The Real Deal New York

How Queens neighborhoods got their names

From Sunnyside to Ravenswood, a brief look at few neighborhood histories

May 10, 2015 11:47AM

oldDutchKillsMap550x282 Queens became a county back in 1683, and naturally, many – though not all — of its neighborhood names go back just as far. Here’s a look at the history of some of those sometimes-strange monikers.


Astoria was named for a man who is said to have never set foot in it: John Jacob Astor. Locals thought that with a bit of overt flattery that they might woo Astor as a benefactor. At the time, Astor was the wealthiest man in America.


Ravenswood became a thriving residential neighborhood in the 19th century. According to Brownstoner, it is thought a prominent clergyman, Rev. Francis Hawks, proposed naming the area in honor of his friend John Ravenscroft, the Episcopal bishop of North Carolina. But some felt that the bishop “might not want his name attached to so obscure a property,” so Hawks changed it to Ravenswood.

Hunters Point

British sea captain George Hunter once owned the rural farmland that is today Hunters Point. By 1825 had become known as Hunter’s Point.

Dutch Kills

Dutch Kills is named for the Newtown Creek inlet. The term “kill” is derived from the Middle Dutch word “kille,” meaning “riverbed” or “channel.”


French Huguenot settlers purchased the area from the Dutch in 1713. They named their estate “Sunnyside Hill” because of the excellent views of the sunrises and sunsets. [Brownstoner]Christopher Cameron