History of Maspeth » History of Maspeth

History of Maspeth

The name "Maspeth" is derived from the name of Mespeatches, one of the 13 main indigenous groups that inhabited Long Island. It is translated to mean "at the bad waterplace" relating to the many stagnant swamps that existed in the area. 

The area known today as Maspeth was chartered by Dutch and English settlers in the mid-17th century. The Dutch had purchased land in the area known today as Queens in 1635, and within a few years began chartering towns. In 1642 they settled Maspat, under a charter granted to Rev. Francis Doughty. Maspat became the first European settlement in Queens. The settlement was leveled the following year in an attack by the Mespeatches, and the surviving settlers returned to Manhattan and to what is now Elmhurst in 1643. 

It wasn't until nine years later, in 1652, that settlers ventured back to the area, settling an area slightly inland from the previous Maspat location. This new area was called Middleburg, and eventually developed into what is now the town of Elmhurst, bordering Maspeth. Following the immigration waves of the 19th century, Maspeth was home to a shanty town of Boyash (Ludar) Gypsies between 1925 and 1939, though this was eventually bulldozed. 

Maspeth is a community rich in history. Mount Olivet Cemetery, for example, dominates the area on the highest land in Maspeth. Mount Olivet, probably because of its incredible views of Manhattan, was once a popular weekend destination to 19th Century Manhattan families. The first meeting to discuss the formation of the cemetery was on March 26, 1850 at the house of James Maurice in Maspeth. Mount Olivet's famous residents include cosmetics entrepreneur Helena Rubinstein Courielli and the 16 unidentified victims of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire. 

Present-day Maspeth is a neighborhood of families, small shops and businesses, and restaurants. Maspeth is also a community for great dining with its many restaurants, diners, delicatessens, bakeries and other fine eateries. Neighborhoods sharing borders with Maspeth are Woodside and Sunnyside to the north, Long Island City to the northwest, Greenpoint to the west, East Williamsburg to the southwest, Fresh Pond and Ridgewood to the south, and Middle Village and Elmhurst to the east.