circle), was recruited for his well-known way with words.
was to be part of the committee given the final chore of pulling all the
strings together,” Fox says in one of his lectures about King,
“creating a literary tapestry that would breathe life and vitality into
a nation stalled in its tracks.”
Brewer Boulevard, Jamaica
all the main streets in
is one of
the most recently named. Formerly
, the name
was changed by a council law sponsored by Archie Spigner and signed by
Mayor Koch in 1982 to honor the late State Assemblyman.
R. Brewer Boulevard
named after a the late
Photo By Ira Cohen
particular boulevard was chosen because it was the site where Brewer had
purchased a building which would house the United Democratic Club on the
. The Club
went on to be one of the strongest in the borough.
is an ongoing debate that still rages hard over this one. Some say the
famous highway to
is named for the former Mayor Robert A. Van Wyck, who was mayor of
New York City
when the borough of
joined the municipality.
say nay – that the highway was named after none other than Abraham Van
Wyck, the real estate investor who opened Van Wyck Avenue in Jamaica in
Expressway followed roughly the same road.
by the Long Island Press as “a model of public endeavor” John
H. Sutphin served as
consecutive terms, receiving bipartisan support for two of those runs. He
also was president of the Bank of Long Island and the Jamaica Savings
Bank, as well as being Democratic county leader for 28 years.
Boulevard is named after
John Sutphin, a philanthropist who worked in
supported dozens of families.
Photo By Ira Cohen
amassed a large personal fortune, he also did a great deal of
philanthropic work in
, and, at
one time was paying the rent of 55 needy families in addition to other
“excessive” charity work. He died in 1907.
Kew Gardens/Richmond Hill
for one, some or all members of the Lefferts family,
is the last
remaining testimony to the existence
named after a wealthy and civicly active
Photo By Ira Cohen
a civicly active, landowning family. The Lefferts lived in one of the five
farms later brought by Albon Man, the eventual founder of
, which is
what it was originally called, was in place by 1905.
Shonna Keogan and Kenrick Ou
contributed to this story.