A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from April 05, 2005
Garden Apartment
The Queensboro Corporation developed the country's first "garden apartments" in Jackson Heights in the 1910s. The corporation's founder and director was E. A. MacDougall. A favorite architect was Andrew J. Thomas.

"Garden Apartment" is not an entry in the Oxford English Dictionary yet, but it should be.

22 April 1917, New York (NY) Times, pg. RE1:
Garden Apartments in Queens.
The first new garden apartments erected by the Queensboro Corporation at Jackson Heights have just been completed, Six apartment buildings on each side of Twenty-fourth Street, between Polk and Fillmore Avenues, have been finished and contracts were let last week for eight additional garden apartment buildings, each 64 feet in width, to cost approximately $400,000. Plans were also filed for five additional buildings each 88 feet in width, with 3 to 5 room suites, to cost approximately $300,000, making a total of $700,000 to be invested in new operations by the Queensboro Corporation this Spring.

E. A. MacDougall, President, said that, as a result of the demand for this type of apartment, there would be no cessation in building operations in Jackson Heights.

2 September 1917, New York (NY) Times, pg. 24:
Four More of New Type Being
Erected at Jackson Heights.
Four more apartment houses of the garden type are being completed at Jackson Heights, Borough of Queens, and will be ready for occupancy next month.

When these buildings are finished they will make ten garden apartments completed of the nineteen originally projected by the Queensboro Corporation. Work on additional groups will be started in the near future.

The original project of the garden apartments to initiate this new idea in apartment house construction was to build three rows of five-story apartment houses, occupied by from ten to twenty families - two rows facing each other on Twenty-third Street, between Polk and Fillmore Avenues, Jackson Heights, and the third row on Twenty-fourth Street, between Polk and Fillmore Avenues. The only portion of the plan not yet undertaken is the row on Twenty-fourth Street.

The conception underlying the garden apartments is to construct apartment houses set back from the building line a sufficient distance to allow for planting and trees and general parking treatment.

The buildings themselves are built very shallow in depth, so as to leave a large garden in the rear, which is laid out for the recreation of the tenants and avoids the unsightly cement courts and fences so common in apartment house neighborhoods.

The groups of houses on Twenty-third Street are set back twelve feet from the building line, thereby increasing the width of the street from sixty feet, which is the width in Manhattan, to eighty-four feet.

24 August 1924, New York (NY) Times, pg. RE1:
New $600,000 Garden Apartment Building Operation at Jackson Heights, by Arthur Cutler, Builder, Borough of Queens. Andrew J. Thomas, Architect.

24 October 1926, New York (NY) Times, pg. XX3:
Andrew Thomas, who built the Metropolitan Garden Apartments in Queens, the Bayonne houses in New Jersey and is now erecting apartments in the Bronx which the Needle Trades Union began and John D. Rockefeller is finishing, gives that figure is approximately correct.

3 September 1944, New York (NY) Times, pg. 26:
E. A. M'DOUGALL, 69,
Queensboro Corp. Head Built
Jackson Heights Community
--In Field 45 Years
Mr. MacDougall was known for his pioneering work in the garden apartment and cooperative housing field in Queens, and for his interest in civic planning and transit and street improvements there.

27 July 1963, New York (NY) Times, pg. 33:
Housing Projects Designer
Dies at 90 - Fought Slums
Andrew J. Thomas, an architect who designed millions of dollars worth of housing projects for John D. Rockefeller Jr. in the city and who popularized the garden apartment, died Sunday at Harkness Pavilion.
In the Mott Houses, which he designed for Mr. Rockefeller, the architect found he could construct each building on 46 per cent of the land. The garden apartment was born.

10 September 1987, New York (NY) Times, "Gracious, Spacious and Old: Garden Apartments in Queens," pg. C1:
IN the 1920's. Edward A. MacDougall, a developer, lured families out of Manhattan by promising them everything. If only they would live in one of his innovative garden apartments in the area he named Jackson Heights, they would soon be surrounded by a charmed, aristocratic world of golf and tennis clubs, skating rinks and quaint shops.

28 June 1992, New York (NY) Times, pg. R7:
Streetscapes: Garden Apartments
Waiting in Queens
For Historic Status
In 1919, a new type of housing - garden apartments - was developed in Queens in the newly named section of Jackson Heights.

4 April 2005, New York (NY) Sun, pg. 13:
Thomas created "garden apartments" - an innocuous-sounding term for what in fact was something very unusual. At a time when tenement laws mandated that apartment buildings occupy no greater than 70% of their lots, Thomas strove for much lower percentages. In one Jackson Heights instance, the Towers (1923-25), on the north side of 24th Avenue between 80th and 81st streets, he achieved a remarkable 25% coverage. His Chateau building (1922) across the avenue comes in at 37%. The typical Park Avenue luxury building uses 70 percent.
Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityBuildings/Housing/Parks • Tuesday, April 05, 2005 • Permalink

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