Maspeth is a small community in the borough of Queens in New York City. Neighborhoods sharing borders with Maspeth are Woodside and Sunnyside to the north, Long Island City to the northwest, Greenpoint, Brooklyn to the west, East Williamsburg, Brooklyn to the southwest, Fresh Pond and Ridgewood to the south, and Middle Village and Elmhurst to the east.
The area known today as Maspeth was chartered by Dutch and English settlers in the mid-17th century. The Dutch had purchased land in the area known today as Queens in 1635, and within a few years began chartering towns. In 1642 they settled Maspat, under a charter granted to Rev. Francis Doughty. Maspat became the first European settlement in Queens. The settlement was leveled the following year in an attack by Native Indians, and the surviving settlers returned to Manhattan. It wasn't until nine years later, in 1652, that settlers ventured back to the area, settling an area slightly inland from the previous Maspat location. This new area was called Middleburg, and eventually developed into what is now the town of Elmhurst, bordering Maspeth. Following the immigration waves of the 19th century, Maspeth was home to a shanty town of Boyash (Ludar) Gypsies between 1925 and 1939, though this was eventually bulldozed.
The name "Maspeth" is derived from the name of Mespeatches Indians, one of the 13 main Indian tribes that inhabited Long Island. It is translated to mean "at the bad waterplace" relating to the many stagnant swamps that existed in the area.
The Metropolitan Avenue Bridge carries Grand Street (Brooklyn) eastward across English Kills from Williamsburg where it becomes Grand Avenue, Maspeth's main street for dining and business. Grand Avenue continues eastward to end in Elmhurst. Cemeteries take up a large part of this small neighborhood although they are separated from residential areas for the most part. Single home houses and multiple dwelling homes make up most of Maspeth and there are hardly any apartment buildings, except for the co-ops on 65th Place, also known as The Plateau.
Forty-Third Street through 58th Street, including the former Furman Island, is industrial lowlands, and from 60th Street to 72nd Street is residential. The Phelps Dodge Corporation was present from 1920–1983. The Phelps Dodge mining company heavily contaminated Newtown Creek, which separates northern Brooklyn from western Queens and serves barge traffic. Other freight moves on the Long Island Railroad Montauk Branch and the lightly used Bushwick Branch. A new West Maspeth rail freight station has been proposed in connection with a Cross-Harbor Rail Tunnel to diminish truck traffic across New York City. It is opposed by residents who don't want more trucks in Maspeth.
Maspeth Industrial Center and Bushwick Branch
There is access to the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and the Long Island Expressway. The former road crosses Newtown Creek on the Kosciuszko Bridge. These expressways are accessible at 69th and Grand Street, and also at 48th Street, where the two expressways cross.
For many years a well-known landmark in Maspeth was a pair of cylindrical natural gas tanks, built in 1927 and 1948 by Brooklyn Union Gas and demolished in 2001. These tanks were considered "sister tanks" to similar (but differently operating) gas holders at the Newtown Holder Station in Elmhurst (Queens) NY. There were many similarities: both were visible from major roadways, both were painted in an FAA-required red/white checkered color scheme, and both pairs of tanks have since been demolished. However, the Maspeth holders were fixed above-ground structures, whereas the Elmhurst ones were rising/falling gasometers.
Maspeth was the first English settlement in Queens County. However, conflicts with the Mespet tribe forced many settlers to move to what is now Elmhurst in 1643.
Most people who live in Maspeth are of Polish, Yugoslavic, Italian, Irish, German, Hispanic or Chinese descent.
Maspeth is also home to the Metropolitan Oval.