THE HISTORY OF FLORAL PARK

Official Village Animal - Squirrel
Official Village Tree -  Maple

The history of Floral Park begins in 1874, when 17 year old John Lewis Childs came to the area known as East Hinsdale.  The community, then a part of Queens County, consisted of a small group of houses, one store, the Hinsdale Post Office and a rail­road station.  In 1899 the County of Nassau was formed and Floral Park became a part of it.


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Young Childs became an employee of C. L. Allen, who was a grower of flowers and seeds.  After a year of apprenticeship, he went into business for himself.  He rented a small area of land and began a seed and bulb business.  He advertised his products in leaflets, thus starting the first seed cat­alogue business in America.  The business grew to hundreds of acres of gardens, thou­sands of customers, a printing plant and catalogues sent throughout the world.

Now a flourishing businessman, Childs bought the land surrounding the post office and named the new territory Floral Park, naming the streets and avenues for flowers and trees.  The post office was soon re­named the Floral Park Post Office and, in 1888, the railroad similarly changed the name of its station.  Childs did not own Jeri­cho Turnpike, a planked toll road used by those traveling from Long Island to New York.  In 1904, the Turnpike and Light Horse Road (now Tulip Avenue), was a popular place to view the first Vanderbilt Cup Race.

The Village of Floral Park was formally incorporated on October 15, 1908.  Two days later, some 175 voters elected John Lewis Childs as President, along with two Trustees, George F. Downing and John F. Klein.  The first Village Clerk, David W Syme, and Tax Collector, Andrew Wright, were named.  The new officials, through the gen­erosity of John Lewis Childs, met in an up­stairs room in the Mayflower Press Building.


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With population increasing in 1910 to almost 800 people, a proposition was submitted to Village voters recommending the addition of two trustees.  It was voted down until 1922, when it was again submitted and passed.  The title of President was changed to Mayor in 1927.

In 1926, Floral Park was classified a Village of the First Class with a population of more than 5,000.  A bond was issued in 1921 for paving Village streets, a project that took many years to complete.  The Village now has approximately 37 miles of paved roads.

Law  and order was provided by two deputy sheriffs, Gilbert Wright and George Hurrell, when the Village incorporated in 1908.  It wasn't until 1918 that Floral Park had a uniformed police force with a booth at Jericho Turnpike and Tyson Avenue, which served as police headquarters.  Today, the Village is served by uniformed officers, civilian dispatchers, crossing guards and parking meter attendants with a modern computerized headquarters.


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The Hook & Ladder Company was founded in 1893, the first of the Floral Park fire companies.  The first firehouse was on Violet Avenue, now the location of a municipal park­ing field.  The second floor of this hall served as a meeting place for Village activities for many years.

A second unit, Alert Engine Company, was formed in 1907, followed by Reliance Engine Company in 1910, and Active Hose and Engine Company in 1924.  Each of these companies located in various areas of the Village are still housed in their original facilities.  The last branch of the department was the Rescue Company, formed in 1930.  Its much in demand ambulance service, begun in 1970, offers mod­ern lifesaving equipment and well-trained medical technicians.

Floral Park is fortunate to be served by a one hundred percent volunteer fire department.

Religious organizations came to Floral Park as early as 1889, when the Extension Society of the Methodist Church sent a min­ister to preach on Sunday evenings.  A church was formally dedicated in 1891 and became the first church in the Village.

St. Hedwig Roman Catholic Church dates from 1902 and offered some Masses in Polish for a large ethnic congregation.  St. Elisabeth Episcopal Church originated as a mission in 1910, and was followed in 1912 by Christ Lutheran Church.  After celebrat­ing Masses in Fireman's Hall in the mid 20's, Our Lady of Victory Roman Catholic Church located to its present site in 1924.  In 1928, the Floral Park Jewish Center located on Tyson Avenue.  The 1940's brought the Covenant Church and First Church of Christ Scientist to our Village.  In later years, the Pentecostal Church located on Magnolia Avenue.


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As the population increased in the Village, the need for a school became apparent.  A Board of Education was formed and a four room school house, called the Floral Park School, was built and opened in 1895 on South Tyson Avenue.  Upon the death of John Lewis Childs in 1921, the name was changed to the John Lewis Childs School.

In 1929, the Floral Park-Bellerose School opened its doors for students, accommo­dating the residents in the west end of the Village.

St. Hedwig School, the first parochial school in the Village, was built in 1908 and was followed by Our lady of Victory Parochial School in 1930.  Both schools have expanded over the years.

Pupils going on to high school in the early years attended Hempstead or Jamaica High Schools.  Overcrowding of these schools in the 20's saw Floral Park seek its own high school.  In 1926, a Central High School District was formed and Sewanhaka High School opened its doors in 1930.

Sewanhaka became overcrowded and, although Floral Park - Bellerose residents wished to withdraw from the Central High School District, efforts to do so were voted down in 1954 by the rest of the component districts.  The final effort was the construction of a junior-senior high school in each member district, and Floral Park Memorial opened its doors in 1957.


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In 1936, a much needed Village Hall was erected and it serves our Village today.  At that time, it housed the administrative offices, police department, fire companies, and the library.  Today, the administrative offices occupy the major portion of the building along with police and fire headquarters.

Although the Village Board of Trade started a fund in 1916 toward the goal of a public library, it did not come into being until 1923.  The Floral Park Public Library opened its doors in that year and moved to its present location in 1964.

In the late 40's, the Village saw the need for parking due to the great increase of automobiles and construction of four municipal parking fields was begun to alleviate this problem.

Storm sewers and sanitary sewers were installed between 1954 and 1957 and kept the Village in a disrupted state for three years.  Parking meters appeared on major streets in the mid 50's.

A major change took place in the early 60's with the New York State widening of Jericho Turnpike.  Land and buildings were condemned on the north side of the Turnpike and the project was not completed until late in 1962.

At the same time, elimination of the Long Island Railroad grade crossing at Tulip, Carnation and Plainfield Avenues was in progress.  The first train to operate on the newly elevated tracks came through in June of 1962 and full service was in effect that November.


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During the 60's, many changes took place.  Old houses were demolished to make room for office buildings and super markets and the post office moved to its present location on Tulip Avenue.

In 1962, a self-sustaining swimming pool was added to the much used recreation area. Over the years, additional equipment and renovations have made the recreation center a most popular place in the Village, with thousands of people making use of the tennis courts, fields and other facilities.

The Long Island Railroad added an escalator at the Floral Park station in the early 80's

After lengthy negotiations with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the Village leased the area known as the Creedmoor Spur, which it developed into a large parking field.  It is used by residents and commuters, with permit and metered parking available.

In 1982, Memorial Park was completely renovated through the efforts of the Southside Civic Association.  A memorial commemorating those residents who gave their lives for our country stands there and is the site of Memorial Day Services.  Art shows and musical presentations offered by the Council of Cultural Affairs are also held at Memorial Park.

The most recent change in our Village has taken place on Tulip Avenue. Through the Community Development Fund, matching grants were made available to participating merchants for new facades on the store fronts of Tulip Avenue.  These funds also provided for new street lights and trees were planted throughout the business districts with Village funds.

As our Village matured over the years, from several hundred residents at the time of incorporation to the present 16,800, it was and continues to be "a great place to live."

 

Page Last Updated on Friday, March 07, 2014
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