The Family Farm - In New York City

Updated: Jul 2

This is a follow up post on Edward, and Michael Laufer. See previous posts for more details.

The Farm

I found the property information in a few old books. Below is the Annual Record of Assessed Valuation of Real Estate in the City of New York 1904 copy. The Laufer Farm ward four, volume six section listed on the bottom right.


and in the 1910 edition on the bottom left.


and in 1916


How much was the farm worth

Still working that out. The 1916 tally was $22,650, about $600,000 in 2022 dollars. This was likely after selling off portions of the land since its heyday in the 1890s.


Finding the maps


Over the past decade NYPL has digitized nearly 9,000 pages from 162 atlases documenting New York City's changing geography and built environment. The majority of these maps are fire insurance maps (some of the most detailed city maps ever published) depicting building footprints, lot dimensions, shoreline locations and a few even show property ownership. The Map Division has an extensive collection of these maps, originally published as atlases, primarily covering the New York City metropolitan area.

I was able to find historic maps of Queens on the New York Public Library website. Many of these contain names of the farmers and their plots, for insurance purposes. The names on the maps were not indexed though i.e. I could not do a quick computer search to find the farm. An additional issue, was that Edward Laufer had passed in 1898, but most of these maps, and books, were not published until the early 1900s.


I want back to the atlases and was able to find the farm. It was in between pages and towns, and Rocky hill road no longer exists.


Laufer Farm: Queens V. 5, Plate No. 104 [Map bounded by Hyde Park Rd., Jericho Turnpike, Rocky Hill Rd.] 1903

The enlarged plates show the greenhouses, as well as the defunct railroad. Grandpa George used to tell me how he hated the rail, since they killed the fields of Milkweed there. Monarch butterflies only leave their young on Milkweed, so the loss of the plant meant the decline of the Monarchs. He used to keep a orange milkweed in his front yard.

Queens V. 5, Plate No. 6 [Map bounded by Flushing Bay, Orchard Ave., Jackson Blvd., 8th St., 3rd Ave., N.10th St., 4th Ave., Rocky Hill Rd.]

Several subdivisions of Edward Laufer 1901
Several Subdivisions for Edward Laufer in 1907



 

Below are links to full versions of the maps of the family farm, with citations from the New York Public Library.


Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division, The New York Public Library. "Queens V. 5, Plate No. 104 [Map bounded by Hyde Park Rd., Jericho Turnpike, Rocky Hill Rd.]" The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1884 - 1936. https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/916ba0ab-7716-9e3a-e040-e00a180604fe

Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division, The New York Public Library. "Queens V. 5, Plate No. 106 [Map bounded by Fresh Meroon Rd., Bell Ave., Rocky Hill Rd.]" The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1884 - 1936. https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/916ba0ab-7718-9e3a-e040-e00a180604fe


Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division, The New York Public Library. "Queens V. 5, Plate No. 6 [Map bounded by Flushing Bay, Orchard Ave., Jackson Blvd., 8th St., 3rd Ave., N.10th St., 4th Ave., Rocky Hill Rd.]" The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1884 - 1936. https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/916ba0ab-76b4-9e3a-e040-e00a180604fe


Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division, The New York Public Library. "Queens, Vol. 3, Double Page Plate No. 20; Part of ward Three Sub Plan No. 1; [Map bounded by Broadway, Little Neck Road, West end Drive, Lakeville Road]; Part of ward Three Sub Plan No. 2; [Map bounded by Little Neck Bay]; Part of ward Three Sub Plan No. 3; [Map bounded by Rocky Hill Road, Jericho Turnpike, Hamilton Ave.; Including Pine St., Maple St., Chestnut St.]; Part of ward Three Flushing; [Map bounded by Broadway, North Hempstead Turnpike, Bell Ave., Boundary Line of City of New York and Nassau County, Lakeville Road, Littleneck Road, Hyde Park Road, Clinton Ave., Vanzandt Ave., 1st Ave., Alley Road, East Alley Road, West Alley Road, Lawrence Ave., Hamilton Ave., Boundary Line of Jamaica and Flushing, Rocky Hill Road, Queens Road, Black Stump Road, Cedar Lane, Maryin Road, Titus Ave.; Including Pine St.]" The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1908 - 1913. https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/63226e55-ebfe-159d-e040-e00a1806318b


Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division, The New York Public Library. "Queens, Vol. 1, Double Page Plate No. 15; Sub Plan; Formerly Town of Flushing 3rd Ward; [Map bounded by Rocky Ave., Lincoln Ave., Hill Road, Old Hillside Ave., Hillside Ave., Inglewood Ave., Chestnut St.]; Part of Ward 4; Jamaica; [Map bounded by Rocky Hill Road, Flushing Road, Jefferson Ave., Madison Ave., Springfield Road, Monroe Ave., Jackson Ave., Jericho Turnpike, Hultz Ave., Lewellen Ave., Manhattan Ave., Durand Ave., Osceola Ave., Old Hillside Ave., Hillside Ave., Lincoln Ave., Kelsey Ave., North Wertland Ave., Inglewood Ave., Wood Ave., Creed Ave., Reno Ave., Wertland Ave.; Including Cherry St., Hickory St., Cedar St., Pine St., Maple St., Chestnut St., Orange St., Poplar St., Spruce St., Walnut St., Howell St., Handley St., Pleasant St., Linden St., Meadow St., Lang Don St., columbus St.]" The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1907. https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/632461fe-bb51-97e3-e040-e00a18063f5b


Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division, The New York Public Library. "Queens, V. 1, Double Page Plate No. 15; Part of Jamaica, Ward 4; [Map bounded by Flushing (3rd Ward) boundary line, Jericho Tpk., North Wertland Ave., Rocky Hill Rd.]" The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1901. https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/8e9599be-1d3a-a3e1-e040-e00a18066e21


What's there today?

The bio sketch on Edward Laufer remarked on his quick work learning under John Taylor. You can see the scale of Taylor's farmland and green houses in this map - I circled the map plate #106 to show the rough area where our family lived by Rocky Hill road.


The John Taylor greenhouses near Oakland Lake

You gain a sense for John Taylor's prominence, and scale of greenhouses in the area, in this eulogy he delivered for John Henderson in the book: Proceedings of the Annual Convention of the Society - 1890.



Current Maps

Today, the Taylor greenhouses location are in the center of the map below: where Queensborough Community College is. You can see the 495 interstate has displaced the Alley Pond area.





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