Queens, NY


1936  --  Planning for the World's Fair of 1939 begins.  The former swamp and ash dump is filled in and converted into a 1,200-acre fair site.

1939  --  The World's Fair opens in Flushing Meadows Park (later Flushing Meadows-Corona Park). The Singer Bowl (later known as Louis Armstrong Stadium) built for the tennis matches for the fair. The annual United States Open Tennis Championships were held in the stadium every year until the construction of the Arthur Ashe Stadium.

1960  --  Robert Moses retires as Park Commissioner at age 72 to become president of the 1964-65 World's Fair Corporation.

1964-65  --  A second World's Fair was held in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. The city has the Van Wyck Expressway completed for the fair. Shea Stadium also opens in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.

1978  --  The United States Tennis Association moves to the Louis Armstrong Stadium in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in 1978.

(Source: www.nyc.gov/parks)

July 9, 1937

Of the approximately 1,000 species of wild plants within the city limits of New York exclusive of Staten Island, little less than one-third were noted in our trip to Corona and Flushing, by actual count 318. 183 of the total are regarded as native to the United States and 135 as adventive. Defining families and genera as in the Illustrated Flora, we examined 69 of the former and 198 of the latter.

We observed that within two years the alteration of this area will be complete. If not completely destroyed, the colonies of plants that flourished during the Age of the Meadows, a long time ago (1936), now are reduced to a few stray ditch dwellers that are neighbors to the steam shovel.

We found no trace of Guizotia abyssinica that bloomed yesteryear, a composite (Helianthoideae) taller than one meter, many branched, with the appearance of an over robust Bidens cernua. Solanum villosum was covered with ashes simultaneously with the good fruiting Sesamum indicum and Conium maculatum. Carduus nutans, with its carmine centered nodding flower buds, is out of our area, if not, as yet, from the city. Astoria still boasts many colonies of Allionia nyctaginea, but we failed to see this umbrellawort in Flushing; nor did we mourn the loss of Bassia hyssopifolia, since it is common in other regions.

But our showy Verbena stricta, whose progress of inflorescence flared up the spike like blue flame, where else in the city can we find it? Our two undescribed Helianthus and Liatris scariosa may still be alive but we did not encounter them.

The tall alyssum-fragrant Lepedium latifolium and chicory-blue Lactuca pulchella, though still, plentiful, will now see their last hour any day. Cycloloma atriplicifolium is common on the south coast of Long Island, thus when the few remaining specimens in the area under consideration are obliterated we can still continue for several years to regard it as a member of our city flora; this is also true of Plantago arenarea and Hieracium florentinum which are now common in New York. This negative aspect of ours, the most important certainly demonstrated that if you think of writing a good list of the plants, within the city limits of New York, be quick about it, friend! And such a catalogue should be valuable, since no detail is trivial about the greatest metropolis.

I submit a few notes on the identification of weeds: an herbarium is essential for any degree of certainty in determination, for plants not in manuals are frequently collected which key out adroitly enough and are described accurately enough in your book as some species which, though nearest to it in your flora, is not that being analyzed, as a comparison with herbarium material will prove.

As should be expected, many weeds not in manuals are escapes from cultivation, so that Bailey's Cyclopedia may be consulted with profit. Coste's Flore de la France, accurately illustrated, describes plants from regions that contribute many weeds to our area, so that a reference to this work may solve the identification, as it did that of Lepedium latifolium.

If the genus of your weed is not known, nor easily discovered in Britton's, Bailey's, or Coste's, then you may have to study Bentham and Hooker's monumental Genera Plantarum or Engler and Prantl's Pfanzenfamilien. Then, as the unfamiliar genus is likely to contain but few species, go directly to the herbarium for comparison. . . .

Joseph Monachino