When most New Yorkers think of Howard Beach they think of the AirTrain station that connects it to neighboring JFK Airport, a few widely publicized racial incidents and the neighborhood being home to more than a few organized crime figures—mob bosses John Gotti and Joe Massino both called Howard Beach home at one point.
But this middle/working class Southern Queens neighborhood is so much more than that. In Howard Beach you’ll find sprawling suburban yards, seaside views, an intriguing mix of geography: Jamaica Bay, marshes, waterways and canals and a wide variety of housing options where you can find everything from seaside cottages to high-rise condos.
There’s also a pleasant mix of local businesses and national chains. Vincent’s Clam Bar and waterfront pizzerias are known for Italian cuisine and Russo’s on The Bay is popular catering hall that hosts wedding receptions, bar mitzvahs’ and sweet sixteen parties. It’s a family neighborhood, primarily Italian and Jewish, who stay for years and in many cases, generations. The area of Howard Beach is bordered in the north by the Belt Parkway and South by Conduit Avenue in Ozone Park, in the east by 102nd -104th Streets and in the west by 78th Street.
Howard Beach was founded in the 1890s by William J. Howard, a Brooklyn glove manufacturer who operated a 150-acre goat farm on meadow land near Aqueduct Racetrack as a source of skin for kid’s gloves. The grazing goats fattened themselves up by munching on marsh grass within their sod pen.
The entrepreneur eventually bought more land in 1897 and began working on his next project, Hotel Howard. He would go on to build 18 cottages and would open a hotel near the water, which he operated successfully, until it was destroyed by fire in 1907. Two years later he formed the Howard Estates Development Company.