ADDISLEIGH PARK HISTORIC DISTRICT

AFRICAN AMERICAN

Queens

This suburban neighborhood of approximately 650 homes in southeastern Queens, developed in the 1910’s-30’s, was as a formerly race-restricted area that became one of the city’s premier enclaves for African Americans. In the 1930’s and 40’s, restrictive covenants were in place to keep African Americans from buying property in specific neighborhoods. In 1947, this covenant was tested in two court cases in which neighbors sued homeowners who sold to African Americans. Although in both cases the covenants were upheld, in the case of Kemp v. Rubin, the judge acknowledged that there were already 48 African-American families living here, and a number of amicus briefs were filed in support of selling to African Americans. The following year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against racially restrictive housing covenants in the Missouri case of Shelley v. Kraemer. Despite the covenants, starting in the 1930’s, Addisleigh Park’s prominence as an African-American neighborhood grew, attracting African-American luminaries seeking a suburban home, such as Ella Fitzgerald, Jackie Robinson, W. E. B. Dubois, James Brown, Lena Horne, Roy Campanella and Count Basie, among others. Addisleigh Park’s fascinating social history and association with the abolition of race-restrictive covenants continue to shape its sense of place.

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