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Middleburgh Triangle

Middleburgh Triangle

This text is part of Parks’ Historical Signs Project and can be found posted within the park.

Elmhurst was established as Newtown in 1652, but between 1652 and 1664, the area was known as Middleburgh after a city in the Netherlands. This triangle is named for Maspeth’s original name.

The city of Middelburg is located in the southwestern Netherlands province of Zeeland. It is named for its central location on the former island of Walcheren. Middelburg is the capital of Zeeland, one of the least populated areas in the Netherlands. The province, whose name literally means “sea land,” is comprised of a strip of the Flanders mainland between Belgium and the Western Scheldt River, and several islands, including Walcheren. Historically, Zeeland has been characterized by farming and fishing industries, as well as a constant struggle against the sea that has included several devastating floods. Middelburg itself was very prosperous during the Middle Ages due to its flourishing wine and cloth trade. The Dutch East India Company also brought commercial success to the town. The city underwent massive renovations and repairs to reverse the devastating damage it suffered during World War II (1939-1945). Now, Middelburg’s primary sources of revenue are tourism and industry, particularly metal and textile production.

The Elmhurst region was developed in the 1890s, largely by the Cord Meyer Development Company. The Cord Meyer Company has a rich history in Queens, and was founded in 1899 by three brothers: Cord, Christian, and John Meyer, Jr. Cord Meyer Jr. had recognized by the early 1890s that Queens had the potential to be more than a rural or aristocratic residential area. After purchasing a farm in Newtown, Cord soon laid down streets, built a sewer system, and made ties with the trolley company. When the city was incorporated into New York City in 1898, the new name “Elmhurst,” meaning “a grove of elms,” was chosen because of the prevalence of elm trees in the area. The town opted to change its name from Newtown in order to disassociate the neighborhood from the foul smells of polluted Newtown Creek.

Elmhurst, which before World War II had comprised predominantly white, middle-class residential areas with a strong Jewish and Italian influence, has evolved into one of the most ethnically diverse sections of Queens. The area experienced a large influx of Asian and Latin American immigrants after the war, and renovations have expanded to meet the changing face of the community.

The City acquired this property in May 1917 through condemnation for a street opening. In June 1918, jurisdiction was assigned to Parks. Middleburgh Triangle is a concrete traffic triangle with a bus stop. It is planted with several trees.

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