Queens Village is a residential neighborhood in the eastern part of the New York City borough of Queens, situated not far from the famous Belmont Park race track. Nearby parks include Cunningham Park and Alley Pond Park, as well as the historic Long Island Motor Parkway, once the home of the racing competition the Vanderbilt Cup. It's now part of the Brooklyn-Queens Greenway used by bicyclists, joggers and nature trail lovers.
Founded in the 1640s, Queens Village was once known as Brushville (after Thomas Brush, who established a blacksmith shop in the area), but in 1856, residents voted to change the name from Brushville to Queens, and thereafter to Queens Village. The area was part of a housing boom in the 1920s and 1930s, and many of the charming and well-maintained Dutch Colonial and Tudor homes built during that period can still be seen today.
Queens Village is a diverse neighborhood made up of Caribbean American, Hispanic, Indian, and Jamaican people, and this is reflected in the wealth of different shops and restaurants in the area. Your pooch is also sure to feel both safe and pampered here, as Queens Village is home to a highly-rated animal hospital and has a number of dog grooming services located nearby.
Right in the heart of Queens Village is Wayanda Park. The word “Wayanda” comes from the Native American word for “The Place of Happy Hearts,” after the Jameco Native Americans, a tribe of the Algonquin nation who originally occupied the land. Amazingly, a description of Wayanda Park from 1872 said it was “desolate”, which led residents to appeal for a new park on the site. The park opened in 1912. A lot of work went into the park over the years, and today – with its basketball and handball courts, game tables, benches, and kid’s play area – the park could certainly not be described as desolate! Indeed, you and your pooch are likely to have very happy hearts as you explore the park’s pathways.
Just north of Queens Village is Alley Pond Park, the second largest park in Queens at a massive 655 acres. The park itself is situated on top of an accumulation of glacial debris that formed 15,000 years ago. The glacier left behind buried chunks of ice, which would eventually melt to form the park’s network of ponds. The park is home to some of the largest forests in the city and supports a variety of rare plant species. Indeed, the oldest and tallest tree in New York City, known as “the Queens Giant,” can be found in Alley Pond Park. It also has an off-leash dog area for your pooch to run wild.
Another one of the largest parks in Queens is Cunningham Park. A beautiful landscape that was also carved out by glaciers, this area was first settled by Native Americans over 7,000 years ago. Established in 1928, Cunningham Park has become a favorite over the years with all manner of park users – from athletes to dog walkers and even barbecue enthusiasts. And it’s not hard to see why. Cunningham Park has tennis courts, playgrounds, stables, bridle paths, playing fields, and picnic groves, and is also host to many special events, including concerts by the New York Philharmonic, the Metropolitan Opera, and appearances by the Big Apple Circus.
In the nearby neighborhood of South Jamaica is Baisley Pond Park. While dredging the bottom of Baisley Pond in the late 1800s, workers unearthed the remains of an American Mastodon (a distant relative of the elephant), approximately 10,000 years old. Today, a sculpture of a mastodon stands guard in the children’s playground. But there’s nothing prehistoric about the activities and amenities available in this park: from sports such as tennis, handball, basketball, and cricket to spaces for running, biking, and rollerblading, as well as playgrounds and picnic areas. And during the summer, you can also catch the Southern Queens Gospel Fest, as well as puppet shows for the kids.
In the nearby neighborhood of Bellerose, just north of Queens Village, is the William T. Gunn, Jr. Park. This park is named in honor of William T. Gunn, Jr., a New York Police Detective who was shot in the line of duty and died four years later as a result of his injuries. The park sits on 2.7 acres and has swings, jungle gyms, handball courts, basketball courts and a fitness area, as well as plenty of space to wander with your pooch. William T. Gunn, Jr. Park was recently reconstructed thanks to $650,000 secured by former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, amongst others.