By Alexander Dworkowitz

Wedged between a print shop and auto body businesses, Linneaus Place in the heart of the industrial section of Flushing is not an easy street to find.

The U-shaped road connects only with Prince Street between 33rd Avenue and 35th Avenue, and its entrances are so narrow that they could pass for driveways.

“Believe it or not, the cops used to pass it,” said Dorothy Michaels, who has lived on the street since she moved there in 1922. “If you called an ambulance, you’d have to go out on Prince Street and say, ‘Hey, we’re over here!’”

The city, however, has recently discovered Linneaus Place.

At the end of April, construction crews finished rehab work on the road. The $663,521 project provided the street with sewers, fire hydrants and pavement for the first time in recent memory. Linneaus Place was also given sidewalks on the two legs extending down its “U” shape.

The project, funded by the city Department of Design and Construction and the city Department of Transportation, was initiated when the city became aware of flooding problems on the street.

Marilyn Bitterman, district manager of Community Board 7, which covers Flushing, said the street has flooded for years.

“There have been problems here dating back well over 10 years,” she said.

In addition to the flooding, residents on the street said prostitutes, who congregate on nearby 32nd Avenue, often frequent the street because of its secluded location.

“They are coming in here to do their business,” said Michaels. “It’s horrible. We have eight little kids on the street.”

Despite the problems on the street, residents have been fiercely loyal to Linneaus Place.

The two legs that make up the ends of Linneaus Place’s “U’ shape are barely more than alleyways, bounded by the concrete exteriors of the Prince Street businesses, including autobody shops and a printing firm.

But at the center of Linneaus Place, beyond the concrete-walled legs, is a short strip of 14 two-story row houses, each designed for two families and constructed around the turn of the 20th century.

Given its proximity to the Flushing stop of the LIRR, which used to run through the back yards on Linneaus Place on its way to College Point, the street was seen as a convenient location for residents traveling to the factories in other areas of Queens. Working-class residents of Irish, Italian and German descent were attracted to the area.

At that time, the homes were surrounded by what residents described as “mansions” long before commercial businesses moved in.

The street was home to touch-football games and cookouts, and the children on the block made up a close-knit community, Michaels said.

“The kids married each other,” she said. “My daughter married Eddie up the street.”

Over time in the 1960s, the mansions were torn down and replaced by the Prince Street businesses, said a 55-year-old resident, Jim McCorey.

Despite the physical changes to the street, many residents opted to stay put.

When Michaels chose to move after she got married, she simply headed further down the block. McCorey has spent all his life on the street, and his son lives next door.

Like most of Flushing, Linneaus Place has become a destination for Asian immigrants in recent years.

“The block is half Oriental, but the main families are still here,” said McCorey.

Residents on Linneaus Place said they were very happy with the recent construction project.

Replacing homes with commercial enterprises prevented water from running down to Prince Street.

Michaels said the recent work has stopped the flooding at her doorstep. Before the new renovation, heavy rains brought a 3-foot pool to her end of the street, she said.

As he walked his dog Monday, McCorey also expressed satisfaction at the city’s work.

“(My dog)’s not used to sidewalks,” said McCorey. “He’s always been down in the dirt.”

Reach reporter Alexander Dworkowitz by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 141.



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