Dr. Thomas Rainey (1824-1910), a resident of Ravenswood, Queens, spent 25 years of his life and most of his fortune advancing the construction of a bridge across the East River between Manhattan and Long Island City. The area that now accommodates Rainey Park was to be the Queens anchor for the “Blackwell Island Bridge,” a project backed by leading citizens of Long Island City after the American Civil War. In 1871, they incorporated the “New York and Queens County Bridge Company.” The bridge, planned with one ramp south to Brooklyn and another out to Long Island, was promoted as a catalyst for developing growth in Queens and as a railroad link to Long Island. To the community’s disadvantage, the effort fell apart during the financial Panic of 1873.
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