A Look at Traditional Queens Flushed with Pride

Few people think of Flushing, Queens as a neighborhood of rich historical importance but they're missing the big picture. Perhaps best-known as the birthplace of television star Fran Drescher (and her unforgettable accent) and home to one of history's most recent miracles—albeit a secular one that took place on a baseball diamond—the truth is that Flushing is home to a long tradition of diversity and tolerance. The neighborhood took early, important steps toward the cultural freedoms we take for granted today, and is now one of the most culturally diverse areas in the world.

Flushing is also developing as a residential destination. Over the last five years or so, projects like the Flushing Promenade (five buildings totaling 450,000 square feet of housing and shops) have turned the neighborhood into a player in housing and commercial development, and other big developments are on the horizon as well.

Early Defiance

Matinecoc Native Americans lived in the area known as Flushing until Europeans—most likely English and Dutch, according to Rich Hourahan, curator of the Queens Historical Society—settled there. Flushing was founded in 1645 by the Dutch West India Company, and was named after the Dutch city of Vlissingen, which translates to Flushing in English.

An important step toward religious tolerance in America occurred in Flushing shortly after its founding. According to historians, in 1657, governor John Stuyvesant forbade citizens under his governance from recognizing Quakers or welcoming them in their homes. Stuyvesant reputedly despised the Quaker religion, calling it "an abominable and heretical sect."

The citizens of Flushing, however, rejected the governor's edict and drafted the Flushing Remonstrance. It was written by town clerk Edward Hart and delivered to Stuyvesant by Sheriff Tobias Feake. In it, the residents of Flushing refused to abide by Stuyvesant's order that Quakers be shunned.


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