Fresh Meadows outtakes

This photo of the Fresh Meadows movie theater as it appeared in 1977 is one of more than 200 photographs included in a book about the Queens neighborhood. Photo courtesy Fred Cantor
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A book documenting the growth of Fresh Meadows in pictures was released Tuesday, showing the beginning of the planned residential Queens community 65 years ago to the 1970s.

“Fresh Meadows,” published by Arcadia Publishing as part of its Images of America series, was compiled by former Fresh Meadows residents Fred Cantor and Debra Davidson.

More than 200 photos are included in the book.

Fresh Meadows was developed in 1946 after the New York Life Insurance Co. purchased the Fresh Meadows Country Club to build housing.

“We hope we captured slices of life from that era — what it was like to live there as well as how and why Fresh Meadows is significant in terms of being a planned community,” said Cantor, who lived in the neighborhood for a decade before moving to Connecticut at 10 years old.

“It always held a special place in my heart,” he said. “I could walk to everything on my own without getting a ride from my mom,” including the bowling alley, library, movie theater, record store and school.

Davidson, who moved to Fresh Meadows when she was in second-grade and stayed until leaving for graduate school, said she was “thrilled” with how the book turned out.

“It took me back in time to what Fresh Meadows looked like as kids growing up,” she said. “It was a very special place. We think that Fresh Meadows, because of the elements of it being a planned community, gave us special opportunities for those of us lucky to live there.”

The book’s authors were helped by the Fresh Meadows management office, which provided photos of the earlier years of the development.

“For people who grew up there, we hope [the book] serves as a photo album from that era and it will be evocative of the wonderful times they had there,” Cantor said. “For people who don’t know much about Fresh Meadows, we hope it significantly increases the visibility of Fresh Meadows’ place in community planning. A lot of people don’t know that Fresh Meadows is considered a paradigm of planned communities.”

Edna Harris, a lifelong Fresh Meadows resident who shared a photo of one of her daughter’s birthday parties for the book, said flipping through the pages was like “a walk down memory lane.

“It’s nostalgic for those of us who live here,” she said. “It’s an enlightening book for those of us who grew up here because we had such a good variety of things to do and places to visit.”

Those who purchase the book by Friday will receive a 20 percent discount. It can be purchased on, and

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4573.

Posted 2:08 pm, October 6, 2011
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