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‘Queens Jewels’ reflect boro’s historic parks

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A century ago Queens had no park system, only a scattering of town greens and squares, and its largest park was known misleadingly as the Brooklyn Forest. Today, Queens — the largest borough in size and the second most populous — boasts more than 7,000 acres of greenspace. From the prime Atlantic beachfront of Rockaway to playgrounds, recreation centers, pools, golf courses, natural wetlands, historic houses and monuments, this exhibition examines the diversity of Queens parks.

The vintage images include early street tree care in Flushing, a lumber camp in Forest Park, the first Queens playground, Ashmead, and floral displays in Long Island City.

The era of Parks Commissioner Robert Moses (1934-1960) is well represented with images of smiling children at new WPA playgrounds, the spectacular Astoria Park Pool, Rockaway Beach and boardwalk, and the transformation of Flushing Meadow into the borough’s premier park, which hosted two World’s Fairs and the United Nations.

Striking views of forests and wetlands, then and now, highlight the many natural sanctuaries of Queens. The exhibition also includes a 1940 bronze sculpture bust of Walter Cunningham, for whom Cunningham Park is named.

The photographs are from the New York City Photo Archive and Parks Department collections, and there are postcards on loan from the Queens Borough Public Library, Long Island Division. The exhibition is curated by Park’s Director of Art & Antiquities Jonathan Kuhn. This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, and by the City Parks Foundation/Mellon Foundation Grant Program.

Kingsland Homestead is open to the public Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., or by appointment. Admission is $3 for adults, $2 for students and seniors.

Kingsland Homestead, Weeping Beech Park, is located at 143-35 37th Ave., bet. Parsons Blvd. & Bowne St., Flushing. Call 718-939-0647.

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