For a small residential neighborhood, St. Albans sure does have a lot of iconic musicians that have called it home over the years. Count Basie, James Brown, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald and LL Cool J. are just a few of the many notables that have passed through this middle-class neighborhood of southeastern Queens. We can’t help but wonder if there’s something in the water.
St. Albans is bordered by Brinkerhoff Avenue to the west, Springfield Boulevard to the east, Murdock Avenue and Francis Lewis Boulevard to the north and Merrick Boulevard to the south.
St. Albans has a high African-American and African-Caribbean population who pride themselves on maintaining strong ties to their community through the church and civic, political and business groups.
The neighborhood is named after St Alban, who lived in the early third century in the Roman city of Verulamium. According to the history books, he was the first recorded Christian martyr.
Like many areas of New York City, St. Albans was settled by the Dutch with land grants from Governor Peter Stuyvesant and later inhabited by English Settlers. In its early days, St. Albans was mostly farmland, pastures and forests . Things changed in 1898 when Queens became part of New York City and the area began its development. The Long Island Railroad built tracks through the neighborhood in 1898 and furthered its growth.
Addisleigh Park is a small enclave within St. Albans. Designated an historic district, the enclave has a remarkable selection of English Tudor, Arts and Craft, Neo-Colonial Revival homes as well as other styles of architecture.
Housing stock in St. Albans consists of detached one- and two-family homes, a a mix of attached homes and small apartment buildings. The commercial district of St. Albans is Linden Boulevard and the northern end of Farmers Boulevard.
The Long Island Railroad serves as St. Albans train transportation because there are no subways in the immediate area. Residents can transfer at Jamaica Station to access the E and F trains or take the train directly to Penn Station in Manhattan.
Yardies Jerk - You can’t pass through this Caribbean neighborhood without trying their jerk. It’s a favorite spot among locals and offers all types of jerk dishes.
Roy Wilkins Park and Recreational Center – Once home of the St. Albans Naval Hospital, this 54-acre park offers an indoor swimming pool, outdoor sporting facilities, playground, foot paths, a pond and a 435-foot theatre that produces socially conscious dramas.
Walking tour of Addisleigh Park - You can check out some fantastic architecture as well as see the homes (from the outside) of legendary jazz stars. Although it may not be your thing, it’s still worth the trip. A little history and some house gawking, you can’t go wrong. We recommend downloading the “Queens Jazz Trail in Addisleigh Park Historic District” off the internet. It comes with a map.
What You Might See
You’ll notice the neighborhood has two sides. One side is more of a suburban feel, especially when you’re in Addisleigh Park Historic District. The other side of the nabe feels like a densely populated urban area with Jamaican eateries, small shops, and churches. You’ll pick up on the influence that jazz legends and prominent African American have on the community. Especially on the painted mural along the underpass of the St.Albans Long Island Railroad stop. It includes Jackie Robinson and Billie Holiday among others.
What You Don’t Know
For years many people believed legendary baseball player Babe Ruth was a resident of St. Albans because he spent so much time golfing at the St. Albans Golf Course that people thought he lived in the neighborhood.
Addisleigh Park was once a whites-only enclave in the 1920’s and 1930’s. Civic leaders and the community at large took the issue all the way to the Supreme Court and in 1948, they ruled that nobody could impose home buying restrictions on African-Americans.