Must-See Jackson Heights
by Jessica Allen, 09/19/2014
Photo: Garrett Ziegler
34-05 to 34-47 80th St. and 34-06 to 34-48 81st St.
33-15 to 33-51 80th St. and 33-16 to 33-52 81st St.
Scrabble Street Sign
35th Avenue and 81st Street
Community United Methodist Church
81-10 35th Ave., 718-446-0690
In the early 1900s, the Queensboro Corporation acquired about 350 acres of land for development. Renaming the area Jackson Heights, the corporation began constructing low-rise garden apartments, which would overlook a lush courtyard, include ornate details like fireplaces, and be sold, rather than rented. Two of the best-known—and best-looking—garden apartment buildings were designed by Andrew Thomas across the street from each other in 1924. The Chateau was built in the French Renaissance style, with mansard roofs and decorated chimneys; while The Towers, done in Italian Romanesque and Renaissance styles, has red-tile roofs and belvederes. But many streets are worth a leisurely walk, since much of the neighborhood was designated a historic district in the early 1990s. You might notice something strange about the sign at the corner of 35th Avenue and 81st Street: it's worth 14 points. Unable to find work as an architect during the Depression, Alfred Butts invented a game he called Criss Cross Words in his fifth-floor Jackson Heights walk-up. He and his wife, Nina, introduced the game we now know as Scrabble to fellow members of the Community United Methodist Church, and there's a small plaque in his honor on one of its walls.