A residential intersection in Briarwood, 85th Avenue and 150th Street
Location within New York City
|City||New York City|
|Community District||Queens 8|
|Named for||Briarwood Land Company|
|Elevation||11 m (36 ft)|
|• Median income||$50,157|
|Area code(s)||718, 347, 929, and 917|
Briarwood is located northwest of Jamaica. The neighborhood is roughly bounded by the Van Wyck Expressway to the west, Parsons Boulevard to the east, Union Turnpike to the north, and Hillside Avenue to the south. The neighborhood is part of Queens Community Board 8.
Briarwood is located at one of the highest points in Queens.
Briarwood is a very diverse community, according to 2010 census data that groups Briarwood with neighboring Jamaica Hills, the population consists of Asian-Americans (36.1%), White (21.5%), Hispanics (24.7%), and African Americans (11.5%). This is a marked change from the post-war period (1950s–1980s) when the neighborhood was almost exclusively white, with a large and active Jewish community. Economic activity is mostly confined to small restaurants, delis, markets, and other small businesses.
The neighborhood is known to be very inexpensive and provide affordable housing to middle-class families.
Briarwood is home to the Catholic Archbishop Molloy High School, which moved to Briarwood from the Upper East Side in 1957. Some of the school's more famous alumni are New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, actor David Caruso, former New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, NBA professional basketball players Kenny Smith and Kenny Anderson and professional wrestler Colin Cassady. The school is named in honor of Archbishop Thomas Molloy. It has about 1,550 students.
Also located in Briarwood is Robert A. Van Wyck M.S. 217Q, a middle school of 1,300 students in grades 6–8. The school was established in 1955 and was named after the first mayor of the Greater City of New York, Robert A. Van Wyck, a Tammany Hall lawyer.
The neighborhood is served by the IND Queens Boulevard Line of the New York City Subway at the Briarwood station (E, F, and <F> trains). In that subway station, there were many paintings done by the students of Archbishop Molloy High School, M.S. 217Q, and P.S.117Q during the mid-1980s. They are titled, "Beautifying Briarwood". The paintings were removed during a renovation of the station in 2014.
The neighborhood is named for the Briarwood Land Company, headed by Herbert A. O'Brien, which built housing there around 1905 or 1907. O'Brien decided on the name Briarwood because of the brambles in its thick woods. The Ottilie Orphan Home was built on 148th Street in 1906. The Briarwood Land Company went bankrupt soon afterward, however, and the area was largely empty until 1924 when it was divided and sold at auction. Land went for $300 each for inside residential lots to $2,800 for lots along Queens Boulevard. Over the next four years, several single-family homes were built on the land. Briarwood's first school, P.S. 117, was built in 1927. Additional land was auctioned in 1928.
On May 30, 1928, about 500 members of the Klansmen of Queens assembled in the forest of Briarwood. They burned a 50-foot cross, sang songs, and gave speeches. When police officers arrived, the group's leader, Major Emmett J. Smith, said that they had the right to assemble and speak on the land, because they had signed a lease to the land the previous day. The group soon left the area, without any physical violence or arrests having taken place.
In 1936, a company called Briarwood Estates, owned by Leon, Morty and A. B. Wolosoff, started building Colonial and old English-style homes north of 84th Drive and west of Main Street. The homes sold for about $5,000, the equivalent to $90,000 in 2018. After World War II ended, other developers built houses closer to Parsons Boulevard.
The United Nations built Parkway Village, a 670-unit development, as housing for its employees around 1947. The development is along Union Turnpike, between Main Street and Parsons Boulevard. Parkway Village is now a co-op and no longer connected to the United Nations.
Notable residents of Briarwood have included:
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