Jamaica/Jameco: The grounded heritage of Rochdale’s roots


Jamaica, Queens is not merely a suburban jewel nestled on the outskirts of New York City. What many people may not know is that  Jamaica, Queens has its own rich history dating back to the 17th century when in 1655, the first English settlers began to arrive from Long Island and Massachusetts.

According to historic land records, the name “Jamaica” is actually derived from the Jameco Indian tribe, which established their trail near what was formerly known as “Beaver Pond”.  The same body of water that is known today as Baisley Pond.  What’s more, “Jameco” is the Algonquin word for the semi-aquatic animal called the beaver, which was plentiful in quantity and widely traded in old New York.

1873_Beers_Map_of_Jamaica,_Queens,_New_York_City_-_Geographicus_-_Jamaica-beers-1873

1873 Beers Map of Jamaica, Queens, New York City

Algonquins

Indiginous North American Tribes of Jamaica, Queens include the Algonquin Indians

When the Dutch settled New York in early-to-mid 17th century, they named the town of Jamaica, Queens “Rustdorp” meaning “rest-town”. By 1664, the English gained control of Dutch holdings including Rustdorp. As a result, the English converted the name from Rustdorp to Jamaica in 1683, and the name has remained in place ever since.

JamaicaRacetrack

A lovely day at the races at the old Jamaica Racetrack now known as Rochdale Village.

Two hundred and eighty years later, Rochdale Village was erected in 1963, in the town of Jamaica on the grounds where the sprawling Jamaica Racetrack once stood.  And today, the Rochdale Village cooperative still stands approximately 25,000 residents strong and bounded by Baisley Boulevard, which leads to Baisley pond.

Rochdale’s 20 apartment buildings, community center, restaurants, and emerging retail all contribute to the renaissance that is taking place in this community. Rochdale Village is not just a place where people live. It is a community with a grounded heritage and a bright, promising future.

Contributor post submitted by:  Jonathan Rosenberg

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