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A History of Flushing
The Chinese Quest discovered Flushing, New York in 2013. What we found was that there are so many great Chinese restaurants and Chinese food to be found in Flushing. Now this is really no great secret to those New Yorker’s who love their Chinese food, and it really wasn’t a surprise either to us. It was just that The Chinese Quest wasn’t founded until 2013. However, the history of Flushing goes much further back than our discovery.
Located a couple blocks east of where Main Street is today, on modern-day Bowne Street, there was a small settlement of English farmhouses – this community, eventually called Flushing (an English bastardization of the name of a Netherlands town called Vlissingen). Living there before the English settlers, and before the Dutch, the earliest known inhabitants of this area were the Matinecock Indians (now to be found in Suffolk County on Long Island, where The Chinese Quest was conceived). The Dutch settled there in 1628, and were ousted from their colony, New Netherlands, in 1664. The colony was renamed New York, after the Duke of York, and except for a brief return of Dutch rule in 1673, remained an English colony until the Revolutionary War.
But still, there was no Chinese food to be found in Flushing. That would have to wait just a little longer. I wonder what people ate back then?
Since the 1650s, Flushing has been a community for refugees, when members of the Society of Friends began fleeing from Peter Stuyvesant’s Protestant persecution. Religious dissidents of New England were able to settle in the area; this fight for religious freedom was a very important event in the history of Dutch settlers. Then in the early 1800’s, groups of African-Americans, drawn by the tolerance shown to Quakers, settled in the area as well.
The community began to flourish and solidify. In 1843, a local newspaper began to be published and a secondary education institution opened. Students from elsewhere in the United States, and even Europe and South and Central America began to attend. Direct rail service to New York City was instilled in 1854. Then, after the civil war, residency increased greatly – in part because trolley lines and the electrification of the railroad helped Flushing to become a commuter residence.
The History of Chinese Food in Flushing
In the early 20th century, a subway line was added to connect Manhattan with the area, and apartment buildings replaced larger houses. This also helped to increase Flushing’s resident population. Later in the 20th century, an surge of Asian immigrants came to Flushing. Many Japanese, Chinese, and Koreans came, no doubt an affect of the passage of the Cellar-Hart law, as well as the repeal of all exclusion acts 2 decades before. Another wave of immigration occurred in the 1980s – 20% were Chinese, 20% Korean, and other ethnicities comprised the balance.
In the mid 1990′s downtown Flushing, which is centered on Main Street and Roosevelt Avenue, has become an area for commerce, with a vast array of Asian banks and businesses, and LOTS of Chinese restaurants! Chinese and Korean immigration and residence in Flushing has almost doubled in the last two decades. And the number of great Chinese restaurants in Flushing, luckily for us, increased at an exponential rate.
It is not possible to determine if The Chinese Quest will eventually get to review all the Chinese restaurants in Flushing. But, we will sure try.
Humbly submitted for your consumption,
—Mee Magnum (“Chop! Chop!”)