Edition Editor (Michael) Josh Parish’s
Department of the Interior, Bureau of
Indian Affairs, Identification Card.
While there are a substantial number of people
of German heritage in Queens—about 79,000,
according to the 2000 Census—the number
of recent German émigrés is no longer
rising substantially, according to Werner Schmidt
of the German Consulate in Manhattan.
Ridgewood and neighboring Glendale were among
the first neighborhoods settled by German-Americans,
and they still bear a noticeable German accent
today. German can still be heard on the streets
and many of the shops and restaurants feature
authentic German entrees and pastries.
College Point is, and was, another prominent German-American
neighborhood in Queens.
They Got There
Schmidt notes that the last large-scale wave of
German immigration occurred in the decade following
World War II, when many Germans left their shattered
and recovering homeland in search of a better
life in America.
Between 1852 and 1854, more than half a million
Germans arrived in New York. Although most German-Americans
settled in Manhattan at first, they began to move
to Queens to establish farms and settle the undeveloped
areas. Their contribution to Queens’ early
development can still be seen today.
Who They Are
Ehmer opened his first Queens location
in the German enclave of Ridgewood in
the 1940s and the company, with locations
in Glendale, Fresh Meadows and beyond,
is an international distributor of German
the most recognizable German-American contribution
to Queens is the name Steinway. The famous pianos
were originally the work of William Steinway,
a German immigrant in the late 1800s—and
one of the city’s first millionaires.
In 1909, Steinway and Sons moved all piano-manufacturing
operations to the Astoria factory. William Steinway
sought to plan a community for workers in the
neighborhood, building sand parks and establishing
the Steinway Kindergarten, a private school for
Back in the day, German-American neighborhoods
like Ridgewood often had large picnic grounds
where families could spend a day outdoors eating,
drinking beer, and listening to traditional music.
One of these beer gardens, the Ridgewood Park
and Coliseum, was located on what is now Summerfield
Beer halls, carousels and bowling allies were
among the diversions available to German-American
families. Nearby Banzer’s Park also offered
ample picnic grounds, and was later renamed Cypress
Hills Park. At what is now the intersection of
Myrtle Avenue and Woodhaven Boulevard, a two-story
saloon and restaurant once stood in what was called
One of the most tragic moments in Queens German-American
history came on June 15, 1904, when a steamboat
chartered by the St. Mark’s Lutheran Church
for a Sunday School outing caught fire and sank
off the shores of Astoria. 1,021 people perished
aboard the General Slocum—almost as many
as aboard the Titanic. A monument for the dead
now stands in Ridgewood, and a memorial service
is held there each year.
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