Jackson Heights Historic District
Developed between the two World Wars, Jackson Heights was the first planned garden and cooperative apartment community built in the United States. On October 19, 1993 the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission landmarked approximately 36 blocks of Jackson Heights, creating the Jackson Heights Historic District. Six years later, New York State and the Federal Governments designated an even larger portion of Jackson Heights as an Historic District. The area encompassing most of the blocks between 69th and 91st Streets, from Roosevelt Avenue to Northern Boulevard, is listed on the State and National Register of Historic Places.
The Queensboro Corporation, the developer of Jackson Heights, coined the term "Garden Apartment" in 1917. Between 1917 and 1940 it built about 15 garden apartment complexes, although the largest and most glamorous were constructed prior to 1926. They were all given names - including Hampton Court, Elm Court, The Chateau, and The Towers - that evoked their English, French and Mediterranean architectural styles. The apartments offer between two and four exposures, nine-foot ceilings, fireplaces, and sunrooms. These buildings are only one apartment deep so that every unit has a view of the large private garden at the center of the block. Many have been in continuous operation as cooperatives since the 1920s.
The Queensboro Corporation began building houses in 1924, calling them "English Garden Homes." The first three-story brick houses contained a convertible feature - a separate four-room apartment on the top floor. The homes grew more luxurious in each ensuing year; all are constructed of brick, with most having fireplaces, garages, high ceilings and oak floors.
Here is how the Landmarks Preservation Commission described the Jackson Heights Historic District in its 1993 designation report:
The Jackson Heights Historic District comprises the most cohesive part of an innovative residential development, which was mostly built between the early 1910s and the early 1950s. The development reflects important changes in urban design and planning that took place in the first three decades of the twentieth century. Conceived, planned, built in part, and managed under the direction of a single real estate firm the Queensboro Corporation, and its president Edward A. MacDougall, Jackson Heights is one of the earliest neighborhoods in New York to introduce two new building types, "garden apartments" and "garden homes." Commercial, institutional, recreational and transportation facilities were integrated with the residential buildings to create an alternative for middle-class residents to the then typical urban neighborhood. Influenced in its planning and management by a number of sources including the "model tenement" or improved housing movement in New York City at the end of the nineteenth century and the "Garden City" movement at the beginning of the twentieth century, Jackson Heights generated both national and international interest.
… The Queensboro Corporation initiated in Jackson Heights an important planning concept, developed from ideas and examples of the model housing movement of the nineteenth century, which involved the treatment of the rectangular block created by the street grid system as a single unit of planning and design, rather than as a collection of individual building lots to be developed independently. This design concept is seen in the area's "garden apartments" of the 1910s and 1920s, which are among New York's earliest examples of this type of apartment house, and in the "garden homes," clusters of attached and semi-attached houses, which were built after 1924.
New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission,
Jackson Heights Historic District - Designation Report, October 19, 1993