Borough President Sid Leviss temporarily dedicated ORT Street.
The Tribune’s first edition headlined a local school board battle in Flushing’s School District 25. Ground was broken for a new school in Kissena Corridor Park to help alleviate the great influx of children who came with the recent arrival of large apartment buildings. Today it is named the Rachel Carson Intermediate School 237.
The first news photo on page three showed then-Queens Borough President Sidney Leviss handing over his local Democratic district leadership post to a young City Councilman from Flushing, Donald Manes. Manes said, “We can no longer afford the luxury of nominating men who are anything but the best…As a public official I can see clearly that the Democratic Party must select candidates who are responsive to its long tradition of just political leadership.”
The Tribune’s first editorial complained about a problem affecting Flushing tenants who were being cheated out of interest owed to them on their rent deposits.
Protest from the Kissena Corridor Civic Association organized against plans by Booth Memorial Hospital to expand its facility. A movie review of the recently released film “Easy Rider,” starring Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper and a new face, Jack Nicholson, was featured in the Trib’s first paper. The review said the film was “one of the least entertaining films in local movie theaters today.”
St. Joseph’s Convent was demolished to make way for Korvette’s.
Among the ads in the first issue was a half-page advertisement for Manes Volkswagen in Jamaica (owned by Donald Manes’ twin brother Morty) and depicting the famous Volkswagen “bug” car. A full-page ad promoted Gary Ackerman’s candidacy for the local school board election.
The paper featured a special six-page supplement on the upcoming school board elections containing pictures, biographies and statements by all of the candidates. This style of election coverage continues today.
Undercover agents posing as students at John Bowne High School were a cause of concern for teachers there. “Drunkenness and the use of marijuana and more potent drugs are occurring with disturbing frequency in the school,” one teacher told the Tribune…An effort was begun to save the historic 1960s-era Flushing Town Hall from sale or demolition and turn it into a youth center.
Plans were developed for a large celebration in Flushing Meadows Corona Park to celebrate the 325th anniversary of the founding of Flushing… Century-old St. Joseph’s Convent was demolished over the protests of people who wanted to preserve the structure on Sanford Avenue…Court battles were started to prevent the construction of a shopping center at the site. It later became Korvette’s department store and a large apartment building…
The Trib’s first sports column appeared with the headline “The Flushing Mets: Amazins’ Try Repeat Performance,” referring to the hope that the Mets could recapture the magic of the previous year’s 1969 World Series miracle….
Borough President Leviss blasted plans by Mayor John Lindsay to impose tolls on all the East River bridges… A Trib front page editorial pushed for a drug referral center in Flushing, a proposal supported by local residents. The drive for a Greater Flushing Drug Center succeeded with the opening of a facility on Parsons Boulevard.
Despite protests by the Kissena Corridor Civic Association and many others in Queens, Booth Memorial Hospital in Flushing went ahead with a massive expansion.
Activists began the drive to save the leftover World’s Fair buildings in Flushing Meadows Corona Park from demolition and convert them into a Queens cultural and recreational center…The City informed angry local merchants and commuters that it would be “at least four years” before the long-awaited Flushing Bus Terminal would be constructed to alleviate the lines and congestion in downtown Flushing…Booth Memorial Medical Center opened its major new extension.
Gary Ackerman (l.) and Mayor John Lindsay in front of the Tribune’s second office, which served the Tribune from 1971-1990.
After leaving a career in education, Gary started the Queens Tribune in 1970, was elected to the New York State Senate in 1978, and then to Congress in 1983, where he still serves the people of Queens today. He is still a part owner of the Queens Tribune.
It was 1969 when a 27-year-old school teacher finished teaching his eighth grade social studies class and rushed to Main Street in Flushing where he’d seen an ad in a window that said “desk space for rent.” It was there, in the back of the then-Shalda Real Estate storefront, that for 50 dollars a month - which merely included an old metal desk and a limpy old four-drawer file cabinet - that the Queens (then Flushing) Tribune was born.
Starting out as a monthly, volunteer-staffed community newspaper, the first issue hit the streets in February 1970 with news stories close to the hearts of the people of Flushing, who were then (and sometimes now) mostly undiscovered by New York’s many citywide daily newspapers.
The Tribune heralded itself as a place where stories near and dear to community residents could find their place in print. It was also a spot that local advertisers, who could not afford the still-enormous prices to advertise their merchandise to millions of people, could find a place to market their goods to 50,000 doorsteps at an affordable price.
The first issue was eight pages. The Flushing Boys Club, operating from the back of Hy Segal’s dry cleaning store and looking for a permanent home, made the front page. Jack’s men’s and boy’s clothing store boasted that it could outfit any man or boy regardless of his size. It also told the story of a new plan for the decentralization of the Board of Education which was soon to come and now has gone. In addition, it promised local residents a place to find the score of their son’s high school basketball game, a space to promote the church bake sale and it covered local politicians whose decisions helped shape local everyday life but whose names never found their way into the big time press. The paper would take bold stands and would fight for the community. Local people could write letters for the whole neighborhood to read.
The publication grew while still having an all-volunteer army - except for the hundreds of paid youngsters who soon brought the monthly-turned-weekly newspaper to 50,000 doorsteps in Flushing alone. In addition, the Tribune’s fabled “Beautiful Baby Contest” found its way into national prominence, featured on Archie Bunker’s All in the Family.
The paper, currently printed in nine local community editions and covering most of Queens, pioneered local urban-crusading community journalism in a way not envisioned previously. The paper’s demise was predicted by the editors of many dailies that are no longer in print.
Successful beyond anyone’s wildest dreams, that tiny paper has evolved into the huge success that you now hold in your hands and read, hopefully with delight.
Fortunate to have been there at its conception and birth, relishing in the fact that for 35 years its promise has been met, I now look forward as the most professional of staffs take on more promises to keep.
Many thanks to the hundreds of volunteers and staff, some of whom have made news and history themselves, and all of whom over the years have made The Trib the quality journalistic product that it is today.